job search

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 (JD ’17) 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!

No Offer? Now What?

Steps to Take When You Have Not Yet Received an Offer from Your Summer Employer

If you did not get a job offer from your summer employer, you are probably wondering, ‘what should I do next?’ Students who worked with an employer this past summer can find themselves in the uncomfortable position of returning to school without a job offer.

Among the various reasons why students do not receive an offer from an employer, three common reasons include: financial constraints from the employer, work performance issues, and not being a good “fit” with the company. Sometimes, students who don’t receive offers because they already decided that the employer wasn’t the right fit are happy to seek other employment. However, due to the fact that future employers are likely to inquire about whether an offer was received from a prior employer, a student must be prepared to deal with that issue.

1. Make an Appointment with a Career Counselor - Run, don’t walk to your career services office and discuss your situation in detail. After hearing about your summer experiences, your counselor can point you in the right direction and let you know what to do next.

2. Find Out the Reason for the Non-Offer - You must take charge in finding out the reason for the non-offer with the employer by contacting the recruiting coordinator, your mentor, and/or the employer’s hiring partner. Ask for valuable feedback regarding points you need to work on, which projects were below average, and whether there were certain projects that turned out well. Then, you can then contact the attorneys and staff with whom you worked on the projects that turned out well and see if they will serve as a reference for you. Having great references is always a plus. However, if the employer tells you that you were not the best “fit,” simply ask for some additional information that led them to that decision and outcome. Having this essential information on hand will be beneficial when you have to answer questions on your summer experience with prospective employers.

3. It’s Time to Rethink Your Career Objectives - If you were unable to receive an offer from your summer employer, now is a great time to rethink your career goals and aspirations and possibly modify them. What parts of your summer experience did you like in particular and why? What areas of the summer experience did you not enjoy and why? Do you think there is a different practice area or work environment that would better suit your passions, personality and /or work habits? Flesh out these questions with your career advisor today by making an appointment to meet.

4. Obtain Important Information from Your Summer Employer - It’ is time to contact your summer employer and ask them a few important questions. Find out what they will say if they are contacted about you by a prospective employer. Inquire who at the firm would be able to be a great reference for you to utilize in the future. It is vital that you have at least one or two attorneys in the firm who will speak highly of you and your work. Summer employers may even provide some assistance in your job search efforts. This is especially true with larger firms that have a larger amount of contacts available. They may be more than willing to put you in touch with the right people, especially if your non-offer was for financial or fit reasons.

5. How to Handle Interviews Going Forward - In preparing for interviews from this point forward, you must decide on how you will answer questions regarding your summer experience. This could include the big question about whether you received an offer as well as questions relating to why you did not receive an offer. If possible, try to bypass those questions by first explaining that while you enjoyed your summer (and support this statement with reasons why), your summer experience has taught you that you are more interested in other law practice areas. By explaining your new focus and new career goals, prospective employers may not think to inquire about whether you received an offer.

However, if prospective employers do inquire about whether or not you received an offer, be sure to always be positive when reflecting on your summer experiences and your skills. When asked, provide the reason for the non-offer, but do not spend a large portion of time on this point. Once explained, continue the process by providing great references, writing samples, and any other knowledge and illustrations of how you have the abilities to succeed at their company. The goal is to always respond to the questions conducted in the interview, but to keep the interview exchange on a positive side.

The Growing Field of Compliance: A Recap on our Lunch & Learn with Ben Wright

In our recent Lunch & Learn, WF Law alum Ben Wright (’05) discussed legal compliance and the different tracks to a career in this popular and growing field. For students interested in a career at the intersection of business and law, a position in compliance offers an excellent opportunity. At the same time, the compliance field also holds opportunities for those students who enjoy detailed work researching legislation and policy.

Most corporations, banks, and other entities did not have internal compliance groups until around the early 2000s, following the collapse of Enron and the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002. After SOX, employers began to establish divisions solely focused on internal audits and ensuring compliance with various federal, state, local, and trade regulations. This work requires keeping up with a vast amount of regulations, some of which can vary county by county. Corporate compliance divisions deal not just with federal and state law, but also independent regulatory boards.  For example, Mr. Wright’s work in the field of prescription drug regulation involves ensuring compliance with federal, state, and local laws (some of which can vary county by county), as well as regulations from state Boards of Pharmacy and state Departments of Insurance.

