Student Stories

Call To Serve

Felicity Bloom isn’t in rural New Hampshire anymore.

Hailing from a town of about 1,000 people, Bloom came to college looking for ways to channel an interest in international relations she had developed in high school. Since then, Bloom has secured a job as an analyst with the State Department through the Career Advising and Planning Services (CAPS) office.

“Applying for government jobs in particular is very specific,” Bloom said. “There are a lot of things that you need to know that they don’t say explicitly. I still think things that were really helpful were just meeting with someone who knows about that and have them go through cover letters and resumes. For government jobs, they are literally looking for specific words.”

Now CAPS and the College are launching a new program to help more students interested in non-profit and government work find everything from summer internships to full-time jobs.

Headed by CAPS advisor Dillan Siegler, Chicago Careers in Public and Social Service (CCIPSS) “provides students with programming, resources, and advising to help them explore and connect with opportunities in the non-profit and government sectors,” according to a recent CAPS newsletter.

Bloom is not alone in her passion for public service. Over a quarter of UChicago students expressed interest in the non-profit and public service sectors, according to this fall’s Dean’s Survey of Entering and Returning Students, Siegler said. CCIPSS programming, made possible through support from the College and a grant from the non-profit Partnership for Public Service’s Call to Serve initiative, will provide one-on-one counseling for both undergraduate and graduate students, according to Siegler.

This quarter, CCIPSS will also host information sessions with different federal agencies for students interested in working in the government—the Environmental Protection Agency is already scheduled to visit. A CCIPSS-sponsored lunch series will bring representatives from non-profits to campus, as well, said Siegler.

Over spring break, Siegler led a group of current undergraduates on CCIPSS’s inaugural “Trek to DC,” a one-day trip to Washington, D.C. to meet employers and University alumni working in the government or non-profit sector.

Siegler also plans to work closely with other campus organizations, such as the University Community Service Center, the School of Social Service Administration, the Urban Education Institute, and the Harris School of Public Policy Studies, among many others. “We see this as a collaborative effort,” Siegler said.

“There is CCIH, CCIB, and CCIJ for health, business, and journalism, respectively, but there’s not something as of yet for folks like myself who are interested in government and public service,” according to Mark Redmond, a fourth-year who interned at the State Department this past summer and will be graduating this June to join the Teach for America corps. “I definitely think it’s a fantastic idea.”

CCIPSS will benefit students with the same passions as Bloom and Redmond, a member of the Men in Service club who has also worked for the Social Security Administration and interned at a Chicago alderman’s office, by making it easier to find these opportunities.

“I think they’re on a really good path right now with having this dedicated position,” said Bloom. “At the U of C, we don’t have such a strong connection with a lot of government offices, so playing up what we do have, that was really helpful.”