Public Administration

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Area

Local Government

  • City management
  • Financial administration
  • Budget analysis

  • General services
  • Community affairs

  • Social services
  • Urban planning

Employers

  • Counties
  • Municipalities
  • Townships

  • School districts
  • Special districts

Strategies

  • Get involved in community organizations and events and develop a network of contacts.
  • Employment opportunities in local government tend to follow population trends in terms of growth and decline in availability of positions.  Be prepared to relocate to find the most opportunities.
  • Gain relevant experience through internships and/or volunteer positions.
  • Conduct applicable research that could be useful to your community.
  • Research local government job application procedures and applicable public service exams.

Area

State Government

  • Executive Branch functions
  • Finance and administration
  • Human resource management
  • Environmental management
  • Public safety and criminal justice

  • Risk management
  • Emergency services management
  • Commerce and insurance
  • Purchasing and acquisitions
  • Budget analysis

  • Community services
  • Social services
  • Urban planning
  • Legislature
  • Judicial

Employers

  • Departments of state government (varies by state)
  • Legislative agencies:
    • Legislative Reference Services, Bill Drafting Services, Legislative Councils, and Budgeting and Auditing staffs
  • State Supreme Courts

  • Personal staff of legislators
  • Intermediate Appellate Courts
  • Trial Courts of General Jurisdiction
  • Trial Courts of Limited Jurisdiction

Strategies

  • Research the organization of your state government.
  • Develop specialized skills and interests for particular populations or issues, (e.g., disability, education, homelessness, etc).
  • Develop strong research and writing skills.
  • Make political contacts through local legislators of both houses. Use referrals and informational interviews to build a network.
  • Volunteer to work on political campaigns.
  • Consider pursuing a relevant graduate degree for more opportunities and advancement.
  • Learn the state government employment procedures and utilize your campus career center for assistance with the application process.
  • Research applicable public service exams.

Area

Federal Government: Legislative Branch

  • Legislative agencies
  • Legislature administrative staff
    • Washington-based
    • Home district
    • Committee

Employers

  • Various agencies:
    • General Accounting Office, Library of Congress, Government Printing Office, Congressional Budget Office
  • Offices of senators and representatives

Strategies

  • Research the structure of Congress and various opportunities available.
  • Develop excellent research, writing, communication, and organizational skills.
  • Build a strong personal network.
  • Explore districts other than your own.

Area

Federal Government: Judicial Branch

 

Employers

  • Supreme Court
  • U.S. Courts

  • Federal Judiciary
  • Supporting organizations

Strategies

  • Research the structure and functions of the federal judiciary system.
  • Some positions require a law degree and bar certification.

Area

Federal Government: Executive Branch

  • Office of the President
  • Management and budget

  • Administration
  • Council of Economic Advisors

  • U.S. Trade Representatives
  • Executive departments

Employers

  • Office of the President
  • Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor

Strategies

  • Research various agencies and departments to discover which ones may be the best fit for your major and experience.
  • Conduct informational interviews with government employees.
  • Apply for a government internship through the Pathways Program or other student programs to gain relevant experience.
  • Learn federal job application procedures and how to write a strong resume. Use your campus career center for help with the application process.

Area

Federal Government: Independent Agencies

  • Finance and administration
  • Budget analysis
  • Purchasing
  • Human resource management
  • Environmental management

  • Security and protection
  • Enforcement and compliance
  • Commerce and insurance
  • Purchasing and acquisitions
  • Program management

  • Risk management
  • Emergency services management
  • Social services
  • Legal

Employers

  • Independent Agencies include the following (not an exhaustive list):
    • Coordination and Public Safety
    • Emergency Response Policy
    • Environmental Protection Agency
    • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

  • Continued:
    • Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
    • Federal Emergency Management Agency
    • General Services Administration
    • National Archives & Records Administration
    • Nuclear Regulatory Commission

  • Continued:
    • Office of Personnel Management
    • Securities & Exchange Commission
    • Tennessee Valley Authority
    • U.S. Information Agency
    • U.S. International Development Cooperation

Strategies

  • There are a large number of niche areas and specialized agencies within the federal
    government.  Do extensive research in order to find the area that best matches your skills and    interests.
  • Take courses or minor in applicable interest area(s).
  • Maintain a high grade point average to qualify for government employment.
  • Apply for a government internship through the Pathways Program or other student programs to gain relevant experience.
  • Research applicable public service exams and hiring procedures.
  • Earn a graduate degree to be more competitive for positions.

