Internships Success Stories

Crafting Success

Advice from a career advisor helped Food Science student Sierra Kuhn land a competitive national internship that clarified her long-term goals

Two students wearing hairnets and grey scrubs work in a commercial cheese-making facility
OSU food science student Sierra Kuhn and a fellow intern at work in the cheesemaking facility at Firefly Farms Creamery.

Some students enter college without a clear idea of what they want to do after they graduate. Not Sierra Kuhn.

The Food Science major chose Oregon State University specifically because she wanted to learn the science of cheesemaking, leaving behind her sunny home state of Arizona to enroll in OSU’s Food Science program. And when she learned of a selective national internship program that would give her the opportunity to get hands-on experience with a sustainable creamery, Sierra was determined to land it.

“I knew it was going to be really competitive, and I wanted to make sure I had my best chance at getting it,” she said.

So she took her resume, a draft of her application, and made an appointment with Katie Harvey, her university career advisor.

Katie is one of a team of career advisors at OSU. She provides career support tailored to students in the College of Agricultural Sciences, advising them on resume development, job searches, interviewing skills and more.

Katie and Sierra sat down together and worked on Sierra’s application for the Anne Saxelby Legacy Fund Farm Apprenticeship program, which places young adults into month-long apprenticeships based on sustainable farms.

“Katie helped me specify and tailor my application to the Anne Saxelby program. I’m bad at talking myself up, but she helped me create some better descriptions for the application.”

Sierra Kuhn, student, OSU College of Agricultural Sciences

After completing the application, gathering multiple letters of recommendation, and crafting a tailored resume and cover letter, Sierra still wasn’t sure she would get in. She was only a freshman, and the program, which offers lodging, work experience and a stipend, draws applicants from all across the United States.

“When I got the news that I got in, I was shocked!” Sierra said. “It was really competitive, but I got in.”

She was placed at Firefly Farms, an artisan creamery in rural Maryland. Firefly sources goat and cow milk from nearby Amish farmers and makes a variety of hard and soft cheese. Sierra’s apprenticeship involved working under a head cheesemaker to learn all aspects of the cheesemaking process.

“The work was very hands-on,” she said. “I was up every morning picking up fresh bags of chevre. I had learned about cheesemaking in my dairy process class, but I didn’t fully comprehend how much physical labor was involved until my apprenticeship.”

A student in a hairnet and scrubs is seen at work in a cheesemaking facility, visible through a window with a sign that says "Caution - Raw Milk Area."
Sierra Kuhn working in the cheesemaking facility at Firefly Farms Creamery.

After her summer in the apprenticeship program, Sierra realized she was most drawn to the behind-the-scenes aspects that go into food science – and that she wanted to explore opportunities in food science beyond just cheesemaking.

“I realized that there are other opportunities besides just being the one making the cheese,” she said. “They have all these recipes that guide the work. It made me realize I want to go deeper.”

One year later, Sierra has been accepted for a second year in the Anne Saxelby program, and this time she’s branching into a new aspect of food science, with an internship at Matunuck Organic Vegetable Farm in Rhode Island.

“I wanted to branch out,” she said. “I will be doing a lot of hands-on farming, and I’ll be learning about soil health and the microbes that help facilitate it.”

Sierra’s advice to other students considering applying for competitive internships?

“Apply no matter what!” she said. “The worst they can do is so no. Go for it, why not?”

Three ways to get help with internship applications

  1. Use Vmock, OSU’s online resume tool. Vmock will scan your resume and make automated suggestions for improvement.
  2. Meet with a career assistant. You can have scheduled or drop-in appointments with one of OSU’s trained peer advisors to work on your resume, cover letter, or other application materials.
  3. Meet with a college-specific Career Advisor. Each undergraduate college at OSU has a career advisor who can offer specialized career advice and insights. Make an appointment via Beaver Hub (find your career advisor under the Success Team tab in Beaver Hub).

Resume and cover letter tips

Job Shadow Networking Success Stories

Shadowing success

How OSU’s job shadow program helped Kyle Joy chase his childhood dream.

Kyle Joy, wearing an Oregon State T-shirt, poses with scientist Renee Bellinger. Bright blue skies, tropical plants, and a rocky landscape are visible behind them in the distance.

