Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said that his advice to young professionals would be that they take time away from their careers to work for the federal government.
Speaking to a gathering of mutual fund advisors in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Geithner was asked what his advice would be to young professionals entering the work force.
He said, “I guess what I’d say is learn about the world; make sure you try to understand the basics of economics and finance because it’s critical to everything; and at some point come try to work for your country for some time.”
Geitner explained that the economic challenges the country confronts depend both on politicians making difficult choices and federal employees with the knowledge and skills to handle them.
“[T]he economic challenges we face as a country depend a lot on getting a better understanding of economics and finance so you can get better policy outcomes from your government,” he said.
“And that depends on getting politicians willing to make tougher choices but also people in these jobs who are talented and willing to come and give part of their life – you don’t need to spend your entire life doing it – but it’s good for the country to try and attract people to do this and I hope you do that,” said Geithner.
The Treasury Department secretary also said that his time growing up abroad had made him appreciate his country and want to work for it.
“My parents gave me this great gift as a child, and that is I lived around the world and had this great chance to get a feel for the rest of the world and to look at the United States through the eyes of other countries,” said Geithner, “and that experience is what led me to want to work for my country.”
He further said it has been a “remarkably rewarding experience” working for the government and encouraged young professionals to dedicate a few years of their working lives to government.
“It was a remarkably rewarding experience and I won’t try to affect what choices they make,” he said, “but I think the country would be stronger if we could be successful in attracting people to come spend part of their lives in public service.”
According to the Bureau of Economic analysis, federal workers in 2009 made an average of $123,049 in salary and benefits, which is more than twice the average of $61,051 that workers made in the private sector. In 2010, according to the Office of Management and Budget, there were an estimated 2.65 million federal government employees.