Loading
 

Public Administration: What Can I Do With This Degree?

Local Government

  • City management
  • Financial administration
  • Budget analysis
  • General services
  • Community affairs
  • Social services
  • Urban planning

Employers

  • Counties
  • Municipalities
  • Townships
  • School districts
  • Special districts

Information & Strategies

  • Learn local government job application procedures.
  • Develop a network of contacts.
  • Check statistics on growing communities for best opportunities.
  • Gain relevant experience through an internship or volunteer position.
  • Conduct applicable research that could be useful to,your community.
  • Get involved in community organizations and events.

State Government

  • Administrative services
  • Legislature
  • Judicial

Employers

  • Various departments of state government
  • Legislative agencies including: Legislative Reference Services, Bill Drafting Services, Legislative Councils, and budgeting and auditing staffs
  • State Supreme Courts
  • Personal staff of legislators
  • Intermediate Appellate Courts
  • Trial Courts of General Jurisdiction
  • Trial Courts of Limited Jurisdiction

Information & Strategies

  • Research the organization of your state government.
  • Develop specialized skills and interests for particular populations or issues, e.g. disability, education, homelessness, etc.
  • Develop strong research and writing skills.
  • Make political contacts through local legislators of both houses.
  • Volunteer to work on political campaigns.
  • Make contacts through referrals and informational interviews.
  • Plan to earn a law degree to qualify for some opportunities.

Federal Government

1. Professional, Administrative, Technical

2. Legislative Branch

  • Legislative agencies
  • Legislature
  • Administrative staff: Washington-based, home district, committee

3. Judicial Branch

4. Executive Branch

  • Office of the president
  • Management and budget
  • Administration
  • Council of economic advisors
  • U.S. trade representatives
  • Executive departments
5. Independent Agencies

Employers

1. Various federal departments and agencies

2. Various agencies including:

  • General Accounting Office, Library of Congress, Government Printing Office, Congressional Budget Office
  • Offices of senators and representatives

3. Supreme Court, U.S. Courts, supporting organizations

4. Office of the president, Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor

5. Independent agencies include the following (not an exhaustive list):

  • Coordination and Public Safety
  • Emergency Response Policy
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • General Services Administration
  • National Archives & Records Administration
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • Office of Personnel Management
  • Securities & Exchange Commission
  • Tennessee Valley Authority
  • U.S. Information Agency
  • U.S. International Development Cooperation

Information & Strategies

1. Obtain an internship in a federal agency or department. Often this is the best way to get a foot in the door for a permanent position.

  • Learn federal job application procedures and how to write a federal resume including your KSAs (knowledge, skills, and abilities).

2. Research various agencies and departments to discover which ones may be the best fit for your major and experience.

  • Conduct informational interviews with government employees.
  • Understand structure of Congress and various opportunities available.
  • Develop excellent research, writing, communication, and organizational skills.
  • Build a strong personal network.
  • Explore districts other than your own.

3. Some positions require law degree and bar certification.

  • Understand the structure and functions of the federal judiciary system.

5. There are a large number of niche areas and specialized agencies within the federal government. Do extensive research in order to find the area that best matches your skills and interests.

  • Take courses or minor in applicable interest area(s).
  • Research applicable public service exams and hiring procedures.
  • Complete an internship in a related area.
  • Maintain a high GPA to qualify for government employment.
  • Consider earning a graduate degree to prepare for the largest number of opportunities.

 

 

Nonprofit

  • Administration
  • Development
  • Program management
  • Policy analysis
  • Research
  • Grant Writing

Employers

  • Local and national nonprofit agencies and
    foundations
  • Charitable organizations
  • Trade or professional organizations
  • Research organizations and think tanks
  • Educational institutions

Information & Strategies

  • Participate in internships and/or volunteer activities for related experience.
  • Develop strong communication and leadership skills.
  • Become a member of relevant organizations and seek leadership roles.
  • Develop strong research skills and learn how to write grants.
  • Research the organizations' values to find a good fit with yours. It is critical that you are
    knowledgeable about and care about the work you're going to do.

Political Support/Lobbying

    Employers

    • Political Action Committees (PAC)
    • Various industrial, educational, and public interest groups
    • Political parties
    • Lobbying organizations
    • Large business firms

    Information & Strategies

    • Get involved with a political party/group and develop a personal network. The ability to develop networks, coalitions and alliances with other associations is highly valued.
    • Gain experience with government agencies or departments to help build relationships.
    • Develop excellent public relations, interpersonal and communication skills.
    • Learn how to persuade and negotiate.
    • Participate on a debate team.
    • Volunteer in organizations with similar interests and goals.

