Be Young and Public: Public Sector Opportunities for Recent Graduates

The Obama Administration has done wonders in terms of young, fresh talent entering the public sector. The Pathways Program Initiative was initiated in 2012 to improve the federal sector by hiring more recent graduates, streamlining the federal hiring process and hiring veterans. Essentially, the program has three main facets: hiring process, internship program and the Presidential Management Fellows Program. The internship program is for current students enrolled in either high school or a higher education institution to get paid opportunities to work in agencies of their choice. The recent graduates program is a career development program that provides training and mentorship across various federal agencies. Advanced degree candidates are eligible to apply to the Presidential Management Fellows Program. Applicants are eligible to apply to any program under the pathways initiative within two years of graduation. I encourage any recent graduate to research pathways programs. A professional from any career field can find work opportunities in the federal government; the opportunities are endless. Want to know where to look to kick-start your federal career? Whether you are a 22 year old college graduate or a senior-level professional, there is an agency out there with a program to fit your needs. Below are a few examples of opportunities available through the pathways program.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): As the nation’s leading public health agency, CDC offers numerous Public Health Training Fellowships to students, graduates and post-doctoral candidates. Focus areas include preventative medicine, environmental health, health policy and management and leadership. Programs include Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS), Public Health Associate Program (PHAP) and Public Health Prevention Service (PHPS).
  2. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA): VA allows veterans up to six years after degree completion to apply to pathways programs. Individuals will be appointed based on availability of a position in their respective career field. If selected, individuals can start out at level GS-9. Selected fields in science and technology may be eligible for appointment to level GS-11 or GS-12. Candidates will be given individual mentorship, opportunities for career advancement and ongoing evaluations of Individual Development Plans (IDPs).
  3. Department of State: The State Department posts specific positions on their students programs page when specific opportunities become available. In addition, the State Department offers professional fellowships to allow experienced professionals and academics to work on global issues such as international development assistance, nonproliferation and counterterrorism. Diplomacy Fellows Program, Jefferson Science Fellowship Program and Franklin Fellows Program are a few programs.
  4. Department of Justice: Individuals can apply to various divisions including the Tax Division, Justice Management Division and Office of Inspector General.

The job market gets more competitive each day. The phrase “get your foot in the door,” is a term I always heard in college. However, it wasn’t until I applied to a CDC fellowship and saw the exposure it gave me as a public health professional, that I began to understand its importance and meaning. The excellent aspect of working for a federal agency is that it exposes you to state, local, rural and urban departments. The collaborative nature of the public sector can also expose you to private and non-for-profit agencies. Projects span across various organizations and give you skills that prove to be priceless for the global nature of the current workforce. Talk about a selling point for future job interviews! Whether you to continue in public service or not, are an entry-level or a well-seasoned professional, starting your career in the public sector can be a valuable experience.

Priyanka Oza is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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