Why not U.S.?

As a career counselor for the College, I’m supposed to learn a little bit about every career. When I was charged with giving myself a crash course on government careers, I was probably like many people and thought – boring! But the more I read about working for the Uncle Sam and the more I talk with the alumni feds, the more I realize what a unique employer the government is.  (Yes, it is an occupational hazard to be attracted to a new field every day.)

Not only is the federal government hiring right now, but they are hiring for jobs in every field. You can work in public health, finance regulation, historic preservation, foreign service, engineering, environment, etc.  It also turns out that federal jobs pay better than I thought, and there is a schedule for raises and promotion. The jobs are located in every state in the U.S.

I admit that government applications can be a hassle, but that’s why Career Services is putting on a slew of events to help you navigate the process and talk directly with real feds who can show you the ropes. Here’s what’s coming up this semester:

  • Finding and Applying for Federal Jobs and Internships Tuesday, September 28, 3 – 4 pm
  • State Department Information Session Wednesday, September 29, 5 pm – 6 pm
  • Internships in Government Wednesday, September 29, 3 – 4 pm
  • Policy and Government Career Fair 2010 Friday, October 1, 11 am – 3 pm
  • Careers with the Foreign Service: From Philadelphia to Pakistan and Back Friday, October 1, 3:30 – 4:30 pm
  • Business Careers in the Government Panel and Networking Reception Thursday, October 14, 4 – 5 pm panel, followed by reception
  • Working for Uncle Sam: you, what, where, why, and how Thursday, October 14,12 – 1pm
  • Federal Resume Critiques Thursday, October 14, 2 to 3:30 pm (sign up required)
  • Foreign Service Oral Exam Prep Session Thursday, October 21, 12-1:30
  • International Development Careers in the Government Panel Friday, Oct 29, 12 – 1 pm
  • Careers in Science & Engineering in the Federal Government Panel Friday, November 5, 12 – 1pm

CareerCast: Government Jobs in Sustainability

We recently sat down with Erwin Rose  (CAS ’84) of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Oceans, Environment & Science and Kristen Taddonio of the Environmental Protection Agency.  They discuss different opportunities for government jobs in sustainability and the many paths you can take to get one.

Want to watch this video on your mobile device? Click here!

News you can use: Summer Survey report

by Helen Cheung

During the Fall, many of you answered our pleas and completed the Summer Survey which asks undergraduates what they did last summer.  Thank you so much!  I’ve read each and every one of your responses (those from CAS students) and enjoyed living vicariously through your experiences.  In doing so, I also have learned a lot about summer opportunities.  Just as we like to base our career advice on real information, I hope that you will use this data to guide your summer job search. Those of you who have met me might know that I’m a fan of “fact checking.” Here are some facts:

1. Exploration: First, if you are ever curious about what other students in your major and class do, what opportunities are out there in a particular field, how much money on average an intern makes, or where students live over the summer, the Summer Survey Report has the answers.  One thing I learned is that nearly half of the students do more than one thing in the summer – they work full-time and intern part-time, or they take classes and volunteer, etc.   You can also search for upperclassmen to ask internship-related questions on the Penn Internship Network, the database of Penn students who have volunteered to speak with other students about their internships.

2. Industries: The industries that hired the most CAS students are: education, financial services, nonprofit, communication, and government.  So, while CAS students have no trouble finding work in business, far more students are in creative and service industries. Don’t limit yourself to the types of employers who recruit on campus or post jobs on PennLink if your interests lie elsewhere.

3. Jobs: CAS students held summer positions in more than 90 different job categories and is the most diverse of the undergraduate schools at Penn.  Your arts and sciences education gives you many career options.  Therefore, explore and research your options.  For example, students who did a legal internship worked not only in law firms, but also higher education, nonprofit, manufacturing, and government industries.  The “What Can I do With My Major” link is a good resource that lays out for each type of work, what sort of organization you would look in to find it.

4. Application timing: Last summer, 65% of CAS students found their summer jobs in March, April and May last year, with most offers coming in April.  That means *now* is a good time to apply for jobs and follow up on leads and applications.

5. Search methods: 30% of CAS students found their jobs through personal contacts and 18% through applying directly to the organization. The lesson here? Talk to people, meet new ones, take the initiative to research organizations, inquire and follow up. Too many students believe that their applications go to a “black hole” and don’t bother applying at all.  In addition to applying directly, diversify your approach, including using PACNet or LinkedIn to seek advice and leads from Penn alumni.

I hope these observations and advice will be helpful as you continue your summer job search. As always, you’ll find a great deal of helpful information on the Career Services website, and I encourage all of you to connect with one of the career counselors if you have questions about your search.  Good luck!

CareerCast: Finding an Internship in the Public Sector

by Jaclyn Chen (W ‘12) & Angie Luo (C ‘11)

Career Services is pleased to present the third episode of our “Finding an Internship” videos from CareerCast: The Penn Career Services podcast.

Current Penn students Jaclyn Chen and Angie Luo interviewed their peers in a wide range of industries to find out how they approached getting an internship. In this episode, they talk to students who ventured into the public sector. Enjoy.

Want to watch on your mobile device?  Click here!

Navigating the federal career maze

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.