If you’re interested in applying the skills that you’ve cultivated in grad school to a career in public service, there are many options available to you. In addition to opportunities to work in the federal government, students interested in public service should consider applying to work for the California State Auditor, an agency that ensures that public funds and programs are administered and managed effectively and efficiently. Working at the Auditor’s office will give you the opportunity to dive deep into the details of a wide variety of issues in public policy, travel around the state, and promote the well-being of the people of California.
While you may think that getting a job as an auditor would require you to have a degree in accounting, the California State Auditor hires people from a wide variety of educational backgrounds. In fact, Andrew Green, Associate Director for Graduate Students and PhDs at the UC Berkeley Career Center, argues that students in the humanities and social sciences have a good deal of experience that is directly applicable to a career with the California State Auditor. As Green notes, the reports that the Auditor’s office produces require the ability to do the following:
- Identify and define the core issues at hand
- Seek out, review, and analyze the relevant information (that may come in many forms), and
- Synthesize it all in written form where a theory/argument is presented and then buttressed by supporting evidence.
However, Green points out that there is an important difference between the grad school experience and writing a CSA report: “This research is carried out not by an isolated individual, but rather as a member of a collaborative team.” Additionally, Green emphasizes that the stakes of the CSA’s work are very different from the work of a graduate student, as these reports “often have a material impact on public policy as carried out by the largest state in the nation (and the world’s 5th largest economy).”
If this sort of collaborative analytic work in the public service sounds interesting to you, then consider signing up for the California State Auditor’s online exam. If you achieve a sufficient score on the exam, you’ll be eligible to submit an application in the next hiring window (which will likely open in March or April of this year). If you make it all the way through the competitive hiring process, you’ll be able to make a real impact in the lives of people throughout the state.
David Bratt is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and a Professional Development Liaison in the Graduate Division.