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Home  > Article

Tools of the Trade- Government

By Laura Gordon

Looking for the inside scoop on government? Check out these resources to get started now.

The 2006-2007 United States Government Manual

Price: $23.00

Publisher: Office of the Federal Register National Archives and Records Administration

What it is: A brief overview of just about every division of the U.S. government.

Benefits: This manual offers a breakdown of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches and describes the function of each and every court, office, agency, policy, department, and committee. Even the most obscure and little-known government organization can be found in here.  

Drawbacks: Because of its comprehensive nature, descriptions are quite brief and lacking in detail.


Yellow Book Series (Congressional, State, Foreign Representatives)

Price: $12.00-$40.00

Publisher: Leadership Directories, Inc.

What it is: The yellow pages of the government world.

Benefits: This series is updated twice a year, and provides detailed contact information for over 40,000 major government, business, professional, and nonprofit institutions in the United States. A great starting point in contacting representatives for certain areas of interest.

Drawbacks: It looks and works like a phone book. Get out the magnifying glass, and don't expect frills. Keep in mind there are several directories of this sort, many of which are quite similar and equally helpful.


Career Opportunities in Politics, Government, and Activism

Price: $12.89

Author: Joan Axelrod-Contrada

Publisher: Facts on File, Inc.

What it is: Detailed career profiles for almost every job in the aforementioned categories

Where it's at: available online or at your local career library.

Benefits: Important and useful statistics, such as salary ranges and career ladders, are included, in addition to position descriptions, prerequisites, tips for entry, and an appendix of contacts. There's something for everyone in here, from Peace Corps opportunities to urban planning.

Drawbacks: The tone is a bit lofty, without much real-world perspective.


Careers in International Affairs (Seventh Edition)

Publisher: Georgetown University Press

What it is: Mainly provides brief descriptions of the types of jobs found abroad.

Benefits: There are a few source listings, and though it isn't exclusively devoted to government jobs, it does have sections that cover foreign services, the U.S. government, and international organizations.

Drawbacks: Few details are included, mainly short overviews of each job.



An Insider?s Guide to Political Jobs in Washington

Price: $19.95

Author: William T. Endicott

Publisher: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.
What it is: Discusses breaking into political jobs on the Hill, from that first internship to the White House view.

Benefits: This no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is book is sincere and honest, and is a great way to get a feel for the types of things you'd be experiencing every day. It features insider profiles and case studies of current representatives and employees, as well as extensive tips on how to win over your new bosses.

Drawbacks: This book doesn't describe anything outside the Hill, so if it's the public sector you're interested in, look elsewhere.


Also, check out for information on getting White House internships.

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