5 steps to prepare for a career in Government

If you're an undergraduate who would like a career that offers opportunity, job security, generous benefits and a competitive salary, you should consider a career in government. As a government employee at the local, state or federal level, you can make a real difference in the quality of life of your fellow citizens.
Here are five steps to help undergraduates prepare for a career in government:
1 Research government career paths.
Deciding on a government career path can help you choose an undergraduate major and give focus to your elective coursework. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are more than 400 occupational specialties in the federal government. A wide range of jobs can also be found in local government. Visit your college career center and the USAJOBS.gov  website to find out about different types of government jobs. There is also a wealth of information available on the U.S. Department of Labor  website. Once you've discovered some areas of interest, talk to professors who have experience in a particular area of government to learn about career opportunities.
2 Gain government experience.
Jump-start your government career by applying for an internship or summer job with a government agency. You can also volunteer  with a public service organization. Gaining public sector experience as an undergraduate will give you an edge in your post-graduation job search. In addition to improving your resume and providing practical experience, your time spent as an intern or volunteer can help you determine which government area is the best fit for your career interests and goals.
3 Get involved in student and professional organizations.
Most schools have a variety of student organizations that correspond to different recreational and academic interests. Participating in an organization or helping to plan and carry out a school event can help develop your leadership skills. You can also expand your government expertise by joining professional organizations for government employees as a student member. Many of these organizations provide career coaching and other career services as well as the opportunity to network with government professionals.
4 Build a professional network.
According to Yale University Career Services , one of the best ways to find a government job after you've completed your degree is through professional contacts. Undergraduates should focus on building a professional contact network through internship experiences and by getting to know faculty and alumni. Social media websites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are also becoming significant tools for professional networking.
5 Earn an advanced degree.
After earning a bachelor's degree, prepare for a career in government management by earning a Master of Public Administration  (MPA) degree. Government managers, executives and major decision makers require the leadership skills provided by this professional degree. In addition to core courses that cover problem solving, research methods, management principles, finance, statistics and ethics, most MPA programs allow students to focus on a specialization area that corresponds to their professional interests. If you need to begin working after earning an undergraduate degree, a part-time or online MPA program will allow you to balance school and work.
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Logan Harper  is the community manager for MPA@UNC, a top Masters of Public Administration program  offered through University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as well as a contributor to the Online MPA Degrees . In addition to higher education, he is also passionate about travel, cooking, and international politics.

 
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If you're an undergraduate who would like a career that offers opportunity, job security, generous benefits and a competitive salary, you should consider a career in government. As a government employee at the local, state or federal level, you can make a real difference in the quality of life of your fellow citizens.Here are five steps to help undergraduates prepare for a career in government:

1. Research government career paths
Deciding on a government career path can help you choose an undergraduate major and give focus to your elective coursework. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are more than 400 occupational specialties in the federal government. A wide range of jobs can also be found in local government. Visit your college career center and the USAJOBS.gov  website to find out about different types of government jobs. There is also a wealth of information available on the U.S. Department of Labor  website. Once you've discovered some areas of interest, talk to professors who have experience in a particular area of government to learn about career opportunities.

2. Gain government experience
Jump-start your government career by applying for an internship or summer job with a government agency. You can also volunteer  with a public service organization. Gaining public sector experience as an undergraduate will give you an edge in your post-graduation job search. In addition to improving your resume and providing practical experience, your time spent as an intern or volunteer can help you determine which government area is the best fit for your career interests and goals.

3. Get involved in student and professional organizations
Most schools have a variety of student organizations that correspond to different recreational and academic interests. Participating in an organization or helping to plan and carry out a school event can help develop your leadership skills. You can also expand your government expertise by joining professional organizations for government employees as a student member. Many of these organizations provide career coaching and other career services as well as the opportunity to network with government professionals.

4.  Build a professional network
According to Yale University Career Services , one of the best ways to find a government job after you've completed your degree is through professional contacts. Undergraduates should focus on building a professional contact network through internship experiences and by getting to know faculty and alumni. Social media websites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are also becoming significant tools for professional networking.

5. Earn an advanced degree
After earning a bachelor's degree, prepare for a career in government management by earning a Master of Public Administration  (MPA) degree. Government managers, executives and major decision makers require the leadership skills provided by this professional degree. In addition to core courses that cover problem solving, research methods, management principles, finance, statistics and ethics, most MPA programs allow students to focus on a specialization area that corresponds to their professional interests. If you need to begin working after earning an undergraduate degree, a part-time or online MPA program will allow you to balance school and work.

--Logan Harper  is the community manager for MPA@UNC, a top Masters of Public Administration program  offered through University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as well as a contributor to the Online MPA Degrees . In addition to higher education, he is also passionate about travel, cooking, and international politics.

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