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Re: College Selection
Old 10-14-2006, 02:49 PM   #61
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Re: College Selection

As a private consultant civil engineer, I frequently look at comparable jobs working for cities or the state. The pay is usually fairly comparable to private employers around here, and the work demand is lower at almost all levels of work (unless you get into the executive management level).

And I interact with these jokers on a daily basis - trust me, most of them CAN get by with very little work. Many of them do work hard and some of them are extremely competent. I would have no problem working in a number of govt jobs, and don't view it as "unambitious".
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Re: College Selection
Old 10-14-2006, 02:53 PM   #62
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Re: College Selection

My first hand experience with government workers was what I saw as a contractor at NASA after getting downsized from a private sector job. While there, I heard civil servants complaining about their low pay relative to private industry and counting the days until they could take their retirement. My opinion is that most of them wouldn't have lasted in the private sector with the work ethic they demonstrated. Most were overpaid for what they contributed to the space program and based on their backgrounds private industry wouldn't have paid them any more. Most existed to talk to other civil servants who only were there to talk to them. There were a couple civil servants that had outside businesses. They came and went as needed to support their other job. These people were well known to be absent frequently and not really functioning in whatever their function was supposed to be. I was less than impressed. I got out at the first decent opportunity.

If that is how our whole government works, our only hope with not having to learn Chinese or Russian is that those governments are worse.
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Re: College Selection
Old 10-14-2006, 03:15 PM   #63
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Re: College Selection

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Originally Posted by Spanky
In retrospect, I would have retired with a nice pension by now if I had worked for the government. The notion that government jobs are unchalleging and that only unambitious people work for the government is overly generalized or unfounded.
3 semesters as an engineering intern for NASA had me completely convinced otherwise. The contractors were the worst - lots of clock watchers as I recall. The NASA engineers, although bright and nice, generous people, really were stuck with unchallenging work. Their main job was to supervise the contractors - really very little design work at all. It was very hands-off.

The first thing I looked for when I graduated with my BSEE was find a small company where I could really get my hands dirty and do design work right away. Lucky for me, I was employee #24, the company was successful, and the rest is history!

NASA tried to warn me about what I would be giving up if I didn't sign with them! I might end up being a struggling single mother with insufficient benefits was a particular scenario I recall. Hah! I'm sure glad benefits didn't skew my early career choices. When you are right out of school is when you can afford to forgo benefits for great career experience, etc. Later, when you have a family and have saddled yourself with financial obligations you can play safer if you need to.

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Re: College Selection
Old 10-14-2006, 03:27 PM   #64
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Re: College Selection

I think the spread between private industry and public agency comp depends on the community. Odds are in the Bay area the spread is huge while in towns like Redding public agency employment may have an edge. [Using away from home examples, I am not in CA]

NASA has its own culture, not your typical public employer.
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Re: College Selection
Old 10-14-2006, 03:57 PM   #65
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Re: College Selection

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Originally Posted by 2B
If that is how our whole government works, our only hope with not having to learn Chinese or Russian is that those governments are worse.
Exxon, now there is a place where you could find people with a real work ethic. Or am I thinking of Global Crossing?
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Re: College Selection
Old 10-14-2006, 05:12 PM   #66
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Re: College Selection

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Exxon, now there is a place where you could find people with a real work ethic. Or am I thinking of Global Crossing?
Actually, I worked for Exxon many years ago. The part I started with was still called Esso. It's actually one of the few places that either didn't run me off or have me leave because they were going to. I tend not to be politically astute. I'm sure no one yet sensed that in this forum.

In any large organization issues develop with "productivity." In the private sector when times get tough, purges clean out some of the problem children but, unfortunately, some of the productive non-politically savvy. In any event the organization becomes leaner and more focused. In the government when times get tough, they raise taxes.
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Re: College Selection
Old 10-14-2006, 05:17 PM   #67
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Re: College Selection

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In the government when times get tough, they raise taxes.
.. and cut programs or benefits.
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Re: College Selection
Old 10-14-2006, 05:25 PM   #68
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Re: College Selection

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Originally Posted by Spanky
.. and cut programs or benefits.
When it's done, it's not enough and not anywhere near what the private sector does.