With this vast (and growing) number of regulations, it is almost impossible for any corporation to ensure compliance with every single one. These regulations also change quite frequently. Having an in-house compliance team is vital in order to keep up with the ever changing regulations. Compliance work generally appeals to two types of personalities – those with a business mindset, who enjoy balancing legal and business considerations, and those who enjoy detailed research.

If you are interested in the intersection of law and business and are comfortable “putting out fires” (i.e. working in a fast-paced environment, balancing multiple interests, multi-tasking, etc.), then a management position in compliance could be a good fit.  Compliance positions often require employees to have one leg in business and one leg in law: It is important to know the law so that you can advise the company appropriately; however, it is also essential to understand how certain events can impact a business and how certain initiatives can be successfully implemented. For the compliance jobs that focus on keeping up with regulations, one would have to enjoy a lot of detailed work, such as spending a lot of time reviewing policy material and directives.

The two biggest areas of growth for compliance careers are currently banking and healthcare – both highly regulated industries. If you’re interested in a job in compliance, Mr. Wright made several recommendations:

(1) Get subject-matter expertise first. Many of the compliance officers Mr. Wright works with were experienced healthcare attorneys. You probably will not get hired straight out of law school into a management role in compliance, so it is important to gain experience for 2-3 years first.

(2) If you want to go into compliance work straight out of law school, look to the business side. Companies might hire you on the business side, at an “analyst” or “specialist” level, allowing you to work your way up.

(3) Robert Half Legal (a staffing agency) has begun to contract with some companies for compliance work and is starting to develop a niche market.


Here are some additional ideas for exploring a career in compliance
:

(1) If you want to beef up your resume, the Healthcare Compliance Association offers a certification program [also has an online jobs board]. More information is available here: https://www.hcca-info.org/

(2) If you’re interested in the financial industry, look for job titles such as “compliance analyst,”  “loss mitigation specialist” or “regulatory assessment” – many large banks and financial institutions will list opportunities in compliance on their websites (e.g. Goldman Sachs)

I’m a 3L and It’s February. What Now?

The 3L spring semester job search is a planned process that should be completed with research and focus. We all know this, right? The ideal state of being for a 3L student during their Spring semester should be to remain organized, structured, and systematic. But what if you become frantic and stressed? This may be causing you an injustice which will dampen your job search efforts. In case you need a few friendly reminders to coach you along during this busy time, here are some important points you should be keeping in mind this month:

Yes… More Networking! By now, 3Ls are pros at networking. So be sure you utilize this asset. This includes targeted networking, volunteering, social media networking, and exploring leads. For those students taking the bar in the summer, be sure you are making your connections now. Many employers will hire now or even make plans to hire after graduation for non-law-related jobs. Join a networking group or bar association, attend local events, or get in touch with the Alumni office for school related functions where you can meet those oh-so-important contacts. Remember, not all employers and firms post jobs online. Many of them may be on the hunt for new employees through word of mouth or through chance meetings. You never know what lies ahead of you when you are out and about networking and meeting new people. See our recent blog article for tips on contacting Wake Forest Alumni if you are unsure of how to reach out, or our read our article on what to do when you do meet up with a connection or contact.

Think Broadly. But Don’t Apply to Everything: The “I want a job, any job” mentality can inspire fruitless activity. Frantic application for every possible job posting also looks poorly to potential employers. Rather than the time-consuming job search, churning out 30-40 job applications online each day, go for the thoughtful approach. This involves careful research into options such as targeting specific jobs and geographic locations in which you are interested. Where do you want to live? What is your targeted practice area? Do you have any contacts at a certain firm, employer, or location? Create a list to narrow down your search so you are thoughtful in your job search. These types of activities are known to produce great results.

Unsure of What You Want to Do or Where to Go? If you have spent much of your time exploring practice areas, specific jobs, and possible geographic locations and are still confused, seek help now. Start a concise, ongoing career plan with achievable, measurable goals. This includes items such as your desired geographic locations and practice areas, as well as a list of your known contacts and prospective connections you would like to soon contact. Include a reasonable time set for each goal so that you can stay on track in a timely manner. Having this plan in place will help guide you along when you are feeling overwhelmed in the job search process. If you are unsure of how to get your career plan started, or if you would simply like some advice and guidance, help is available and only an email or phone call away. Your career advisor is here to help guide you if you are finding yourself running around in circles. It is never too late to make a plan! Your career advisor not only helps you with the resume writing, but can also sit down with you to devise strategies on your job search efforts to ultimately get you to your goal. If you haven’t been in touch with your career advisor this semester, now is the perfect time to reach out. We want to know how your job searching plans are going, how you’re doing, who you’re meeting, and if you need assistance with what direction to go.