Kyle Joy loves rocks and volcanoes. Loves them so much that he left behind a 12-year career in restaurant management to study geology at Oregon State. His dream job? Getting paid to research his passions full-time as a professional geologist.

So when he saw a possibility to connect with an OSU alumnus who works at the U.S. Geological Survey by signing up for OSU’s Job Shadow program, Kyle was all in.

“I saw USGS and I just zeroed in on that,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to work in the USGS.” The fact that the alumni host for this job shadow worked in Hilo, Hawaii – a place where Kyle had family members living – made it even better.

A few months after learning about the job shadow program, Kyle was in Hawaii meeting with scientists at the USGS’ Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center and the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

“The amount of time and compassion all of them took to meet with me, it blows my mind. It’s been the most impactful thing to happen to me at this university.”

Kyle Joy, Geology student, 2023 Job Shadow participant

Now in its sixth year, the Job Shadow program matches OSU students with alumni and other working professionals who have successful careers in fields that the student applicants are curious about. Job shadows typically take place over the summer and provide students with the chance to observe life on the job, ask questions, and learn from the host they’re matched with.

Because Kyle had family in Hawaii, he chose to travel to Hilo and complete his job shadow in person. Most OSU students get matched with a host who works near where they will be spending the summer, or complete long-distance job shadows virtually, via video meetings and informational interviews.

Job shadow experiences can last anywhere from a half day to several days. In Kyle’s case, when his job shadow host, M. Renee Bellinger, learned of his passion for volcanoes, she found a colleague at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), Ken Hon, who was also willing to meet with Kyle. Kyle spent several days in Hilo, learning from both Bellinger and Hon. During his time with Hon, the HVO scientist asked Kyle to join in the HVO team’s morning meeting. 

“I was on Zoom with like 150 scientists,” Kyle recalls. “I talked for five minutes about who I was, and then he said ‘Would anyone else be willing to speak with Kyle?’ So many people raised their hands. It was an outpouring of willingness to help an eager student. I had to pinch myself.”

Personal connections like this are the one of the reasons OSU launched the program, according to Wendy Allison, External Relations Manager from OSU’s Career Development Center, who leads the Job Shadow program.

“The Job Shadow program is a fantastic way for students to start building their professional network now,” she said. “Coming out of the program, students are more confident and prepared for their future because of the connections and experiences that they’ve had.”

A photo showing layers of rock strata in the Hawaiian landscape, taken during Kyle Joy’s 2023 job shadow, shadowing geologists working in Hilo, Hawaii.

Back in Corvallis, Kyle is completing his geology degree, figuring out what’s next after OSU, and remains in touch with his job shadow host. 

“This program gave me consistent interaction and communication with an alumni in a way that feels meaningful and sustainable,” he said. “I would definitely recommend it.”

For the 2024 Job Shadow program, more than 100 placement possibilities are open to students, in fields ranging from forensic pathology to designing motion graphics for video games to cybersecurity consulting. Job shadow applications are open through May 3, 2024.

Learn more about the Oregon State Job Shadow program

Job Shadow program details

Possible host sites for 2024 Job Shadow participants

Sample questions to ask during your job shadow

Success Stories

Negotiation 101: career tips help an OSU grad land his dream job

Adam Sibley kneels on a riverbank holding a large fish.
Adam Sibley, an OSU graduate student in the College of Forestry, found a career combining his love of the outdoors with his skills in data.

Adam Sibley’s done a lot of things in his career: earned a PhD. Maintained climate stations in remote tropical rainforests. Co-authored peer-reviewed publications.

One thing he’d never done until this year? Negotiated a salary offer.

“Job interviewing and negotiating in particular make me very nervous,” Adam said.

That’s where meeting with his OSU career advisor, Britt Hoskins, came in. She provided tips that eased his doubts and helped him negotiate a competitive job offer with a company doing cutting-edge work in his field.

Step 1: Landing a job offer

Adam earned his PhD in plant ecophysiology from OSU in 2021 and then stayed on as a post-doc research associate with the College of Forestry’s Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society. Through his time at OSU and in previous jobs, he built up a unique skillset that focuses on the technical side of plant science.

“I found out about myself that what I am best at is working with electronics and hardware. Also software, writing code, working with equations. There is a place for people with those skillsets in plant sciences,” he said. “A lot of people in this field don’t really do the scripting stuff that I do.”

