Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences

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How to get your Foot in the Door in the Public Sector

Sara Aliotti '13 recently advised one of our current seniors who is interested in Urban Planning on how to get started with an internship or entry level position in the public sector.

“My biggest (and hopefully best) piece of advice for you would be to intern, intern, intern and apply, apply, apply.  I foundmy career through the various internship positions I held—I had a lot of fun and learned so much, too.

Do you currently have a profile or profile set up?  If not, create them.  You will have job opportunities sent to you based on your interests and location.  I would encourage you to apply for positions you might think are “out of reach”. is a similar site that queries private sector internships.  Now is definitely the time to focus on your present situation, but with an eye for your future.  This being said, do yourself these favors:

1. Ask around.  Ask your aunts, uncles, parents, professors, mentor, and any adult that might have an opinion about public vs. private sector careers.  Figure out what you value: pension vs. high salary vs. fast paced vs. predictable hours vs. helping people vs. growing a company, etc.

2. Apply to at least one job per week. Getting on the Calopps and GovernmentJobs sites is a great start.  Also, try picking out some companies or municipalities you might want to work for. Find their HR page, and see if they have openings.  Even if they don’t have openings, shoot them an email with your resume and an offer to intern for them for a lower wage or for no pay.  At your stage in the game, experience is more valuable than any money they can pay you. Sounds cliché, but is so true.

3. Try not to be overly picky, and never decide to not turn in an application because you think that you “aren’t qualified.” My motto during my job search was “Apply and let them decide if I’m not qualified.”— at the very least, you will become very familiar with your own resume, will get lots of interview experience, and will be exposed to lots of different locations and career paths you may not have considered.

4. Keep your resume up to date, and save every cover letter and supplemental questionnaire you submit.  You’ll notice as you apply more and more, the application questions start to get repetitive.  You’ll save lots of time if you save your answers.  I have all of my application materials saved on, so I can literally access them and apply for jobs from anywhere I have internet service.

Enjoy senior year, Go Broncos!