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Public vs. Private Sector?

Cliff posted more than 12 years ago | from the where-would-you-prefer-to-work dept.

News 353

yusing asks: "Public sector or private sector? Which would you rather work in? What are Slashdot reader experiences like? What are the differences in work environments? What are the frustrations of each? This person chose private sector after working in public. This article argues that the public sector should be expanded. There are definitely political considerations in this choice (bigger/smaller government for example) but I'd like help deciding which would be more appropriate for me. Where can I find quality reading to help me decide?"

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shit (-1, Offtopic)

skenfrith (173060) | more than 12 years ago | (#4200992)

shit shit shit its my 5 minutes of fame and i cant thin of anything to say.

Re:shit (0, Flamebait)

skenfrith (173060) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201126)

you dumbass you cant even spell.

Hey (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4200993)

Can someone post a Taco anal fantasy story? Thanks.

Job security (3, Informative)

Jesus IS the Devil (317662) | more than 12 years ago | (#4200995)

Many have chosen public/governmental because you are very unlikely get get laid off. After all, there's no end to taxpayer money.

And then once you're in and want to switch jobs governmental agencies will give you preference over someone who's not working in the public sector. This is why a friend of mine is looking to land an airport screener job. He doesn't really want to do that for the rest of his life. He just wants to get in and later on move to some computer position elsewhere.

Public sector downsides... (5, Insightful)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201042)

There are many downsides to the public sector. Pay is often not very good. Your office is often a petri dish for government social engineering...which also breeds the worst kind of office politics.

Added to which, to be frank, from my experience you will end up working with the most mediocore people the market can bear. Sorry, but many government offices are staffed by the otherwise unemployable. Do you really want to work with these people??

Re:Public sector downsides... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4201087)

Added to which, to be frank, from my experience you will end up working with the most mediocore people the market can bear. Sorry, but many government offices are staffed by the otherwise unemployable. Do you really want to work with these people??

When I started as a government contractor with the agency I work for I thought it would be amazing work. Much to my suprise it turned out exactly as you say. The government civil servants are mediocre at best and the pay for them is awful. Other than a practically guarenteed lifetime job I can't see any benefits to it. Those who can do actual work are working for a private contractor contracted to the government or working in the private sector completely.

Re:Job security (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4201045)

Job security is one of the few reasons to work for the public sector. The benefits are another. But the disadvantage is the lower pay.

For these reasons, working for the private sector can be compared to working as a contractor, while the public sector is like being a fulltime employee. The decision must be made by each person individually.

Re:Job security (0)

ahuimanu (237298) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201057)


That's bullshit... Government jobs are just as wobbly. Especially state and local.


money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4200998)

better money in private sector

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4201003)

Why not just do what feels right by you?

Sheesh, asking a website for it's opinion just makes you look weak.

Work where the security is. (1)

The Turd Report (527733) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201005)

But, in recent times, that has been a hard find. Govt jobs are at the mercy of what ever administration is in charge. Private jobs are at the mercy of the CEO and if he want to increase the stock proce by RIFing you and 1000 of your cow-orkers.

Stability (4, Interesting)

Yuan-Lung (582630) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201006)

Personally I chose working in the public sector. Basically for the stability. With a family to feed in an slow economy like this, working for the government doesn't seem such a bad idea.

Besides, my health has already went all the way down hill after pulling the countless overtime in the private sector. I need to take time and recover quiet a bit, and the resonable working hour is just great for that.

Re:Stability (1)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201088)

That's just great until the gov. gets into a budjet crunch and you get downsized, just like in the private sector.

Sure, back in the rich days of the '80's public service jobs were rock solid, but those days are falling behind now and gov. jobs are hardly guaranteed to be secure. The only partially secure public sector jobs are those which are unionized, and these just give you the same protection as any other union in the private sector.

Re:Stability (1)

Lucas Membrane (524640) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201147)

There's an agency in my state that has been asking for a $5 million budget to replace antique COBOL systems, about 5 million lines. Figure what you can do for $1 per line when code costs about $100 line to get into production. They have always been getting $2 million or less annual budget, so people work hard keeping a weak set of programs running. Now they are asked to participate in a 10% workforce reduction and hiring temps.

Re:Stability (1)

CarrionBird (589738) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201198)

When I worked for a state agency, myself and just about all new hires were kept in a permanent temporary status. This actually made sense for my job, a temporary part-time job, but they used this method for all empolyees up to a certian pay level. We would be terminated and re-hired in the payroll systems every 90 days or so to keep it legal. It was automatic, so you kept getting your timecards like always. Permanent slots were like little holy grails.

Early Post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4201007)

This early post for Annabel Lee!

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.
I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea;
But we loved with a love that was more than love--
I and my
Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful
Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me--
Yes!--that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my
Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we--
Of many far wiser than we--
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful
Annabel Lee.

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful
Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful
Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling--my darling--my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

benefits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4201012)

private sector: big $$$

public sector: long term employment (in most cases)

bad things(tm)

private: volatility of company standing

public: PHB's up the wazoo, and less $$$

Thanks but no thanks (2, Informative)

Lil'wombat (233322) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201013)

I worked in government contracting for the department of defense. It was not a pleasant experience. As a consultant, you had to allow your books to be audited by the DOD and you were limited to a 7% profit margin. I imagine the same applys for government employees - here's your salary and the best raise you can expect is a cost of living adjustment.

Re:Thanks but no thanks (2)

Pfhreakaz0id (82141) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201070)

holy crap! Our firm does contracting for another Gov. Agency and I can assure you, their profit margin is FAR larger than 7%.

Re:Thanks but no thanks (1)

Timinithis (14891) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201127)

I work in the public sector, specifically for a state agency. I am not a contractor. I am paid salary, and that salary is lower than I was making in my $45,000/yr contract job, but:

1) I don't have to worry about a contract 'suddenly' ending without notice.
2) Being currently single, all of my health benefits (medical/dental/vision) are paid for -- I only have small co-pays if I go to a doctor and I get 2 free dental cleanings a year.
3) Depending on the department, you may or may not get a raise at all. In this department, I can expect an annual raise on top of a ACOL of about 5%. Not much, but it does add up.
4) I am not able to be laid off or dismissed without documented reasoning once I am off probation. The saying that it is difficult to fire a state/federal employee is true.
5) I am in a shop where I am the lead/only developer for their intranet, so I have free reign to schedule meetings, code and design as I would have in the private sector.
6) The only downside, is I am not able to tele-commute at all.

