Breaking into EPA

By Sophia Kelley

When I tell people I work for EPA, the first question they usually ask is how I got the job. How did a graduate of an MFA program in writing come to work for the federal government? One doesn’t usually associate creative, literary types living in Brooklyn with goliaths of bureaucracy. Yet here I am, and a little secret that will probably only serve to further distance me from my hip, freelancing neighbors – I love my job.

As fascinating as it is, my personal story isn’t often what people are really asking about; they’d rather get practical advice on landing a position like mine. For readers who know they want to work in public service and for people who appreciate the mission, but haven’t thought about a government gig, per se – there are several programs at EPA that help newbies break into the agency. The Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) is how I got my foot in the door of the public affairs division in New York. The SCEP program is competitive, but it is ideal for students because you can usually arrange the work hours around your classes and, unlike most other internships, it actually pays.

Once I graduated, I was lucky to be eligible for the Environmental Careers Program (ECP). ECP is a career development program that allows recent graduates the opportunity to learn about the agency through full-time employment. It involves a two-year assignment in a home office and several rotations to other offices that provide participants with a wider view of the agency while developing skills for their future careers.

In addition to these two programs, EPA offers several other career opportunities including research fellowships and scholarships. For more information, visit. For a comprehensive list of government positions, check out.  And, if you’re one of the rare ones interested in my personal story…stay tuned. In upcoming posts, I’ll be blogging on New York City environmental issues from the perspective of a bookish Brooklyn resident.