Most government agencies have established internship programs for which you can apply. As with all things during the hiring process, you should submit your materials as early as possible. Most internship programs tend to be full-time summer positions that last between eight and 12 weeks. Many are paid, or at least offer some sort of stipend that should cover part of your living costs. Some agencies have more extensive internship programs for graduate students.
Internships are a great way to see the inner workings of an agency. They provide a valuable experience that can help you land a job after graduation. Depending on the position and agency, there is a strong possibility that you could be doing some very interesting work. However, this has more to do with the mentor or supervisor with whom you are assigned to work. While there is no expectation of being hired at the end of the summer, internships have the unspoken potential to lead to full-time employment. The obvious key is to be a productive member of whatever team you find yourself in. Also, don’t be afraid to let your boss or your supervisor know that you like what you are doing and would like to secure employment in the agency upon graduation.
Your foot in the door
Students who have completed an undergraduate or a graduate internship later get hired for regular positions available at the same agency. One of the reasons is that agencies prefer to hire students they have worked with as full-time employees, since the quality of their work has already been evaluated. Some agencies hire second-year MPA students or third-year law students for entry-level positions, allowing them to start once their degree program is completed.
Networking is important. People know people, and, unfortunately, the way of the world is that, frequently, getting a job depends on who you know. One’s friends can often put in a good word to help you get a foot in the door. Frequently, you will find individuals within your chosen field of employment who want to help or mentor younger job seekers. You should not be afraid to ask someone who works in your desired field for information or to invite someone to lunch to talk about hiring practices. The individual will most likely be willing to discuss these matters with you and may even be able to offer some help.