Resources for Early Career Scientists

Published Sep 20, 2014

Table of Contents

Interested in a career in science policy, or using your scientific background to serve in the federal government? The following are examples of resources, job sites, fellowships, internships, and training programs that may be useful as you explore your career path. The Union of Concerned Scientists is not associated with the following organizations or resources. If you have questions about the links, please contact the source directly.

Careers in Science Policy

For additional information, see: Science Policy: A Career Guide to Policy Careers for Scientists, from the Alumni Network of the California Council on Science and Technology.

Becoming a Federal Scientist: A Guide to Applying for Jobs, Internships, and Fellowships

General Resources for Applying to Federal Science Internships, Fellowships, and Careers

  • A-Z Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies. Provides a list and link to home webpages for all U.S. government department and agencies. 
  • Congressional Research Service. The Congressional Research Service has compiled a comprehensive list of internships, fellowships, and other opportunities available in the Federal Government. 
  • GoGovernment from the Partnership for Public Service. Offers a wide range of advice for applying to Federal positions from searching for the right position on to negotiating a final offer. 
  • GovLoop. Free trainings and resources are provided on a suite of government topics and issues, including tips and advice for prospective applicants. The webpage includes regular postings featuring Federal job opportunities across multiple agencies and at a variety of skill levels. 
  • Office of Personnel and Management’s (OPM) Hiring Information Webpage. This webpage provides information on multiple topics regarding Federal hiring, including hiring authorities that are available to persons with disabilities, veterans, students, and interns. 
  • OPM Pathways Program. Many students will likely find internship and fellowship opportunities via the Pathways Program. The pathways webpage provides information on its programs, an FAQ, and a list of opportunities available within participating federal agencies. OPM provides three pathways for students depending on their interests and eligibility: the Internship Program for current students, the Recent Graduates Program for students who graduated for qualifying institutions within the past two years, and the Presidential Management Fellows program for students with advanced degrees.  
  • Partnership for Public Service’s Federal Hiring Advice. The Partnership for Public Service offers several resources that provide guidance to those seeking a position in the federal government. Among their multiple resources, they outline some of the benefits for working for the Federal government and provide a how-to document for navigating
  • Princeton University’s Federal Government and Job Search Guide. Provides tips for searching and applying to Federal jobs and internships. Provides advice on how to format and develop a resume when applying to Federal positions.
  • USA Jobs. The students and recent graduates section of USA Jobs provides a wealth of information on current federal job opportunities and advice for applicants. The Virtual Student Federal Service allows students to browse a list of government projects they would be interested in working on and connects those projects to the actual job description and applications back on 
  • Workforce Recruitment Program. This program, managed by the US Department of Labor and Department of Defense is a recruitment and referral program that connects students and recent graduates with disabilities to federal and private-sector employers. The workforce recruitment program provides a number of resources including sample Schedule A Letters and a FAQ about the program. 


  • Follow @SciPolJobs on Twitter for jobs, internships, fellowships, and other paid opportunities in science policy. Not on Twitter? Not a problem. See a real-time Twitter feed of @SciPolJobs on the Engaging Scientists and Engineers in Policy website.
  • ACS Career Navigator, by the American Chemical Society. Resources in professional education, career services, leadership development, and market intelligent resources, plus job postings for chemistry-related positions.
  • Career Center, by the American Geophysical Union. Resources include job postings, career advice workshops and webinars, and stories from geoscientists about their career paths. 
  • Public Health CareerMart, by the American Public Health Association. Job postings, a Career Resources Center with tips. Career coaching and Online Profile Development services for a fee.
  • Job Search, by the National Society of Black Engineers. Search for positions by job function, industry, job type, education level, state, major, career level, region, and years of experience. Create job alerts about specific positions, and upload your resume to the site. Includes a resource library on professional development, coaching services, and an Ask the Experts section. 
  • OITE Career Services, by the National Institutes of Health. Can search a large number of public health-related positions by keywords and state. 
  • Versatile PhD. Oldest, largest online community for PhDs transitioning out of academe. Free resources: "PhD Career Finder" tool describing PhD careers by discipline. Those affiliated with subscribing institutions (see list on home page) get additional content and features, including application materials used by PhDs to get their first post-academic jobs (resumes, cover letters, etc.), long-term stories of PhD success outside the academy, and a "Power Search" feature to identify good contacts outside academe.


  • AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships. Provides scientists and engineers with a unique opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills to national and international issues, while learning first-hand about establishing and implementing policy. Fellows serve yearlong assignments in all three branches of the federal government in Washington, D.C. 
  • AGU Congressional Science Fellows. Scientists, engineers, and other professionals serve in the office of an individual member of Congress or on a committee for one year. Fellows have the opportunity to impact public policy on high priority issues.  
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Fellowships. The CDC has multiple opportunities available for students who recently finished a PhD in public health and other health-related sciences. Positions are paid and appointments typically last 1-3 years. 
  • Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Graduate Fellowship Program, by National Academy of Sciences. 12 week fellowship in Washington, DC on science and technology policy. 
  • Graduate and Postdoctoral Opportunities, by US Department of Energy. Opportunities for undergraduate students through postdoctoral fellows, relating to renewable energy, engineering, environmental science, and other fields. Also information about available research grants. 
  • Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) STEM Fellowships. ORISE fellowships are paid and provide students with advanced degrees an opportunity to experience work in science policy at affiliated DOE research facilities and offices. Most appointments are for one-year with the possibility of extension. 
  • John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship Program. Administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Sea Grant Program, Knauss fellows are paid for one-year to serve in an executive or legislative office. Fellows receive experience in national policy decisions affecting ocean, coastal, and/or Great Lakes resources. 
  • John Bahcall Public Policy Fellowship, by American Astronomical Society. One year postdoctoral level fellowship, renewable for a second year, combining astronomy and policy advocacy. 
  • Research Associateship Programs, by National Research Council. Graduate, Postdoctoral, and senior level research opportunities at federal laboratories and affiliated institutions in the STEM fields.  
  • Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program. Smithsonian institutions provide several fellowship opportunities. The Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program is Smithsonian-wide and provides opportunities to conduct independent research or studies related to the institution’s collections or facilities for students with advanced degrees. Fellowship appointments vary in length from ten weeks to one year depending on the study and fellowship awarded and stipends are provided. 
  • Women’s Congressional Policy Institute Congressional Fellowships on Women and Public Policy Program. This fellowship is open to women who are pursuing an advanced degree or who have recently completed a master’s, doctorate, or professional degree with a proven commitment to equity for women. Fellows work for eight months in congressional offices as legislative assistants on policy issues that affect women. Fellowships are paid and provide a stipend for healthcare. 
  • White House Fellows Program. A limited number (around 15-20) of paid fellows are placed in Cabinet-level agencies, the Executive Office of the President, the Vice President’s office, or in smaller federal agencies for one year. 

Federal Internships

In-person training programs

  • Emerging Researchers National Conference in STEM: For undergraduates and grad students who participate in NSF HRD programs. Conference offers opportunities for students to enhance their science communication skills and prepare for science careers. 
  • Science and Technology Policy Program, through Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. The program organizes workshops, lectures, research projects, and conferences to bring attention to and help bridge the gap between science and public policy.  
  • NSPIRE IGERT Program (Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship), by Washington State University. This interdisciplinary graduate program offers traineeships to students pursuing their Ph.Ds. Training includes research on nitrogen cycling combined with science communication and public policy. Opportunities for internships in industry and government plus travel for relevant conferences are available. 
  • Summer Policy Colloquium (by AMS). 10 day intensive introduction to the federal policy process for 30-40 graduate students in the atmospheric sciences.