Warning: You are about to get ACTUAL answers. Not BS. For those of you who are familiar with my style, I like to give REAL answers. Not fluff. No vague answers. You have a question about something? I will either have a concrete answer or I will find out for you.

So because most of my audience are recent graduates, I get asked this question a lot:

How Do You Get a Job as a Graduate with No Experience?

And most of you have heard these answers: “Go volunteer, internship, network, etc.” And you’ve found them to be too broad and vague. I couldn’t agree more. Easy to say, but hard to do. I mean, where do we volunteer or get an internship for my field like marketing or engineering? And how do I get paid as a volunteer though? I mean I need to eat. And networking? Are you serious right now? I know no one except for my “netflix ‘n chill” buddies.

I dislike these vague answers, too. But you are told these answers because as a new grad, getting a job to gain valuable skills and not money is your only option right now, but how do you do that? It’s just so hard to get your foot in the door. In my 20 years of experience and IMHO…

Are you ready for this?

…the best way to get that first job as a recent graduate…

THE GOVERNMENT. In the United States, there are excellent programs for recent grads in just about ANY field, including creative arts. An answer that is not just “Go volunteer.” And, you’re welcome. 🙂 BTW, I think most countries have programs like this. Just google search until you find it!

How is a Government Internship different?

I found this out when I was working at Boeing decades ago. We had engineering interns working with us on this huge software development project, and I wondered how we could afford them when we were at or over budget. It turns out that the government subsidizes some private companies for hiring interns. So basically, they “incentivize” some companies to hire recent grads with basically “free labor”. For some roles, you will get paid, but the company doesn’t pay for all of your labor — the government subsidizes your paycheck, so they pay for some, most, or sometimes, all of it. 🙂

My recommendation for you: Don’t make a beeline for the PAID internships. I know they look enticing, but they will be VERY competitive. You can definitely try it, but I suggest you that you:

Go for the “unpaid” internships, you will have better chance at getting hired and from my experience, somehow, they become PAID jobs quickly.

These “unpaid” internships are deceiving. You’re asking me, “Cathryn, how do these unpaid internships become paid?” Let me show you.

How can you benefit from an internship even if it is unpaid?

  1. Government Clearance. Seriously, just for this benefit alone, it is absolutely worth it. I have rarely been unemployed for too long because of my clearance and if you get a government internship, BOOM — you get a clearance! And once you have a clearance, you put that on your resume at the very top forever and you will always be gainfully employed. See my other tip on Government Clearance jobs (coming soon).

  2. Stipend. So maybe you don’t get a salary, but you’ll get enough to live on — this is called a stipend, which is for living expenses. Cool. 🙂

  3. Full-Time Offer. More often than not, unpaid interns are converted to PAID, especially if they show excellent performance. Managers are not inhuman. A person cannot go day after day knowing that you’re working hard without pay. They see you come in happy and helpful every day. Do you honestly think they’ll keep you unpaid for long? Doubt it. If it’s just not in their budget, they’ll do anything in their power, to find you a paid job, if you show excellent work ethic and other amazing qualities. I’ve seen it happen time and time again. People are, by nature, kind and not cruel. This is a fact. Believe me.

  4. Quicker Access to Jobs. You hear about new jobs before anyone else. Because you are free labor, you end up meeting a lot of people who want to get help from you. So you end up hearing about new openings. So guess who’s going to get first dibs on the paid internship or paid entry-level jobs??? YOU.

  5. Exclusive Access to Jobs. Some jobs are closed to the public aka internal postings. Since you are now an intern, even if you are unpaid, still makes you an employee, what does that mean? You get access to internal job postings that the general public cannot apply to. Plus, government jobs are rarely advertised as well as other company jobs. You can’t find these jobs on indeed or CareerBuilder. Competition is less, overall. 🙂

  6. Other Benefits. Medical, Dental, Vision, etc. But some might even pay for lodging, food, etc. So what do you care if they don’t pay you a salary? Also, some may word it differently.