Five Tips for Public Service Informational Interviews

Informational interviewing enables students to connect with professionals and gain a deeper understanding of what it means to practice in various settings and substantive areas. Since networking is an important part of obtaining a public service job, one must conduct a successful search in order to seek out informational interviews that will open up one of the best avenues for such networking. Here are five tips that will aide in your informational interviews and job search:

1. Timing is everything. You don’t start an assignment without researching. The same goes for reaching out to an attorney for an informational interview. By doing your homework ahead of time, you will able to find a more convenient time to talk to your potential interviewer which will also help develop a more meaningful conversation during the interview. Although there is no way to know an individual attorney’s schedule, there is a way to gauge when a particular office will be busier. For example, asking a legislative attorney to meet right before a legislative session is not considerate of the demands on that attorney’s time. Ask you career counselor for advice on timing if you’re not certain.

2. Develop a professional network. Think job fairs, alumni connections, and bar associations. Due the fact that many public interest organizations and agencies have a small or limited amount of staff members, they are until to travel directly to specific schools. However, many organizations and agencies participate in a variety of career fairs to meet students. This is the organization’s chance to get the word out to students about their work and values as well as what qualities they are looking for in students and attorneys. You can further connect with these folks by attending local and regional job fairs, bar association meetings, and other legal events so that their network is complete with a firm foundation of diverse contacts. And don’t overlook alumni connections. Logging onto WIN and conducting a search can put you in touch with Wake Forest Law Alumni who know the ropes and many connections. You’re your base network is established, you will be able to reach out within that network and locate contacts for informational interviews.

3. Preparation is vital. You’ve heard it before – you only have one chance to make a good impression. And this goes without saying for informational interviews and networking in general. Fewer things are more likely to set the wrong tone than not preparing for a meeting. In order to be in the best shape possible for a meeting, be sure you are cruising over an attorney’s or organization’s website in its entirety. Check articles written by employers or attorneys by searching online databases so you know as much as you can about the company or ask your regular contacts such as career counselors, mentors, professors, and prior employers. Once you are in the meeting you will need something to talk about, right? Take the time to prepare a list of relevant questions before the meeting and always bring several copies of your résumé. Please note, the résumé should only be given to the attorney upon request.

4. Be professional. This doesn’t mean be stuffy, but a critical element of a successful informational interview are the simple points – how to dress, timeliness, and courtesy. If you are not sure what to wear to any type of event, including informational interviews, it’s always best to err on the side of being formal. So make sure your suits are pressed! And don’t forget – to be early is to be on time. Arrive for an informational interview 10 to 15 minutes early. Check routes, traffic, and parking availability ahead of time. Once there, greet your contact with a firm handshake and make sure you are maintaining eye contact throughout the conversation. Last but not least, keep an eye on the time and length of the meeting so that you are sensitive to the fact that your contact has busy schedule. Don’t overstay your welcome!

5. Cultivate and grow. Informational interviews are a great way to learn about someone else’s interests and work. Period. It is not a way to secure an immediate job. These interviews are one of the best ways to also expand your professional network, gain valuable insights, and more importantly, be the beginning of a relationship that you should cultivate. Cultivation of the relationship should begin immediately after the informational interview. Thank your contact when you leave the interview and again within two days by sending a hand-written thank you note directly to them. Having good manners and an appreciation of a busy attorney’s time will go a long way toward leaving a positive impression and promoting a continuing relationship. Then, at some point in the future when an article or publication crosses your path that you think might be of interest to the person with whom you interviewed, email it with a short note letting them know you were thinking of them. This will offer the other person access to information that he or she might not have otherwise come across and you will definitely stay in their mind in the future, especially as job openings surface.

A job search takes confidence, preparation, and keeping the right frame of mind. A significant asset is to maintain an open and professional relationship with mentors you have found through informational interviews. Be sure you are keeping these important tips in mind as you venture out to meetings, functions, and parties throughout the year. This knowledge will ensure a successful start to new, professional relationships whenever you meet a new connection!

5 Things to Do Before You Click Send

You’ve written a cover letter that highlights all your most impressive strengths, you’ve reviewed your resume again and again for typos and errors, and you’re finally ready to contact that employer to apply for a job. But wait! Here are five last-minute checks before you hit ‘send.’

