Identifying an internship

Not sure about your career interests?  Trouble identifying your most 'marketable' skills?  Lack confidence in your motivation(s) for work in public service?  If you answer 'yes' to any of these questions or have trouble stating who you are, what you can do, and what you want to do next, you are like most of your classmates.  You may even panic, when friends and family ask, "What are you going to do with that degree?" 

The ASU School of Public Affairs assists students to answer career and professional development questions. An internship provides an opportunity to explore career interests through work-learning, while a student earns the Bachelors degree in Public Service Public Policy (BS, PSPP), pursues a designated concentration (like Emergency Management, Law and Policy, Sustainability), or a Masters degree in Public Administration or Policy.  Some benefits include:

  • the opportunity to put classroom learning (knowledge and skills) into practice, and
  • 'test drive'  student career interests and aspirations
  • discover the best work environment to contribute ideas and talent and generate positive results for your community. and
  • to bring workplace practices back to the classroom for further discussion of their application to create desired changes

In the self-assessment phase, you identify your career interests, marketable skill sets and work values, bringing them into your conscious thinking about the work you want to do, the skills you have to offer, and how to prepare (professional development) for the first and successive jobs and career of your choice, after-graduation.   

You can conduct self-assessment much the way you will conduct a job market assessment (in the 'seeking' phase).  There are formal and informal tools to get you started. An interest or skill inventory, like those found on the AZCIS website or StrengthsQuest, would be examples of formal tools.  If you are interested in taking one of these assessments, contact ASU Career and Professional Development -  Once on the site, hover over the 'students' tab near the top.  Slide down and select 'Major and Career Exploration" to see what tools are available for free or a nominal fee.  

Informally, you can use checklists of interests, abilities, skills or work values, even "action verbs for resumes" to create a personal inventory of career interests, marketable skill sets and work values (who you are, what you can do and what motivates you) that you can compare to the marketplace - Your assessment of position descriptions (desired skills and knowledge), mission and vision statements (organizational goals), and the projects and project leaders and managers (people) doing this work.  Then use these lists to focus your exploration and subsequently your professional development - classroom and work-learning (internship), participation in co-curricular activities and leadership, and community involvement/service.

Career Interests:

Consider or select 1-2 areas of interest and focus your self- and market-assessment on these.  A degree in Public Service/Policy prepares you for work in government, nonprofit and private sector markets.  A concentration or focused studies within your degree program (sustainability, healthcare, social services delivery, criminology, etc.) can also help you determine the best opportunities to fit your interests and skills.


Here are some typical areas of career interest for those with a degree in public service/policy:

Government Administration and Management  local (city, county), state and Federal levels; top management, as well as Division, Department, Program and Project administration. For someone who likes to organize, plan, coordinate or direct activities using information and ideas.

Policy-making and analysis – on issues such as criminal justice, public health, sustainability, environment, and technology. For someone who likes or is good at using information to solve problems, and likes making decisions, or influencing others.

Government Relations and Public Affairs – building relationships; public, private and nonprofit organizations.  For someone who likes interacting with others and using human resources or people to get things done, and has developed high-level written and verbal communication skills, and is also skilled at interpersonal communications

Political Affairs, Lobbying, and Consultation – legislative, economic and other community issues.  As with careers in Government Relations and Public Affairs, lobbying and consultation careers require high-level verbal and written communications and relationship building skills. For someone with interest and a passion to champion a cause, and the ability to use information to persuade, influence, negotiate and resolve conflicts.

Nonprofit Management and Advocacy – serving various issues and populations.  For someone with interest in both development and management of resources to solve problems, with decision-making, communications, and management skills. 

Law and Law Enforcement, Emergency Management, and Homeland Security - providing for the safety of others, individually and collectively. For someone who exhibits good judgment, a sense of fairness, and understanding of justice. Skills in interpersonal communication, planning and preparedness, problem-solving, task management and coordination are necessary.

Health Policy and Human Services Administration  serving various populations and communities. For someone with interest in helping others using information in decision- and policy-making, and the implementation of policy to ensure the health and welfare of individuals and community.

For additional information, check out the Career Interest Areas (CIA) section of the ASU Career and Professional Development webpages ( and

Ready for the next step? Click the button below.

Seeking an internship