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Native Hawaiian Policymakers are Needed

Federal policy affects Native Hawaiians and our homeland every day, but those policies are seldom informed, made or implemented by Native Hawaiians. Many of the people who study, set, and implement these policies have rewarding opportunities to serve the public, and the overall federal workforce would benefit from greater diversity.

To help Native Hawaiians learn more about public service and build careers in the public sector, OHA has initiated the Native Hawaiian Public Service Pipeline. This initiative consolidates information about different public service opportunities – from internships to Presidential appointments – so Native Hawaiians can make informed choices about what possibilities are right for them.

In order for this to work, OHA needs your help. Here are a few things you can do to kokua:

  • Read our page to familiarize yourself with public service opportunities and the partnerships OHA has built in this area
  • When you see an opportunity that matches someone your network, spread the word via social media and email
  • When you see an opportunity that could provide you with an opportunity to give back to the Hawaiian community and serve others, apply!

Internships: Commonly for undergraduate and graduate students, internships are one of the best ways for pre-career individuals to start building the skills, knowledge, and resume to get the job they want. Some public service internships are unpaid while others provide a higher monthly salary than the average job in Hawaii. Either way, internships are an excellent opportunity to begin a career in public service.

Fellowships: These are usually short term (from a semester to a year) paid positions for individuals with some level of education or knowledge in the area they work in. Compared to interns, fellows are expected to work with greater independence, are given more responsibility.

Federal Civil Service Opportunities for Students and Recent Graduates: The federal government is the largest employer in America, providing over 2.7 million jobs across the United States and in most foreign countries. Hundreds of thousands of baby boomers are expected to retire from federal service in the near future, so agencies know they need to do recruit and retain promising students and young professionals. The government’s Pathways Program focuses on three areas: the Internship Program, the Recent Graduates Program, and the Presidential Management Fellows Program.

Working on Capitol Hill: Members of Congress rely on specialized staff (aka “Hill staff”) to help them with the day-to-day business of being a legislator. Hill staff can influence which bills become laws, and how Congress conducts oversight of the federal government. Professionals with expertise in areas like law, public policy analysis, and media affairs may find great opportunities here, as will people with issue area expertise. Most Hill jobs aren’t advertised, but some are.

Federal Service for Mid-Career and Beyond: The federal government has a seemingly limitless number of jobs at all stages of responsibility. Applicants can select from agencies that work on the issues they care about, focus on those with a greater presence in Hawaii, or both.

Presidential Appointments: To run the government, the sitting President appoints over 5,000 men and woman who work across the executive branch. Appointees range from Cabinet Secretaries to personal assistants, providing options for young professionals and senior executives. In partnership with the White House, OHA has developed a Presidential Appointment Project to increase the number of Native Hawaiians ready and interested in this type of service.

Federal Advisory Boards and Commissions: For many of our best and brightest, it’s not currently practical for them to leave their ohana and the ‘aina in order to take a full time job outside of Hawaii. Native Hawaiians who fall into this category can consider applying for federal advisory boards, commissions and other groups that allow you to stay in Hawaii while traveling a few times a year to advise the federal government.

Working for Native Tribes and Tribal Organizations: There are over 560 federally recognized Indian tribes and Alaska Native Villages and Corporations. Many tribes faces challenges similar to ours and much can be gained by learning from each other’s successes and mistakes. Professionals can work on Indian reservations or in the Washington DC offices of national tribal organizations.

Advocacy Organizations and other Nonprofits: There are many other opportunities to serve others and contribute to the formulation, creation, and implementation of public policy.

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