Government and Politics Career Overview

Career opportunities in government – federal, state, and local – are endless. Government employees are scientists, engineers, policy workers, administrators, economists, writers, psychologists, artists, and everything in between. The big plus for working in government is that career training and development are part of the professional culture, there are great opportunities for advancement, and the field is known for relatively high job security. Often, the best method for securing a full-time position in this industry is through internships, volunteering, and/or networking.

Perhaps a stint in politics interests you. There are two basic strategies for entering the political scene, (1), starting out in a role or office and working your way up, and (2), developing an area of expertise first and then seeking to transfer in at a higher level. Look beyond the obvious.

Examples of career opportunities in local, state, and federal government sectors:

Opportunities within local, state, and federal government are abundant. Local and state governments not only elect officials, they also manage city utilities, oversee permitting, and offer emergency services, among many other job possibilities.

Federal job options are available that align with all areas of study. The most urgent hiring needs with federal agencies include opportunities in public health, engineering, science, human resources, technology, and economics. For general information on job and internship titles in the federal government, see the Partnership for Public Service information on student and entry-level hiring.

Professional Organizations provide excellent resources for students, ranging from career development resources and student memberships to job and internship postings. Examples include:

Student Organizations and Volunteer Opportunities

Provide connections with others interested in similar career pursuits. Check out Duke Groups to find student organizations across campus such as:

DukeEngage offers a large number of summer programs, both domestic and abroad, which relate to service, policy, and community action.


Conducting research can be a great way to get involved on campus, explore a specific academic topic, and work closely with faculty members and graduate students. The Undergraduate Research Support Office offers resources for getting involved in research both on campus and at other institutions- check out the “opportunities” page to explore options.

Here are a few policy-specific research programs available at Duke:

Examples of employers who have hired Duke students interested in Government and Politics (this is not a comprehensive list):

  • Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
  • The White House
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Third Way – A centrist think tank
  • NC Governor’s Office
  • NC Justice Center

Overall, there are a variety of ways to work in government and politics, and some self-exploration, investigation of options, and conversations with people in the field can help you gain insight into where your best fit may lie.

By Jennifer Agor
Jennifer Agor Associate Director, Career Readiness