The federal government is the nation’s largest employer with over two million employees. Positions with federal agencies can be found across the country, overseas, and in countless career fields. A career in federal government can be a good option for students who want to make a significant impact on others and care about good governance.
Finding the Right Fit: Internships
The federal government has a specific Internship Program that is run through their Pathways Program. These internships offer paid opportunities to work in federal agencies while still in school. Upon successful completion of an internship, participants may be eligible for conversion to full-time federal employment. These opportunities will be posted in USAJOBS.gov. Other internship positions (unpaid and paid) and student-related opportunities will be posted on individual agency websites. There is no comprehensive database of internship postings.
Finding the Right Fit: Permanent Employment
Job seekers should search USAJOBS.gov and individual agency websites for federal government jobs. USAJOBs.gov is the best place to go for general searches as it has over 30,000 job vacancy announcements from all federal government agencies. Some excepted service agencies, like those in intelligence or Foreign Service require applications through their individual sites. On USAJOBS.gov, the Students and Recent Graduates section does a great job of focusing on entry level postings. From this section, job seekers can then use the keyword or advanced search tools to narrow down options.
Creating a Federal Resume
Federal resumes require more detail than a traditional one-page resume and often end up being two to five pages long for entry level positions. Federal resumes should include all relevant details about past accomplishments, course projects, work experience, and skills. They also need to include things like the number of hours worked per week and supervisor contact information. All of this information is extremely important for federal government hiring managers to determine the resumes that best fit the job vacancy requirements.
Applying to Federal Government Opportunities
A typical application process in the federal government includes submitting a federal resume and other application materials such as an unofficial transcript, online questionnaire (that can be up to 100 questions long), and verification of veteran or disability status if applicable. After the application deadline, hiring managers forward along the best fit applicants to hiring managers who conduct interviews and begin the security clearance process for selected candidates. This all takes between two and six months and around one year for high security clearance positions. While there are government-wide hiring standards in place, each agency also has their own processes.
Learning More on Campus
Every year, top federal government agencies come to campus to give information sessions, provide presentations or participate in class discussions, and recruit Illinois students for internships and full-time jobs. All recruitment opportunities and events will be posted on I-Link. Make sure to regularly check your I-Link account as well as set a search agent for government positions that are newly posted.
Additionally, The Career Center conducts multiple “Finding and Applying to Federal Government Opportunities” workshops each semester. Check out the workshop schedule for more information. These workshops can also be requested by a student group or class.