The Department of Citywide Administrative Services has partnered with the City University of New York to offer two-year fellowships at city agencies to recent graduates interested in pursuing civil-service careers in high-demand fields.
The fellowship is aimed at helping candidates seamlessly transition into a career within city government, DCAS Commissioner Lisette Camilo explained.
Clears Experience Hurdle
“The majority of our titles are entry-level titles that require two years of work experience in order to qualify to be called off a list. When you’re graduating college, many times you don’t have the two years requisite experience to even qualify,” she said.
The Civil Service Pathways Fellowship helps “bridge the gap” between college and public service by prepping fellows interested in one of three tracks—policy and program analysis, data and digital services, or procurement and finance—with training and professional development. Fellows are paid $40,000 to $45,000 a year, and must take a civil-service exam within the two years.
This round of applicants must have received their bachelor’s degree from a CUNY college between June 2018 and June 2019. Applicants must have a cumulative grade-point average of 2.5 or higher, and relevant internship or work experience. Candidates from all majors can apply.
DCAS has been working to make the application process for civil-service jobs easier, including opening new testing centers, most recently in The Bronx. Partnering with CUNY, Ms. Camilo said, was an “obvious choice.”
“I think it’s a great resource for very smart, diverse, well-prepared people to share their talents with New York City government,” she said.
The Commissioner noted that meeting staffing demands in fields such as IT was difficult in both the private and public sectors. “In particular in the procurement field, we want to develop that pipeline, because procurement is the lifeblood of city government.”
Shahrooz Nasir, who applied for the program during the first round of applications last October and began working at DCAS as a Policy Analyst fellow in January, said that he’d never really considered a career in city government until he found out about the fellowship.
“That got the gears turning,” he said. “For us fresh out, getting an entry-level position is so difficult, you need to have experience to even get in the door, so this was just a great opportunity. I think this fellowship opened our eyes that this is possible for us.”
Mr. Nasir, who majored in political science at Hunter College and has worked at nonprofits and at the United Nations, said that working within government was an extremely different experience.
‘A Good Balance’
“One day I’ll be researching initiatives—we’re looking to orient ourselves more around research and development—and another day I’ll be focusing on operational tasks. It’s a good balance between running an organization day to day and looking forward,” he said.
Seventeen candidates were given fellowships during the last round of applications. DCAS is hoping to fill 25 additional spots in the current round.
Ms. Camilo said that she would like to boost the number of fellows who can participate in the program, as well as expanding the opportunity to other public universities.
“We really hope to be able to demonstrate success by having the fellows take and pass civil-service exams,” she said.
Creating opportunities for young prospective civil servants has become increasingly important as the city’s workforce ages closer to retirement, Ms. Camilo noted.
“A third of the workforce will be eligible to retire in a few years. So we really have to look at the pipeline to address that issue, because that’s going to be an issue very soon, if people start retiring and creating that gap,” she said.
Ms. Camilo, who began her career in city government working as Legislative Counsel in the City Council, had an additional hope for the fellowship.
‘A Taste Can Hook You’
“I started with the government thinking I would be in city service for maybe two years. Eleven years later, I’m still around,” she said. “That’s because once I got in, I saw how incredibly interesting and rewarding the work was. Being a part of something much bigger and giving folks a taste of that early on in their career hopefully will hook them onto very long, productive careers in city service.”
Those interested can find out more at www2.cuny.edu/employment/student-jobs/internships/cuny-internship-programs/apply-for-a-fellowship/. Applications close April 4.
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