The past year came with many new prospects for public service opportunities at the College, especially in the wake of the generous Chan Zuckerberg Initiative donation. Notably, the Phillips Brooks House Association has convened a committee of students, the “Seamless Service Pathways Process,” aimed at creating a new initiative focused on making public service options more visible to students. The committee hopes to remove barriers for low-income students that prevent them from participating in public service both during their time at the College and after.
We appreciate all these efforts because public service is largely overlooked at the College. A major factor contributing to the growing pipeline that many of our peers have taken to jobs in management consulting or finance is the plethora of resources available to navigate those fields, including the disproportionate attention provided to those fields by the Office for Career Services and the various on-campus interviews that many firms grant students. There are few similar programs for public-service related career fields. This, combined with structural issues including for-profit careers’ high salaries and job security, explains why the job search for graduating seniors is tilted heavily towards the private sector.
There is a stigma around pursuing public service here at the College that must be removed. We should use our power and privilege as Harvard students to make a positive impact in the world. Since this PBHA program is in its infancy, there are several suggestions we hope the committee takes into account. We hope that the program features a variety of structural and guiding resources that can put public service opportunities on par with private sector—including guidance counselors, outreach programs, and career fairs that expose students to public service work opportunities. PBHA should also consider hosting speakers who could discuss their experiences in public service. To that end, the committee should also consider specifically hosting events that help de-stigmatize public service and focus on direct-service careers.
At the same time, this initiative comes as Gene A. Corbin, the Assistant Dean of Student Life for Public Service at the College, steps down after years occupying that position and helping implement the new committee. We appreciate his efforts in starting this program, and hope that this transition in his office will not disrupt this fledgling program and its potential. We expect that his successor is equally dedicated to changing the culture of public service here at the College.
This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.
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