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USDA Pilots New Strategy to Recruit Minority Serving Institution Graduates

Posted by Marcus A. Brownrigg, Acting Deputy Director, Center for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in Initiatives
May 08, 2015

As we’ve celebrated Public Service Recognition Week this week, Secretary Vilsack and employees all across the government have shared what an honor it is to work as a public servant. But, it’s no secret that the federal hiring process is a lengthy one, which can be especially frustrating for recent graduates eager to begin careers upon earning their degrees. To streamline this process and meet an important hiring initiative—bringing qualified candidates with diverse backgrounds and more young people into our ranks—USDA has been piloting a new on-site hiring strategy at Minority Serving Institutions.

Working directly with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), USDA has hosted five on-site events where USDA hiring managers collect applications, conduct interviews, and in some cases make job offers on the spot for internships and recent graduate positions. To date, USDA has collected 795 applications at these events, for a total of 276 available positions within 10 USDA agencies, including the Agricultural Marketing Service, Agricultural Research Service, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Farm Service Agency, Forest Service, Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Risk Management Agency, and Rural Development.

The hiring events are open to the general public, but it is important to USDA to make sure that students and recent graduates are aware of available positions. Both the agriculture sector and the federal government need more young people to fill our ranks, and USDA’s Cultural Transformation initiative calls for “a renewed commitment to create diversity in the workforce and succession planning.” On Wednesday, Secretary Vilsack signed a Memorandum of Understanding reaffirming USDA’s partnership with historically black 1890’s Land-Grant Universities, which calls on both entities to attract more students into food, agriculture, and natural resources career fields and encourage more students to enter into employment with USDA.  In addition to these on-site hiring events, USDA also offers on-site and online workshops on resume preparation and interviewing skills to help students perform well in the hiring process at USDA, other federal agencies, or other places they may hope to work.

Based on the success of this initiative, OPM is exploring how it can implement comparable hiring models in other federal agencies. In the meantime, we encourage students to take advantage of the many different careers in public service that USDA can offer. This summer, USDA has upcoming events planned on May 14 at Laney College in Oakland, California; on May 14 & 15 at Homewood Suites in Clovis, California (to reach several regional schools); and on May 19 at West Virginia State University in Morgantown, West Virginia. The events are open to the public, so please come meet us and explore the potential of a future career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture!

Category/Topic: Initiatives