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Summer Jobs with the Federal Government

Summers are synonymous with hot days at the beach, picnics at the park, and lots of fun outdoors. For some, summers are also a busy time of year—especially if you’re a student looking for a summer job.

Fortunately for you, the government is hiring.

Federal agencies have many summer jobs available for both students and recent college grads. The best part is that many of these positions are available across the country—not just in the nation’s capital, Washington, DC.

Wide-Ranging Jobs

Every year, federal agencies turn to students to fill temporary positions that range from administrative assistants and technicians to other support staff in the fields of engineering, national security, environment, health, and technology.

You can see the extensive array of jobs available by going to the student section of USAJobs.gov, an online portal that centralizes job postings across the federal government.

“There are opportunities virtually in every area you can imagine,” said Angela Bailey, Deputy Associate Director for Recruitment and Hiring at the Office of Personnel Management, the agency that runs USAJobs.gov.

Wages for these positions vary from $9 to $15 an hour, and applicants must be at least 16 years of age. Although you need to be a U.S. citizen to get most of these jobs, there are some positions for noncitizens (it depends on the position and the agency).

How to Apply for a Job

Federal summer job searches generally begin by going to USAJobs.gov/studentjobs/ where you can search postings by keywords, geographical areas, and type of student positions. If you find a job that you like, you can apply for it right there on the site.

Federal agencies are not required to post all of their jobs on USAJobs.gov, and in fact many positions are not announced there. That’s why Bailey suggests that you use the portal as a guide for the type of government work that interests you and then reach out to agencies.

“I recommend that students visit the agencies’ websites or call them by phone to see if there are any jobs available,” she said.

To increase the chances of landing a summer job with the federal government, Bailey offers the following advice:

  • Start searching for a summer job in March or April. By June, agencies have already identified which students they are going to hire.
  • Apply for jobs related to your area of study. For example, if you’re a psychology major then look for jobs in industrial organization; if you study computers look for opportunities in the area of cyber security.
  • Speak with school counselors since your school may have a direct relationship with federal agencies and they can help you land a job.
  • Speak with someone you know who works for the agency where you’d like to work. This person might help you understand the process better and offer you more specific advice.

Long-Term Opportunities

Besides summer jobs, the government has other programs for students and recent graduates including internships, apprenticeships, fellowships, and grants to help students get more education or experience in a specialized field.

Bailey says students should look at these summer jobs as more than temporary employment, as they can be the beginning of a career with the federal government. These temporary jobs allow students to see if public service is something they want to do in the long term.

So far, it’s worked pretty well for both agencies and students.

“We get to try them out and they get to try us out,” she said. “It’s a win-win for everybody.”