1.  Are your documents in pdf format? Never send an employer a Word copy of your resume or cover letter. They may have a different version of Word that completely destroys your careful formatting. If your career advisor made comments on your resume electronically, or you failed to accept all changes made, the employer may be able to see all of your edits. Sending your documents in pdf format is simple and saves you from potential embarrassment.

2.  Have you spelled the firm’s name and the recipient’s name correctly? This is not something spell check will catch! Go back and double check, and watch for different spellings of common names (e.g. Bryan vs. Brian; Tiffani vs. Tiffany).

3.  Is your contact information correct? Your career advisor may have reviewed your resume multiple times, but she won’t know if you accidentally switched two numbers in your phone number. If your contact information is wrong, the employer won’t be able to reach you and will probably just move on to the next applicant.

4.  Have you named your document appropriately? Remember, the employer will see the name of the documents you’ve attached. Save your resume as Yourname.Resume. Save your cover letter as Yourname.Coverletter. Be sure you are not sending Smith Jones law firm a document saved as “Generic cover letter” or worse, “Cover letter for Peterson Miller.”

5.  Proofread one last time! We know you’ve already reviewed it a million times. Just look it over once more – it’s always worth it.

Winter Break: A Time to Job Shadow

So you’ve got less than a month and a half until Winter Break. Hooray! Time spent at home with family and friends will be a restful and well-deserved break. However, you’re probably not even remotely in the relaxed holiday mood as your mind is most likely overwhelmed with upcoming exams at the moment. As you should be dutifully studying like expected, you might want to pencil in a few phone calls this month to your connections to line up some work over break. Why? To land a job.

Working over winter recess doesn’t sound like fun, but it could mean the difference in landing a job or not. But this is not your typical 8-5 work you’ll do over the holidays. This job is actually job shadowing. Job shadowing is a great way to get a sense of what it’s truly like working in a specific practice area and work environment. Also, if you are planning on practicing law in your hometown, the best place to be networking is within your hometown. Family, friends, classmates, and friends of family can all be great resources in finding a local attorney in the area willing to walk you through a few days at their office to give you a feel for the job.  There’s no way to be 100 percent sure you’re going to fit into a practice area or job until you’ve actually tried it — and shadowing or volunteering is as close as you can get.

Interested in working outside of your hometown? Do you have your sights set on the Big Apple or Washington, DC? If you can, set up a trip to your career city destination and spend some time networking. If you have family or friends in the location in which you would like to eventually work, reach out to them and ask for connections to find job shadowing opportunities. If you can’t make the trip this winter, try and set up some travel time during Spring Break to seek out a job shadowing opportunity.

Even recent 2L and 3L panelists in our “How I Got My Summer Job” seminar mentioned that they were aggressive enough to seek out employers to job shadow over the winter break, resulting in immeasurable experience and knowledge and some even earned a job later that summer. Be sure to stop by our office if you don’t know where to start in finding an individual to job shadow.

If you have a firm in mind in which you would like to job shadow, do a little homework first. Research the company and the position of the person you’re tailing so you have a context for your new experiences. Come prepared to strictly observe, but be ready to roll up your sleeves and work as well. Ask to spend the last few minutes of your day reviewing your experiences with the person you’re shadowing and getting answers to questions you may have. Solicit feedback as well.

Be sure to thank your job-shadow host with a handwritten note and make every effort to maintain your new contact as an active member of your network. You may even ask them to help you pursue additional job-shadowing opportunities so you have the broadest picture possible and knowledge of multiple practice areas. In the end, you’ll have gained an important person in your network who could also be your greatest asset. As you keep in touch be sure to mention how you would like an opportunity to come back and work for a longer period of time, or even for an internship. You never know if your time over the holidays could result in a holiday present to you later down the road — a job!

Sales First. Then Law Career.

As a law student, that sounds pretty crazy, right? Well, if you are suddenly in the interview stage of your law school track then you are going to be selling something important soon – yourself!

Listing out your outstanding accomplishments and achievements on your resume and cover letter won’t necessarily make the cut in the interview process. Sure, it’s great to give your possible employers an idea of what you’ve done academically; however, to become a cut above the rest, you have to sell yourself as if you were a valuable product sitting on a shelf in a quality department store.

Start to think like a salesperson. No, not the super pushy salesperson on the phone trying to get you to buy movie channels – the salesperson that talks to you like a respected colleague as you browse your favorite store. Likeability is important, even in sales people. If a salesperson is confident in their product and is friendly, maintains good eye contact, a strong handshake, and a smile, you would likely feel more inclined to buy from that person.

