Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Public Service Jobs and Internships

Are you interested in obtaining a career with the government, but aren't sure how to pursue it? Come check out Career Services' Public Services Career Panel on October 19 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in Abrams Lounge in the Center for Community. Some of the professionals serving as panelists at this event include Christine Berg, Community Outreach Manager at the Office of Congressman Jared Polis, and Katie McCune, a Program Evaluator at JVA Consulting who previously worked in Public Health.

Katie offered a little insight as to what it's like to work at JVA Consulting.
Q: How did you find your job?
A: I found my job on the Colorado Nonprofit Association website (great resource!), and I was one of the lucky few who was able to get a job even though I hadn't done any networking with the people at my organization prior to applying. I think this is really rare though, particularly in the public service sector.

Q: What does your day to day look like?
A: One of the beautiful (and sometimes stressful!) things about my job is there is very little "day to day stuff." As a consultant, I never know when a client will need support. That being said, on any given day, I might be conducting phone interviews to help an organization evaluate their programs, write grants, or draft reports for our clients to help them understand the results of an evaluation. However, no matter what is going on any given day, there is very rarely a day where I don't work closely with a team.

Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I absolutely love seeing all the great work that is going on in the world. All of our clients are so passionate about what they're doing, and just like happiness, that passion is contagious. I've become so much more aware of different social causes that were never before on my radar, and I think that is awesome! I also love the amount of learning that goes on in my job, and with every project, I gain a new perspective or new skill set. Finally, I love the collaborative aspect of my work because it makes me feel connected.

Q: What advice do you have?
A: Get out there and find ways to connect to the work you want to do, prior to applying for a job. In my opinion, internships are the best way to do this. The downside is many internships in the sector are unpaid, but looking back, I wish I had done an internship for credit while I was still in school. In this field, it's really important to have some experience with the population you want to work with and some connection to the mission, so an internship cannot only give you experience, but prove to future employers you're passionate about the cause. Also, as a wise CU Career Counselor once told me, network, network, network! I didn't fully appreciate how important this was until I was in the field, but this is how many people find their jobs. A great place to start is informational interviews, and from my own experience, I wish I had done a lot more of these during my job search.

And if you're interested in internship opportunities that involve working with government or non-profit organizations, apply for the CU Public Interest Internship Experience (PIIE) for summer 2012. Those undergraduate students who are accepted to PIIE for summer 2012 will be able to chose to work at one of the pre-selected organizations, or create their own internship opportunity with a government or non-profit organization in Colorado. A few employers that PIIE interns have worked with in the past include the Boulder Valley Humane Society, the Colorado Council on the Arts, the U.S. Department of Commerce (Export Assistance Center), and the I Have a Dream Foundation.

Students interested in applying for PIIE must be full-time undergraduates at CU Boulder in good academic standing (2.0 or higher). In addition, applicants must be enrolled and returning to CU Boulder for at least one semester after they finish their summer internship. Those who are accepted to the program will be required to write a thank you letter to the donors and a reflective report at the end of their internship experience, as well as potentially make an oral presentation.

To apply, fill out the PIIE general application and submit it by November 18.