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Re: College Selection
Old 10-14-2006, 07:38 PM   #69
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Re: College Selection

I just mean if this is your dream (govt employee), then it just seems like pretty low standards to me. Seems to me most kids in college would dream a little bigger, be a little more ambitious than that. Maybe not. I know that wasn't my dream.

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Originally Posted by Nords
Think about that sentence, Mike-- a government retirement check is probably the gold standard of "secure retirement". That's just a fact because I think the PBGC has had to take over zero govt pension systems.
So, a few bad apples means that govt workers aren't ambitious? Some of them are trying to fix society while others are just using the job to pay their bills while they're pursuing their "real" interests.

Look at the odds of an entrepreneur succeeding in a winner-take-all industry and compare it to the number of govt workers with secure futures. Gosh, it looks like a higher percentage of govt workers actually have more secure futures than an equivalent population of entrepreneurs. (That might explain why govt salaries are lower and entrpreneurial salaries are higher, in direct proportion to the likelihood of being unemployed.) So maybe for the bigger group of people, employment security is the "best outcome".

I don't see anything wrong with a kid who wants to build a state highway or teach high-school science or work with disadvantaged people. Those are all govt jobs around here, and there's nothing jaded about my outlook.
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Re: College Selection
Old 10-14-2006, 09:29 PM   #70
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Re: College Selection

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Originally Posted by CybrMike
I just mean if this is your dream (govt employee), then it just seems like pretty low standards to me. Seems to me most kids in college would dream a little bigger, be a little more ambitious than that. Maybe not. I know that wasn't my dream.
I don't think many college students think to themselves "yeah, cool--I'd like to be a government employee!!" They probably also don't think "I hope to be chained in a little cubicle all day." But, that's what most of them (and us) do (did).

There are a lot of highly dedicated and hardworking folks in government service. I continue to work with them frequently. Yes, there are also slackers. A kid with a masters degree in econ or poli sci could do an awful lot worse than a career in the Foreign Service, CIA, DoD, etc. And a lot of jobs at the state/local level have a fairly big impact on a lot of people.
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Re: College Selection
Old 10-15-2006, 06:23 AM   #71
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Re: College Selection

About six months before I left my NASA contractor position, a new grad was hired into our group. He took less money than he could have gotten "in the private sector" but he was in awe at the prospect of working for NASA. He was totally disillusioned before I left and I didn't do it to him.

NASA contractors aren't paid "comparable" salaries to the Houston market and they get what they pay for. During the Millennium Recession, they got some pretty good talent for cheap. (I like to include myself in that group ) Now that the market is hot, most of the "younger" or more motivated have left for better paying jobs. The life is pretty easy as a contractor and its a great "almost retired" job. There was one super engineer from BP that stayed on because it was so easy and he just wanted something to do. He was still living of his severance and was drawing a retirement annuity.
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Re: College Selection
Old 10-15-2006, 08:03 AM   #72
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Re: College Selection

I understand these anti-government rants. Heck, in some ways I feel the same way when I see deficits back on the rise and a war that looks more and more like a VN style quagmire. But I think when you take these attitudes too far you end up reaping what you sow by driving young people away from public service. Just two examples:

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2B
In the government when times get tough, they raise taxes.
This isn't caused by government workers. It is caused by the idiots you and I put in office. And then, when the inevitable backlash occurs, the government cuts come fast and furious and the laws hamstring managers with a lack of flexibility that would challenge any private sector exec. I oversaw the downsizing of my agency from 26,000 to 14,500 over three years (after which I moved from HR to IT so I could have some fun). Funding constraints forced us to effect some of the cuts early in the fiscal year which results in "Christmas RIFS." That is a nice a present as you get in any private sector job.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CybrMike
I just mean if this is your dream (govt employee), then it just seems like pretty low standards to me. Seems to me most kids in college would dream a little bigger, be a little more ambitious than that. Maybe not. I know that wasn't my dream.
You are pointing at every soldier in Afganistan/Iraq with that quote. As well as the police and fire fighters who climbed up the twin towers.

