Career Pathway: Government

Pathway Overview

Why Government?

  • Overall growth in government-related positions.
  • Great benefits and competitive pay.
  • Desirable opportunities to engage in high-impact work. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, pathways in the public administration career cluster are expected to grow 6% for administrative services and 17% for social and community services through 2029. Public administrators hold a wide variety of job titles across a number of different sectors and industries. Their roles involve general purpose government services at the federal, state, and local levels, managing relationships that impact international politics, law, economics, security, diplomacy, and fostering civic engagement through nonprofits that reach beyond borders. Those who support these efforts have advanced knowledge and skills that are needed for high-level public administration and international relations roles within a public sector organization. If you enjoy addressing social issues and want to have an impact on the lives of others, then a public sector career is for you. 

Fellowships

Note: Fellowships help candidates enhance their skills and deepen their knowledge by serving in high-impact local, state, federal, or international governmental capacities or other related organizations. There are no “required” fellowships for a government career path; any requirements for a specific role are listed accordingly on job postings. This list is composed of fellowships that some employers may view favorably in candidates. 

FellowshipAreas of Study Demographics Citizenship 
Advocacy Project FellowshipInternational Affairs – GeneralPeace and Conflict ResolutionGraduate StudentsAny 
Charles G. Koch Summer Fellow ProgramPublic Policy and Administration Graduate StudentsUndergraduatesYoung ProfessionalsAny 
Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Public Service ScholarshipsInternational Affairs – GeneralPublic Policy and AdministrationMulticultural StudentsUnited States
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Public Policy FellowshipInternational Affairs – GeneralPublic Policy and AdministrationMulticultural StudentsUnited States
Edmund S. Muskie Graduate Fellowship ProgramInternational Affairs – GeneralInternational LawPublic or Intercultural CommunicationPublic Policy and AdministrationGraduate StudentsEurope and Central Asia
Fulbright Programs International Affairs – GeneralInternational Business, Trade, and FinanceInternational LawPeace and Conflict ResolutionPublic Policy and AdministrationSecurity StudiesYoung Professionals/ Graduate StudentsUnited States 
Rumsfeld Foundation Graduate Fellowship ProgramInternational Affairs – GeneralPublic Policy and AdministrationGraduate StudentsUnited States
Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs FellowshipsInternational Affairs – GeneralPublic Policy and AdministrationGraduate Students—Strongly Encourages Multicultural CandidatesUnited States
Twitter Public Policy FellowshipPublic Policy and AdministrationInternational Affairs – GeneralGraduate Students—Strongly Encourages Multicultural CandidatesUnited States 

In-Demand Skills

Your ability to land a specific role rests on your experience and educational background, as well as your proficiency in the skills below.

Field-Specific Skills

  • Budgeting
  • Project Management
  • Public Health and Safety
  • Strategic Planning
  • Policy Analysis and Development
  • Threat Analysis
  • Cross-cultural Management
  • Data Analysis
  • Financial Reporting
  • Quality Assurance and Control
  • Staff Management
  • Systems Analysis
  • Cybersecurity

Transferable Skills & Qualities

  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Critical Thinking
  • Attention to Detail
  • Problem Solving
  • Social Perceptiveness
  • Presentation Delivery
  • Time Management
  • Organization
  • Oral/Written Communication
  • Negotiation Ability
  • Service Orientation
  • Staff Management

Job Buckets

Note: This is a basic guide to kick-start exploration, not a complete list of all paths. See specific job descriptions for more details. To determine specific roles and responsibilities for each public sector, click on this checklist to see how you match up!

Local & State Government

As Tip O’Neill stated, “all politics is local.” Local governments typically laser focus on challenges that affect a specific town, city, or district. On the other hand, state governments, on the other hand, focus on programs and policies that impact state citizens, visitors, and businesses within a given state. Both levels of government directly shape education, budgets, community relations, economic development, healthcare administration, policy analysis, emergency management, communications, IT efficiencies, and many other critical areas.

