10 Things to Know About Federal Employment

I had no idea working for the federal government could be fun. I imagined nameless employees filling row after row of desks, doing paperwork and speaking in monotone, wearing gray and black. Then I met Mike Odle…

Mike is the Director of Public Affairs for the National Indian Gaming Commission. He spent a day on campus, speaking to students and training staff about federal employment. Mike loves working for the federal government. He’s worked internationally, and in several different federal agencies, finding lots of opportunities to grow and take on new challenges. Here’s what I learned from his presentations:

1)      Grads have 2 years to apply for federal employment in the Recent Graduates Program, which eliminates up to 80% of applicants that they’d be competing against if they wait to apply with everyone else.

2)      If you’re interested in a position that’s not part of the recent grads program, you can call the department to ask if they’d convert it. They just might be willing to, and if so, you’ll be competing against fewer applicants.

3)      Membership in an honors society, even for just one semester, qualifies students for a higher pay grade. So does a 3.0 overall GPA, a 3.5 in-major GPA, and graduating in the top 1/3 of one’s class.

4)      You can transfer between federal agencies, and all your vacation/benefits transfer with you. This is a great way to build your career in a variety of organizations, without having to start over in each one.

5)      You can work internationally for federal agencies, since 50,000 positions are abroad.

6)      Internships are available in most fields. After 640 hours, your position can be converted to full-time federal employment. If you’re exceptionally awesome, your position can be converted after 320 hours.

7)      “Normal” resume rules don’t apply to federal resumes. Give all the details about your background, accomplishments, and responsibilities.

8)      You can compare federal agencies to figure out which one is the best fit for you.

9)      There are federal positions available for every major.Image

10)   Donuts are not actually that popular with students. After our first sessions, I still had ¾ of a box of Dunkin Donuts Munchkins, which I had to beg the forestry students to take. I’m gladly taking suggestions for other treats…


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