I just started less than 6 months ago, and I am looking at a minimum pay raise in the next 30 days of $1000.00, and another pay raise 90 days after that that will be between $2 - 3,000.00. After that, its annual raises and cost of living increases, but the annual step increases are between 2 and 3K a year on top of the cost of living bump.

I would seriously look at public service, if ou don't have to actually deal with the public.

It's sing along time on Slashdot! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4201014)

Sing along to Pepperidge Farm Goldfish snacks!

Here's our jingle for Goatse®
We wrote a song for Goatse

The wholesome back that smiles back
until you bite his balls off!

See the goatses stretching...
Oh look the JonKatz's winning...

Didn't that make you feel good about Goatse?

Here's our Jingle for Goatse
Stretchy little Goatse

Oh good we're at the part
Where we show that he's straight and not queer

Did you know they're made
with real anus
Even though they look like pussy

The back that smiles back Goatse.

better benefits and security in civil service (2)

Archfeld (6757) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201015)

Much better pay, equipment and training in the private sector in my experience. Will be interesting seeing some other reactions.

Re:better benefits and security in civil service (0)

sllort (442574) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201073)

Having worked in the government, I feel it's necessary to point out that one benefit is that it's almost impossible to change your state. This means it's hard to get ahead, hard to get equipment, hard to get transferred, hard to be promoted, and hard to get fired.

Hang on to that last point. If you're incompetent, and particularly if you're incompetent and a member of a protected group, you can basically appeal any decision made against you till the end of time.

So, if you're looking for job stability like no other, go for a government job. But don't expect hard work and intelligence to advance you as quickly as the private sector would allow... but remember that the converse is true.

Also keep in mind that extended service gets you a pension and the health plans are usually first rate (PPO's).


Academia (3, Interesting)

angst7 (62954) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201016)

I enjoyed working in Academia more than any other sector, though I'm not certain whether a BIG 10 university is considered Public or Private. (Since it draws a large amount of funds from the Government) Whatever it may be considered, it was terrific for me. The flexibility you have in when you do your reasearch and how you choose to conduct it is unparalleled.

Just my .02 [] , ph balanced, for women.

Re:Academia (2, Insightful)

GT_Alias (551463) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201122)

I second that. Academia seems to have been fairly impervious to the economic crises lately (at least the school I work at). Yeah, they've been tightening budgets up, but they sure haven't been laying people of in droves.

In addition, they've been fairly generous with training, equipment, hours, and pay.

The downside? For me, its been politics. Lots of people making noise, very few actually getting anything accomplished. I work for an auxiliary part of the college though, not for an actual school or research department, so I can't speak for those.

In addition, you don't have the opportunity to "make it big" like you do in the private sector (however small an opportunity that is). You're pretty much guaranteed a modest, but steady salary for as long as you work there.

Academia politics are worse than even govt jobs (2)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201194)

Speaking from experience as a grad student.

Want back stabbing, gossip, alliances and enemies? Join the ranks of academia! If you are a prof you get amaazing leeway to abuse your grad students and use them for free labor. Thats if you can survive the constant oversight of the head of the dept. If you are a grad student, bend over and lube up. You are free labor and you have no rights as a worker. After a while you will notice that it is no coincidence that your advisor won't let you leave. Why would they? You are a well conditioned mule. Letting you graduate would mean your advisor would have to break in another.

From Ghostbusters: (5, Funny)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201017)

Dr. Raymond Stantz: Personally, I liked the university. They gave us money and facilities, we didn't have to produce anything. You've never been in the private sector. They expect *results*.

Re:From Ghostbusters: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4201158)

Hahahaha!! Great quote!

In this economy... (2, Insightful)

rtblmyazz (592071) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201018)

...take whatever the hell job you can find, cause there isn't squat out there right now. Not many people have the luxury of pondering such questions these days.

Private Sector!!!! (4, Funny)

GeneralEmergency (240687) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201021)

Those who can't DO, TEACH.

Those who can't TEACH, MANAGE.

Those who can't MANAGE, GOVERN.


Re:Private Sector!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4201116)

Those that can't govern, start wars.

Do you want to rot securely or take a risk? (5, Insightful)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201023)

I think is the real question. Going to work in most large institutions, be it government or a large corporation, is an opportunity to securely rot for a long time. Note that I use the word secure, although in reality most large corporations are as likely to constantly trim/grow staff now as small ones.

You should work in at least one small, on the edge company for some period of time when you are young and can take more risks. These are the types of places you really learn and grow without having your fate defined by a strictly defined job definition.

This type of question is likely to be answered by all sorts of people crapping on the private sector because of the job situation out there. Come on folks, markets recover. Taking a risk on a smaller company when you have no dependents and no long term debt (like when you are first out of college) is a must.

Re:Do you want to rot securely or take a risk? (2)

Mannerism (188292) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201169)

Taking a risk on a smaller company when you have no dependents and no long term debt (like when you are first out of college) is a must.
Hmph. Well, I guess those who have the sort of financial means necessary to graduate from college without a long-term debt would feel more comfortable taking risks...

Re:Do you want to rot securely or take a risk? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4201205)

Well, yes and no... No long term debt?

10 years of college debt: $x
5 years of car loan payments for a new care when the Volvo dies: $y
Balancing that alongside rent, phone, and satellite (gotta watch the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, after all): $z

I believe that recent college graduates (like myself) could use the stability the most; we have no cash stashed for a buffer if our job gets wiped out from under us.

Any thoughts?

Personal Achievement (3, Interesting)

Neil Watson (60859) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201024)

It's possible that you could get a great sense of accomplishment from working in the public sector. However, here in Canada, government services are heavily unionized. I fear that most attempts at accomplishing anything could be burried under government and union red tape.

