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Federal Government Employment

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Some elements of searching for a federal government job or experience during college are the same as searching for a job or internship in the private for-profit and non-profit sectors. Some elements are different. This section focuses on practices and terminology specific to the federal employment search.


Federal jobs by college major

Locations of federal jobs

Federal jobs posted

Internships, pre-grad experience, fellowships

Terminology notes

Federal recruitment on campus

Federal resumes and how to apply

Security Clearances

GS Pay Scale

Find federal departments, agencies


Federal jobs by college major

Federal Jobs by College Major [pdf on]

In Career Services Career Resource Center are Federal Academic Quick Guides (and other publications and books related to federal opportunties); students are welcome to visit and view these during office hours.


Locations of federal jobs

Percentage of Federal Jobs by Region on Making the

9% of federal jobs are in the
Washington, DC, metro area,
according to

Go Government > FAQs
discusses locations of federal jobs.


Federal jobs posted

For Students and Recent Graduates: > Pathways to federal careers, for students and recents graduates

.org partnerships with the federal government for job-seekers:

Partnership for Public

Best places to in the federal gov't

Commerical sites:

Commercial .com sites for federal employment on right column.


Internships & other pre-graduation experience, fellowships

The federal government uses terms Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) and Student Temporary Experience Program (STEP) to refer to opportunities to get experience while you are a college student. Many of these positions are paid.

Resource to find these:

Go Government > how to search for federal jobs and internships


Terminology notes:

Post-graduation two-year internships:

The federal government uses the term "internship" to describe formal programs that are two-year full-time employment opportunities for recent college graduates. Be aware when you see notices for "internships" to look at the fine print.


Do federal agencies recruit on our campus?

Yes. Some post jobs, some recruit through On-Campus Interviewing, and some attend career fairs. Some may do a combination of these recruiting methods.

Hokies4Hire job posting is open all year for employers to post jobs and for Virginia Tech students to view and apply for jobs. Go to Hokies4Hire and the On-Campus Interviewing Program to learn more.

On-Campus Interviewing Program runs for seven to nine weeks in both fall and spring semesters with:
(1) advance deadlines for applying for jobs, and
(2) advance sign up for interviews by students selected by the employer after applying.
Go to Hokies4Hire and the On-Campus Interviewing Program to learn more.

Job | career fairs:
There are many job and career fairs on the VT campus each year. Each one is different.
Each is typically a one-day or two-day event sponsored by a college, department, or student group.
Career Services sponsors Fall Connection fair (October) and Spring Connection fair (February).
The majority of the fairs are held in September, October, February and March.
At almost every fair there will be federal agencies among the employers in attendance.
View the website of each individual career/job fair to see what employers will be attending. Research employers in advance so you can present yourself as a prepared candidate. (Saying, "hi, what does your agency do?" won't be an effective approach.)
Avoid using the generic term "companies" to refer to employers; government agencies are not companies.
Employers at fairs may require you to apply online to officially be a job candidate, but having the opportunity to meet a recruiter in person is a chance to learn more and present yourself effectively.
Some fairs conduct next-day interviews scheduled during the fair; these are not the same as the On-Campus Interviewing Program. So don't overlook either; do take advantage of both.

Federal resumes and how to apply

Resumes written for federal jobs may require different information and presentation than is expected on a resume for the private sector; expectations can vary by agency.


Go Government see application tips for federal resume info > Login for resume builder

Washington Post: Conquer the federal job interview

Sample federal resume for fictional Virginia Tech junior: MS Word | PDF

Security Clearances

Many jobs in the federal government require some sort of security clearance for employees once they are hired. A security clearance is a license issued by the government to authorize an employee to handle classified or top secret information that relates to national security.

To obtain security clearance, an interested applicant must first apply for a federal job that requires clearance. Once hired, the employer will begin the clearance process by submitting paperwork to the Defense Security Service where a background check is initiated on the employee. The background check typically includes citizenship verification, fingerprinting, and a National Security Questionnaire. After these steps, the government then runs credit checks, medical record checks, etc. The government then checks for illegal drug use and investigates family and friend relationships, especially those relationships with foreign citizens. Once all personal information is gathered to the government’s satisfaction, the prospective employee will then be interviewed, and possibly issued a polygraph test. Upon completion, clearance is either granted or denied.