I can remember surveys taken in the 80s during the height of that period of Fed bashing that showed that individual Amercans actually hold diametrically opposed opinions. They think public workers in general are slackers, but they also rate most (not all) public servants they actually come into contact with (from postal delivery to SS clerks) as excellent.
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Re: College Selection
Old 10-15-2006, 08:40 AM   #73
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Re: College Selection

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They think public workers in general are slackers, but they also rate most (not all) public servants they actually come into contact with (from postal delivery to SS clerks) as excellent.
I'll bet there weren't many that included IRS workers in the "excellent" group.

Quote:
Originally Posted by donheff
This isn't caused by government workers. It is caused by the idiots you and I put in office.
I agree. Elected officials at all levels try to buy support with special deals for public workers. In Texas whenever anyone talks about improving education, it is code for higher teacher salaries. No politician wants to discuss the district football stadiums or other infrastructure monuments that would make most ancient kings proud.

Note that the Christmas RIF is after the election.
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Re: College Selection
Old 10-15-2006, 08:48 AM   #74
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Re: College Selection

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Originally Posted by 2B
I'll bet there weren't many that included IRS workers in the "excellent" group.
The few times I've dealt with them, they've been fair and square, polite, and professional (no, I'm not one myself).
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Re: College Selection
Old 10-15-2006, 12:21 PM   #75
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Re: College Selection

let's get back to college selection - just received a letter from University of Nebraska at Lincoln. They will pledge free tuition plus $2000 for room and board if you name them as the first college of choice. Does anyone know the resason that a college would insist on that?
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Re: College Selection
Old 10-15-2006, 01:07 PM   #76
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Re: College Selection

They only have so much money to give out and they want to make sure that the people they give it to will show up. Also, they want those same people to stop looking elsewhere so UN gets their first picks.
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Re: College Selection
Old 10-15-2006, 02:18 PM   #77
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Re: College Selection

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let's get back to college selection - just received a letter from University of Nebraska at Lincoln. They will pledge free tuition plus $2000 for room and board if you name them as the first college of choice. Does anyone know the resason that a college would insist on that?
Sure, it is called early decision. If you commit to go they get a higher rate of accepted initial offers and their ranking goes up. It also helps them plan better. There is a big controversy raging in the Ivy League as some schools have started dropping early decision programs as unfairly biased toward white upper class types or something PC like that.
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Re: College Selection
Old 10-15-2006, 02:56 PM   #78
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Re: College Selection

I think the termination of early admission program was started by Hardward, followed by Princeton.
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Re: College Selection
Old 10-16-2006, 08:21 PM   #79
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Re: College Selection

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Originally Posted by Spanky
let's get back to college selection - just received a letter from University of Nebraska at Lincoln. They will pledge free tuition plus $2000 for room and board if you name them as the first college of choice. Does anyone know the resason that a college would insist on that?
When considering "early decision" options, I always inquire whether these are binding. If a school gets way more qualified applicants than available slots, the binding early decision may be (mathematically) reasonable means to prioritize. Lately (at least for my kid) the early decision options are "non-binding" which is great because there is just too much going on in a short span of time for us to make a binding commitment. If the kid "dreamed of going that particular school for many years, it would be a no-brainer.
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Re: College Selection
Old 10-16-2006, 08:48 PM   #80
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Re: College Selection

No, it is not binding. U of N just wants her to name them as the first choice for the natinal merit scholarship competition. When she becomes the finalist and indicates that U of N is the first choice, the college would pledge free tuition + $2,000 in return. As of now, she is obvious to any offer from other colleges that offer merit scholarship, e.g., Iowa State U, Texas A&M, U of Alaska, North Dakota State, Colorado School of mines, etc, even though they are not the top-tier schools but are reputable. She should be more open minded and consider them as possibilities. I guess she thinks that she should be able to decide without any intervention from the parents. Apparently, she forgets who will be footing the bill.
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