Some elements of searching for a federal government job or experience during college are the same as searching for a job or internship in the private for-profit and non-profit sectors. Some elements are different. This section focuses on practices and terminology specific to the federal employment search. For advising on seeking federal jobs and internships, please make an advising appointment.
We survey new graduates to learn about their first job or graduate school destinations, and publish these findings in the Post-Graduation Report.
You can sort the findings by employer. To organize by federal government, select "Employer Organization" and scroll down to see the various federal employers reported by our recent graduates. For each graduate who responded to the survey, you'll see undergrad major, employing organization, job title, and location, if they provided it.
- Government hosted job resource for students and new graduates:
- Partnerships with the federal government for job-seekers:
Partnership for Public Service
- Best Places to Work in the Federal Government
- Private federal job sources:
Federal Job Digest
Washington Post Government and Public Service Classifieds
The federal government uses terms Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) and Student Temporary Experience Program (STEP) to refer to opportunities to get experience while you are a college student. Many of these positions are paid.
For more information, explore GoGovernment.org
The federal government uses the term "internship" to describe formal programs that are two-year full-time employment opportunities for recent college graduates. Be aware when you see notices for "internships" to look at the fine print.
Yes. Some post jobs, some recruit through On-Campus Interviewing, and some attend career fairs. Some may do a combination of these recruiting methods.
Hokies4Hire job posting is open all year for employers to post jobs and for Virginia Tech students to view and apply for jobs. Go to Hokies4Hire and the On-Campus Interviewing Program to learn more.
On-Campus Interviewing Program runs for seven to nine weeks in both fall and spring semesters with:
- advance deadlines for applying for jobs, and
- advance sign up for interviews by students selected by the employer after applying.
Job and Career Fairs:
There are many job and career fairs on the VT campus each year. Each one is different. Each is typically a one-day or two-day event sponsored by a college, department, or student group. Career and Professional Development sponsors Fall Connection fair (October) and Spring Connection fair (February). The majority of the fairs are held in September, October, February and March.
Federal agencies will be among the employers in attendance at almost every fair.
View the website of each individual career or job fair to see what employers will be attending. Research employers in advance so you can present yourself as a prepared candidate. Saying, "hi, what does your agency do?" won't be an effective approach.
Avoid using the generic term "companies" to refer to employers. Government agencies are not companies. Employers at fairs may require you to apply online to officially be a job candidate, but having the opportunity to meet a recruiter in person is a chance to learn more and present yourself effectively. Some fairs conduct next-day interviews scheduled during the fair; these are not the same as the On-Campus Interviewing Program. So don't overlook either, take advantage of both.
Resumes written for federal jobs may require different information and presentation than is expected on a resume for the private sector. Additionally, expectations can vary by agency.
Federal Resume Writing Tips
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Video: Writing Your Federal Resume
Many jobs in the federal government require some sort of security clearance for employees once they are hired. A security clearance is a license issued by the government to authorize an employee to handle classified or top secret information that relates to national security.
To obtain security clearance, an interested applicant must first apply for a federal job that requires clearance. Once hired, the employer will begin the clearance process by submitting paperwork to the Defense Security Service where a background check is initiated on the employee. The background check typically includes citizenship verification, fingerprinting, and a National Security Questionnaire. After these steps, the government then runs credit checks, medical record checks, etc. The government then checks for illegal drug use and investigates family and friend relationships, especially those relationships with foreign citizens. Once all personal information is gathered to the government’s satisfaction, the prospective employee will then be interviewed, and possibly issued a polygraph test. Upon completion, clearance is either granted or denied.
The entire security clearance process can take from six months to one year for low-level clearance, and up to two years for high level clearance. Top Secret, or the highest level clearance, requires periodic re-examination every five years, followed by every ten years for Secret clearance, and 15 years for Confidential clearance.
You can only get a security clearance by being hired by government, hired by military, or hired by a government contractor. A student cannot initiate this process in advance.
If you have a security clearance from prior employment, include that information on your resume.
Typically, a new graduate with a bachelor’s degree and no previous experience will start around the GS-5 level, while a graduate with a master’s degree can expect to start around the GS-9 level.
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management Salaries and Wages shows:
- U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
- U.S. Dept. of Agriculture
- U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agroforestry Center
A partnership of the USDA Forest Service and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
- U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service
- U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service
- U.S. Dept. of Commerce
- U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of the Census
- U.S. Dept. of Defense, Defense Threat Reduction Agency
Hires military and civilian personnel; needs for nuclear physicists, policy analysts and treaty experts, mechanical, civil, electrical and computer engineers, chemists, biologists, linguists, accountants, program analysts, contract, personnel, financial and logistics management specialists. Summer employment program, Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP), Student Career Experience Program (SCEP), Presidential Management Intern Program (PMI) for master's and doctoral students.
- U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration
- U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security
- U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services
- U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection
- U.S. Dept. of Interior, Bureau of Land Management
Under "Get Involved" see career info. Professional careers in BLM include:
Archaeologist, communications specialist/electronics technician, botanist, economist, engineer, fire management officer, forester, geologist, hazardous materials specialist, hydrologist, information resources, land surveyor, outdoor recreation planner, planning coordinator, public affairs specialist, ranger, range conservationist, realty specialist, wildlife/fisheries biologist.
- U.S. Dept. of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service
- U.S. Dept. of Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
- U.S. Dept. of Interior, National Park Service
- U.S. Dept. of Justice
- U.S. Dept. of Labor
- U.S. Dept. of State
- U.S. Dept. of Treasury
- U.S. Dept. of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service
Includes students and recent grads info, seasonal and part-time.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Includes careers and internships, with opportunities for college students, graduates, graduate students, post-docs.
- U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation college recruitment program
Entry-level career opportunities with the FBI, includes majors from which they typically hire.
- U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
- The White House Internship Program