First-hand advice offered
By Amanda Heersink | University Communications
DENVER – The United States government is one of the largest employing bodies in the world with a wide range of jobs requiring a wide range of skills and education.
The CU Denver Women’s Resource Center (WRC), in conjunction with the Career Center and the Experiential Learning Center, on Tuesday hosted a ‘Women in government’ career panel at the Tivoli Student Center.
Carisa Weaver, coordinator for the WRC, said, “There is such a broad range of careers within the government.”
The panelists were (pictured above left to right) Nicole Huggins, Denver district director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs; Christine Vigil, environmental protection specialist with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Marzy Bedford-Billinghurst, director of the Women’s Bureau; and Duriye Powell, human resource specialist with the U.S. Department of the Interior-Bureau of Reclamation, Civil Rights Division, Diversity and Inclusion.
Panelists spoke about what it is like to have a job with the U.S. government, both the upside and the downside. Huggins said, “In every government job there is bureaucracy. You have to learn how to deal with it, but you also have a lot of power because of it.”
Vigil added, “I would call that bureaucracy a culture and you have to figure out what the agency’s culture is on your own. No one is going to tell you.”
Bedford-Billinghurst spoke about another difficulty of working for the government, “You work for the administration and it changes. It makes it difficult because you could have worked on something for three years but when the administration changes, you must change, too.”
Panelists also offered advice. “When you start out,” Huggins said, “you don’t have to have everything figured out – you can go with the flow and work on it on your way.”
Powell suggested to the audience, “Make use of your time in school. Get an internship, unpaid if that is all that is available. That experience is going to be so helpful once you graduate.”
The audience was able to ask questions of the panel, including best advice for what kind of internships to look for and how to break a barrier if you are already in an internship.
One final piece of advice echoed by the panel members was to never burn bridges. The world of government employment is small and word travels very quickly. A decision you make today could come back to bite you in 15 years.
For more information about jobs with the U.S. government go to www.usajobs.gov.