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Director of U.S. Office of Personnel Management Visits Campus

Students Learn About Federal Job Opportunities

July 23, 2014

Dark-haired woman in black an white blouse

Katherine Archuleta

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Katherine Archuleta, director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), met with Cal State Fullerton students this week to discuss career opportunities within the federal government that graduates may wish to explore.

Since becoming director in 2013, Archuleta has dedicated herself to championing a diverse, engaged and inclusive federal workforce. She is the first Latina to lead OPM.

She began her career in public service as a teacher in Denver, then continued to follow her passion for public service as an aide to Denver Mayor Federico Pena. During the Clinton administration, she was Pena's chief of staff in the Department of Transportation and later his senior policy adviser at the Department of Energy. When she returned home to Denver, she served as a senior adviser to Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. She returned to national service during the first two years of the Obama administration as chief of staff to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. She served as national political director for President Obama's 2012 re-election campaign.

"I consider myself the chief recruiter for the federal government," Archuleta said. "I have two passions that I've followed throughout my life. I am committed to the Latino community and to women's issues in the workplace.

"When President Obama approached me with the incredible opportunity to take on this position, one of my first tasks was to determine what I could do to make the face of government look different. We need a rich mixture of people — diverse people — to give us insight into issues, such as health care and immigration. We need their voices. That's why I like to visit college campuses. I enjoy talking to students and encouraging them to apply for federal positions."

Archuleta discussed some of the most common myths about serving as a federal worker. First, not all federal employees live and work in Washington, D.C. In fact, only about 15 percent work in the nation's capital. Those who are focusing on policy tend to work in the D.C. area, but there are opportunities in every state.

The second is that these jobs aren't interesting.

"Two million people are federal employees," she said. "We have fire fighters, astronauts, research scientists, people who make sure our food is healthy, people who make sure our air is clean, teachers, engineers, artists, veterinarians, people who work with homeless, the sick, veterans. Tell me what company in the private sector can offer the breadth and depth that we can?"

The third myth is that it is impossible to get a federal job.

"There are fewer jobs available, but we are still hiring," she said. "In HUD [Housing and Urban Development], we have 1,000 positions open. I know that our website can make it hard for people to apply, but we're working on that. We want to make it easier, more useable and more interactive.

"We know you have a lot of choices," Archuleta told the students gathered around her. "But we want you to consider us, too. We have a wide range of choices, flexibility and benefits. The important thing is to get your foot in the door. This may entail taking a lower-level position, but once you're in and you can prove yourself, there are many opportunities ahead."

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