Can Uncle Sam Solve Your No Experience" Dilemma?"
One of the career change challenges is "How do I get some experience in my new field?" Wise career changers are creative and willing to explore all options, especially those that others may not be pursuing. Working for the federal government might not be your first choice, but don't write it off. As I was poking around on these sites, I found that many of my notions about government work were wrong.
The federal government is trying to make applying for a job easier! The Partnership for Public Service web site is a good place to start. Lots of info here, including internships, overviews of different agencies, how to land a job, and FAQs about civil service. "Finding a Job" has helpers such as:
- How to Apply for a Federal Job
- Frequently Asked Questions About Federal Jobs and Hiring
- Nine Tips for Landing a Government Job
- How to Write a Federal Resume
- A Glossary of Government Employment Terms (helps you translate your career into government speak)
Who knew that 80 percent of federal jobs are located outside of the Washington, D.C. area? Example: two-thirds of the General Accounting Office's approximately 3,000 employees work in Washington, D.C., but the GAO has field offices in 11 major cities including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Career tracks at the GAO include "analyst, financial auditor and specialist (including information technology specialist, economist, actuary and communications analyst). In addition, we have a first-rate student intern program and hire upper-level personnel into more highly specialized or management positions."
USAJobs is the official employment openings site of the federal government. In addition to job searching, the site offers self-assessment tools to determine your career interests and skills or you can specify what field you are most interested in and see related occupations for that field. If you already know what you want, you can find a description and the minimum qualifications for that job.
FirstGov.gov has a complete alphabetical listing of all U.S. government departments and agencies with links to web sites.
The E-Scholar Program offers a list of apprenticeships, fellowships, grants, scholarships, cooperative programs and internships within different agencies. Many are for high school students, but there are opportunities (both domestic and international) for the older folks, too.
The Library of Congress of course, employs lots of librarians. But their current needs also include: HR specialist, medical emergency coordinator, foreign law specialist, general engineer, writer-editor and interior designer. And don't imagine that those librarians only work with dusty books and documents. There is a summer Junior Fellows Program with projects in:
- Film, Television and Radio
- Sound Recordings
- History of Graphic Arts, Architecture, Design and Engineering
- History of Photography
The Office of Homeland Security web site offers the jobs you would expect, but if you'd rather not patrol borders or screen travelers at airports, there are other options. Look at the different departments under Homeland Security. The U.S. Coast Guard, for example, has more than 200 different categories of civilian jobs from IT to "Recreation Specialist, Cape Cod, Massachusetts - Plan, develop and coordinate recreational activities and physical fitness programs at a Coast Guard recreation center."The American Association for the Advancement of Science has 64 job search categories from agriculture to zoology. If (like me) you didn't ace your college biology and chem classes, you can search some of their other categories: business development, computer science, IT, legal/regulatory, psychiatry/psychology, sales/marketing. They also have special programs to "increase the participation of women, minorities and the disabled in the science and technology workforce."
U.S. Agency for International Development offers fellowships in many locations in a variety of programs for mid-career professionals. If you're not real happy with your current career but don't know what else you want, maybe a change of scenery will fulfill your yearning for something different? These are full-time jobs, not volunteer work. Many offer quite respectable compensation. The stipends for the IWID (Investing in Women in Development) fellowships range from $40k to $70k, depending on location and years of experience.
Just for fun, I did a few job searches in Writing/Marketing/Communications. Here are three results:
- Media Relations Specialist, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Write special reports and other materials to convey the CDC's complex health-related programs and activities to the public, news media and other government agencies.
- Public Affairs Specialist, U.S. Department of State - Shape and disseminate information about department programs through newspapers, magazines, radio, television, speeches and briefings nationwide.
- Writer/Editor, Environmental Protection Agency - Write speeches, articles and other materials to educate the American public about the agency's programs to protect the environment.
But actually on this hot September day, that Recreation Specialist opening on Cape Cod sounds mighty good to me.