And remember, even if none of the above pans out, you don’t have to be there forever — 3 months, 6 months, a year, or 2 years max. Just enough to beef up your resume, ya know?

Never forget, this is about collecting valuable skills and experience. Not money. The money WILL come later.

Your goal right now is to gain as many skills and experiences as possible. So move often.

Do Government Internships pay?

Like seriously, do they though? And how much do average paid Government Interns make? Below you will find the 2018 hourly pay rate for a Pathways intern at NASA.


What is a Government Internship?

Government internships are just like any job, you still have to apply for them. There are internship programs for Current College Students and Recent Graduates with their Bachelor’s Degrees and Graduate Degrees — Graduate Internships are different than Undergraduate.

Pathways is the name of the US Government’s Internship Program and it consists of 3 programs:

  • Internship

  • Recent Graduates

  • Presidential Management Fellows (PMF)

See below for more resources and information on Government Internship Programs.

How Do I Qualify for a Government Internship?

I summarized the Pathways qualifications for you below. IMHO, your chances of getting hired increase exponentially.

The best part about Government Internships is that you don’t compete with seasoned pros.

When times are tough, when experienced professionals are vying for entry level jobs, the odds of you finding work are slimmer than in good times. The Government has made it that much easier for you so that you are only competing with people with the same experience level as you, which levels the playing ground.

Where can I find Government internships? How do I search for them?

  1. Carefully review the Pathways videos above.
  2. Then, if you want to search for other government internships outside of USAJobs.gov, check out below:
  • Go to my Jobs For You Page here which links to search results on Indeed (which I have noticed has more jobs overall than on USAJobs.gov).
  • Each agency has its own internship program like the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Google all the agencies for their internships. For your convenience, here’s a list of all the US federal agencies here. Search for “<agency name> internship”.
  • Each state has its own internship program like the State of Texas. And even counties have them like Los Angeles County. I’m sure they have them at the city level. Again, just google search the state, county, or city plus “internship”.

How Do You Get a Government Internship?

Below is what I would actually do to prepare for a government internship or just about any job, for that matter.

  1. Ensure that your RESUME is quantified and machine-passable (can pass the AI or resume bots) — see my other blogs and videos on how to do this.

  2. APPLY for both paid and “unpaid” government internships, on every agency, state, county, and city government site (see above). Increase your odds for getting a call back — don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

  3. Once you get a call back, PREPARE for the INTERVIEW.

  4. If you are not desperate and in a bad way, try to NEGOTIATE in the kindest way possible. You can negotiate benefits like paid training versus additional pay which can be tough with government jobs since they are on a fixed pay scale (see below). It’s not impossible, but again, your objective is to gain skills and experience, not money right now. Regardless, I can teach you a FOOL-PROOF way, without getting your offer rescinded. Again, I will post this in a blog and video very soon. Just stay connected with me so you will be notified right away when it gets posted! 🙂

  5. Start on Day One and PROVE YOUR WORTH. I will show you how to do this as well. Once you get the internship, how do you prove that you were an excellent choice? How do you ensure that your first performance review is excellent? Especially in the government sector? Ever hear about CPARs? Contractor Performance Assessment Report (CPAR)? This is a government document that is used to measure the performance of companies but it is an excellent gauge to measure YOUR performance, even in the private sector — the commercial world.

Sample Timeline for Current Student – Summer Internship at Bureau of Indian Affairs

So that’s it on government internships. I have other REALLY great ways to find jobs as a recent grad. More to come, but for now, I hope this helps you. 🙂

You’ve already done a great job today by reading this blog and learning something new.

I really want to see you succeed and exceed your wildest expectations. I believe in you. 🙂

Again, stay connected with me below and my YouTube here — do it now, so you don’t miss out on anything. 🙂

For more valuable tips, don’t forget to check out the rest of them here and the videos. Stay connected with me for more career advice and more job alerts — subscribe to my newsletter below, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. I want to see you succeed!!! 😎🤗💪🏆👍😉

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