How to Score Your Dream Government Internship

As a student of Public Administration, you probably dream of working in a job that will allow you to contribute to society in a meaningful way. Working in the public sector is a great way to realize that goal. However, landing these types of jobs can be difficult without any work experience, and internships provide the solution. The following five strategies will help you to find and land the government internship that you have been looking for.

1. Network Like Crazy

Focus particularly on professionals who work in your area of interest. If you are interested in working in the area of children’s rights, for example, offer to volunteer for a children’s advocacy program in your area. This may turn into an internship in the future.

Ask people if you can interview them about their jobs. People like to talk about themselves and what they do, particularly if it is in an area that they are passionate about.

Always follow up with a thank-you note. Then follow them on Twitter or other social networking sites so that you can keep in touch and show your interest in the issues that are current in their field.

2. Make Your Resume Shine

Keep your résumé current and relevant. While this may seem obvious, you should always tailor your résumé to the agency to which you are applying. Find ways to stress the aspects of your skills or work experience that fit with the qualities and skills for which they are looking.

3. Plan Ahead

Get letters of recommendation well in advance as professors are inundated with these types of requests and apply early for summer internships. Many application deadlines for government summer internships are in January and February. Some of the more competitive internship deadlines are even earlier. Many applicants begin applying for a White House summer internship as early as November. Plan for unexpected delays, and have a backup plan.

4. Follow Application Instructions to the Letter

Pay close attention to application requirements as they vary by agency. If an agency wants a three-page essay as well as a filled-in application, then that is what you should give them. Provide every scrap of information that they ask for, and follow directions carefully. Many potential employers immediately toss applications that are missing information, if for no other reason than to reduce the size of their applicant pool.

5. Take Advantage of Government Databases

The federal government has recently revamped its internship program database. This new program, called “Pathways,” is accessible online and is more student-friendly than previous interfaces. It includes hiring initiatives for current students, recent college graduates, and graduate students.

Government internship programs are looking for applicants with the following characteristics: qualifications, character, and commitment to public service. If you have these qualities, you may be a great candidate for an internship with the federal government.

For more information about federal government internships, go to the USAJOBS website. There you can search the extensive internship database and find instructions and help on how to apply.