Ready to explore careers for the common good? Use this space to get information and inspiration about industries like Nonprofits, Government (Local, State, and Federal), Lobbying, Policy, International Development, Humanitarian, Diplomacy, Intelligence and Security, Public Health and more!
Types of Organizations
Public Service and Government can cover a number of different career options, but many of the types of work associated with this career community tend to have overlapping themes. Here are types of organizations where you might conduct work in the field of Public Service and Government:
- Think Tanks
- Capitol Hill/Congress
- Federal Agencies
- Local and State Governments
- Lobbying Firms
- Research Institutes
- Bridge Year Programs
People who find themselves drawn to this field are typically motivated by a desire to give back to society and often value helping people and solving social problems. Skills and interests that are valued in this field include
- Serving, helping, enlightening or empowering people
- Solving social problems
- Advocating for others
- Knowledge of particular social issues
- Content knowledge of a region of the world
- Mastery of a foreign language
- Experience working with diverse communities
- Work that is driven by a particular cause
If this sounds like you, one concern you might have about working in a field in Public Service and Government is your ability to make a living. Many people spend their entire career in public service and live comfortably. As with any field, though, it is important to conduct thorough research to understand salaries and benefits and to be realistic about earning potential. Additionally, take some time to hear from UVA alumni who have committed their careers to service:
- #RealTalk Series: Alumni share stories of how careers in Public Service and Government can be financially viable
- "Nonprofit Careers: Follow Your Passion and Make a Living", alumna Teri Lovelace (CLAS '82) discusses how you can explore careers in nonprofit that align with personal and professional values
Check out these online assessment and reflection tools to better understand the kinds of roles you might play in Public Service and Government as well as the types of organizations you may want to explore. Bring your results to community drop-in hours to further discuss your ideas!
- What Kind of Do-Gooder Are You? (Devex)
- Career Tracks Exercise (Office of Career Services at NYU Graduate School of Public Service)
Hiring timelines for both jobs and internships vary by industry, so it’s important to get to know the timeline for your target industry. In general, large organizations or those with more competitive opportunities will hire earlier in the academic year. Additionally, positions that require a security clearance will recruit in the fall semester for full-time hires. Know that for most nonprofit and public sector organizations hire internship and full-time opportunities based on immediate need. Some positions may become available in late spring/early summer, so you should continue to look for opportunities throughout the academic year and beyond. See the table below for some examples of recruiting timelines and target industries, but again, note that these are general guidelines. While it's important to start early and be aware of deadlines, your job search will and should follow its own path.
(August - November)
8 – 10 months in advance
- Some Bridge Year Programs (e.g.Fulbright)
- Some International Organizations
- Intelligence and Security
- Other Federal Government Positions that require a Security Clearance (e.g. State Department Internship)
(December - July)
4 – 6 months in advance
- Nonprofit Organizations
- Research Institutes/Think Tanks
- Federal, State and Local Governments
- Capitol Hill
- Bridge Year Programs, especially those with rolling or multiple deadlines
Handshake Quick Search Links*
Discover internships and jobs recently posted by recruiters in Handshake through the links below. *Please note that you will need to be logged into Handshake for these links to work properly.
- Global Humanitarian Aid & International Development
- Intelligence & Security
- International Affairs & Diplomacy
- Non-Profits & NGOs
- Politics, Policy & Lobbying
- Public Health
Networking is one of the most successful ways to develop your career path. Connecting with those that you admire, know, and trust can open your eyes to trends, perspectives, and opportunities in your desired career field. Some of the ways you can network include:
Virginia Alumni Mentoring is a program that connects UVA students with alumni who have volunteered to provide insights about the process of choosing and starting a career in their field. The program provides students and their alumni mentors a structured means of initiating a professional relationship to discuss career interests and professional preparation. Together, they develop goals for their regular meetings, during which the alumni mentors offer insights about their own undergraduate experiences, career progression, and current work, in order to support mentees in navigating their own chosen career paths.
Hannah Boehlert, Foreign Affairs and Spanish ’20
"I have used VAM throughout my time at UVA, and I have had nothing but positive experiences in which I was able to learn so much about a variety of industries. Most recently, I connected with an employee of a company of which I was in the application process. He helped me prepare for my interviews, and using his tangible advice, I was able to land the job offer — we’ll be colleagues in August, all thanks to VAM!"
Elizabeth Chung, Economics ’20, Master’s of Public Policy ’21
"After I accepted my summer internship offer, my contact on VAM made me feel so much more confident about my decision. I asked her a lot about company culture and their recent merger, as well as more personal questions — she was the greatest! I also used VAM later to see if I wanted to apply to the Master’s of Public Policy program at UVA by reaching out to alumni."
Inspirational Alumni Stories:
- UVA's Peace Corps: Meet the Volunteers Behind the University's Top Ranking
- Middle Eastern Literatures and Languages Alumna in Jordan Working with Refugees through MENAR Fellowship (CLAS '17)
- UVA Peace Corps Alumni: Meet Sophia - Sophia Arrighi (CLAS '13) is currently serving as a Literacy Promoter in the Dominican Republic.
- Considering a Career in Nonprofit Fundraising - Rose McManus Coleman (CLAS '84) shares key questions to ponder if considering a career in nonprofit fundraising.
- Cathy Lechowicz (Curry ’99) - Interview with the Director of the Center for Community Partnerships at Wesleyan University. She majored in Speech Pathology at Curry and was active in Madison House as an undergraduate.
- Craig Volden - A professor at the Batten School has developed a deep database and a formula that rates members of Congress by their effectiveness at turning their ideas into laws... Now he and his collaborator want to figure out what common characteristics or backgrounds make those members effective. It’s a little like Moneyball for Congress.
- Fatimot Ladipo (Col '94 L/M) - Named executive director of government relations in the newly created division of economic development and community engagement at Kennesaw State University.
LinkedIn is an online networking tool. Beyond connecting to other professionals in similar fields, LinkedIn is an invaluable tool for conducting research about specific occupations or industries. You can also use LinkedIn to learn about UVA alumni and their destinations after graduation.