His expertise left him well-positioned when a friend of a friend reached out to him on LinkedIn and asked if he might be interested in a job with Chloris Geospatial, a Boston-based start-up that aims to impact the climate crisis by providing companies with cutting-edge climate data analysis.

He was thrilled when he was offered the job – it gave him a chance to continue his work in satellite image analysis and data science, plus it would allow him to move back to the east coast, where he is originally from. But he felt very unsure of how to ask for what he wanted after receiving the job offer.

Step 2: Asking for help

Luckily, he already knew Britt Hoskins, career advisor for the College of Forestry; she’d helped him adapt his academic CV to a résumé for a job in the private sector. He made an appointment with her again to talk through his negotiation questions. 

“Negotiating for a salary feels awkward. It almost made me feel ungrateful,” Adam said. “And I was thinking, ‘How am I going to negotiate with a CEO? I’ve never even talked to one before!’ But she prepared me for the negotiating process and it all worked out exactly how she said it would.”

Two takeaways that were key for Adam:

It’s okay to ask for what you want.

In his case, that was a delayed start date. His original offer included a start date of July 1, but he wanted to remain at OSU until August to wrap up his current work. Britt assured him that this was not an unreasonable request.

“When I told her what I had in mind, she said it was completely okay – they might say no, but I should still ask. She gave me the moral support that was very needed,” he said. 

Salary negotiation is normal, expected and typically follows a standard process.

Adam was worried that salary negotiation might involve a tense back-and-forth conversation in which he’d have to make a case for himself on the spot. Britt walked him through what a typical salary negotiation process looks like, and provided advice on a reasonable counter offer for his career field and level of experience. 

Her salary negotiation tips:

  1. Let the company provide you with a salary number first.
  2. When you receive it, tell them thank you and wait a day before responding.
  3. Follow up with your counter-offer and a short justification.
  4. Let them respond to your counter-offer.

“Without her advice, I would not have known that was the protocol,” Adam said. “She gave me really good advice and helped me find a reasonable target.”

Step 3: Nailing the negotiation

The result? He got the job, with a salary higher than the company’s initial offer, and the freedom to wrap up his work at OSU before starting his new job.

His tips to other students in the job market? Don’t be afraid to go after what you want, and seek out advice when you need it.

“Just talking things through with people is one of the most important things you can do. There are a lot of things about jobs that aren’t rocket science and that you already know – it’s the doubt that is the problem,” he said. “It helps to have someone talk to who will tell you, ‘Yes, you can do that!’”

Want to learn more about salary negotiation?

Career Fair Internships Success Stories

Internship exploration

Can an online search really lead to landing an internship?

Oregon State student Adam Henderson found that if you’re searching in the right places, it actually can.

Adam, a finance major, already had solid work experience and a foundation of coursework from the OSU School of Business when he began thinking about internships during his junior year. In the past, he had worked in retail, at The Home Depot near his hometown of Sammamish, Wash.

But as he pictured his options for the summer going into his senior year of college, he was hoping for something more directly related to his goal of a career in finance – and something that would allow him to stay closer to the connections he’d formed while in school.

“I was trying to get ahead, and I knew I wanted to stay in Corvallis if I could,” Adam said. “So I went on Handshake and started looking up job offers and internship offers in the Corvallis area.”

Handshake, a job and internship site designed for college students and recent graduates, allows students to personalize their job search experience, setting up custom filters for job types, locations, and roles they’re interested in. Handshake job postings are vetted for legitimacy before they’re made visible to students.

As Adam browsed through the Handshake listings that met his criteria, a position with State Farm Insurance caught his eye – it was local to Corvallis, it would give him relevant business and sales experience, and it was with a company he trusted.

Adam Henderson, wearing a black OSU polo shirt and khaki pants, poses in front of a sign that says "State Farm, Jim Kuhlman Agent"
Adam Henderson, a finance major at Oregon State, found a local internship via the Handshake job search tool.

“I have State Farm insurance,” he said. “I feel like it’s a very reputable company. So I thought, why not give it a shot?”

His application caught the eye of Jim Kuhlman, an independent State Farm insurance agent in Corvallis. After the application, Adam was invited for a phone interview, followed by an aptitude test and in-person meeting with Jim, where he was offered an internship with the agency. 

