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Public Sector/Government

Does the idea of acting as an advocate excite you? Do you want to impact your local, state, or federal government in a meaningful way? If you enjoy fighting for public causes or problems then you may want to consider a career in public service.
Danielle Norgren
These careers range from those in the local government, community arena, metropolitan region, state arena, and national and international settings. Potential employers include local, state, and federal governments; nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations at the local, regional, national, and international level; private firms engaged in working with governments; and private corporations with an active public service culture. (taken from

Colgate Professional Network

Colgate alumni employed at non-profit organizations, government agencies, or other social good enterprises are considered part of the Common Good Network.

The mission of the Common Good Network is to build a community of Colgate alumni in similar industries to create greater engagement with the university, while building professional on-ramps for undergraduates through the Center for Outreach Volunteerism and Education (COVE).

Public Sector/Government Advisor

Headshot of Kat Kolozsvary
Read about Kat
Kat joined the Colgate University Center for Career Services adviser team in January of 2016 and focuses on the areas of Pre-Law, Education, Common Good and Government.

Before coming to Colgate, Kat was a Graduate Programs Manager at Kaplan Test Prep, working with students at colleges and universities throughout Central and Western New York. Previously, she has held a variety of positions related to the government, healthcare and technology sectors. Kat received her BA in Public Affairs from Syracuse University and enjoys spending time with her husband, Chris, their two daughters and two Great Danes.


Call 315-228-7380 for an advising appointment.

Explore Careers

Industry areas
Both federal and state governments split into three branches: the legislative, the executive, and the judiciary. Meanwhile, local administration is often comprised of city, town, and/or county government entities. The different government sectors showcase professional roles in education, science, social and human services, defense, politics, administration, legal, human resources, and health-related fields, among others.

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)
An NGO is any nonprofit voluntary citizens’ group, which is organized on a local, national, or international level. Task-oriented and driven by people with a common interest, NGOs perform a variety of services and humanitarian functions, bring citizens’ concerns to governments, monitor policies, and encourage political participation at the community level. NGOs provide analysis and expertise, serve as early warning mechanisms, and help monitor and implement international agreements. Some are organized around specific issues, such as human rights, the environment, or health. Their relationship with offices and agencies of the United Nations differs depending on their goals, their venue, and their mandate.

Advocacy is the organized pursuit of influencing outcomes—including public policy and resource allocation decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions—that directly affect people’s lives. Advocacy consists of organized actions to highlight critical issues that have been ignored and submerged, to influence public attitudes, and to enact and implement laws and public policies. Human rights—political, economic, and social—form an overreaching framework for these visions. Advocacy organizations draw their strength from and are accountable to people: their members, constituents, and/or members of affected groups. Advocacy has purposeful results- to enable social justice advocates to gain access and voice in the decision making of relevant institutions, to change the power relationships between the institutions themselves, and to improve people’s lives.

Lobbying is an attempt to influence the opinion of legislators, legislative staff, and government administrators directly involved in drafting legislative proposals. Many different types of organized groups lobby, including private sector, corporations, fellow legislators or government officials, or advocacy groups.

Human and Social Services
Human and Social Services agencies focus on improving conditions related to children and families, education, mental health, and other forms of healthcare. Positions are available in government, nonprofit, and private agencies. Currently, the three major employment roles include providing direct service, performing administrative work, and working in the community.

Source: (for username and password, please contact Career Services)
Resources for further exploration
  • Spotlight on Careers – Public Policy – Employer & Job Options (for username and password, please contact Career Services)
  • Vault Industry Guides: Log in or create an account (you will need to create an account using your Colgate e-mail address to view this content) and then find “Government”, “Politics, Public Policy, and Activism” or “Social Services” through the search box or in Industries & Professions – There are links to pages for many specific professions at the bottom of these pages

Prepare for Jobs and Internships

Information, tips, and strategies to help prepare you as an undergraduate.
Entry level positions
Many organizations within the public service arena offer internships. Thus, to obtain related experience prior to graduation is extremely important – internship opportunities often have the potential to turn into full time positions. At the entry-level, research, communications, and program work are common stepping stones into the public service field. Government features a wide array of opportunities for recent graduates, including long-term paid internships and entry-level positions. The Pathways for Students and Recent Graduates to Federal Careers program, in particular, serves as a gateway for new professionals to bridge into the federal sector throughout all government disciplines.
Resume advice
Resume Advice- from Spotlight on Careers (for username and password, please contact Career Services)
Interview questions
Interview Questions- from Spotlight on Careers (for username and password, please contact Career Services)
Helpful skills
  • Languages (especially official languages of the United Nations)
  • Public Speaking
  • Technology (computer programming, code, etc.)
  • Flexibility
  • Leadership
Industry news and trends
Knowledge of industry news can give you a sense of the culture and make you a better interview candidate.
  • Vault Industry Guides also include a "Current Trends and Issues Section": Log in or create an account (you will need to create an account using your Colgate e-mail address to view this content) and then find “Government”, “Politics, Public Policy, and Activism” or “Social Services” through the search box or in Industries & Professions.
A sample of relevant Colgate activities
One might also consider joining clubs associated with the specific geographic region, cause, or social, political, ethnic, racial, or religious group you intend to serve
Graduate school
A Masters or Ph.D. in Public Policy is the typical advanced degree someone in this area might pursue. While some professionals argue that obtaining an advanced degree in the field is crucial for advancement, others contend that one might be better served by pursuing a J.D. or an MBA, or simply several years of work experience.

Find Opportunities

Recruiting timeline
Nonprofits tend to hire on an as-needed basis, and will usually post positions in mid to late spring. Otherwise, particularly for internship roles, many of the other areas that fall under the public policy umbrella will hire in a more planned and systematized manner. Interested parties should keep an eye out for posted positions beginning in winter and early spring. Many government-based positions require you to apply well in advance of your projected start date. For a summer start: jobs requiring any type of security clearance hire in September and October, Federal Executing Departments hire November through March, and Congressional Internships hire January through April.

Alumni Advice

Advice from alumni who work in this industry.
Kathleen Doherty '85 headshot
Current Title and Organization: Ambassador to Cyprus, U.S. Embassy

Colgate Major: Political Science

Q&A with Doherty
Advanced degrees received, if applicable: 
Masters of Science, Political Economy

What is it that you currently do? What are your major responsibilities? 
Develop and implement policy priorities with Cyprus

What was your first position out of Colgate and what did you do in that role?
I was a researcher/journalist.

How can students prepare themselves while at Colgate to work in your field?

Study abroad and learn a language

naviGATE Opportunities

Below are some opportunities that may interest you from naviGATE, Colgate's internship and job database.

More Opportunities

The Liberal Arts Career NetWORK (LACN) is a database of internships and entry-level jobs posted by employers interested in hiring liberal arts students.

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