    Business

    • Human resources
    • Budget analysis
    • Management
    • Sales/Marketing
    • Management consulting
    • Occupational safety coordination
    • Public relations

    Employers

    • Business firms
    • Contracting and consulting firms
    • Association management firms

    Information & Strategies

    • Develop strong analytical, communication, and technical skills.
    • Obtain related work experience in a business setting through internships and summer or part-time jobs.
    • Earn a minor in business.
    • Hone computer skills and learn software packages such as databases, spreadsheets, and presentations.
    • Get involved in student organizations and seek leadership roles.

    Health/Medical

    • Healthcare administration
    • Policy development and analysis
    • Health delivery systems

    Employers

    • Hospitals
    • Healthcare facilities
    • Health-maintenance organizations
    • Insurance companies
    • Nursing homes
    • Social service and community agencies

    Information & Strategies

    • Most positions will require graduate degree in public health or hospital administration.
    • Complete an internship in a healthcare environment to gain knowledge of the industry.
    • Learn to work well with different types of people.

    International Affairs

    • Governance
    • Policy making and analysis
    • Public sector reform
    • Poverty-reduction strategy
    • Ethics and anti-corruption
    • Human rights
    • Public law
    • Organization and management
    • Development
    • Resource development
    • Public-private partnerships
    • Media/Communication policy and practice
    • Education

    Employers

    • Intergovernmental agencies, e.g. World Bank, United Nations
    • National governments
    • Non-profit agencies
    • Policy and research organizations
    • Private businesses
    • Contracting and consulting firms

    Information & Strategies

    • Obtain internships or volunteer in order to gain valuable experience in areas of interest.
    • Participate in overseas mission trips or spend a Semester at Sea.
    • Become familiar with national or international application procedures.
    • Research the history and culture of countries or geographic areas of interest.
    • Take steps towards obtaining work or study visas for various locations.
    • Become proficient in at least one foreign language.
    • Spend time studying or working abroad, especially working to make and maintain contacts in foreign countries.
    • Earn a double major or minor in order to gain additional skills or knowledge needed for various positions (i.e., Africana studies, Asian studies, business, psychology, sociology, etc.).
    • For higher level positions an advanced degree is necessary. Research different programs and the concentrations they offer in order to find the best fit for your interests.

    General Information

    • An undergraduate degree in public administration, with the appropriate experience, is sufficient for entry-level position in government and business.
    • A graduate degree in public administration or public health administration helps prepare students for management and upper-level administrative positions.
    • Carefully research programs in order to choose specializations or concentrations of interest.
    • Consider law school for careers in upper level politics, administration or management. Explore joint JD and MPA programs to see if they meet your career goals.
    • Obtain broad liberal arts background including written and verbal skills, communication and foreign language skills.
    • Part-time, summer, internship, and volunteer experiences are extremely helpful in government affairs, organizations, or public service areas.
    • Develop strong leadership skills; run for office in clubs and organizations in school or community. Volunteer to organize or lead an event or project.
    • Get involved in student government.
    • Demonstrate interest/involvement in community affairs/events.
    • Join related social and/or professional organizations.
    • Employment opportunities in local government tend to follow population trends in terms of growth and decline in availability of positions. Be prepared to relocate to find the most opportunities.
    • Develop a strong personal network through informal contacts.
    • Political connections are helpful for appointed positions. Most agencies respond to professional connections.
    • Expect keen competition for federal positions. Prepare yourself with a strong academic background and good experience. Many government jobs have strict guidelines and want to carefully match candidates' KSAs (knowledge, skills, and abilities) to the job description. Research this first and seek the classes and experiences that will best prepare you.
    • Develop patience, persistence, and drive in obtaining government positions.
    • Explore application to Administrative Careers with America (ACWA) and the Outstanding Scholar Program for federal positions.
    • Learn applicable application process for area of interest.
    • Research websites and books that address various government job opportunities, pay structure, and hiring processes.
    • Consider military experience and training as an entryway into government jobs and public service.
    • Plan on following a flexible career path to higher positions. Many people begin on the clerical or entry-level in order to gain experience and network.
    Download a PDF of this chart for easy printing.

    Students in class