Six months in, Adam’s summer internship has been extended into the school year, and he’s still glad he gave it a shot.

“I’ve really enjoyed it and I’ve had pretty good success,” Adam said. “I’ve learned a lot about myself and how much potential I have.”

His internship involves everything from shadowing the sales team to working on marketing projects and meeting with customers. Through what he learned in his position with State Farm, he was even able to complete required state testing and is now officially licensed to sell insurance.

Now mid-way through his senior year, Adam is keeping his options open when it comes to jobs – he enjoys his work in insurance, but is also interested in careers in finance. Regardless of where his career takes him, he can already see skills he’ll take with him from his internship.

“The whole aspect of creating value is something we talk about a lot. When you’re selling insurance, a lot of times customers only think, ‘What’s the cost?’ You can break that down and go through it with them, but it’s really the value that sells the customer,” he said. 

“That overlaps into a lot of other jobs. When you create value for someone , they’re more likely to trust you and want to work with you. Learning to create and display the best value you can bring to someone is definitely something I’ll take away.”

Handshake internship search tips

There are thousands of positions posted on Handshake — here’s how to narrow down your options to find the internship or job that’s right for you!

  1. Use Handshake’s custom filters. Narrowing jobs by “location” (the cities you want to work in) and “job type” (part-time, full-time, internship) will help you key in on relevant opportunities.
  2. Use keywords. If you’re interested in any job that’s somehow related to “marketing” or “sustainability” but aren’t picky about the specific job title, do a keyword search on your filtered jobs. Handshake’s keyword search will search all text in job titles and job descriptions to find matches.
  3. Save jobs that catch your eye. When you hit “save” on a job posting, Handshake will automatically start showing you similar jobs next time you log in. It will also send you reminders about deadlines for jobs you’ve saved.

Learn more about getting started on Handshake.

International Students Success Stories

Persistence pays off: an international student’s journey to a job.

Minah Kim, ’22, BA in Psychology

Finding a job after graduation is a looming concern for most students in their final year of college. But for Minah Kim (’22), an international student, there was an added layer of pressure.

“Because I am an international student, the process of getting a job and being secure to live in the US is so complicated compared to domestic students,” Minah said. “If I didn’t have a job by the time I graduated, I might have to fly back home.” 

Minah, who is originally from South Korea, had lived in Oregon since the age of 14, first attending an international high school in southern Oregon, then Umpqua Community College, where she discovered a passion for psychology. She then transferred to Oregon State, drawn by the opportunities within the School of Psychological Science to gain a degree that would allow her to further her dream career – impacting the lives of children in need. By her final year at OSU, she had spent nearly half her life in the U.S.

“I built a close community here,” Minah said. “I am more comfortable here, more accepted here. I wanted to continue living in the U.S., wherever I ended up. My life is here.” 

With her goals in mind: finding a career helping children, and doing so within the U.S., Minah turned to Karla Rockhold, her College of Liberal Arts career advisor, for support.

“Karla gave me a bunch of websites and tools to look into that are specifically for international students,” Minah said.

“She also helped me with reformatting my resume and explaining how it should look, which really helped. And she helped me through practice interview questions. She sat down with me and helped me figure out word by word what I would say.”

Armed with new tools and resources, Minah felt much more confident tackling her job search, even with a looming deadline. 

“Working with Karla to prepare for my job search brought me comfort, because I’m not an expert,” Minah said. “This was my first time applying for an adult job!”

– Minah Kim, ’22, Psychology

Eager to have a job lined up before graduation, Minah began applying for jobs months before her graduation date – which didn’t always line up with the needs of the companies she was applying with.

“The hardest part of finding a job was the timing. I like to have things planned, I like to know what’s coming up, and I wanted to have the security so I could be at peace,” Minah said. “But if a company is interviewing you now, they want people now.”

Although she participated in multiple interviews over the course of her senior year, as graduation approached, she still didn’t have a job lined up. She did her best not to get discouraged, instead using each interview as a learning experience.

“Doing so many interviews, it provided me the time and opportunity to be more confident in the setting,” Minah said. “Your sentences become more fluent. They ask you similar questions. You learn to be more comfortable with yourself as well.”

Despite working to maintain a positive attitude, by the end of her last term, Minah was getting worried.

