Gov Career

By Phil Piemonte

Blog archive

Federal employment—a family business?

In the old days, careers often ran in families. If your father and grandfather were blacksmiths, well, there was a good chance you’d be one, too.

Fewer of those multigenerational career tracks are out there today.

Small businesses used to be handed down from generation to generation. But today’s definition of a small business, at least according to the Small Business Administration, generally includes any concerns with fewer than 500 employees. Not exactly the corner grocery.

Ditto with family farms, which are dwindling in the traditional sense, many either acquired by or under contract to huge agricultural concerns.

Some of the most consistent intergenerational careers seem to be related to public service. We know plenty of people who have followed their parents into politics, the military or federal service.

But have times changed? From where you stand now as a fed, would you advise your child to follow you into the federal government?

Posted by Phil Piemonte on Oct 08, 2010 at 4:02 PM

Reader comments

Mon, Oct 25, 2010 FL

I would never encourge any of my family members to work for the Federal Gov after spending 30+ years with them and being told one thing and having something else happen. The Dept. that I work for is becoming more and more a GOOD OLD BOY outfit. It is who you know and not what you know.

Tue, Oct 19, 2010 KR Washington, D. C.

I would and have, advised my children to explore all their options and when seeking employment. Both of miy kids are in college at this time. I am a 32 yr. DOD employee, with several family members from different generations as former federal employees. The Government is a different place to work today than it was 20 or 30 years ago. Whether that's good or bad depends on your point of view. Mine is all positive now but it hasn't always been that way. I believe my kids would be better off outside of government, but would support their choices and of course offer whatever insight that I could.

Thu, Oct 14, 2010 SAMIAM

Some trying to break into Federal would wonder about things like nepotism as this article eludes or what is probably more prevalent, cronyism. I know a lot of Vets with that so-called veteran’s preference and college degrees and years of qualified military experience and training that can't break into the Fed. The hiring system appears broken and dated. With the private sector slashing benefits almost daily, a lot of people who take a pay cut for benefits, job security, and this thing I heard of once called a pension.

Thu, Oct 14, 2010 Washington, DC

My mother retired from federal service after 38 years. I followed in her footsteps and have been working for the feds for 35 years. I recommended federal service to my kids, but unfortunately the one who has pursued it can't get hired...not even by the agency he was "born" into. I guess he'll go back to school to rack up even more student loan debt and try again after the "Boomers" retire.

Thu, Oct 14, 2010 Pat Wilson NC

Well, the joke in our family was that SSA told my Mom she could retire if she gave them her firstborn, and, well, here I am. I tell people I was born in the agency because she got pregnant literally less than 6 months after she started there. Mom worked 32 years for Social Security and prior to that had worked for the DoD at the Pentagon. Her brother, my uncle, worked for the GAO and his son worked for ODO. I have an uncle on the other side of the family who worked his entire career for the Post Office. I have cousins who have worked for the USPS also. It's as close to "the family business" as we get, and I have recommended it to people "as a good place to work, qualifying that with as long as you don't mind the stress!!"

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