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Referring to the government includes all federal, state, local, and tribal agencies. The government is a sector, not just a career field, with numerous existing employment opportunities in the private or nonprofit sectors.

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Federal Government

Getting Started

The United States Federal Government is the nation’s largest employer and offers its employees challenging experiences, job security, competitive salary, and generous benefits. When applying to federal departments or agencies, it is important to remember that each department makes independent hiring decisions. The application and hiring process is also a very long one, sometimes taking up to a year. In addition to the lengthy application review process, you may have to gain security clearance as part of the hiring process. Because of these factors, we highly recommend that you begin the job search as early as 10 months prior to your anticipated start date. Government internships serve as excellent entry points for potential long-term employment whether you are a undergraduate first year, sophomore, junior, or senior.  Seniors and recent graduates are encouraged to explore the federally-funded and managed Pathways Programs. For students who are interested in graduate school and public service, explore the fellowship opportunities that align with government service.

Tip: Popular nationally-competitive fellowships that provide exposure to activities that align with public service employment, and in some cases, can be direct entry-points into government work, include:

USAJobs.gov

Nearly all federal agencies post their positions online through the federal government’s main online job resource, USAJobs.gov, and each agency or department may post employment opportunities on their respective websites. USAJobs.gov provides information on available jobs, instructions regarding writing a resume specifically for federal positions, and highlights the benefits of working for the federal government. The website can also be a somewhat overwhelming resource as it may display thousands of job opportunities, many of them beyond the experience level of recent college graduates. Please be aware of the General Schedule (GS) Pay Scale, and determine where recent graduates stand on this scale before you begin to review the job listings. The GS Pay Scale classifies payment based on a candidate’s qualifications. Graduating seniors will most likely qualify for jobs labeled as GS5 or GS7. These jobs usually require a bachelor's degree with less than 3 years of work experience. Some job seekers, depending on their experience, may qualify for GS9 or above.

Point: Visit GoGovernment for advice on finding, and applying for, federal government jobs.

Security Clearances

Gaining security clearance can be a long, and in some cases complex, process.  Visit the OCS video library to find a video presentation that covers the process for security clearances, details the thirteen guidelines used in reviewing candidates during clearances, and gives helpful advice regarding how to navigate the Investigator Interview.

Tip: Subscribe and Follow:  Several federal departments and agencies advertise opportunities via online subscriptions and their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds.  Be sure to subscribe to newsletters published by the departments and agencies you are considering pursuing, and also follow them on Facebook and/or Twitter.  Below are links to some subscription pages:

State, Local, and Tribal Government

State, local, and tribal governments provide a wide variety of job opportunities. Just as with work in the federal government, the requirements for these jobs vary. Some jobs may require a certain major or course work, though the majority of positions do not. Skills that are highly valued in all forms of government work include: analytical skills, research background, creative thinking and problem solving abilities, and writing and communications experience.

Getting Started

Professional contacts and hands-on experience can be a tremendous asset when securing state, local, and tribal government jobs. Consider contacting a state representative’s office, or visiting a local government office in person or online, to begin to build professional contacts and explore job opportunities. Conducting informational interviews can be a valuable step toward learning more about what it takes to work, and secure a position, within state, local, or tribal government.

Entry Points

Pursuing internships is one of the best ways to explore this career path.  Building these positive connections early on will aid you in your job search for post-graduate positions. Opportunities posted in Symplicity, State Government, Local Government, and Tribal Government websites, may be some of your first destinations as you search for internships and full-time opportunities.

Networking

While state, local, and tribal government websites are an excellent resource, the best way to find a job in this sector of government is likely through professional contacts. Developing and maintaining professional relationships by networking within the local and state governments may provide job seekers firsthand knowledge of job openings not posted on any website.

Congressional Internships

Interning with a member of congress is a great way to gain first-hand knowledge of how government works, the duties and responsibilities of our representatives, and to show future employers a commitment to public service.  Many members of congress are Yale alums.  Students who are interested in pursuing congressional internships with other members of congress can explore Congress.gov to find the names, contact information, and websites for the collective body of legislators.

Tip: While state, local, and tribal government websites are an excellent resource, the best way to find a job in this sector of government is likely through professional contacts. Developing and maintaining professional relationships by networking within the local and state governments may provide job seekers firsthand knowledge of job openings not posted on any website.

Government-Related Fellowships

There are many entry points into government careers, including through government-related, or government-funded, programs and fellowships.  While enrolled as a Yale College student, access the Yale Student Grants & Fellowships page to search for Yale-funded opportunities specifically for unpaid public service internships and create a profile in ProFellow to find fellowships to fund graduate school, go abroad, conduct research, or discover job opportunities. 

For additional resources, visit the External Career Resources page on the Office of Career Strategy website and conduct an 'Advanced Search'.  Under the Government section, you'll see a subcategory for 'Government-Related Fellowships'.