“I just kept thinking about how if I don’t have a job, I don’t know where I am going to be living,” she said. “It was a constant battle of waiting, working on my resume, and practicing interview questions. I’m doing all this, but at the end of the day I still don’t have a job. It was really hard to battle with that thought.”

The day of her last final exam at OSU, Minah was busy, frustrated, and stressed – she was studying, she was waiting to hear back about apartment possibilities, and she was preparing to welcome her parents, who were flying in the next day from South Korea for her graduation. And she was doing her best not to worry about the unknowns in her future. 

Turns out, her worries were about to be over. That very day, she got the news she’d been waiting for.

“That was one of the most amazing days. That last day I got my apartment, I got my job, and finished my last final!” she said. “It was pretty overwhelming, but it actually did work out. On the last day, it worked out.”

Minah Kim met with her OSU career advisor, Karla Rockhold, to help prepare for her job search.

Minah is now working as an early childhood educator with Family Building Blocks, an Oregon non-profit dedicated to providing preventative services at no cost to families facing overwhelming life circumstances. Minah works directly with young children and also builds relationships with parents, providing them with help and support. It’s exactly what she wanted: a career that allows her to help children and to stay near the life she’s built in Oregon.

Minah’s advice to other Oregon State students feeling pressure to find a job? Don’t give up, and take advantage of the career support at OSU.

“Use the resources you have as a student,” Minah said. “We pay for it! We might as well use it! Use the people here who can help you clean up your resume, don’t pay some random website to do it. OSU faculty are the best. I never met anyone who just does the job because it’s their job. They actually want to follow up with you and make sure you succeed.”

Job Resources for International Students

Working in the United States: information for international students from Oregon State’s Office of International Services

Tips for International Students for a U.S. Job or Internship Search: a guide from the Oregon State Career Development Center

Application Tips for International Students: a guide from the Oregon State Career Development Center

Resources for Interview Practice

Guide to Interviews: A complete overview of tips and best practices from the Oregon State Career Development Center

StandOut: OSU students can log in to practice interviewing on an interactive video interview tool

Sample Interview Questions: a list of common interview questions to review and practice answers for

Video Guide | Interview Like a Pro: this video from the Oregon State Career Development Center covers best practices for job interview success

Career Fair Success Stories

She took a chance at a career fair — and landed a post-grad job.

Isabel Nieman at a construction site, wearing a hard hat and safety vest, and giving the camera a thumbs-up.
Isabel Nieman, a 2022 Political Science graduate, found a job with the US Army Corps of Engineers after meeting a representative at an Oregon State University career fair.

Liberal arts and engineering don’t mix, right?

Not true for Isabel Nieman.

When Isabel attended a spring career fair at Oregon State University a few months before graduation, the political science major made a point not to limit herself when it came to networking. With a B.A. in Political Science, focusing on International Affairs, and a minor in Spanish, Nieman was confident she could bring value to a variety of organizations – it was just a matter of making the right connections.

“I treated the event as if I was interviewing the companies present, rather than have them interview me,” she said. “Also, conversing with all companies, no matter what they may have been looking for, was important, because you never know what opportunities might arise or what connections you can make.”

Nieman’s tenacity paid off. She walked away from the event with contacts at State Farm, Trex Co, and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) who were all interested in hiring her.

Aaron Riojas, the San Francisco-based U.S. Army Corps of Engineers talent specialist who attended Oregon State’s spring career fair, was initially looking for engineering students, not liberal arts majors. But when Isabel struck up a conversation with him about a shared experience (she’s from the Bay Area, and was familiar with the neighborhood where the USACE building is located), it led to further discussion about how her experience in international affairs might be useful to the Corps of Engineers.

Isabel Nieman in a graduation cap and gown

“You never know what opportunities might arise or what connections you might make.”

Isabel Nieman, ’22, Political Science

Now, Isabel works for the San Francisco District of the USACE, assisting their Public Affairs and Equal Employment Opportunity teams.

Her advice to other OSU students who aren’t sure whether they’ll find a relevant job or internship at a career fair: give it a shot!

“The people at the career fair were so nice, and the companies present were ready to hire and excited to get to know students,” she said.

