government

The Key to Unlocking USAJobs.gov

The clearinghouse for job opportunities with the government.

USAJobs.gov is the clearinghouse for job opportunities with the government.

If you are interested in government jobs, you might already know that USAJobs.gov is the clearinghouse for job opportunities with the government. Listings on the site include student and non-student jobs which makes it a good resource for temporary summer positions and permanent positions.

Janice Johnson, a Wake Forest Law 2L, had first-hand experience with using USAJobs during her extensive career prior to attending law school. After completing her undergraduate studies in Boston, Janice worked in Europe and with the U.S. Department of State. In this blog post, Janice offers her advice and personal tips on how to navigate the USAJobs web site and ultimately land a government job.

Tactics on How Best to Start

USAJobs has countless agencies, departments, and sectors that you may not even have thought about or knew existed. Interested in energy law? There are energy specialists in each agency, not just in the Department of Energy. As a rule of thumb: start big. It’s also wise to start by picking your geographic preference and then just browsing the listings for that area. You should also be attentive to jobs that are not categorized as attorney positions, but where your law degree will give you an advantage and/or help you meet the other position requirements.

When It’s Time to Apply

In order to apply for any job on USAJobs, you will first need to have available your complete, thorough work and volunteer history. From the time you click “Apply for this Position,” you will be prompted to the site’s resume builder. A time-consuming ordeal, yes, but once you use the resume builder, you will be able to save the resume profile in the system, so it will be easy to apply to future jobs.

Important Application Tips

Use the keywords in the job description when filling out the resume builder. There is a meticulously designed computer program that scans through the resumes on USAJobs and ranks resumes on several different factors such as keywords. These keywords will get matched in the computer system, making you a better match for the job than those applicants who do not use keywords from the description. For example, if the position is looking for drafting experience, be sure you have the word “drafting” in your resume profile.

Also, think broadly when it comes capturing your years of experience for certain listings. For example, let’s say the position in which you are applying is asking for a number of years of leadership experience. Leadership experience can include things such as cheerleading coaching, retail management experience, Boy Scout and Girl Scout leadership, etc. So if you’re comfortable talking about it in an interview, then use it.

If there is a requirement or an option to add a cover letter or transcript, be sure you upload those documents. Always cater your cover letter to each job just like you would if applying to a law firm or any other employer. A carefully crafted cover letter can be the difference between your getting an interview or being passed aside. And don’t worry about your resume being too long. The government is okay with long resumes as they would rather know too much, than not enough.

Word of Mouth & Networking Bonuses

You can’t discount the potential value of knowing someone within government agencies whether it’s a friend, former classmate, family member, or colleague. Personal connections still work and knowing someone can make a huge impact on your application status and getting called in for an interview. Connections can put in a good word for you, despite the HR department having to go through the whole stack of resumes. News regarding upcoming positions also travel via word of mouth, often before they are even posted on USAJobs.gov so knowing someone in the department or agency can give you advance time to gather all of the necessary application materials.

After Applying

After applying and interviewing, you may receive an offer (YAY!). Just note that there will still be a security clearance and credit check you will need to pass. Your job offer will be for conditional hiring only, contingent on this background check. The length of the security clearance process varies and sometimes the process can take up to a full year to complete. This is why many summer internships open up in November so that they can close out in December to allow enough time to complete the full process. At this time, the government is okay with credit card debt such as retail store cards and personal credit cards. However, any delinquent debt, especially student loan debt, will likely delay the clearance process.

The entire USAJobs application process can be a long one. Fortunately, the system’s email notifications do help inform you on whether you will proceed to the next step or if your application has not been accepted. Whatever you do, do not get discouraged! Apply. Then apply again, even if it’s the same job you applied to before. Human resources will not notice that you’ve applied 8 times, nor would it make a difference in your hiring. There is no limit to how many times you can apply to a position. Perhaps you might have been ranked lower before and now you have more experience under your belt so be sure you are updating and adding new experiences often to your USAJobs profile. Your efforts will eventually be rewarded for all your time and hard work!

Want to work for the federal government? Here’s how!

The federal government has approximately 111,700 employees working in the legal field, including attorneys, law clerks, paralegal specialists, and contract representatives.  Even more employees with JDs work in policy-related positions, legislative liaison roles, etc.

In July 2012, the government implemented its new Pathways programs, streamlined developmental programs aimed at employment opportunities for students and recent graduates in the federal workforce.

