During my time at Penn, I’ve noticed that there’s an increasing interest in government careers. The number of College undergrads who succeeded in finding a job in the government after they graduate nearly doubled from 2008 to 2009.
It’s fantastic that Penn students are getting jobs in the public sector but I know that finding federal job postings can be a bit of a mystery. Everyone knows about USAJobs, but most college students actually get their jobs by applying directly to the federal agencies and into one of their student programs and by networking, just like people do in the private sector.
That means you have to do thorough research of opportunities that interest you. For instance, if you’re looking to work abroad, don’t just apply to the State Department, but also include other agencies that have an interest internationally, including the Department of Agriculture, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the International Trade Administration.
Here are a few websites that I’ve found useful for researching federal agencies and opportunities beyond the usual suspects:
(1) In the Partnership for Public Service’s Federal Careers by Field of Interest guides, you can find by major or career field lists of federal agencies hiring in those fields, top position titles, sample internships and jobs, and geographic distribution of those jobs. This is how I find out that the Department of Defense is the biggest federal provider of communications positions and that you have to search for public affairs specialists if you’re look for a PR job in the government.
(2) To find federal agencies located near where you want to live, try the new www.google.com/unclesam, the good old blue pages of the phone book, and the local Federal Executive Board‘s agency lists. When I typed “San Diego psychology positions” into www.google.com/unclesam, a bunch of jobs for psychology graduates in San Diego area federal agencies appeared in the search results.
(3) If you like numbers and can tolerate a less friendly interface, you also might like using Fedscope to research which federal agencies are located in your state and what and how many positions they have in your field. When you’re on this website, click on employment and the most recent data (month/year) to access a wealth of federal employment data.
Our wisdom on this topic is kept on the Career Services’ Make an Impact resource website. Check it out. And please share your tips with us in the comments section.