When you think about government work, it’s easy to jump straight to the federal level. However, for candidates looking to make a difference close to home, or who want to stay connected to a particular location throughout their career, state and local government can be a great option.
As a state, county, or city government employee, you often get the opportunity to do much of the same work that you could do at the federal level. State employees work on a wide range of issues from the implementation of policies regarding healthcare, education, and public works, to state travel and tourism initiatives, to international trade affecting companies located in the state, to working with the state’s elected officials.
It’s also worth noting that state and local government can be a great way to gain experience and relevant skills as a first step toward a different career field, including the federal government, but also law, policy, and nonprofit work. State governments often post a variety of LTE- Limited Term Employment – jobs, which last for anywhere from a few months to a year. For students who need a stopgap in between undergrad and a postgraduate program, or who want to get a foot in the door of a certain state agency, LTE jobs can be a fantastic opportunity.
State & Local Government Job and Internship Search Resources
Internships – There are several internship programs at the state and local level that are geared toward undergraduate students. The City of Madison AASPIRE summer internship program offers paid 8-week internships in a variety of agencies. The WI Student Diversity Internship Program offers similar opportunities at the state level. Both programs tend to open early in the spring semester, and aim to bring underrepresented students and women into government roles (though all students are encouraged to apply).
Networking – As a student at UW-Madison, you live in a prime location to network with state and local government employees! If you think you may be interested in a career in this area, there’s no better way to learn more than to ask alumni and professionals who are doing the work and can give you an insider perspective. Check out the SuccessWorks Networking Guide to get started, and keep an eye on upcoming events to see when state and local government employees will be available to connect!