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Discussion/activity: Careers in the capital

January 17, 2001
Web posted at: 2:45 PM EST (1945 GMT)

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Editor's note: If you are planning to use the news story that this discussion/activity is based on for a homework assignment, please write the URL on the board and have your students copy it. updates the site in the early evening, so students may have difficulty finding it without the URL. You can find the lesson plan by going to the Subject Areas page and clicking PREVIOUS in the square for Today's Lesson Plan. article, "Career moves in nation's capital"


Students will be able to:

  • Recognize the role the president plays in appointing persons into Cabinet or White House positions.
  • Research government positions that they would like to hold.
  • Predict what it must be like to change careers because of a new administration.

1. After students read the article "Career moves in the nation's capital," ask the following: According to the article, how many positions is the president responsible for appointing? Why aren't many federal employees affected by the transition? Explain the process that a nominee for a Cabinet position must undergo. What are some positions that do not need congressional approval? Why do you suppose they are exempt from this process?

2. What is an important job at the White House, according to the article? Why do you suppose this is true? What department's control does this agency fall under? Do you think the outgoing president needs protection? Explain.

3. Discuss with classmates how it must feel to be a part of the presidential transition mentioned in the article. Review comments from the article such as one by Helen Langdon of the White House press office, who said, "It's American government in action. It's happened before, and it's going to happen again. I was privileged to play a small part." Do you believe that Langdon's attitude is indicative of other outgoing employees? Explain.

4. Research online sources or other media to find specific job openings in the White House. They may be Cabinet or civil-service positions. Try to match one to your area of interest or future educational track. After you have found a position, share them with the class.

Employment in the U.S. government
President's Cabinet
White House
Bush-Cheney transition
Presidential Inaugural Committee 2001

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