Federal Government Careers: Why Now is a Great Time to Learn More!


Federal Government Careers:  Why Now is a Great Time to Learn More!

If you are starting to explore career options after graduation the federal government, the nation’s largest employer with 1.9 civilian employees, offers a wide range of opportunities across many majors and career interests. 

In fact, despite the current tough economic climate, now is a particularly exciting time to pursue a federal job.  An estimated 270,000 workers will be hired for mission critical jobs by the end of September, 2012!  Additionally, government is changing the way it does business and is promoting more dynamic work environments in order to attract new talent.  Some of the perks include flexible work schedules, signing bonuses, and student loan repayment programs.  There are also federal job opportunities around the country and all over the world!  Nearly 85 percent of federal employees work outside the greater metropolitan Washington D.C. area and over 40,000 work overseas. 

To learn more about a potential future career in public service, join us in the Career Center for a Careers in Federal Government Panel on Tuesday, November 3 from 3 – 5pm in the Student Union with four local representatives who will share the ins and outs of what working for the government is all about, including tips on how to stand out in the job search process. 

Cara Peck is one of our distinguished speakers for the upcoming panel and in her interview below; she offers her personal testimony along with a brief introduction to careers in federal service.

Please describe your career path into federal service.  
Cara:. I started college with the intentions of becoming a veterinarian, graduated undergrad with all the requirements (chemistry, physics, biology….oh my!) and an Animal Science degree but then decided vet school was not for me. Instead, I attended UC Davis where I got a masters degree in Horticulture and Agronomy. While earning this degree, I also studied a lot of sustainable land management ideas and environmental policy. This coursework combined with the interest I have always had in the the mission of the Environmental Protection Agency and a desire to work in the field of federal environmental protection. Straight out of grad school, I was hired to the EPA’s Region 9 office in San Francisco where I worked on resource conservation and recycling.

What is your current role now?  
Cara: After three years working in a job I loved, I really started missing working on agriculture issues, which is really my passion. In January of this year I moved to our regional Agriculture Team. I am currently working on the climate change implications of the agriculture industry. Basically, I’m trying to figure out where the majority of emissions from our food system are emitted, work to reduce these emissions, and also help producers adapt to growing food in changing climates.

What is the coolest part about your job?
Cara: I would say that the coolest part of my job now is getting to work on cutting edge issues. Climate change is going to have dramatic effects on everything we do and it’s neat to think that in some small way I am having a beneficial impact. In addition, I am really passionate about agriculture and food issues, and it’s great to have a job working on my passion! The other neat thing about this job is that there are so many opportunities to travel, work in  another position (even in a different area of the country)for a few months, good training opportunities and other great benefits.

Why should a student who is approaching graduation consider a career in the federal government?  
Cara: A job in the public sector is something worth considering for a number of reasons. The work is interesting and important, the pay is good (much better than one might think!), the benefits are great and although it might sound cheesy, you get the great feeling of serving your country. An added benefit is that in this economy, a job in the public sector is much more secure than a lot of jobs in the private sector. Plus, there are so many opportunities to work in different areas of the country, which is fun, especially as a young person.

Given the current economic climate, what do you recommend for students who want to get their foot in the door, what can they do now to be competitive for employment upon graduation?
Cara: In order to be competitive upon graduation, I would recommend getting all the experience you can. Internships and volunteering are great opportunities. If you are looking to federal service, having experience working for a government is great. This includes local and state governments. Even if the job that you apply for after college is not the same as your experience, seeing that you have worked in some sort of government setting before will be an advantage. I also recommend getting the most out of college and taking advantage of all the opportunities you can. This will not only help you with getting a job, but is fun!


Cara Peck has been selected by the distinguished Annenberg Foundation to represent the federal government at college campuses nation-wide and is a finalist for the 2009 Call to Serve Medal for outstanding professional achievements in her role. She currently works as a Life Scientist for the Environmental Protection Agency in San Francisco.

Additional Resources:

Benefits and Salary


 Student Loan Repayment Program


 Where the Jobs Are: Hiring Projections


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