Typical Slashbot Losers (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4201028)

What can I say? Most of you are Posers and Wannabes. Its obvious many of you have plenty of time on your hands. But I enjoy reading your ramblings after a good day at work creating and maintaining websites ... or when I come home from the bank after cashing my paycheck.

Whats that you say? No we do not need someone who knows Frontpage. Wrong decade. Thats too bad. But McD's is hiring. Say "Would you like fries with that?" Excellent. See, you ARE an expert at something useful.

If you're young, under 27, female and good looking you could possibly get by for awhile like many women do - on your knees. Nothing wrong with that its the oldest profession, women are naturally cut out for that, and you can make your own hours.

Re:Typical Slashbot Losers (1)

skidgetron (593733) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201094)

Wow, you're blatant misoginy and sexism is refreshing. Maybe when you hit puberty, grow up a bit, move out of your moms house, you too could have a girlfriend.

Easy choice... (3, Informative)

toupsie (88295) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201032)

If you don't want to judged on your work performance and get away with all sorts of employment misconduct, by all means, take a civil service job. Its almost impossible to fire a Government employee compared to an employee in the private sector. That's why Government is completely inefficient (idiots survive easily) and why President G.W. Bush does not want typical civil servants running the Homeland Security Department.

Re:Easy choice... (2, Insightful)

krwren (549346) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201081)

Yes, a state job is more secure and it is not easy to get fired, but speeking for the department I work in, we take pride in our work. We can not be made to work over but we do when needed (without overtime or comp) because of PRIDE in our work. You can run into the same problems in any department private or public. Always judge the MANAGEMENT over the position more than anything else. They can make hard jobs injoyable or make easy jobs killers.

Re:Easy choice... (2)

toupsie (88295) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201124)

Yes, a state job is more secure and it is not easy to get fired, but speeking for the department I work in, we take pride in our work

Wish your attitude was more common in the civil service.

I'm not saying all civil service employees are idiots but a far larger percentage of them are compared to the private sector. Since Government doesn't have to produce a profit or even stick to a budget, the incentive for managers to motivate employees to peak performance is next to nil.

Amtrak is a great example of a Government run business. Completely inefficient, full of fraud, nothing works and is bleeding money left and right.

Re:Easy choice... (2)

cje (33931) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201174)

Since Government doesn't have to produce a profit or even stick to a budget ..

I'm not sure why you would think this. I work at a federal facility that gets a yearly outlay from Congress, the same as any other government agency/facility. When the money is gone, we can't just go ask for more. In the past year we've had to cut training budgets and even lay some people off because of budget shortfalls.

Re:Easy choice... (2)

Matey-O (518004) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201195)

Count me as a second Civil Service person that takes pride in his work.

Listening to my wife, there are JUST as many doofuses at Her office (coding) as there are at mine.

Re:Easy choice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4201214)

the incentive for managers to motivate employees to peak performance is next to nil It's not the incentive for managers that is the problem. Most managers in the gov't would love for their employees to work at peak performance. Their hands are tied as to what incentives they can give their employees to motivate them (either to reward the good performers or punish/fire the poor performers).

more fluctuations in public (0, Offtopic)

Jonny Ringo (444580) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201034)

Being at a .com on the public market during the boom, you received tons of nice little benfits. We had kegs every friday, tons to eat during the all hands meetings, more computer parts lying around for the taking. But now that everything went in the shitter, everything got cut back. No more friday kegs, no food at the all hands, no extra computer parts lying around. I'm sure the private sector changes too, but it can't be as much when you have to please investors.

Re:more fluctuations in public (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4201068)

Who modded this up? He didn't even understand the question! Public sector means Government! Not publicly traded!

Re:more fluctuations in public (2)

the gnat (153162) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201182)

heh. I work in academia, and that's what our work environment is like. friday kegs, even. gotta keep the grad students and postdocs happy.

Whoever's hiring (2, Interesting)

Brento (26177) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201036)

These days, the choice seems to come down to whoever's hiring.

If you're the kind of person who really shines, who likes working hard and wants to impress your boss, stick with the private sector. If you just want to get by until you retire, and you'd rather do your more challenging work in your spare time, then work in the public sector.

Count your lucky stars (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4201037)

Judging by the level of intelligence found on this sorry excuse for a feel-good student message board, you lot should shouldn't even be able to be picky about jobs. Most of you Linux-using "I rec0pil3 my Colonel" wannabes don't deserve employment anyway. Oh yeah, I will have fries with my supersize meal.

I almost forgot, when you've finished taking out the trash, you'll need to give some attention to the mens room. Third stall on the left looks like an otter crawled into the pan and died. Smells that way too. HAVE FUN!!!

Public (1)

super_saiyan (233525) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201041)

i am interning for a government agency right now and i love it! my experience may be unique, but i find i am given the freedom to do interesting new research at work. also there is no pressure to get a product out the door, and no crazy un-attainable deadlines. of course the pay is probably less than i would be making in the private sector, but for me the increased freedom, and reduced stress is worth the pay decrease.

What do you want to do? (2, Interesting)

rowanxmas (569908) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201046)

It really depends on what kind of job you are looking for. I, as a researcher, am pretty much tied to public/non-profit, since I like the flexibility I get. If I went to a for-profit company I would not be able to direct my own research, and would pretty much be a monkey boy for my boss ( at least until I get my Ph.D. ). My roomate is thinking of switching out of a BIG computer company and going to a non-profit, so that his job is more interesting.

Where can I find quality reading to help me? (3, Insightful)

jukal (523582) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201053)

In your own head. What rewards you? Is it money? Is it scientific fame? Is it making products used by millions? Is it doing something ethically good? Is it long lasting research work? Is it the ability to change work-description quickly?

Public sector vs. Private (5, Interesting)

HBI (604924) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201054)

I have no idea where to find good reading on this, but I have my own anecdotal experience. In the private sector, everything is based upon relative merit. Those who have wealth and power control things, those who do not are inconsequential. My job was clear: service those with wealth and power. When the CEO screamed, we jumped. We were paid well for what we did. The job security sucked, but there was always another job. This is turned on its head in the public sector, where each minor functionary has their own storehouse of power and can stymie your attempts at doing your job through the use of simple intrangisence or procedural issues. We liked to say when I was working for the military that you don't care what you look like to the General. You care what you look like to the lifelong government employees, because the General is long gone and reassigned, while the lifers are going to be there forever. I find the public sector to be immensely annoying to work for, and there is the very great risk of being 'captured' by the system and becoming another functionary obsessed with procedure. Left to choose: private sector, every time.

