Many Bowdoin students find work after college in government or public service careers — within the executive branch at a federal agency, within the legislative branch working on Capitol Hill for a Senator or Representative, within a state or city government, or at a think tank or advocacy group whose mission is connected to governance.
If you are interested in government, start by making a list of the organizations or people participating in advocacy for the issues you care about. Bring the list in to Career Planning for specific help and advice.
For your list, consider:
- Federal government agencies (e.g. the Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency, or the Treasury Department)
- Elected officials within national or state government
- Cities, counties, and state agencies
- Advocacy organizations (e.g. NRA, Everytown for Gun Safety, ACLU, etc.)
- Think tanks (see influential think tanks here)
- Cities, counties, and states as employers
- Associations and Groups (e.g. American Medical Association; Council of State Governments; Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers)
70% of federal employees are paid according to the GS (General Schedule) system. You can look at pay rates (with regional cost-of-living adjustments, here. Although salary in government jobs is often lower than in the private sector, it is often the case that health insurance, vacation, retirement, and other benefits, can be generous, and promotion is fairly quick. Some agencies also offer student loan repayment help.
Organizations and Alumni
There are Bowdoin alumni who have had successful and distinguished careers in diplomacy, politics, and leadership. Many of these alumni are available to share insight and advice with current students through campus visits, or one-on-one. You can find and connect with alumni in a variety of fields through LinkedIn — or even on Facebook.
Many city and state governments offer internships and post-graduate fellowships aimed at giving students and recent graduates experience and responsibility within government. Some examples of these programs are the California Senate Fellows, the New York City Urban Fellows program, Experience Philadelphia, and the City Hall Fellows.
Almost all jobs within federal government agencies (e.g. the Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency, or the Treasury Department) are required to be listed and posted on USAJOBS.gov. A great place to learn about the jobs, and learn application strategies, is GoGovernment.org .
There are some tricks and strategies that will make searching for and applying for these jobs and internships easier. Certain agencies (e.g. the State Department and the CIA) use a different hiring process. Remember that federal jobs can be anywhere — they are NOT all in Washington, D.C. From time to time the Career Planning has programs that will help you find and apply for government jobs.
Maybe a nongovernmental organization or a think tank is a better fit for you? The Foreign Policy Association has a tool book that’s a good resource, and the Chronicle of Philanthropy Jobs site is a place to find advocacy positions in organizations committed to social justice, public policy, and the common good.