Business Careers in the Federal Government

By Barbara Hewitt

I have many conversations each week with students about how they plan to apply the business knowledge they have acquired at Penn to the working world. As you might imagine, industries like investment banking, consulting, and consumer products are frequent topics of these conversations. This is not surprising, as recruiters from these industries abound on campus and the majority of the Wharton undergraduates ultimately end up working in them.


Most business students are unaware, however, of how valuable their skills are to the federal government (the largest, and perhaps most often overlooked, employer in the United States).  Almost any job available in the private sector can also be found in the public sector. In fact, there are almost 200,000 business related jobs in the federal government. (You can find information on some of the most common ones here: These are challenging positions where you can really affect the lives of everyday Americans. Want to help support US trade and American businesses abroad? Become a Foreign Service Economic Officer with the US Department of State. Want to help ensure that the banking system in the United States is stable? Apply for a Financial Institution Specialist position with the FDIC. Want to make sure the government gets the best deal it can on purchases? Become a Procurement Analyst. From ensuring the safety of our food, to responding to crises abroad, to administering the social security system…as a federal worker you can make a huge impact through your work.

You won’t be receiving an enormous bonus as a federal worker and the application process is likely to take longer than it would for many private sector employers. However, there are lots of benefits that come with federal employment including the opportunity for rapid advancement and promotion, the ability to move laterally between agencies, excellent benefits, challenging assignments, student loan repayment (in some cases), and knowing that you are making a contribution to our country.

Interested in finding out more? Check out Career Services’ “Make a Difference: Discover Careers in the Federal Government” page.

In addition, learn more from federal employees by attending our Business Careers in the Federal Government Panel. It will be held on Friday, February 26th, 1:30 – 2:30 pm in Ben Franklin Room, Houston Hall. This is a great opportunity to hear from individuals who are making a real difference by applying their business skills in federal roles.

Panelists include:
Nicole Faison: Director of the Office of Public Housing Programs and Acting Director of the Financial Management Center, Dept of Housing and Urban Development (and a 2007 Call to Service Medal Recipient)
• Michael Shiely: (WUG ’08): Auditor with the United States Treasury Department, Office of Inspector General
• Representative (to be determined) from the Internal Revenue Service

We hope to see you there!

Author: Barbara Hewitt

Barbara Hewitt is the Executive Director of Career Services.