Public vs State (0, Offtopic)

chrisseaton (573490) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201058)

What about public vs state schools?

Re:Public vs State (1)

jacoberrol (561252) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201089)

err... do you mean Private vs Public schools?

Re:Public vs State (1)

chrisseaton (573490) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201101)

No, I'm English. Here Public = owned by public. People pay to get in. State = run by state. Free to get in.

depends on your ambitions. (2)

Brigadier (12956) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201064)

Public sector people may disagree, but I believe if you desire to work in a truly competitive market, where you earn yoru pay, and if you wish to work with the most motivated and motivating (good and bad) people you need to work in the private sector. However if your looking for security then the public sector is best. I have a friend who is a sys admin for a gov facility and his job is so easy, no stress, they are all unionized. And there is never ending breuracracy.
If you wish to make any sort of change it has to be approved by ten different commitiees. ten commitees who know nothing about the technology. Where in private sector is driven by demand and performance.

Poll (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4201065)

Who would you rather work for?

(o) Greedy multinational Corporations
(o) The Evil Government(tm)
(o) CowboyNeal

Fuck Work. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4201066)

I don't want to work at all you numbnuts.

Public or Private Sector? How about neither?

amazing story (1, Offtopic)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201069)

"news for nerds. Stuff that matters."

What the heck is this? Someone can't figure out what to do with their life, and comes to the general population of the world for advice? What in the world does this have to do with news?

You know, there doesn't have to be a new article every 10 minutes or so. Can wait for like..real news stories, or things that people might be interested in.

working in the public sector is frustrating, and thankless. Working in the private sector is less so. In fact, for some people, working in the private sector is actually rewarding. Being in IT in the public sector isn't. Red tape like MAD. It really is true that the space shuttle still uses 386 chips all over due to all the hassles they'd have to go through to change the design.

Private sector also pays better. On the other hand, you're far less likely to get fired in the public sector. So if you suck, and have no plans on improving yourself, work in the public sector. Otherwise, private.

there is, of course, a seperate that some one say is one or the other, but the culture is definately different enough to warrant its own category - Academia. Depends on what you want to do.

and isn't "it depends" the answer anyway? Yeesh. Its like you're asking "which is better to do this task I haven't defined? Assembly, C, perl, or java?" Well geeze...who knows? What are your skills? What do you want in life? How important is money to you? Is IT a career thing for you, or a job? There are far too many factors.

what a silly "article." Bah

Re:amazing story (1)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201111)

how in the WORLD was that offtopic? I was posting 100% /on/ topic! whatever.

I discussed the benefits and drawbacks of private and public, mentioned that there was a third option, then concluded saying that not enough info was given for us to make this person's decision for them. Sounds pretty damn on-topic to me.

Re:amazing story (2)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201123)

I like the fact that you started by criticizing the 'Ask Slashdot'.

Then you discussed it.

Then you said "But really, who cares, decide yourself." (A glib comment that could be lofted at any Ask /., good question or not.)

Then you criticized the piece again. (!)

To think, people wonder why some folks won't take the initiative to end abusive relationships. Funny stuff. :)

Re:amazing story (1)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201156)

I didn't say who cares. I said that not enough info was given. The article was a very vague question, with all the important details left out. Hell, we can only /assume/ that its an IT related field, given the website we're discussing it on.

I was questioning why this was even put on slashdot, yes. Seems like a pretty valid question to me.

and I fail to see how my questioning the value of the article itself constitutes an abusive relationship. I also love how "ontopic" your post was. I mean, at least I discussed the question...

Depends on what kind of person you are. (2)

Nos. (179609) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201071)

I work for the feds in a small regional office. However, I'm the kind of person who likes to have input on all the big IT decisions, so for me, this sucks!

All the decisions are made at a National level with very little chance for the regions to comment or even make suggestions. If your IT folk at the national level are not great, your job gets harder. We have a lot of inhouse developed solutions. However, they rarely work properly when a new version comes out, and there is very little documentation (read: none, except install instructions).

Also, a lot of the time the public sector doesn't have a lot of control over the products it uses. For example, we're preparing to rollout Windows 2000 for our server environment (with Exchange, MSSQL, etc.) without ever making a choice on looking at other OSs. Why? Because, they decided to contract the job out. So, basically lowest bid that meets the requirements wins. They don't bother to look at other options, like taking the money to pay the contractors and instead training up people to implement the solution.

Yes, I'm bitter, and slowly starting to find contract work to get myself out of this job. But what I have to say is still valid. If you like being in control, or at least working close with those who are, make sure you work in the top of the pryamid office. Of course this doesn't just apply to public offices, I'm sure large private sector corps aren't much different.

Re:Depends on what kind of person you are. (2)

Telastyn (206146) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201105)

Don't worry everyone, normal corperations over a few hundred people do the same exact thing. No input, just do it.

Politics vs Future? (2)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201075)

Big public companies are chock full of nasty politics and can be frustrating at times. They are secure, and promotions are easier, but being someone the company cherishes is harder.
Small private companies keeps you free of politics and its easier to be recognized, although, it is usually more difficult to move up the chain (promotions) when in a smaller company.

Personally, I enjoy the small companies, because I hate company politics. I do plan on changing in a few years (after my MBA and some project management experience) to get more responsibility and more cash.

best of both worlds: (2)

MORTAR_COMBAT! (589963) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201076)

Academia. Working IT at a public university lets you do pretty much what you want, decent pay, and you don't have to sell anything.

Best bet ... (1)

Quixotic Raindrop (443129) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201078)

... I think, is to interview people who are in each, and some who do both.

I have worked in both public and private sectors, and there are, as anywhere, good and bad of each. I don't have any experience in a startup, though, so that might affect some things about the private sector.

I currently work for a huge worldwide corporation, and have some stability and certainly higher pay, but for less decision-making authority and less work environment control than I had in the public sector. I have access to much better benefits, more up-to-date hardware (in some cases, hardware that's not publicly availble, even from other companies), and a much larger budget than in the public sector, but less leeway with what I can and can't do with them.

