Getting a job in the public sector: WLP Resume Panel Review

On Monday, June 21, 2010, the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership held its Washington Leadership Program session “Resume Workshop” on Capitol Hill.   Each year CAPAL hosts this event to assist Asian American and Pacific Islander interns who are interested in careers in the public service to give them some advice from seasoned professionals in the field on how to get a position in Washington, DC, whether it’s with the government, Capitol Hill, or a nonprofit organization.  The speakers of this event were fantastic, and what I wanted to do was to summarize some of their main points for the folks who weren’t able to make it.


Matt Adkins, Job Bank Manager, The Heritage Foundation

Daniel Chao, Chief of Staff, Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano

Matt Collier, Senior Advisor to the Director, Office of Personnel Management

Main points from the three panelists included:

  • Experience over education: Put your experience first, most employers care more about what you’ve done and what practical experience you’ve had (caveat: not all panelists agreed on this).
  • Sometimes life is random: Your designated dream job or career path may not be the one that you end up on.  Adjust and stay in the game!
  • Network, network, network: Many folks in Washington, DC have jumped around positions, and a lot of this has to do with networking.  Get to know the people who are doing your dream job now, and find out how they got to where they are.
  • Philosophy:  Try and match your philosophy with the organization that you are applying to.  For example, if you’re applying to a conservative think-tank, it probably wouldn’t help to have a bunch of experience at a liberal organization before that.
  • Resumes and Cover Letters:  They should complement each other, and not repeat the same information.
  • Objectives:  If you have an objective, make sure it actually says something instead of a placeholder for adjectives.
  • Unpaid internships:  If the unpaid internship will get you relevant experience, then it might be worth your consideration.  Work experience is always highly valued, don’t discount the fact that it was volunteer.
  • Of course – come to sessions like CAPAL’s Washington Leadership Program to learn more and network!

Was there anything I missed?  Include it into the comments!  I gotta say, the panelists were all fantastic and it was great to hear from people that are essentially in the same generation as the interns who’ve made it up near the top.  Talk about role models!  The next Washington Leadership Program is an Oxford-style debate on Immigration Policy, June 29, 6:30 PM, at Capitol Hill, HC-5.

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