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Government & Public Policy

The government industry can be broken down into the sectors of federal, state, and local. The industry consists of professionals that work toward goals that progress the lives of US citizens and residents at all levels to provide services, justice, order, protections, freedoms, and policies for improvement.  

Skills to develop for success in this field

  • Foreign language fluency 
  • Leadership competencies 
  • Multitasking, time management, and prioritization skills
  • Research and development skills
  • Strong written and verbal communication skill

Online resources specific to the industry

  • Vault* is a comprehensive resource for information on what it is like to work within an industry, company or profession. 

    *Note: Login via the NCA Resources Page https://www.northwestern.edu/careers/resources/index.html using your NetID and password, and create your own account using your NU email address.


    Log in to check out these resources for more specific information about government:  

    • Vault Guide to Politics, Public Policy, & Activism Jobs
    • Vault Guide to Government Jobs. Both offer descriptions of job functions and entry tips. 

Job posting and other career informational sites relevant to the field:

Key information or knowledge for this field

  • Application materials. You may be asked to provide more than just a cover letter and resume. Be prepared to write essay responses and/or provide writing samples or letters of reference. You will also want to allow for time to complete the applications as they can be lengthier and more involved. 
  • Ensure you meet the minimum requirements. Government jobs specifically require candidates to meet at least the minimum requirements listed for that particular role.  
  • Security clearance. Government jobs may require a specific level of security clearance. Keep this in mind and allow for plenty of time when applying to job opportunities. 
  • Long wait times to hear back. Government jobs may receive hundreds or thousands of applications and therefore it may take a significant amount of time to hear back for full-time opportunities. 
  • Networking and who you know. Due to the high volume of applications, it is very helpful to have a connection to the agency or organization where you are applying to work. The Northwestern alumni network is vast and there are fellow Wildcats who may already be working there. It is highly recommended to search through LinkedIn, Our Northwestern, and reach out to NCA advisers. To learn more about networking, please visit the NCA Networking webpage  & Networking Resources

Relevant student groups and professional organizations