People get jobs and internships with the U.S. government much the same way that they get most jobs in the private sector: by finding openings and submitting a resume or application. However, searching for federal jobs or internships can be more complicated than other searches. Your search will be more fruitful if you understand the lingo, identify jobs and internships for which you are well qualified, and start with the right resources.

Top Reasons to Work for the Federal Government

  • Student loan repayment assistance
  • Superb health insurance and retirement benefits
  • Enjoy work/life balance through flexible schedules and generous vacation
  • Opportunity to transfer to other agencies and expand your horizons
  • Training and professional development

Click here for additional information.

Where to Start

Pathways – For Students and Recent Graduates

The Pathways Programs are designed to help agencies provide students and recent graduates with clear paths to internships and full-time employment, as well as meaningful training, mentoring and career-development opportunities.

  • Internships – For currently enrolled part-time or full-time students; many agencies participate and many positions are paid.
  • Recent Graduate Jobs - Full-time, year-long programs for individuals with an undergraduate or graduate degree from a qualifying educational institution; participants receive training and professional development.
  • Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) - The federal government’s premier leadership program for individuals with qualifying advanced degrees; participants receive training and professional development and have at least one rotational or developmental assignment.


Find Your Fit – Search Agencies, Job Titles and Pay Grades

As with any job search, you first need to ask yourself:

  • What is most important to me in a job?
  • What type of position or employer would most value my skills and education?

Then, do your research!

Next, start searching on USAJOBS.

  • Search by keyword or location – advanced searches help the process
  • Select “Students and Recent Graduates” to search by Pathways programs
  • Create an account and save searches to have vacancies emailed to you when posted

NOTE: The following agencies are NOT required to post to USAJOBS, so be sure to visit their individual websites:


Federal Resumes

Forget what you know about resume writing. While you may find yourself summarizing your work history into a one-page document for a typical job application, your federal resume should be more detailed and run two-to-five pages in length for an entry-level job. A federal resume uses the same information from a typical resume, but goes into more depth about your skills, past duties and accomplishments.

Use the following tools and then come get your resume critiqued by a career consultant!


Additional Information

Federal Pay
General Schedule (GS) is the pay scale for many federal jobs and the pay varies by location.

GS Grades and Qualifying Education

  • GS-4: 2 years above high school education OR an Associate’s degree
  • GS-5: 4 years above high school leading to a Bachelor’s degree OR a Bachelor’s degree
  • GS-7: 1 full year of graduate school OR Bachelor’s degree with one of the following:
    1. Class standing (upper third of class)
    2. 3.0 or higher GPA; 3.5 or higher GPA in major
    3. Honor society membership
  • GS-9: Master’s degree (or equivalent) OR 2 years of graduate school
  • GS-11: Ph.D. or 3 years of graduate school
    For Research Positions only: completion of a Master’s degree

Helpful Websites and Handouts

Red, White & Blue Jobs Directory

Tips on Making Contact with Agencies

  1. Start with who you know (family, alumni, faculty, neighbors, friends of family) to help you identify people who work for the federal government.
  2. Meet recruiters at career fairs and follow up with them afterwards.
  3. Do your research (find agency contacts at the bottom of vacancy announcements).
  4. Visit the agency homepage and locate the state, district, or regional offices.

Remember that federal networking contacts cannot advance your application. However, they can provide much needed advice and great information on how to expand your job search.

Benefits to Contacting Agencies

  1. Direct contact will help you understand more about the hiring process for that agency.
  2. Contact allows you to build a network that can search on your behalf.  While USAJOBS.gov is a starting place, it’s not the only way to find jobs. Contacts in your network may hear about jobs before they are posted and give you ideas on where to look.
  3. People already working for the federal government can give you a broader understanding of how you might expand your job search.