Other people's experiences may vary, but I would say this: In general, public sector work is a great place to get started, in just about any field (not just IT/MIS/software/whatever), and can provide a richness both in breadth and depth of experiences, often at lower (much, sometimes!) pay, and with smaller bene packages. Private sector work is a good place to get paid, to get your teeth fixed on the company's dime (more or less), get some brutally repetative, but nevertheless deep, exposure to a handful of experiences, and get those conference passes and flights to/from them for free, or pretty close to it.

One thing no one has taken into consideration... (2)

jsonmez (544764) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201079)

Is that it is actually in most cases harder to get a job in the public sector. The government has very strict hiring practices and if they say you need a degree, they tend to not accept equivalent work experience. Sure you may not get laid off working for the government, but in most cases, if you were working in the private sector you could save enough money to handle being laid off. Sure you get nice hours, vacation working for the government, but again working in the private sector (especially as a consultant) you can save more money to take vacation, or even take a couple months off. Sure working for the government you might not have to work as hard and be as skilled, but you won't be learning skills and using your skills, so you won't be advancing your career either. Weighing it out, it's any easy choice for me, if I'm going to work for the government, I'm going to be a marine so I can kill people, because that's about the only real benfit it has, (aside from stability which can be countered by money, because money = time)

In this economy... (1)

cnelzie (451984) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201084)

You really should be looking in all sectors. Why decide to focus on just public or private sectors? That can severely limit any prospects for gainful employment.

Sure there are some benefits in either one and also cons in either one. However, those exist regardless of any job that you take and every action that you peform in life.

Limiting yourself to one sector, IMHO, has far more cons then pros.

In the end, it is your decision to make. My only advice is to never limit your options. Both sectors can be rewarding in a number of ways.


GOV'T CONTRACTOR!!! (3, Interesting)

mekkab (133181) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201086)

I work with a major company who's prime source of contracts is with governments (US, UK,some china)and its the best/worst of all worlds.

THE BAD: Since all government contracts start as bids, your company will invariably underbid. That means a death march. Tight schedules, reduced resources. Some marches are more livable than others. However, becuase the SW development field is so young, I think you are going to find death marches everywhere.

Additionally, you are a servant to many masters. Those paying, those managing, and those who will eventually get your product. However I find politics to be quite fun, especially when you outperform (See above comment) and your adversaries "fall on their ass" (its an industry term...)

THE GOOD: Everything you heard about public sector jobs, but with better salary. Whoo hooo!

Self Respect (2)

furiousgeorge (30912) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201093)

I'm sure i'll get flamed to a crisp, but what the hey......

In my first job outside of school i was working for a consulting firm where we did a lot of work for the government (setting up networks, computer security, etc etc etc)

After that experience I would say that I will never EVER work for the government myself, nor will I ever have much respect for those that work in government.

Some reasons:

-well, it was the government. Slow moving people mired in burocracy.

-minimal accountability. The amount of $$$$ that was being spent on stupid stuff, plus the amount of $$$ being wasted by incompetance was just sickening.

-institutational paralysis. Try to get anybody to make a freaking decision? Forget it - we're gonna need three comittees and a dozen meetings to make the most trivial decision. I think this is part of the government mentality - it's part of the job security.

That being said, there are good people working in the government. But i'll never go anywhere near that sector again. My self respect couldn't take it.

Re:Self Respect (2)

symbolic (11752) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201185)

I tend to agree. I've never worked for the government, but I have worked for government contractors. In some cases, they're mirror images, only smaller.

Missions (1)

thing_from_space (449789) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201096)

I think it depends on your goals.

The public sector, and I'm speaking as an employee of a large land grant university, is less volitile but with less opportunities. I'm pretty confident I'll have my job 20 years from now. That's what I want: stability. But this is without sacrifice. I make less than what I could in the private sector. And it looks like I'll have to wait my turn to move up the ladder instead of using backstabbing manuvers to kill of the competition.

On the other hand, the public sector is the place to go to make lots of money fast. If you have the desire and the will, you can be CEO before the end of the week... which is what everyone else is doing, so you have to watch your back.

These two sectors have completely different missions. One is self-serving, existing only to make money. The other was born for the betterment of society where profits are not the objective.

Depends which country! (2)

fantomas (94850) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201099)

I'd a lot depends on the general "public vs. private" sector arguements in the country you're in, and how politicians, decision makers and the public generally respect these sectors.Depends what you're trying to get out of it as well - security? money?

I'd make a guess you'd be better off working in the public sector in a northern European country (scandinavian social democracy model) and the private sector in the USA (laissez faire free market policies). I guess the surrounding working condition issues offered by those countries affect both private and public sector workers. Not sure what I'd choose in former soviet countries, probably working for the mafia... :-(

Completely different beasts (5, Informative)

jht (5006) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201100)

Working in the public sector (I assume federal, rather than state) gives you very good job security, reasonable pay, strong benefits, and the potential to retire young with a nice pension - allowing you to either live frugally and well or take another job afterwards with extra gravy courtesy of the feds. State governments are generally similar, but the workers are more prone to layoff if the budget crashes.

Public sector employees, though, often have fewer opportunities for advancement, no ability to get things like bonuses, and less flexibility in some of the "little things" you might encounter (like flex time , for instance). Also, if your boss is a moron in the private sector there's a chance they might get canned. If your incompetent boss is a civil servant, it's likelier that they'll stick around and make you miserable.

In the private sector, there's more opportunity for talented people to advance rapidly, more competitive and flexible pay scales, and in many cases, a workplace that's open to change.

But the downside is little to no job security, a less generous retirement plan (at most companies), and less time off.

So you need to decide what's more important to you. If you like stability, and/or aren't supremely confident in your abilities, then you can perhaps get on a career path with the feds and have a nice, solid, middle-class life. You'll probably get to keep working there through thick and thin so long as you're not a total screwup.

But if you think you really have the ability to go be a star, stick to the private sector. If you're really good, there's at least a chance of getting the appropriate reward. Just keep your resume up-to-date.

