By far one of our most popular industries for employment, jobs in the government cover the local, state and federal levels, with the latter including jobs in all three branches of the United States government. Given Georgetown’s location in our nation’s capital, much of the student body seeks internships and full-time employment – and as a result, we see many government employers actively seeking Hoyas for internships and full-time positions.
If you are interested in a career in government or policy, a good place to begin is to keep up-to-date on current issues before the various branches of government. Some good news sources include: Federal News Network, GovLoop, and the Washington Post’s PowerPost. For jobs in local or state government, it is also helpful to examine local news sources, such as your hometown newspaper, to understand the issues facing your community.
Also, be sure to follow various government agencies and organizations on social media. Many agencies often post fun, interesting content and even jobs (the Department of the Interior has a great Twitter account). Some other agencies, such as the State Department, have events and webinars that you can attend in person or online.
Attend employer information sessions, industry events – on and off-campus, and connect with the local chapter of popular professional organizations. Professional associations host a variety of professional development, educational, and networking events. If the cost of membership is prohibitive, contact leadership and ask if there are sliding scale prices for students. Volunteering for a conference, educational, or social event is another great way to connect with leaders in the industry. In fact, to be successful in a career in government (any level) requires that you make good use of your network, as it is often the way to find out about incredible opportunities.
Develop a LinkedIn profile that communicates your personal and professional brand. Joining groups related to your industry is a great way to meet new people, find mentors, contacts, and ask questions. Reach out to alumni through Hoya Gateway, Georgetown University’s alumni page on LinkedIn, and via Georgetown University’s Alumni Career Network. The Cawley website provides helpful guidelines on networking and LinkedIn shares how to build your LinkedIn student profile (PDF).
Select Government Associations
- Democratic National Committee
- International City/County Management Association (ICMA)
- National Association of Counties (NaCo)
- National Association of Public Administration
- National Governors Association
- Republican National Committee
- State Government Affairs Council (SGAC)
Preparing Your Application Materials
If you are interested in federal employment opportunities, it is important to note that the federal hiring process is quite different than any other process. It is a decentralized process with some centralized components, and many additional regulations not found in other industries. A job applicant will want to invest time in learning about each agency’s application requirements, assessment tactics and background checks. For information on the specifics of federal hiring, refer to the Office of Personnel Management. For tips and tricks on starting a career search, and how it differs in federal government, see GoGovernment.org. For background information on various agencies, and smaller organizations within government, and to learn more about the culture and mission of various government offices, check out The Best Places to Work in the Federal Government (™) rankings.
The first thing any student should do if interested in a job or internship in the Federal government, is to create an account on USAJobs. It is the go-to job posting site for all government jobs (with some exceptions within the national security or intelligence community, and for disability, “Schedule-A,” “Schedule-C” and other positions). Information on jobs and internships available for students and recent graduates can be found at USAJobs’ student and recent graduates page. For other government jobs on Capitol Hill, your resume should be the standard one page. Use strong action verbs and focus on your skills and accomplishments to show (not just tell) an employer that you have the required abilities. Be concise.
Although a federal resume does tend to take the place of a cover letter in federal job opportunities, some agencies do require some statement of interest or cover letter. Be sure to read the application directions carefully. If you are asked to write a cover letter or statement of interest, be energetic, intelligent and aware when writing cover letters. Use specific examples to demonstrate your skills and abilities. In government service, a deep connection and commitment to the mission of the agency or government body often factors into the application. The purpose of a cover letter is to convince someone to interview you.
Federal resumes differ from typical one-page resumes in both their length and also their depth of information. Federal resumes need to be both concise and comprehensive, and it is typical to have two to four pages of content.
Each position you apply for within the federal government requires a unique federal resume. You will want to tailor each resume to the job description as listed in the Job Opportunity Announcement (JOA) to which you are applying. Depending on your background and the “Key Requirements,” “Duties” and “Qualifications Required” listed, you can emphasize different elements of your background and qualifications including: education and research experience, work volunteer and internship experience (including pertinent information from high school). For more information, please be sure to view our videos on federal hiring and our federal resume tips.
Please note that certain positions in the intelligence community, Department of Defense, and some offices within the Department of State and Department of Homeland Security can require security clearances. Students interested in those opportunities should apply as much as a year in advance of when you are hoping to start to give enough time to complete the security clearance process.
Internships enable you to gain valuable professional experience prior to graduation. Within the federal government, there are also unique internships which can offer a direct path into full time job opportunities. Typically referred to as Pathways Internships, you may apply either as a current student or as a recent graduate (up to two years from your date of graduation). There are also many other internship programs available within each department, so be sure to check their career sites for more information.
Select Employers and Internships
- Central Intelligence Agency
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- Department of Homeland Security
- Department of State’s Foreign Service Officer Program
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Federal Reserve Board
- Government Accountability Office
- Intelligence Community
- National Security Agency
- National Institutes of Health
- Peace Corps
- Smithsonian Institute
- State Department (see a Q&A about the State Department internship here)
- U. S. Agency For International Development
- White House
State & Local Government
If you want to have an immediate impact on policy work, there is often no better place to go than state and local government jobs. Working for cities, counties, municipalities, or state governments affords a micro-look at many of the wider issues facing the American population. Positions in urban planning, transportation, or seeking elected office for local school boards, county boards, etc., can be a great place to get a start. What is more, many local municipalities have active political parties who are involved in small campaigns – being a great way for aspiring politicians to learn the issues facing residents on a smaller scale. One of the best ways to get your start is to just get out there and meet people at your local city hall or the state house. Often those connections lead to positions so come prepared with your resume and elevator pitch.
Given the amount of information, the best place to start is to do a search on your local area government — whether it is a city, county, municipality, commonwealth or state. Within each level, there are various resources and funding opportunities available for interested citizens to learn more: tips for finding state and local jobs
Key Employers and Sample Internships
- Alexandria County
- Arlington County
- Council of the District of Columbia
- District of Columbia Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency
- Govern for America
- Lead For America
- Local Young Democrats/Young Republican Clubs
- Montgomery County, MD
- National Governors Association
- Prince George’s County, MD
- State of Maryland
- Virginia General Assembly
Relevant Student Groups and Campus Partners
The Cawley Career Education Center works with many other offices on campus, including the Institute of Politics and Public Service, the Graduate School of Foreign Service, the McCourt School of Public Policy, and the Office of Federal Relations to promote activities related to public service and government careers. Additional student led groups include:
- College Democrats
- College Republicans
- Georgetown Bipartisan Coalition
- NAACP — Georgetown University Chapter
Join a group based on a personal interest and develop your professional skills, or to see if you enjoy being in a classroom. For example, the Georgetown Institute for Politics (or GU Politics) has a number of partnerships with organizations and fellowship opportunities, not to mention a lot of amazing programming throughout the year available to anyone on campus. It is also a good idea to join your local chapter of the political party of your persuasion in order to start learning more about the issues of importance to your constituency.