Area

Political Support/Lobbying

  • Elected or appointed leadership
  • Campaign management
  • Staff administration

  • Special interest advocacy
  • Political advising

  • Lobbying
  • Party administration

Employers

  • Political Action Committees (PAC)
  • Industrial, educational, and public interest groups

  • Political parties
  • Campaigns: national, state, or local

  • Lobbying organizations
  • Large business firms

Strategies

  • Get involved with a political party/group and develop a personal network. The ability to develop networks, coalitions, and alliances with other associations is highly valued.
  • Volunteer to work on political campaigns.
  • Gain experience with government agencies or departments to help build relationships. Develop excellent public relations, interpersonal, and communication skills.
  • Learn how to persuade and negotiate.  Participate on a debate team.
  • Volunteer in organizations with similar interests and goals.

Area

Nonprofit

  • Administration
  • Management
  • Public relations

  • Fund raising/Development
  • Policy analysis
  • Research

  • Grant writing
  • Direct service

Employers

  • Local and national nonprofit agencies
  • Foundations
  • Charitable organizations
  • Trade or professional associations

  • Special interest groups
  • Labor unions
  • Libraries
  • Museums

  • Historic sites/historical societies
  • Research organizations and think tanks
  • Educational institutions

Strategies

  • Gain experience through volunteering or completing an internship.
  • Supplement curriculum with courses in business, psychology, sociology, or social work.
  • Obtain leadership roles in relevant campus and community organizations.
  • Develop strong communication and research skills.
  • Learn how to write grants.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and experience in a specialty area, (e.g., public health, environment, urban issues).
  • Research organizations’ values to find a good fit with yours. It is critical that you are knowledgeable about and committed to the work you’re going to do.
  • Investigate term of service or service corps positions as a way to gain entry into the field.
  • Consider earning a graduate degree for more job opportunities and advancement.

Area

Business

  • Human resources
  • Budget analysis
  • Management

  • Sales/Marketing
  • Purchasing
  • Management consulting

  • Occupational safety coordination
  • Public relations

Employers

  • Product and service organizations
  • Retail stores
  • Hotels
  • Restaurants

  • Manufacturers
  • Insurance companies
  • Print and electronic media

  • Consulting firms
  • Other business corporations
  • Association management firms

Strategies

  • Develop strong analytical, communication, and technical skills.
    Obtain related work experience in a business setting through internships and summer or part-time jobs.
  • Earn a minor in business.
  • Hone computer skills and learn software packages such as databases, spreadsheets, and presentations.
  • Get involved in student organizations and seek leadership roles.
  • Become knowledgeable about corporate social responsibility.

Area

International Affairs

See also What Can I Do With a Major in Global Studies?

  • Governance
  • Policy making and analysis
  • Public sector reform
  • Poverty-reduction strategy

  • Ethics and anti-corruption
  • Human rights
  • Public law
  • Organization and management development

  • Resource development
  • Public-private partnerships
  • Media/Communication policy and practice
  • Education

Employers

  • Intergovernmental agencies, (e.g., World Bank, United Nations)
  • National governments

  • Non-profit agencies
  • Policy and research organizations

  • Private businesses
  • Contracting and consulting firms

Strategies

  • Obtain internships or volunteer in order to gain valuable experience in areas of interest.
  • Participate in overseas mission trips or spend a Semester at Sea.
  • Become familiar with national or international application procedures.
  • Research the history and culture of countries or geographic areas of interest.
  • Take steps towards obtaining work or study visas for various locations.
  • Become proficient in at least one foreign language.
  • Spend time studying or working abroad, especially working to make and maintain contacts in foreign countries.
  • Earn a double major or minor in order to gain additional skills or knowledge needed for various positions (i.e., Africana studies, Asian studies, business, psychology, sociology, etc.).
  • For higher level positions an advanced degree is necessary. Research different programs and the concentrations they offer in order to find the best fit for your interests.