Internships

The Pathways Internship Program provides paid internship opportunities for current students to work in federal agencies. Students who successfully complete the program may be eligible for conversion to a permanent job in the civil service. Internships are administered by each individual agency, but some agencies must post opportunities on www.usajobs.gov/studentsandgrads, making searching for these opportunities easier while others post internship positions directly on their website.

The Government Honors & Internship Guide, published by the University of Arizona College of Law, is a great resource for learning more about government internships and keeping track of deadlines.  The Guide, available at http://www.law.arizona.edu/career/honorshandbook.cfm includes information on opportunities at a number of federal agencies. The OCPD maintains an annual subscription – contact us for login information.

Entry-Level Positions

There are essentially three ways to obtain an entry-level position with the federal government: (1) the new Recent Graduates Program, part of the Pathways programs; (2) Honors Programs; and (3) the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) program.

Pathways Recent Graduates Program: This program is intended to streamline hiring for recent graduates.  Students are eligible for the program for up to two years after graduation. The program lasts for one year (unless the training requirements of the position warrant a longer and more structured training program). All agencies are required to provide the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) with information about available positions, and OPM posts the information publicly on www.usajobs.gov/studentsandgrads/ about how to apply for specific positions.

Honors Programs: Many federal agencies (including the Department of Justice) hire new attorneys primarily through Honors Programs. These usually require a two-year commitment, after which participants convert to permanent federal employees. The Government Honors and Internship Guide (see above for details) is the most comprehensive resource for these programs.

Presidential Management Fellows (PMF): This is a competitive program that recruits students with graduate-level degrees to policy and management jobs (not attorney positions) in the federal government. Students are eligible to apply in their final year of graduate school or up to two years after receiving their degrees. As part of the Pathways Program, the federal government has streamlined the process and reinvigorated the PMF program for 2012-13. More detailed information is available at http://www.pmf.gov/. (The website has not yet been updated with the application process for the Class of 2013, but last year’s application process began in mid-September). You can subscribe to the PMF listserv to receive updates and keep track of key dates.

For additional detailed information on opportunities with the federal government, consult the 2012-13 Federal Legal Employment Opportunities Guide and additional federal career resources available at http://psjd.org/Careers_in_Federal_Government.

Spring Internship Opportunity: Charlotte Immigration Court

The United States Department of Justice is seeking three law students to serve as volunteer legal interns with the Charlotte Immigration Court during the spring semester of 2013. All second and third year law students are eligible and encouraged to apply.

Organizational Description

The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) is responsible for adjudicating immigration-related cases.  Specifically, under delegated authority from the Attorney General, EOIR interprets and administers federal immigration laws by conducting immigration court proceedings, appellate reviews, and administrative hearings. 

On behalf of EOIR, Immigration Courts determine whether aliens are removable from theUnited States and consider applications for various forms of relief from removability.  Such relief includes asylum, adjustment of status, cancellation of removal, and waivers of inadmissibility grounds, including waivers for criminal convictions.  Parties may appeal their cases first to the Board of Immigration Appeals, and then to the federal appellate court which has jurisdiction over the original case.  The Charlotte Immigration Court is seated within the Fourth Circuit and has jurisdiction over all North Carolina and South   Carolina cases.

Description of Internship

The Charlotte Immigration Court is seeking law students with a strong interest in immigration law to intern during the spring semester of 2013.  Beginning and ending dates are flexible.  The number of hours is also flexible, though students must intern a minimum of nine hours per week.  The selected candidates must successfully complete a background investigation prior to the start date of the internship.

The type of projects assigned to volunteer legal interns will vary, depending upon the Court’s docket.  Such projects typically include drafting decisions on various applications for relief from removal, researching and preparing memoranda on complex issues in immigration law, and preparing materials to assist the Immigration Judges.  Interns are exposed to litigation with frequent opportunities to observe case proceedings.

Interns will work directly under the supervision of the Judicial Law Clerk (“JLC”) hired through the Attorney General’s Honors Program.  The JLC will serve as a mentor to the intern during the course of the internship.  The intern will also have the opportunity to interact directly with the Immigration Judges.

Hiring Criteria

The internship is highly competitive and requires strong research and writing skills.  Prior knowledge of or experience in immigration law, though not required, is encouraged.  One must be a United States citizen to be eligible for this internship.

In his or her application, the applicant should include a cover letter, a resume, a list of three references, an unofficial or official law school transcript, and a legal writing sample (no longer than 10 pages, double-spaced).