The entire security clearance process can take from six months to one year for low-level clearance, and up to two years for high level clearance. Top Secret, or the highest level clearance, requires periodic re-examination every five years, followed by every ten years for Secret clearance, and 15 years for Confidential clearance.

You can only get a security clearance by being hired by government, hired by military, or hired by a government contractor. A student cannot initiate this process in advance.

If you have a security clearance from prior employment, include that information on your resume.

GS (General Schedule) Pay Scale

Typically, a new graduate with a bachelor’s degree and no previous experience will start around the GS-5 level, while a graduate with a master’s degree can expect to start around the GS-9 level.

U.S. Office of Personnel Management > Salaries and Wages shows:

> Locality pay area definitions

> Salary Table and hourly

[Note that calendar year is part of the URL; change it to view a different year.]

Sampling of U.S. federal goverment departments & agencies

Full list: A-Z index of U.S. government departments and agencies on


U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agroforestry Center
A partnership of the USDA Forest Service and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service

U.S. Dept. of Commerce

U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of the Census
See "Jobs@Census"

U.S. Dept. of Defense, Defense Threat Reduction Agency
See "Careers"
Hires military and civilian personnel; needs for nuclear physicists, policy analysts and treaty experts, mechanical, civil, electrical and computer engineers, chemists, biologists, linguists, accountants, program analysts, contract, personnel, financial and logistics management specialists.
Summer employment program, Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP), Student Career Experience Program (SCEP), Presidential Management Intern Progam (PMI) for master's and doctoral students.

U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Adminstration

U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security

U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services

U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection

U.S. Dept. of Interior, Bureau of Land Management
Under "Get Involved" see career info. Professional careers in BLM include:
Archaeologist, communications specialist/electronics technician, botanist, economist, engineer, fire management officer, forester, geologist, hazardous materials specialist, hydrologist, information resources, land surveyor, outdoor recreation planner, planning coordinator, public affairs specialist,
ranger, range conservationist, realty specialist, wildlife/fisheries biologist.

U.S. Dept. of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service

U.S. Dept. of Interior, U.S. Geological Survey

U.S. Dept. of Interior, National Park Service

U.S. Dept. of Justice

U.S. Dept. of Labor
See employment

U.S. Dept. of State
See "Careers"
See STUDENTS > PROGRAMS for internships, co-ops & more.

U.S. Dept. of Treasury

U.S. Dept. of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service
See careers. Includes students and recent grads info, seasonal and part-time.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
"Jobs at EPA" includes careers and internships, with opps for college students, graduates, graduate students, post-docs.

U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation job & internship info for college students
Complete info for college students on jobs/careers w/ FBI.
Where you fit in includes majors from which they typically hire.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

The White House Internship Program



Fall 2014 federal events

Spr 2015 federal events



Students seeking federal jobs & internships: make an advising appointment.

Chris Ramos, 2012 VT graduate, was our federal student ambassador to help VT students learn about federal internships & jobs. More about his partnership with Career Services.


VT grads first jobs at fed agencies?

We survey new grads on FIRST job or grad/prof school destination. See Post-Graduation Report: choose an annual report: view employers, job titles, locations: SORT on "Employing Org" heading; scroll to U.S. to see federal employers cited by grads.


Key job search lessons from a U.S. State Department intern
NCDA [National Career Development Assn.]


USAJobs Videos:

Writing your federal resume
USA Jobs
More videos on federal job search.





Commercial sites for fed jobs:


Federal Jobs ( Jobs

Washington Fed Page


[.com sites: owned by a commercial for-profit company. Can include news media companies. There are reputable .com sites. If fees are charged, should be to employer — not job seeker.]


[.gov sites: owned and operated directly by a government entity.]


[.org sites: service sites, often owned by a not-for-profit organization that serves a cause, such as the cause of public service. Some are partnerships with the federal govt.]