Resources for making the most of a career fair

Tips for in-person career fairs

Tips for virtual career fairs

Networking overview, tools, and elevator pitches

See upcoming Oregon State University Career Fairs

Internships Success Stories

Q & A with a USGS Intern

Name: Josh Love, U.S. Geological Service Pathways intern at the Albuquerque Seismological Laboratory

Major: Geology

College: Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences (CEOAS)

Hometown: Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas

What did you do post high school, prior to becoming an OSU student?

I had a lifelong dream of becoming a professional skateboarder. After 20+ years of pursuing that dream, my first pro model was released by my favorite skateboard company (The Killing Floor Skateboards) in spring 2021.

Like most skateboarders, I have always worked random jobs while working on skate video projects in my free time.

I was a custodian/housekeeper for about six years, I worked in warehouses, restaurants, retail and rideshares. I dreaded having to work minimum wage jobs forever and decided to try out some college courses in 2017.

Black and white image of Josh Love skateboarding off a rail while other skateboarders look on.
Skateboarding was Josh Love’s primary passion until he decided to try out some college courses, and discovered a love of geology.

(Photo credit: Tal Roberts)

How did you find your way from skateboarding to studying geology?

My friend Jasmin, who works in environmental consulting, encouraged me to take a geology course at Portland Community College in 2018. My first geology professor, Dr. Lalo Guerrero, completed his PhD at OSU. His enthusiasm for CEOAS converted me into becoming a Beaver.

Tell us about your current internship.

The Pathways internship position is with the Albuquerque Seismological Laboratory in New Mexico. ASL is responsible for maintaining a large portion of the Global Seismographic Network.

At the lab, I am working on an experiment using broadband seismometers under the guidance of Dr. Robert Anthony and Dr. Adam Ringler. We are investigating how increasing the depth of a borehole seismometer attenuates unwanted noise in seismic data, which often comes form things like wind, anthropogenic activity, and variation in temperature and barometric pressure. I will be presenting our results at the American Geophysical Union meeting in December 2022, and will be finishing up my degree from OSU remotely from Albuquerque while continuing the internship.

Josh Love, wearing an Oregon State University T-shirt, uses a seismic instrument after an installation in the ASL vault
Josh Love centering the mass on a seismic instrument after an installation in the Albuquerque Seismological Laboratory vault.

(photo credit: Zeb Maharrey)

“The work challenges me on a daily basis, but I am learning a ton and I have very patient and supportive mentors.”

Josh Love, Oregon State geology student

How did you land your internship?

Toward the end of winter 2022 the Career Development Center hosted a panel of government scientists where they discussed how to get a job with the government, along with what it is like to work in government positions.

I have applied to many student trainee internships with the USGS prior to attending that panel and my application was always rejected before getting passed up to the hiring manager.

This time, I applied some of the advice that I received in that discussion about how to adjust my CV and cover letter, and later that week I applied to this internship. I ended up getting an interview and was offered the position.

See advice and resources for getting government internships

What other experiences helped you successfully get the job?

Aside from the information that I received while attending the panel discussion, I believe two other things were important for getting this internship:

  1. I stated very specific goals that I have in mind for graduate school in my application, and discussed how the skills I would learn at ASL would be valuable for graduate school.
  2. I have been working on an undergraduate research project at OSU with Dr. Jessica Creveling. We are investigating marine terraces in Newport, Oregon.

I do not come from an academic family or community, and Dr. Creveling has been incredibly encouraging and helpful when I need advice (along with many others, such as her entire lab group, Gabe Gordon, Emily Cahoon, and Andrew Meigs). I would not have received this internship position had she not given me such valuable research experience at OSU, as well as the confidence in myself to pursue things that are outside of my comfort zone.

What’s next for you? 

What I plan to do with my geology degree has varied throughout my undergrad, but working for the USGS at some point has always been at the top of my list. I am interested in tectonics and active faulting. I would like to research fault systems in order to contribute to Probablistic Seismic Hazard Analyses, ideally for a government agency.

I plan to begin grad school in fall 2023 to continue working toward this goal.

Resources for landing a government job or internship

Interested in pursuing a government job or internship? OSU’s Career Development Center can help you tailor your application materials to successfully apply to opportunities with state and federal agencies.

Downloadable info sheets

Tips for state government job applications

Tips for federal job applications

More government job tips

Job boards and search tools

Sample résumés (including federal résumés)


“Getting a Dam Job” is OSU’s signature career workshop series, designed to equip students with the skills they need to find jobs and internships. Topics vary each term, and workshops on getting government jobs are offered each year.

