Exploring Federal Government Careers

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken delivers a speech on American Leadership on Climate, in Annapolis, Maryland on April 19, 2021.

Are you interested in addressing complex and pressing issues faced by communities across the US and the world?

  • If yes, a career in the US federal government may be for you.

The US government has agencies engaged in the fight against climate change; leading efforts in space exploration; overseeing disaster and emergency response efforts; and researching the latest in disease prevention, just to name a few.  There are over 400 federal agencies. These are in every US state, territory, and Washington DC; and in over 140 countries. Many agencies are here in Denver, CO—you don’t have to leave Colorado or be a politician to work in the federal government, although those are certainly options.

There are three categories of federal employees:

  • Competitive service includes most civil service positions. Applicants must apply for and compete with other applicants for positions.  These positions work in many hundreds of US government agencies, in different specialties.
  • Excepted Service appointments are civil service positions and often include security and intelligence agencies (FBI, CIA, NSA), and the US Department of State. Applications are managed by the respective agencies’ policies and procedures.
  • Senior Excepted Service includes senior leadership positions, often political appointees.

Learn About Federal Civil Service Opportunities

With so many career opportunities across the hundreds of federal agencies, it is a good idea to first learn about the variety of career options:


Use the Partnership for Public Service’s GOGOVERNMENT


Explore the USAJOBS.GOV website. This is the application portal for most civil service opportunities, but it also provides extensive information about the overall process.

  • This USAJOBS guide helps you find federal occupations by college major.
  • The USAJOBS Events page lists events (online and in-person) offered by different federal agencies to help you learn about their opportunities.
  • Explore the unique hiring paths offered by the federal government.

Utilize Pathways to Apply for Civil Service Internships and Jobs

After you get an idea of all the opportunities in the federal government, you can start to consider specific pathways that can help you start your federal career.

Current students, recent graduates, and veterans all have specific pathways designed for individuals early in their                          careers.

Finding Federal Civil Service Opportunities

Where do you find these hundreds of civil service internships and jobs?  Most Pathways Program Internships and Recent Graduate jobs are found at USAJOBS.GOV, the website and application portal used to apply to all competitive civil service positions.


Current students can search for internships using the USAJOBS Federal Internship Portal.

  • Pro-Tip: There are many internships across the US. Don’t let the location stop you from applying! Agencies may have remote work options that allow you to do some or all the required hours remotely.

The Partnership for Public Service’s Federal Internship Finder lists hundreds of internships for students.

  • Pro-tip: Use the filters to narrow the options. For example, filter for a specific field, agency, paid vs. unpaid, etc.
MSU Denver Online student studying remotely for an international business degree
Public Health Graduates

Recent graduates (those who completed a degree within the previous two years, or the previous six years for veterans) can search for positions on the USAJOBS Recent Graduate portal.

  • Pro-tip: Applications for positions must be submitted within two years of earning your diploma or certificate.

Additional Internships and Opportunities (agencies/departments using Excepted Service):

Cyber students PISCES Program

Questions? Contact Us.

Content provided in partnership with the Classroom to Career Hub.


Phone Number:
303 615-1133

[email protected]


Shaun LaBarre, Director,
Institute for Public Service


[email protected]