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What is the best way to find entry-level government jobs?

I am a Political Science major and would like to do policy-related work for a government agency. government political-science college-major career

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Subject: Career question for you


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Adama’s Answer

Hi - I also majored in political science in college, I started my career in politics with a fellowship with the State of CA in the executive branch. From there I've done a number of other jobs, worked on campaigns, been a lobbyist, run a PAC (political action committee) and lots of other things. An internship with a government entity is a great way to get hands on experience and many state legislatures offer internships or fellowships that give students or recent graduates opportunities to work for elected officials and get hands on policy experience. You can also check state executive, judicial branches and your local government.

Another thing to consider is what kind of policy you want to work on. Every agency focuses on different issues, but there a common threads. If you are interested in environmental policy you could work at Transportation, Natural Resources or Housing agencies. All of them work on different issues, but could have a deep impact on environmental policy.

A career in public policy is incredibly rewarding, best of luck!

Adama recommends the following next steps:

This is the fellowship program I did in CA:
IL has a similar program:
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yoonji’s Answer, Team

Hi Lauren, great question! I studied International Affairs for my undergrad and graduate-level studies. I was planning on applying to government agencies, specifically the US Department of State, but decided on a different career track as I got closer to graduation, which has led me to :) !

I still have a lot of love and interest in International Affairs and political science. Here's some info from my past career track!

There are a few different routes you can go to enter a government agency or work on policy-related work. For a government agency, you should look into options like the Pathways program ( It has 3 different tracks: Internship program, Recent Graduates Program, and the Presidential Management Fellows program. I don't know where you are in your academic journey but I would look into the track that best fits your current status. You should also create a profile on USAJobs, the primary hiring website of the US government, so that you can find internship and job opportunities and easily apply to them. There are a lot of resources online and tips to create a profile on USAJobs (it has its own unique qualities that you should look into) and I would invest time and energy in that. You could also join the Peace Corps as an option to help you join the federal government. As a Peace Corp alum, you get some priority in hiring (veterans do as well!). I know a friend from my grad school studies in IA who followed this route and entered the US Environmental Protection Agency as an International Program Manager. And finally, you could get an internship on the Hill at the Capitol at your local Member of Congress's office to get exposure to policy and politics. It's a great job experience to add to your resume and you'll make important connections to hopefully help with your next career step!

There are other routes into the government. Some that might take more time but you still end up in the same place. You could join a think thank and work on policy from outside the government to build up your resume and then parlay that experience into a government job. (I have another friend who spent several years in a think tank working on Middle East policy issues at the Council on Foreign Relations and a few years back joined an intelligence agency to continue her work in the Middle East.) You could also work at a nonprofit that works closely/partners with a government agency. I was on a public diplomacy track in my previous organization, Global Ties US. Global Ties is an official nonprofit partner of the US State Department and works within the Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau and the Office of International Visitors on the International Visitors Leadership Program that brings emerging leaders from all around the world to the US to meet their counterparts at the federal, state, and local levels and local communities so they can share knowledge and build their networks. A lot of former colleagues entered the State Department that way.

Before you go on to work for the federal government, here are a couple more tips. First, I would highly suggest that you look into scholarship and study abroad opportunities. You'll be able to broaden your horizons. One opportunity that intersects both is the Gilman Scholarship that helps make study abroad a reality for students who might not otherwise be able to pay for these experiences. Second, I would look into studying a critical language like Azerbaijani, Bangla, Hindi, Indonesian, Persian, Punjabi, Swahili, Turkish, Urdu, Arabic, Korean, Russian, Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese, and Japanese. Having foreign language skills is a huge plus! I even got a Critical Language Scholarship ( for my Mandarin language studies which paid for my 2nd year of grad school.

I hope this gives you a lot of different pathways to consider into the government!

yoonji, Team recommends the following next steps:

Research tips on how to optimize your profile on USAJobs and then create a profile
Look into scholarships like the Gilman (
Study a language critical to our national security
Feel free to ask any follow-up questions here if you have them! yoonji KIM, Admin
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Anita’s Answer

I would advise networking. Talk to friends, co-workers and family members for referrals.
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Jerry’s Answer

This is a complex question.

First: National, state, local? Or independent agency? Research organization? Political or non-political? Regardless, do you have any particular interest re governmental activity. (I, a long time ago, simply made application to the state civil service, and was offered several positions with several agencies; I don't think things work quite like that these days.)

Majoring in political science. Broad field. Again, particular interest? State/Local; National (Presidency, Congress (intern is a start), SC, IR.

By reading your question I'm getting the idea that, at this point, your mind isn't settled. Rather vague.

What specific PolSci classes have the most interest for you? Have you talked to your professors about your career goals?

There is so much going on your question is too vague. In my opinion, you need to explore more. Especially ask yourself questions.