See this term’s Getting a Dam Job workshops

See all upcoming events

Panel Discussion: How Do I Get a Government Job?

Wonder how to get your foot in the government door? Tips for USAJobs? How to go from seasonal to full time? What a day in the life looks like? This Q&A discussion tackles questions from OSU students.

How Do I Get a Government Job panel discussion

Success Stories

She knew she had more to offer

Oregon State helped her find it.

When Marty Marrs started thinking about changing careers, she knew one thing: this time, she wanted to do something that mattered to her.

Marty graduated from Oregon State in June 2022 with a B.S. in natural resources. Prior to that, she spent 18 years raising a family, which she loved, and also working in administrative jobs, which she wasn’t as passionate about.

“I just knew I had so much more to offer, and so much more to give.”

– Marty Marrs, ’22, Natural Resources

That’s where Oregon State came in.

A web search led Marty, who was living in Georgia, to the B.S. in Natural Resources program, delivered online through OSU Ecampus in partnership with the College of Forestry (CoF). But she wasn’t sure how to turn an interest in the natural world into an actual career. A combination of online and in-person resources helped her connect the dots.

She attended a virtual job fair via OSU’s job platform, Handshake, and listened to a presentation from a company that did environmental consulting work. Although she wasn’t yet ready to apply to jobs, her interest was sparked. She used another of OSU’s online tools, Vmock, to review her résumé. Based on the feedback she received, she realized she needed additional help.

“I was not your typical student,” Marty said. “I was making a complete career change, and I was also coming off of 18 years of staying at home with my kids. There is a lot of value and wisdom that comes with that, but I didn’t know how to show that value.”

So Marty made an appointment with Britt Hoskins, the career advisor for students in CoF.

“Britt helped me completely redesign my résumé ,” Marty said. “She took the time to talk to me, to find out where I did have experience, and she taught me how to put that in a résumé form. She showed me how to incorporate my OSU classes, and the projects I did in my classes, to build up my résumé.”

Taking initiative

That wasn’t the only piece of career advice Marty took action on. After listening to a session from Britt on informational interviews, Marty took the initiative to request an informational interview with a company whose work seemed to align with her interests.

“I had never even heard of an informational interview before, but I reached out to this company, and said, ‘Hey, can I just talk to someone and get more information about what you do?’ Through that process, I learned that consulting was something I really am interested in,” she said.

Meanwhile, she continued to take a full load of classes through OSU Ecampus and also moved cross-country from Georgia to Oregon, to be closer to her daughter and closer to more companies in the environmental consulting field.

Zeroing in

As graduation approached in 2022, Marty began to pay even more attention to jobs and companies she was interested in. When she saw a position open up with Environmental Resources Management, a sustainability consultancy in Portland, she was interested but apprehensive.

“I had that typical concern, where I thought, ‘Oh, I can’t check all the boxes for all the qualifications, so I don’t know if this is going to work.’ But I applied anyway,” she said.

Again acting on her OSU career advisor’s advice, Marty took two additional proactive steps: she tailored her cover letter to the position and she networked in advance of her interview.

“One of the things I learned working with Britt is that the cover letter is your chance to explain everything to the employer,” she said. “I really just laid it all out there – this is why I’m here, this is what I’ve been doing, and this is what I can bring to the table.”

She also scoured LinkedIn for potential connections at ERM, and found one – an acquaintance she’d made through mountain biking who was happy to chat with her about working at the company.

The big news

Marty went through two rounds of interviews with the company. Even with all the networking, research, and preparation she’d done, graduation was looming and Marty still wasn’t sure whether she would land the job – until she got the news she’d been dreaming of.

“Oh my gosh!” Marty said. “I followed Britt’s steps, I did everything she said to do, and I got a job offer four weeks before graduating!”

Marty now works in what she describes as her “dream job” – a position that makes a difference. She’s an Impact Assessment Scientist with ERM, studying the ways that natural resources and human dimensions intersect in the environment. 

She encourages other students not to be shy about taking advantage of the career tools, resources, and services that OSU offers.

“To any other non-traditional student, don’t think that those job fairs or career services are not for you,” Marty said. “Use them. They absolutely are there for you.”