Types of organizations where you may work:

  • County courts, water and waste management, law enforcement agencies, tourism and recreation agencies, local school districts, libraries, health and human services, fish and wildlife services, state house. 

With a local and/or state government focus, you can may work in the following professions:

  • Community Relations Director
  • Police Commissioner
  • Board of Education 
  • Local Transportation Board Member
  • City Manager 
  • Parks and Recreation Director
  • Urban Planning and Development Director
  • Compliance Officer 
  • Land Surveyor 
  • Database Administrator 
  • Purchasing Manager 
  • Budget Analyst 
  • Health and Human Services Administrator
  • Foreign Affairs Specialist 

Federal Government

The federal government addresses challenges of national importance, including border security, international relations, transportation, tax and budgeting, national defense, environmental protection, public safety and health, and federal government accountability. This is only a sampling of the many areas in which the federal government is involved. Below are several federal government organizations that might interest you (source). 

Types of organizations where you may work:

  • U.S. Department of State, Center for Strategic and International Studies, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Defense, InScope International, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), U.S. House of Representatives.

With a federal government focus, you may work in the following professions:

  • Policy Advisor
  • Legislative Aid
  • Intelligence Analyst 
  • Foreign Service Officer 
  • Economist
  • Policy Researcher 
  • Labor Relations Manager 
  • Communications Specialist 
  • Health Systems Administrator
  • Emergency Management Director
  • Environmental Protection Specialist 
  • Civil Rights Analyst  
  • Mediator
  • Tax Examiner 

International & Non-Governmental Organizations

The most effective international administrators possess a combination of subject-matter expertise in areas such as law and foreign policy, and functional abilities in areas like project and program management (source). A background in public administration and nonprofit management may help secure a position at a  non-governmental or other international organization. Globally, you’ll find many organizations that focus on diplomacy, humanitarian aid, economic and sustainable growth, etc. Below is a sampling of organizations and positions  oriented toward an international affairs career. 

Types of organizations where you may work:

  • United Nations (UN), Amnesty International, CARE, Oxfam, Mercy Corps, World Wildlife Federation (WWF), World Bank, Human Rights Watch, International Rescue Committee.

With an international and/or non-governmental organization focus, you may work in the following professions:

  • Program Monitor 
  • Liaison Officer 
  • Program Manager 
  • Evaluation Specialist
  • Country Director 
  • Business and Human Rights Legal Researcher 
  • Field Coordinator 
  • Advocacy Consultant 
  • Relief Deployment Manager
  • Economic Affairs Officer 
  • Program Officer 
  • Policy Advisor 
  • Social Impact Analyst 

Nonprofit Organizations

Nonprofit organizations need highly-skilled professionals to accomplish their goals. Many  aspects of managing and supporting nonprofit organizations involve overseeing complex budgets, developing strategic fundraising plans, and motivating teams. Additionally, nonprofit work often connects people who want to make a social difference. Below is a sampling of organizations and positions oriented toward a nonprofit career. 

Types of organizations where you may work:

  • Foundations and philanthropic organizations, higher education institutions, research institutions, think tanks, and advocacy groups.

With an nonprofit organization focus, you may work in the following professions:

  • Community Relations Coordinator 
  • Compliance Coordinator 
  • Member Services Director 
  • Grant Administrator 
  • Executive Director 
  • Associate Director 
  • Policy Analyst
  • Development Coordinator 
  • Case Manager 
  • Volunteer Coordinator 
  • Donor Relations Manager 
  • Student Affairs Administrator
  • Community Organizer 
  • Public Relations Manager 
  • Program Manager 
  • Special Initiatives Director

Employer-Ready

We encourage everyone to become employer-ready, which means having an industry-backed resume and strong online presence (ex: LinkedIn).

Employer-Ready Means…

  • Meeting industry requirements.
  • Creating industry-backed materials.
  • Successfully networking.
  • Demonstrating a commitment to on-going learning.
  • Being proactive with outreach and follow-up strategies.

Help Us Improve