Listing out your resume bullet points again in your cover letter is like hearing that pushy salesperson drone on about how your cable bill will go down if you just sign on for another year. All you want to do is let them finish or even just hang up on them. (We’ve all done it!)

Try it again. But this time, get excited! Get your customer interested in you as a product. Talk about your great features and benefits. Mention that one of your features is your dedication, but then explain the benefits of that dedication. Perhaps you’re the first one in the office in the morning and the last one to leave. Or better yet, mention a time that your dedication created a tremendous result in a school project or during an internship. Focus on your other skills and factors that make you immediately productive. You wouldn’t want to wait 6 months to start enjoying your movie channel if you purchased the movie package. The same goes for employers who don’t want to wait for six months before you deliver benefits to them. Concentrate on what you can do for the company, not on what the company can do for you.

What about all those common interview questions that you keep hearing and possibly stumbling over? Treat those tricky questions like a sales call and as if your salary depended on making that sale. “Why should I hire you?” would be the same as “Why should I buy from you?” Well, why? Tell your interviewer that you will be getting more than just a product (you). They would also be getting quality work, dedication, drive, and intelligence. Developing a storytelling flair will also go further in an interview when faced with those questions. Everyone loves a good story. It doesn’t mean you need to become a chatterbox, but your interviewer was interested enough in you to interview you in the first place. Be sure to prepare short little true stories that support your claims of relevant skills and accomplishments.

Better yet, become your own leading salesperson by mastering a one-to-two-minute “commercial” about yourself. In sales, commercials are meant to intrigue the client when asked the standard, “What do you do?” or “Tell me about yourself.” Almost certainly you will be asked to respond to some version of the “Tell me about yourself” question during an interview or even when you are out and about in networking groups. Memorize a short description of your background (education, experience, and skills) that matches your strengths to the job or any job in which you are seeking. Be sure to also add a sentence or two about your curiosity, commitment, and drive to move mountains above your already amazing skills base.

As with every new challenge you face, practice will make perfect. Stand in front of a mirror and rehearse these new tips or even try recording yourself and playing it back for you to review. Ask a friend, professor, or career advisor to go over some practice interview questions to get you to the point where you are truly comfortable. On-campus interviews are also available for your benefit, so take advantage of each bidding session. Soon, your ease and confidence will speak for themselves during your next interview (Spring 2014 for 1Ls) and you will soon make your first sale – you!

Great Advice from Speed Networking 101

Our speed networking program last night was a huge success! Twenty-five law students met with twenty local attorneys from various firms and businesses.  Modeled on the “speed dating” concept, the room was set up with numbered stations, and each student was matched with one or two attorneys. They were given five minutes to meet, ask questions, and give their “elevator speeches” before the bell was rung and the students shifted to the next station.

Participants (both students and attorneys) raved about this event.  The format gave students an opportunity to hone their networking skills in a structured environment, while also meeting and developing relationships with practicing attorneys.  There was an opportunity for additional informal networking following the timed portion.

After each group of students circled the room, the attorneys offered insightful advice and feedback to the students, including:

  • Networking is a skill that can be learned.  Even if you consider yourself shy or introverted, you can become a successful networker with practice.
  • The best way to start is to ask questions of the other person. Try to find common ground – similar schools, interests, hobbies, etc., and then let the conversation flow from there.
  • Listening skills are important! Try not to always be thinking about what you are going to say next.
  • Show interest in the other person. Be careful not to make the conversation all about you.
  • Do your research. Know something about the company or firm the person you’re speaking with works for.
  • Employers hire based on likeability – when looking at a group of applicants who all have similar credentials, they will remember (and probably hire) the person with whom they most want to work on a daily basis.
  • Networking is essential, and not just for your job search.  This is a skill that you will use in practice, whether to gain clients, develop relationships with other attorneys, or grow within the firm.
  • Follow up! After you meet someone, jot down where you met him/her and something about your conversation. Then send an email (it’s always a good idea to remind them where you met) and reiterate that you enjoyed speaking with him/her.
  • You never know who will become a valuable business contact – always act professionally.

To see pictures from this event, visit our Facebook page. The next Speed Networking event with the NCBA Government & Public Sector Section will be on Tuesday, November 13 at noon. Registration is limited, so stay tuned for details!

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.