Area

Healthcare

  • Health services administration:
    • Operation
    • Finance
    • Program management
    • Material management
    • Human resources
    • Medical staff relations

  • Health services administration continued:
    • Information technology
    • Marketing
    • Public relations
    • Facilities
    • Patient care
    • Provider relations
    • Government relations

  • Health policy:
    • Research
    • Policy analysis
    • Policy development
    • Legislative work
    • Lobbying

Employers

  • Hospitals, health systems, and clinics
  • Medical groups
  • Hospices
  • Home health agencies
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Mental health facilities

  • Managed care organizations
  • Health finance organizations
  • Insurance companies
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Academic medical centers
  • Federal government agencies

  • State government agencies
  • Public health departments
  • Advocacy groups
  • Health foundations
  • Nongovernmental agencies, (e.g., Red Cross)
  • Professional associations, (e.g., American Medical Association)

Strategies

  • Supplement your curriculum with business courses.
  • Gain experience through internships or jobs in a healthcare setting.
  • Develop strong communication and technology skills.  Learn how to use database and spread-sheet software.
  • Get involved in student government or campus organizations related to health issues.
  • Learn to work well on teams and develop strong leadership skills.
  • Join related professional organizations and build a network of contacts.
  • Stay abreast of news in the healthcare industry.
  • Earn a master’s degree in public health, health administration, public administration, business, or a related field.
  • To prepare for positions in lobbying and legislation, some will earn a law degree.

Area

Law

  • Contractual
  • Corporate
  • Nonprofit or public interest

  • Government
  • Mediation
  • Other specialties
  • Law assistance

Employers

  • Law firms
  • Federal, state, and local government
  • Private practice
  • Corporations

  • Special interest groups
  • Universities and colleges
  • State government agencies

  • Nonprofit and public interest organizations, (e.g., ACLU, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Legal)
    Services Corporation
  • Legal clinics
  • Other private legal services

Strategies

  • Develop strong research skills and attention to detail.
  • Participate in debate or forensic team to hone communication skills.
  • Choose courses or a minor to specialize in a particular area of law, (e.g., a minor in business for a career in corporate law).
  • Find part-time or summer work in a law firm.
  • Shadow an attorney to learn more about the field and various specialties.
  • Get involved in pre-law organizations.
  • Plan to attend law school and earn a law degree.  Maintain a high grade point average and secure strong faculty recommendations. Prepare for the LSAT (Law School Admission Test).
  • Obtain specialized certification for paralegal positions.

General Information

  • An undergraduate degree in Public Administration, with the appropriate experience, is sufficient for entry-level positions in government and business.
  • A graduate degree in public administration, public health administration, or business administration helps prepare students for management and upper-level positions. Research programs in order to choose specializations or concentrations of interest.
  • Consider law school for careers in upper-level politics, administration, or management. Explore joint J.D. and M.P.A. programs to see if they meet your career goals.
  • Obtain a broad liberal arts background including written and verbal communication, research, and language skills.
  • Part-time, summer, internship, and volunteer experiences are extremely helpful to find positions in government affairs, nonprofit organizations or public service areas.
  • Develop strong leadership skills; run for office in clubs and organizations in school or community.  Volunteer to organize or lead an event or project.
  • Get involved in Student Government. Assist with campus, local, or national campaigns to gain experience and build relationships.
  • Demonstrate interest/involvement in community affairs and events.
  • Join related professional organizations such as the American Society of for Public Administration (ASPA).
  • Build a strong personal network through informal contacts. Political connections are helpful for appointed positions.  Most agencies respond to professional connections.
  • Expect keen competition for federal positions. Prepare yourself with a strong academic background and good experience. Seek the classes and experiences that will best prepare you.
  • Develop patience, persistence, and drive in obtaining government positions.
  • Explore application to government internship programs specifically for college students, such as the Pathways Program at the federal level.
  • Research websites that address various government job opportunities, pay structure, and hiring processes.
  • Consider military experience and training or the Peace Corps as an entryway into government jobs and public service.
  • Plan on following a flexible career path to higher positions.  Many people begin on the clerical or entry level in order to gain experience and network.