Volcker Alliance Spotlight: G2U Pittsburgh Promotes Public Service on Instagram

Abriana Gonzalez

The Pittsburgh Government-to-University (G2U) Network recently launched a new Instagram campaign with the aim of promoting engagement with partner institutions, students, and recent graduates to raise awareness of career opportunities in the public sector. The Paul A. Volcker Fund for the Future of Public Service supports G2U Pittsburgh’s initiative.

Instagram is an audio-visual social media platform with over one billion users worldwide. Recent research indicates that 67 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds use Instagram regularly. Instagram’s distinctively young user base allows G2U Pittsburgh to connect directly with students and recent graduates contemplating their next professional steps.

Identifying the public servants of the future is imperative. Currently, only 7 percent of the federal government's workforce is under 30 and the situation in state and local governments is only modestly better. As Volcker Alliance senior advisor Don Kettl observed, if government does not hire more young people, “the costs of government will go up, its ability to perform will continue to decline, and citizens’ trust in government will weaken further.” Evidence suggests that slow-moving hiring processes, outdated management tactics, and insufficient outreach limit government’s ability to recruit the next generation of top talent.

G2U Pittsburgh’s Instagram account exposes young people to public service careers in compelling and creative ways.

Surfacing remarkable public service stories. To help build content for the Instagram campaign, Hailey Gordon, an intern with Carnegie Mellon University’s Metro21: Smart Cities Institute, interviewed 18 public service leaders to surface compelling personal and professional narratives. “These interviews helped me better appreciate what the day-to-day is like in government jobs and showed me how so many different collegiate career pathways can lead to an impactful position within government.” She continued, “by sharing these stories widely and with new audiences, we hope we are opening eyes to the potential and promise of government careers.”

Promoting events and resources. G2U Pittsburgh’s Instagram campaign promotes events and networking opportunities, such as a recent virtual public sector career fair and its Intel Sharing webinar series. It also provides links to resources from employers to help students and graduates explore and apply to exciting careers in public sector fields.

Bringing the content to life. Followers can access a steady stream of shareable, social content native to the conventions of Instagram. For example, followers will find no shortage of memes, shareable, humorous images, videos, or text that can easily be copied and spread. Meme-related content drives a significant portion of user engagement and is frequently shared through other social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. The Pittsburgh team also leverages well-established hashtags like #MondayMotivation and #WisdomWednesday to help boost viewership numbers and reach.

The @G2U_PGH account has quickly taken off, reaching over 500 new accountholders, generating more than 3,000 impressions, and gaining over 100 followers since its debut in February 2021.  The G2U team is not ready to stop there! The team plans to expand to LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube. Come follow G2U Pittsburgh’s Instagram and join the public service conversation!

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