Students selected for interviews must provide an official law school transcript at the interview.  The writing sample must be the applicant’s exclusive work product.  The applicant’s cover letter should include relevant experience, including but not limited to, criminal or immigration-related internships, relevant classes, international experience, journal or law review, moot court or other extracurricular activities.  The applicant’s cover letter should also include an explanation of why the applicant wants to work at the Charlotte Immigration Court and how working at the Court will assist the applicant in his or her plans after law school.

Applications must be received by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, September 24, 2012.

Applicants may send applications by e-mail to Kathleen.Haley.Harne@usdoj.gov 

Please contact Kathleen Harne, Judicial Law Clerk with the Charlotte Immigration Court, with any questions: Kathleen.Haley.Harne@usdoj.gov ; phone number: (704)817-6142.  Applicants will be contacted for telephonic or in-person interviews shortly after receipt and review of applications.

The Executive Office for Immigration Review is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

FREE Webinar: The Summer Public Interest Job Search

NALP and Equal Justice Works have teamed up to offer students this FREE webinar with insight into the key elements of the summer public interest job application process.  Attorneys with years of experience will highlight do’s and don’ts, explain how and why public interest application materials may differ from law firm materials, and explore the dynamics of personal interactions in interviews and networking situations.

If you are looking for work in the public sector, don’t miss out on this valuable information and advice!

Part 1: Wednesday, January 25  at 3pm: Best Practices in Drafting Cover Letters & Resumes

Part 2: Wednesday, February 1 at 12pm: Best Practices in Interviewing & In-Person Networking

 

To register, go to https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/953896682

For more information, visit http://www.nalp.org/

REMINDER: Application Deadline for PAID NC State Government Internships

Applications for the North Carolina Summer 2012 Internship Program must be postmarked by December 5, 2011.

North Carolina residents attending a college, university, technical institute or community college can apply for one of up to 55 paid state government internships available for summer 2012. The 2012 State Government Internship Guide describing all available opportunities and rules is now online at http://www.doa.state.nc.us/yaio/interns.aspx.

The State Government Internship Program offers students real-world experience in a wide range of state government workplaces. Internships provide opportunities for students to work in their chosen field and to consider careers in public service. More than 3,500 students have participated since the program was established in 1969.

Paid summer internships are available in locations across the state. They provide North Carolina students with a compensated professional work experience that integrates education, career development and public service. Opportunities exist in numerous recognized fields of study, from architecture to zoology.  Interns earn a stipend of $8.25 per hour and work 40 hours per week for 10 weeks in the summer.

All internships will begin on May 29, 2012, and conclude on Aug. 3, 2012. Interns also participate in seminars, tours or other activities designed to broaden their perspective of public service and state government.

To be eligible for the program, a student must be a permanent North Carolina resident with an overall grade-point average of 2.5 or better on a 4.0 scale.  Applicants must be continuing their education in the fall following their participation in the program.  To qualify for a position designated for law interns, a student must have completed at least one year of law school before the beginning of the internship.  Students having previously held paid internships at the Youth Advocacy and Involvement Office are not eligible to apply.

Interns are selected through a competitive process overseen by the N.C. Internship Council. Selection is based on a review of applications by the Council, student interviews with prospective supervisors, academic records, participation in extracurricular activities and interest in state government.

Note that applications for summer 2012 internships are due earlier than in previous years. Applications must be postmarked by Monday, Dec. 5 to be considered. For details, visit http://www.doa.state.nc.us/yaio/interns.aspx or call the Youth Advocacy and Involvement Office in the N.C. Department of Administration at 919-807-4400.

Government Hiring is Down, But There is a Glimmer of Hope

This recent post from the PSLawNet blog discusses the most recent hiring statistics from federal government honors programs.  While the numbers are troubling, it’s important to focus on the good news – there are federal agencies with new or reinstated honors programs:

  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a new federal agency devoted to safeguarding the economic strength and vitality of America’s families.  The Louis D. Brandeis Attorney Honors program is a two-year fellowship that gives graduates an opportunity to participate in enforcement actions under consumer financial and fair-lending laws, participate in court proceedings defending Bureau rules and regulations, provide analysis for fair-lending compliance examinations, and develop policy.  The application deadline for the 2012 program was October 5, 2011, and will probably be in early October 2012 for the 2013 program.
  • The new Department of Energy Honors Program is a 6-12 month rotation during which graduates are assigned to individual Assistant General Counsel offices.  The offices offer a wide variety of legal practice areas including environmental law, legislation and regulation, litigation and enforcement, international law, procurement, intellectual property and others.  Honors Attorneys may be eligible to compete for permanent positions in DOE after passing the bar exam.  The deadline for the 2013 program will likely be late September 2012.
  • The Federal Communications Commission’s Attorney Honors Program is a two-year program during which attorneys participate in various aspects of federal administrative practice as they relate to the FCC’s oversight of television, radio, cable, wireless, wireline, satellite, and other communications services and facilities. Attorneys at the FCC draft decisions in adjudicatory and rulemaking matters, work with internal and external constituencies to resolve complex policy issues before the agency, participate in international negotiations, represent the FCC in dealings with other government agencies, Congress and the private sector, and defend FCC decisions in the federal courts.  All Honors Program participants will work at the FCC’s headquarters in Washington, DC and will be assigned to one of the agency’s bureaus. At the end of the two-year program, Honors Program attorneys will be eligible for consideration for continued employment at the FCC. The deadline for the 2013 program will likely be late September 2012.