Government (2)

unicron (20286) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201106)

I do IT for a big government contractor. Not going to say who but we're the biggest construction and engineering company on Earth. I can't speak for all of the other people in my company doing contractor work but for me the level of bs politics is unbelievable. Getting ahead where I work is 5% skills/talent/experience, and 95% how well you can play the game. I actually had a meeting this morning where I had to quit working to go into a meeting and give a status report about the current status of my work, which I had to postpone for the meeting.

Yes, I am going slowly insane.

The best jobs in the world, ESPECIALLY IT, is workign for the city. Nothing else comes close. Awesome benefits, wicked tax benefits, great pay, awesome equipment/technology(usually). If you can get one, get it. Kill if you have to, but get it.

Holidays..... (2)

Lawmeister (201552) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201112)

that's the one thing that keeps me in the Public sector - after 5 years of service I'm up to 5 weeks paid leave... plus all the O/T I crank up fixing servers etc on weekends.

Doubtful that many private companies would offer such a great incentive after so few years.

ups & downs of public sector (1)

chizor (108276) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201113)

after getting laid off when eazel [] closed last year, i got a job in a research group at UCSF [] . i find it pretty relaxed but not quite motivated enough for my taste. the sense of being provided for runs strong here - people are concerned for their own careers instead of also for the well-being of the organization as a whole. deadlines are suspiciously flexible, so anyone used to meeting all goals would either excel or become frustrated.

public sector pay may not be stellar, but the benefits are. working for UC 5 years qualifies you for pension payments even without a retirement savings account. work your whole career here and your pension will come close to your entire salary.

while i would appreciate a more efficient, less bureaucratic environment, the university is a good employer. i'm even hoping to take advantage of my affiliation in order to acquire a master's degree.


Private (1)

Srsen (413456) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201118)

Public sector "job security" robots are cowards. They will never achieve anything worthwhile in life because all they want is for someone else to take care of them so they don't have to take care of themselves. That's why public sector agencies are chock full of flaky loser employees.

If you have any combination of motivation / ambition / competence you will never be satisfied working in the public sector. It will frustrate you to death.

Try it Yourself. (1)

broody (171983) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201129)

I more or less was considering the same thing coming out of school. Research all you want but the only real way to know is to just do it.

I ended up taking a job as contractor (well contractor to contractor to contractor) on a large federal contract. This experience was enough for me to realize that working directly for the government was not for me. I stayed a consultant for six years (on federal contracts in the DC metro) and enjoyed it.

After the economy went to hell after 9/11 and my contract ended a few months later, I began to wonder if perhaps being an employee would be a better fit. I did a temp to perm deal, and now I know I don't ever want to be a regular employee again. The stabillity of being an employee is not real IMHO and the restrictions are annoying. For good or ill, I may soon be free of my obligation to the project and back on the market. I know I will never try for employee gigs unless I become truly desperate.

My advice would be to try each of the things you are cosidering in rough order of the things you think you would like most paired with opportunity. It's not like you cannot change your direction after completing a project and tying up the loose ends.

Ramble, ramble. YMMV.

If you want money, stay out of the public sector. (2)

RumGunner (457733) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201133)

I've been working as computer support for a large state university for over a year and a half. Tomorrow is my last day. I'm leaving to go back to school full time. Why am I quitting?

My pay is 25-35% lower than people with my same job in the private sector. And there really isn't any less stress at this job, unless you are a brain-dead slacker who could care less about enabling people to be productive. If you're interested in sitting on your ass all day and not helping people, and are reasonably sure your supervisor won't be willing to file the stress headache of termination papers for you, then the public sector is right for you.

Yes, public sector is stable. But the lack of money takes away from that. I can't afford a house, a new car, and I can barely keep up with my student loan payments. How stable is having to eat a dinner of rice and beans several times a week just to make payments on things you can't afford?

And public sector jobs depend heartily on funding from government. I've had plenty of experience lobbying the legislature of my state for funding for the past few years. If budgets need to be cut, the "bloated infrastructure" of a university looks is a mighty easy target for legislators.

Yes, it's a student's life and graduate school for me. Stick to the private sector if you can. Just don't get caught up in the lifestyle of extravagance, and you'll be fine.

Try them both..see what you like (1)

DCram (459805) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201134)

I have worked for both and there are pros and cons to each.

As one poster said if you work for the .gov then you really dont have to worry about job loss, well you do but not as much. The one complaint that alot of my co-workers had was that they wernt given the chance to try new things and branch out. In some cases if you are in the bleading edge dept. then you can but usually no, they still use ada for christ sake! One good thing was that the specs were fantastic for the projects I was involved with and the pace was easy. We really didnt slack but the deadlines wernt the slap in the face that the private sector gives you.

With the public sector I have the freadom to try out new tech and see if it fits in with our buisness model. The specs I have recieved in most all of my exp were terible, changing all the time and in alot of cases just plain unreasonable. Time to deliver is a joke as well. I say a month and my sales people say 2 weeks. Well what can you do.

With the .gov the deadlines are years in advance and everywhere else it is a race to market.

I liked both and wouldnt mind working in either sector. But if you work for the private sector remember that some companies have a notion that all former .gov workers are lazy. well in my exp.

Hey dont flame me for my spelling!! I know I suck already so you will just be waisting your time.

You have a choice? Congratulations! (3, Insightful)

gosand (234100) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201135)

At this point in the economy, I think you should take whatever you can get. If you have that big of a choice where you can decide between one or the other, then you are doing better than most. Probably no matter what you choose, things will change in 5 years. Personally, I wouldn't want to work at the same place for life, but I don't want to be switching jobs every 2 years either. A lot can happen in 5 years, especially in the IT industry.

A great band once said:
Yes there are two paths you can go by
But in the long run
There's still time to change the road you're on

Nat'l Labs are great for tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4201137)

The national labs typically have the latest equipment, best training, and real job security.
Sandia and Los Alamos are great examples of this.
However, for these 2 you will have to LIVE IN NEW MEXICO.

