Government Internships

Wed, Mar 17, 2010

Internship Information

Do not despair if you can’t penetrate the metro Washington, D.C. area, and have your heart set on public service!  According to the “Call to Serve” website, an initiative started by the Partnership for Public Service organization to promote government work, and the Haas Center for Public Service, 80 percent of federal jobs are outside of the District.

Plus, with the impending retirement of up to 60 percent of government employees, Haas reports this is an unprecedented time for grads to get jobs and advance rapidly through the ranks.  Haas offers links, too, to help students, like you, navigate through opportunities in all corners of the country; even, the world.  Before you pack your bags, be sure to spruce up your selling points!  Mention languages you speak, as Spanish is increasingly preferred in roles dealing with the public, club leadership and drill alumni from your school for details.


My cousin farmed his resume out on foot eight years ago, upon moving to Texas, and is now working for the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), but things have changed.  With growing competition for jobs from veterans, whose status gives them an advantage, programs are important for external applicants.  Your basic training should start at USAJobs and its list of jobs by college major.  Current students seeking part-time or seasonal work can get a leg up through the Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) so agencies can take in your abilities first-hand.  For a more tailored approach, the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) offers similar flexibility, but focuses on enhancing specific educational goals.  Internships fall under the Federal Career Intern Program.  Interested candidates must contact an agency directly, for this two-year appointment.  And, if you’ve earned your degree, don’t stop there!  Master’s degrees are a common minimum requirement for Federal jobs.  Graduate students can be nominated for the Presidential Management Fellows Program.


Unpaid judiciary internships are abound in government epicenters such as Trenton, New Jersey, while opportunities to explore in New York State include stints with the Bridge Authority, Environmental Conservation Department and Developmental Disabilities Planning Council.  The North Carolina Department of Administration and Youth Advocacy and Involvement Office (YAIO) provide information about its internships on the web, as well.


Student applications for the 2011 Local Government Management Fellowship will be available in September, 2010.  In the meantime, read why others chose this route into service, and check out programs like in the City of Savannah, entering its seventh year of its Management Fellowship Program.  Previous fellowship projects have included Traffic Flow on Downtown Streets and Affordable Housing studies.


Getting involved in campaigns or social work which addresses a government issue such as healthcare or immigration are also gateways.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers an Emerging Leaders Program, and a non-governmental program with the same name offers internships for students with disabilities.  Or, you can always volunteer. As the Human Resources Director at a D.C. Arts organization advised me, sometimes volunteering puts you in the right place at the right time!  Stick your neck out, too, with what motivational speaker, John Di Lemme calls your, “Chicken List,” and contact community leaders to find out about their experiences hosting students.  Be brave and you might be the organization’s next intern!

Career Coach, Julie Jansen, author of, “I Don’t Know What I Want, But I Know It’s Not This” writes about “Chris,” a 24-year old administrative assistant in her chapter about finding meaningful work, that he won’t be doing, “grunt” work forever, but, “his mature attitude has enabled him to satisfy his need for meaning for the moment.”

By Jennifer A. Sheffield. Jennifer completed internships with the Albany Times-Union while at Skidmore College and at the U.S. Olympic Committee. She can be reached at: jennifershef@gmail.com.

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