Both del Canto and Fritz were furloughed.

Career placement officers at area universities say student interest in federal careers remains strong.

The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington prepares graduate students for careers in the Foreign Service, the intelligence community and other areas of government. Roughly 25 percent of the Master of Arts class of 2011 went into public service. That fell to 18 percent in 2012.

Jean-Amiel Jourdan, senior associate director of career services, said students have learned to be more patient than in the past.

"Given the sequester, given now the shutdown, they have learned to think about what their Plan B or Plan C could be," he said. He gives the example of a student looking to work for the Department of Defense.

"Maybe two, three years ago, they expected to find a job in six months," he said. "Now they know that it might take between one and two years."

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County produces cybersecurity experts, engineers and other candidates for public service. Caroline Baker, an assistant vice president for careers and corporate partnerships, says interest in federal employment "is still extremely strong."

"We have numerous federal agencies that are major partners of the institution and are here frequently to talk about science and technology and nonscience positions in their organizations," she said.

Many UMBC students are related to federal workers or service members, Baker said. "They definitely perceive jobs in the federal government as being both important and honorable."

One campus activity affected by the shutdown, she said, is a job fair scheduled for next week. The State Department and the National Security Agency have pulled out. The event will go on, she said, but if the stoppage continues, other agencies could follow.

While students remain interested in federal employment, job satisfaction among the current workforce is falling. The Partnership for Public Service analyzes government survey data to produce its annual Best Places To Work in the Federal Government report.

In the most recent report, the partnership's Government-wide Best Places To Work Index Score, a calculation that takes into account job satisfaction and engagement, fell 3.2 points to 60.8 in 2012, both the lowest level and the sharpest drop since tracking began in 2003.

Palguta, the partnership's vice president for policy, said early indications are that the score will drop again in the 2013 report.

"A lot of folks joined the government with the notion of a contract here that the job was going to be secure," he said. "They weren't going to be wealthy based on their government salary. But they were going to have a comfortable life, and if they did a good job, they would have that kind of security.

"That employment contract, I think, is now being questioned."

matthew.brown@baltsun.com

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