Department of Energy speaker explains strategies to obtain a government career

Matthew Hart

An executive from the Department of Energy gave insight Thursday night into how students could use their degrees to land a career in the federal government. 

Sarah Lynch, spokeswoman for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the Department of Energy, spoke at the Jackson School of Geosciences to explain the federal government’s continual interest in revitalizing its workforce by hiring new qualified people. 

Lynch said there are many different entry points into the federal government.

“The federal government communications outreach values teamwork, insight and people that like to think about complex problems and actually understand the idiosyncrasies,” Lynch said.

Working for the federal government also has benefits in terms of salary. Lynch said it is very feasible to double an entry-level salary in 10 years.

“The starting salaries are pretty darn solid.” Lynch said. “I doubled my salary in seven years. You’re not going to get that in the state, and you’re not going to get that in nonprofit. You also have to work really hard. I’ve never worked a 40 hour hour work week in my life – unless I actually had one of those days off."

Entry-level positions are accompanied by training on the job. Lynch said hired students can expect a learning curve every six months.

"What I learned in graduate school were super applicable skills, right?, but I was blown out of the park in the first year," Lynch said.

Some of Lynch’s work includes interviewing high-level government officials and evaluating operational plans with federal employees. Lynch said she evaluated contractor reports when they were trying to reconstruct the oil sector in Iraq. 

She said Department of Energy jobs promise rewarding retirement benefits.

“In terms of retirement, there is something equivalent to a 401K called the TSP whereby the government after a couple years matches what you’re putting in,” Lynch said. “That becomes significant after a while and is a great benefit as a federal employee.”

Government freshman Bernardo Daniel Paredes said he realizes the competitive nature of the job application process, but he was motivated by Lynch.

“It was encouraging to hear her say how much she loves her career,” Paredes said. “She believes you will not find a more powerful mission than the federal government agencies in which you apply.”

Published on March 1, 2013 as "Energy representative offers advice on careers". 

This article was edited after its original posting for clarity.