The PSLawNet blog post also offers some valuable advice on making yourself competitive for these government positions – tips include showing a commitment to public service, enthusiasm, and a demonstrated interest in the agency’s area of law. Foreign language skills and experience in the agency’s area of law (including internships) are also a plus.

How do you show these things?  By doing volunteer work, participating in community service activities, and taking part in events that demonstrate your commitment to a particular issue or cause.  In addition, attend conferences and take classes in the particular area of law that interests you.  If you are interested in working for the government, there is still a lot you can do to make yourself a competitive candidate, and it starts with being aware of what that agency is looking for.

Champions of Change: Celebrating Public Service Lawyers with the White House

Interested in public service?

Please join us for “Champions of Change: Celebrating Public Service Lawyers with the White House”
A live-streaming event on Thursday, October 13, 2011 from 2:00-3:30pm
Room 1312 (large courtroom)

The White House Office of Public Engagement and the Access to Justice Initiative at the U.S. Department of Justice will host a national, on-line conversation among law students, faculty, and staff, public service lawyers, and Attorney General Eric Holder, to talk about what lawyers can do to close the justice gap.  The conversation will illustrate the range and quality of public interest lawyers’ accomplishments by honoring 16 exemplar public service Champions at the White House. The event seeks to inspire students to think of new ways that they can use their law degrees toward the common goal of public service.

Attorney General Holder will field questions submitted electronically from interested parties in classrooms  from across the nation about how  to improve access to our justice system.

**NOTE** USAJobs.gov will be unavailable from Oct. 6-12, 2011

The online job application system for federal government jobs and internships, USAJobs.gov, will be unavailable due to system maintenance from October 6-12, 2011. During this time you will be unable to conduct job searches, apply for jobs, or receive application status updates.

If you are applying for any of the following positions you should strongly consider completing your application before October 6 to ensure that your submission is on time.  At this time, there is no indication that these government agencies intend to extend application deadlines.

For 1Ls:

Department of the Interior, Office of the Solicitor – October 29, 2011 deadline

U.S. State Department Student Internship Program – November 1, 2011 deadline

For 2Ls:

EEOC Office of Legal Counsel – October 14, 2011 deadline

SEC Summer Honors Law Program – October 14, 2011 deadline

DOE Law Student Intern Program – October 15, 2011 deadline

Department of the Interior, Office of the Solicitor – October 29, 2011 deadline

For 3Ls:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Honors Program – October 15, 2011 deadline

NLRB Honors Program – October 15, 2011 deadline

Department of Labor Honors Program – October 21, 2011 deadline

HUD Office of General Counsel – October 28, 2011 deadline

 

 

 

U.S. Department of State 2012 Summer Internships

The U.S. Department of State is now accepting applications for its Summer 2012 Student Internship Program.

Click here http://careers.state.gov/students/programs to read more about the Student Internship Program, and to start the Gateway to State online application process. The deadline to submit completed applications is November 01, 2011.

To be eligible for this program, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be a full- or part-time continuing college or university junior, or graduate student (including graduating seniors intending to go on to graduate school).
  • Have good academic standing
  • Successfully complete a background investigation
  • Be able to receive either a Secret or Top Secret clearance.

 

Equal Justice Works Career Fair & Conference

Students interested in public interest law careers are encouraged to attend the Equal Justice Works (EJW) Conference and Career Fair for the opportunity to meet with more than 130 public interest employers, practitioners and leaders. The EJW Conference and Career Fair is taking place in Bethesda, MD on October 22 and 23. Submit your resumes soon! The deadline to submit resumes to employers is Friday, September 24.

Note: 1L students are not eligible to interview with employers during the Equal Justice Works Career Fair. However, 1L students may informally talk to employers during Table Talk on Friday and Saturday.