Government & Law

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Careers in government can be pursued at the local/municipal level, within county government, or at the state and federal level (check out our 
Federal Employment Search Tips career guide). Public service attracts a wide range of individual skills, interests, and expertise. State and federal agencies include Education, Economic Development, Employment Services, Health, Human Resources/Management Services, Transportation (among others) and a range of services to citizens. In 2015, more than 34,000 civil servants worked for the State of Minnesota.

If you are interested in the law, law enforcement, or working in corrections, there are opportunities at the municipal, state and federal levels including police/fire/emergency services and jobs at a state’s Attorney General’s office. In addition, Corrections Departments tend to employ a high number of individuals. Positions related to compliance also attract individuals interested in the enforcement of laws. Compliance officers are hired by governmental agencies.

If you are interested in attending or exploring law school, start by reviewing the many pre-law resources available to all U of M students. Several career options exist in legal services that do not require a law degree. Examples include paralegals, legal assistants, victim/witness advocates, and contract administrators.

Public Policy and International Affairs
Public policy is the means by which a government addresses the needs of its citizens through actions defined by its constitution or set of laws. The field of public policy typically demands candidates with a graduate degree in public policy (MPP) or public affairs (MPA), although related entry-level careers exist for students with bachelor's degrees. University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs currently ranks 8th out of 50 public policy schools in the U.S.

Career Information

Careers in government and the public service sector encompass a variety of job functions and attract candidates from nearly all academic majors. Government agencies need communication/marketing, human resources, customer support, finance, accounting, project management, and technology support. It’s important to examine your individual interests, skills, and how your previous experience has prepared you for the position. Another component of the job search is knowing WHY you are drawn toward public service.

Job Titles & Descriptions
  • O*NET, a free online database, provides career information including job duties, salary, and job growth information for hundreds of careers. Sample titles include:
  • Legislator (or Legislative Assistant)
  • Tax Examiners and Revenue Agents
  • Park Naturalist
  • Fish and Game Warden
  • Probation Officer and Correctional Treatment Specialist
  • Foreign Service Officer
Job Opportunities

Below is a small sampling of organizations and their positions that have recruited CLA students in the past. For a more comprehensive list of job openings, search GoldPASS.

  • Consumer Analyst, Office of the MN Attorney General
  • State Director for Environment America, The Public Interest Network
  • Judicial Assistant, U.S. District Court of Minnesota
  • Code Compliance Officer, City of Superior, Wisconsin
  • Health Program Manager, MN Department of Health
  • Community Organizer, Clean Water Action
  • Real Estate Appraiser, St. Louis County, MN
  • Border Patrol Agent, United States Border Patrol
  • Watercraft Inspector, Washington County, MN
  • WIC Program Consultant, Iowa Department of Health & Human Services
Job Search Advice

Gain relevant experience while in college to try out different areas of interest. This will help you expand your network of professionals, and they are the people who can help you jumpstart your career.

Consider applying for fellowships through the Partnership for Public Service.

Job Search, Professional Organizations & Networking Websites
Prepare for this Career Field

Seek out opportunities, such as those listed below, to develop the 10 core career competencies. Active Citizenship & Community Engagement, Teamwork & Leadership, Engaging Diversity, and Ethical Reasoning & Decision-Making are especially valued in the Human Services, Government & Law Enforcement field. Learn more about “Being Marketable for Federal Government Jobs.”

The Center for Community-Engaged Learning has advising staff that will help you get connected to one of the 300+ community organizations that match your interests. HECUA is a program that offers off-campus study that addresses some of the most important issues of our time. Semester-long HECUA programs incorporate classroom studies, an internship, and field work. There is also a summer program entitled “Race In America - Then and Now” that might be of interest for those pursuing this career field.

Pursue Internships
For a more comprehensive list of job openings, search, a free database of internship, volunteer, and job postings for UMN students. 

  • Data Analytics Intern, City of St. Louis Park, MN              
  • Communications & Field Intern, MN Neighborhoods Organizing for Change            
  • Membership & Administrative Intern, MPLS Parks
  • Congressional Internship, Minnesota Farmers Union                        
  • Campaign Intern, Office of Congressman Keith Ellison
  • Transitions Coordinator Intern, Ramsey County, MN
  • Corrections Intern, MN Department of Corrections

Talk to Professionals
Networking can help you explore a career field; start by doing informational interviews with people who are in organizations that are of interest to you. Find professionals by utilizing the “professional networking” tab on, and clicking on Government/Public Administration under the Industry tab. Also consider using the LinkedIn Alumni Tool, and getting connected to professional organizations/U of M alumni.

Join a Student Group
Get involved with a Student Group. Under categories, select “Political and Social Action” to find groups that match your interests. Here are a couple examples of groups that might be of interest to you: Advancing Urban Health Equity; All Campus Elections Commission; American Constitution Society for Law & Policy; CivicDuty at the University of Minnesota.

Gain Research Experience
Undergraduate research is valuable for anyone thinking they might pursue graduate study.

Take Courses
There is not one major or minor that will prepare you for this field as there are many pathways into this professional area of interest. Below is information about undergraduate classes, academic majors and graduate coursework related to this field. Note: these lists are not all-inclusive.

  • Recommended undergraduate courses: Choose coursework in Writing and Speaking, Problem Solving and Analytics, Leadership, Understanding Human Behavior and Social Justice/Human Rights. Research recommended pre-law courses at the U of M. If you are interested in working on policy issues related to specific populations, majors such as Chicano & Latino Studies or Gender, Women, & Sexuality Studies may be helpful.
  • Relevant undergraduate majors/minors: Economics, Philosophy, Engineering, Environmental Science, Political Science, History, English and Psychology. Minors include: Social Justice, Leadership, Business Law, and Family Violence Prevention. For a complete list, go to
  • Graduate coursework: To search for graduate programs go to
Advice From Employers

“Networking and experience. It is not always about the degree but what you do with your degree. Planning ahead before graduation to gain experience is a must. Find similar activities or jobs that pertain to what you want to build and start to build experiential hours. It can be in the form of volunteering, interning or job shadowing.” -Dakota County, representative