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Blasting the Myths about Government Jobs

By Laura Gordon

When first starting out in government jobs, many insiders had concerns about the field they were entering. After discussing these issues with several insiders and career counselors, we asked them about the most common misconceptions and expectations in government and how the actual job compared.

"I didn't major in government, and I don't have a law degree. Doesn't that automatically mean I won't be considered for most government or political jobs?"

While backgrounds in both of these areas definitely help, there is no "right major" for jobs in government. Graduate degrees in government and public policy almost certainly lead to political careers, but since the industry is so diverse, there truly is no type of background that wouldn't translate into an appropriate government job. Engineers can work for NASA, language majors can work for the CIA, and, believe it or not, bio majors can end up in the Senate.

"I don't agree politically with certain policies of the U.S. government. Does this mean that I can't work for them?"

Many interns fear that their political views will get in the way of their careers and opportunities for advancement. However, embracing political pluralism has historically led to productive debate in the U.S. government, so why can't the same apply to you? Government employers often look for individuals who will challenge the platforms and ideals of their company/committee/department, and who will foster helpful discussions on how to address those concerns. As cliche as it may sound, your enthusiasm for making a difference is much more important than your personal political views.

"I thought that I'd get much more substantive work in internships with individual legislators on the Hill."

A common misconception is that working with individual party members or Congressmen, will equal meaningful and meaty workloads. However, working with committees- especially joint committees- can mean much more contact with legislation, instead of endless hours stuffing envelopes.

Copyright 2008 All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without prior written authority.

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