(your living standards may vary, I just like "real" cities)

Sandia []

Los Alamos []

some differences to consider (2, Interesting)

transient (232842) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201141)

The private sector is typically faster and more efficient than the public sector. Private companies need to be nimble in order to remain competitive in a changing marketplace, and of course they have to keep a close eye on the bottom line. Conversely, the public sector has a responsibility to make thoughtful, conscientious decisions through due process.

As for pay, "everybody knows" that salaries are better in the private sector, but the difference is smaller towards the bottom of the org chart. Laborers, techs, and line managers don't make that much less in the public sector than their corporate counterparts. There is a huge disparity in executive salaries. It is fairly common for people to gain initial experience as civil servants, then make the jump to private organizations for the better pay later on.

Some people simply feel better about working for a public organization. Many civil servants have a sense of duty to their community. This drive is probably responsible for the high rate of burnout among civil servants. The average turnover among public managers, for example, is 18 months.

I enjoy the stability and rewarding nature of my position in a municipal government, and I don't plan on going back to the private sector any time soon.


Fox & the Henhouse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4201146)

The second article mentioned (the one where the person claims security jobs belong in the public sector) assumes that only the private companies themselves will always audit their own security. Does anyone else see anything wrong with this, the concept or the assumption itself?

Your career is what you make of it, reguardless (5, Informative)

Matey-O (518004) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201159)

I'm comfy in my stable IT based state job. I have seen the typical stereotypical government worker in BOTH sectors.

While there are some backwards, misdirected, IT shops in the state, OURS isn't one of 'em. I'm proud of the work and accomplishments my fellow cow-orkers and I have pulled off on a small budget and not enough people.

I appreciate the stability, and the pay has actually jumped up to equal the lower pre-dotcom network admin salaries. I appreciate the 40 hour work weeks, and the flex-time/place work environment. But I also know that my position is a unique one and there are a WHOLE LOT of state jobs I wouldn't want to have. ...but there are a bunch of those jobs in the PRIVATE sector too. The grass ain't greener on the other side, it's pretty much painted dead grass there too.

Will I be the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs this way? Nope. But I'll have plenty of time to watch my kids grow up and _assist_in_that_process_.

I've learned reciently that being rich ain't all that. I'm pretty happy with slightly more money than I need to live on comfortably.

Too much waste in public sector (2)

Fastball (91927) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201160)

I've been working in state government the last three years as a web programmer + whatever else needs to be done. Stability is a plus. We also have a sizeable budget for hardware, software, and support contracts.

Unfortuntately, we have a sizeable budget for hardware, software, and support contracts. What does that mean? The prevailing philosophy is to buy something off the shelf rather than developing it in house. Even for simple stuff like messaging systems, content management systems, etc. As a result, I have to look elsewhere during my spare time in order to learn new things (e.g. XML and Java to name a few). Like any other programmer, if I'm not learning new things, I'm not worth much.

This is great if your on the management side of the equation. CYA can't get any easier. Something doesn't work? Fall back on a fat support contract or buy software and hardware.

This sucks if you're a hack with a curious itch looking to take your game to the next level. Your proposals are going to be trumped by your department's need to "spend the budget or risk losing it come the fiscal new year."

My suggestion: If you're young and excited about learning new things and doing more with less, run don't walk from a gig with the government. If you've lost a step as a hack or are management material, get on board, ride it for twenty years, retire to Guadalajara, and sip tequila sunrises until your liver explodes.

I prefer private sector (3, Informative)

bobdehnhardt (18286) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201161)

Having worked in both public (DoD, DoI) and private sectors, I must say that I greatly prefer private.

The public sector is not as stable as one might think. New administrations tend to undo what previous ones did (even if they are the same party - the transition from Reagan to Bush caused a number of shakeups). RIFs and reassignments are dictated by the political climate and public opinion. And if the majority in Congress happens to be of a different party than the Prez, and Federal budget gets delayed, you don't get paid (and retroactive pay is not guaranteed).

Private sector is far more volatile, but the opportunities are also greater. I'll accept the higher-but-manageable risks of the private sector.

Govt work sucks.. (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201163)

IF you are an innovative person. If you are constantly trying to fin new and better ways of doing something or are interested in efficiency at all then you will be utterly miserable in public work.

I spent 7 years in it... The supervisors are idiots, their managers are morons, and the people that run the city are scumbags. (city managers) Add to that the usual UNION workforce that is interested in making sure that you DO NOT make your job more efficient. I shaved 10 minutes off of a proceedure while increasing it's reliability.. the union filed a grievance against me for trying to change my job profile.

If you are innovative or highly skilled... you will hate public work.

somewhere in the milddle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4201164)

Find a happy medium: there is something between public and private... the non-profit. Contrary to somewhat popular belief, non-profit doesn't mean non-pay. Most large non-profits realize that to get the best people they have to compete with both public and private sectors simultaneously ... so you end up with a salary structure that is a little less than full private sector, a little less secure than a govt job. (Conversely, it pays better than govt and is more secure than private.) Given that this AC is mid-30's w/ wife and 2 kids it's a good compromise for me.
Additionally, non-profit refers to the bottom line. That doesn't mean the org's aren't out to generate revenue via patents and licensing, just that they spend it too. In fact, many non-profits have pretty good IP royalty sharing schemes.

Private all the way..... (2, Interesting)

snatchitup (466222) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201167)

It's been a simple opinion for me.

But, there's something else even more important that being what type of job you have. For a typical slashdotter, the most important thing is finding a job where Internet Access isn't monitored or restricted.

The other thing is, the only one truly looking after you is yourself. With that said, I've basically advanced my career/skills through my spare time on the job. Find a job with plenty of spare time and be sure to take advantage of it. I had a three month non-busy spell a few years ago and studied my ass off in Java, got certified, within one year, was making $25k more and still making it.

Govt. is under too much political scrutiny. Some locals find out we're paying public employees to browse the net, and it gets shut down for the workers. Shit man, browsing the Internet on the job should be a civil right!

Some of my friends in govt. actually have to walk to a different floor of the building to send an email to the outside world. I aint kidding, this is a fairly high up job.

Local munie? Well that's another one. I would never, never work for a local municipality. This is the absolute bottom of the food chain. I know this is an ugly steatement, but I've never seen a fatter bunch of duffers than when visiting my local county office to pay some tax, or fill out a form or whatnot. Not even the DMV is as bad.

