With about 2.79 million employees, the federal government is the nation's largest employer, however it is only one of many options for a person interested in public service. Students with a passion for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness might also consider opportunities in local and state government.
Some of the many benefits of government employment are helping the country, training and professional development, competitive health and retirement benefits, fair pay, excellent advancement opportunities, generous sick and vacation leave, assistance with student loans, and flexible scheduling.
- Written and oral communication
- Critical thinking
- Research and data analysis
- Ability to work in team environment
- Demonstrated initiative
- Commitment to public service
- Demonstrated ability to work under time constraint
- Ability to influence and lead others
- Foreign language
Degrees and Certifications
Below are a few examples of degrees and certificates at Mason. For information about degree programs outside of Mason, visit Peterson's.
How to Get Started
- Demonstrate your commitment to public service: Don’t just say you are interested in public service -- show it by volunteering or interning on a local campaign, for a community event, or for an elected official.
- Establish a strong record and stay clean: To increase your chances of successfully landing a job or internship, maintain a high GPA (shoot for a 3.5), join professional organizations, and keep your personal record clean so you can pass background checks and security clearances. Document your international travels for easy reference in the future.
- Develop a target list of 50 organizations and agencies: Did you know there are 17 agencies in the intelligence community? Move past your top 3 agencies or organizations in order to increase your opportunity to get hired and use your skills.
Developing a target list also allows you to organize information about the application dates, missions, and desired qualifications for organizations and agencies. Note: Federal deadlines for internships are often earlier than those in the private sector so make sure to check agency websites for application deadlines often.
- Create an account on USAJOBS: In USAJOBS you can draft a federal resume in the Resume Builder (tutorial) and set up search agents to stay up to date on open positions.
- Commonwealth of Virginia
- Federal Career Resources
- Intelligence Community
- Roll Call
- Vault Guides: Government Agency, Capitol Hill, and U.S. Military Careers
- Participate in the Cooperative Education Program to get recognition on your transcript for your internship and volunteer experiences
- Get involved in a student organization such as Student Government to build leadership skills
- Participate in a study abroad experience to broaden your global perspective
- Conduct research with a faculty member on a topic that relates to your career interests
- Learn more about the Federal Government's internship program
- Shadow a government employee by participating in Take a Patriot to Work Day, a one-day job shadowing event the first Friday in November
- Utilize Mason CareerLink by logging in to HireMason and selecting the Networking tab. Here you will find professionals who are willing to host a job shadow or conduct an informational interview with you.
- Apply for fellowships, awards that support advanced research or professional development programs
- Look into an alternative break, field study, or other form of civic engagement through Social Action and Integrative Learning (SAIL).
Job & Internship Search
- Fairfax County Jobs
- Federal Jobs by College Major
- House of Representatives
- Intelligence Careers
- Virginia Government
- Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP): Students and recent grads with disabilities, use your Schedule A eligibility to register.
- American Federation of Government Employees
- American Political Science Association
- Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management
- International Association for Political Science Students
- National Association of Small Business Federal Contractors
- The Intelligence National Security Alliance (INSA)
- Young Professionals in Foreign Policy
Since the government is so large, it may be helpful to split your options into smaller categories. Below are a few examples. For more examples, visit Federal Jobs by College Major. Note: There are many occupations in this industry that require extensive background checks, U.S. citizenship, and state licensures.
Combat Officer or Specialist: Develop plans, policies, and procedures for battle management.
Cryptologist (Search for Mathematician): Utilize knowledge of math to create, improve, and break encryptions.
Security Administrator: Identify and protect information, personnel, property, facilities, operations, or material from unauthorized disclosure, misuse, theft, assault, vandalism, espionage, sabotage, or loss
Health Inspector: Analyze many types of work environments and work procedures. Specialists inspect workplaces for adherence to regulations on safety, health, and the environment.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection: Supervise, lead, or perform aviation law enforcement operations to detect, interdict, apprehend, and prevent terrorists and other persons, weapons, and contraband from illegally entering or attacking the United States.
Press Secretary: Manages all communications with the media; speaks with reporters; prepares Member for interviews; drafts press releases, newspaper columns, and speeches.
Executive Assistant/Scheduler: Manages Member’s schedule; reviews and researches invitations; handles Member’s personal files, correspondence, and travel arrangements.
Policy Analyst or Researcher: Work to influence political and social decisions. Although their tasks vary, most policy analysts work in one or more of four areas: collecting information, analyzing potential policies and making recommendations, evaluating the outcomes of existing policies, and sharing information with the public and government officials.
Ambassador: Manage the operations of the U.S. embassies in other countries.
Foreign Service Officer: Screen visa applicants and issue visas; observe elections in host countries; analyze and report on issues such as HIV/ AIDS, rights, fair trade, and technology. Foreign Service Officers work in one of five different career tracks: Consular, Economic, Management, Political and Public Diplomacy.
Matt Myers, Government Industry Advisor
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