Teaching? All the teachers I have adult converations with seem to have no sense of what the real world is all about. Part of them regresses back into childhood (or to whomever they teach their subjects to).

Private Sector is fractic by nature. It'll keep you from becoming obsolete. You may switch jobs, but you'll be a smarter/stronger/richer person of you can roll with punches.

Work Hard Play Hard

Public sector = GOOD (4, Insightful)

Markgor (413027) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201168)

It goes without saying that for job security, the public sector is the best. The variety of positions available within the public sector is also much better.

However, the stereotype is that a job in the public sector is mundane.

After many years of working in the private sector, I am now working at Health Canada in the development of a public health surveillance system. I went in with apprehension because I had heard so many stories of public servants sitting around their desks doing nothing - not my cup of tea. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the group I'm in was very sharp and very professional. No two hour lunches and half hour coffee breaks here.

I started wondering why and began to realize the reason behind it all. Given that there have been many layoffs in the private sector, the public one has benefitted greatly from the pool of talent that has been made available. These people have brought with them skills and a level of professionalism that has changed many government departments for the better.

Note, however, that this hasn't applied to all departments. I guess I'm just one of the lucky ones. :-)

Private, definitely (4, Interesting)

hwestiii (11787) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201170)

I've worked in both and I'll take private.

I spent 10 years in the public sector doing municipal engineering, and 6 years in the private sector doing various IT work.

The public sector definitely has the appeal of stability, after all, the city/county/state/federal government isn't likely to pull up stakes and move to Mexico where the labor is cheaper, but with the stability comes stasis. There just isn't that much to be gained by taking risks in government.

The private sector has greater risks, but as every economist knows, with risk comes reward. Of the three companies that I've worked for in the past 6 years, one has been acquired by a European conglomerate occassioning a major cultural shift, and subsequent loss of morale in the general employee population, one just folded without warning (a month after I left, luckily enough) and my current employer has been slashing the head count steadily since 6 months after I started.

That has all been balanced by the fact that I've learned twice or three times as much in the past 6 years than I did in the previous 10. In addition, my first private employer picked up the tab for my Bachelor of Science, relieving me of the need to take out $15,000 in student loans, not to speak of the interest.

There is a place for public employment, my father spent his entire adult life working for Uncle Sam, first in the Air Force, then in the FAA, and then in Customs, and is sitting on a pretty nice retirement packageme. I'm not sure I could do that though. I haven't worked anywhere that I wasn't ready to leave within five years simply because there was nothing left there to maintain my interest.

it's whether you spend or make money (2, Informative)

jcupitt65 (68879) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201178)

My girlfriend works in the private sector (magazine publisher), I'm public sector (research scientist). Her joke is that her job is to make money, my job is to spend it.

She likes private, because it's fast moving and you have to actually do stuff. I like public, because I have lots of money to spend on toyz, not many deadlines, and a lot of freedom.

She's paid 3x more than me though :-(

Big government/small government (5, Interesting)

pdqlamb (10952) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201184)

What too many Americans don't realize is exactly what is being pursued under the "small government" rubric. Are the number of civil servants going down or remaining flat? Yes. Is total government spending going down? No. Where's the difference?

What's called "private sector" is all too often government contractors. We, your government contractors, aren't bound by all the government's rules, restrictions, or protections. We can be laid off or fired relatively easily. We can use private databases to watch you. You can't see us, because we're private. But we can contribute to PACs, to keep the money flowing to political campaigns. We call it "access" and as a result your elected officials pay more attention to our lobbyists than they do to you.

As one of my previous bosses put it, "Our company has no problems that cannot be solved by more growth."

Public healthcare helps you survive (1)

GerardM (535367) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201190)

There was an excellent article on Canadian research on the BBC website re what best for the patient; public or private healthcare. One result that you have a better chance of survival in a public hospital. One of the reasons is because the staff is better educated / qualified.
So if quality colleagues is a factor..

where to read (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4201201)

Where can I find quality reading to help me decide?"

Public sector: the works of Ayn Rand. Public sector: The works of Karl Marx and history books.

Depends on your personality (1)

Patersmith (512340) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201206)

Having worked in both, I can say that there are definite advantages and disadvantages to both, and it would depend on you.

In private sector, you can do all kinds of cool stuff if you can show that it will make money. The heydays tend to be sweet, but when it's over and the company shifts its direction, you can be quickly out of a job. Unless you get in with a really great company and work up to lower/middle management, you're more than likely on your own to keep your skills current and prove that you're worth keeping. Most of us are not unionized so as soon as you become obsolete you're out the door.

Public sector, for the most part, by definition doesn't make money so anything new is simply looked at as another cost. The services you provide are usually decided for you by the powers that be through the departmental mandate. Where you can really get noticed, though, is if you can save money. In public sector it's all about the budget. In contrast to private sector, public sector employees are usually either unionized or are a member of a non-bargaining class so there doesn't tend to be a lot of wage negotiation, rather you negotiate your classification. The upshot of all that is when the departmental mandate changes, you can usually get retrained so you upgrade your skills for free.

That's been my experience anyway. YMMV.

Pros and cons of public sector (1)

sacdelta (135513) | more than 12 years ago | (#4201211)

In addition to other benefits of working the public sector already listed, I enjoy 40 hours/week = 40 hours/week. This isn't true for all positions, but if I need to work more than 40 hours, I either get overtime or comp time.

Promotions are also a more regular thing. They are usually based on time served and exams rather than your ability to suck up to the boss.

You are also generally allowed the luxury of not having to push a product out to meet a profit timeline. You can make sure it is done correctly and you don't get fired if my findings show that a project is not feasible.

I also find it is easier to get a public sector job that you can believe in. Something that makes you feel like you make a difference in the world as opposed to just making money.

And it is harder for your pension to get raided.

Now the cons.

You do have to deal with the occasional person who matches the sterotypical model of a government worker. Someone who knows they can't be fired easily and so they do the minimum of work and will try to take credit for the work of others.

Also there isn't a "get rich quick" option. No stock options or profit sharing.

Another drawback (at least for California State workers) is that every year, you become a political pawn in the budget process.

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