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Getting Started: Careers in National & International Security

Bookmark SPL’s Career Resources page to stay ahead of your career or internship search. On this page you will find …

Deep Dive—Begin your job search by identifying employers that are a close match for your interests, skill set, needs, and education—SPL’s list of career sites and of employers (that is, those that have employed SPL alums) below can get you started.

Focus First—Because there are hundreds of fields, agencies, companies, and locations for national and international security employment, if you are not clear on what you are looking for, you could get swallowed by a black hole of open job announcements. When listing what you’re looking for, consider not just your skill set and education, but what inspires you, what employment trends there are, and where SPL students are being successful. By doing this, you can focus your search to a few types of careers. Also consider the work environment, location, and conditions you are looking for—Do you want to move to Washington, DC? Will you consider overseas posts? Are you looking for flexible work hours?

Rational Research—The number of national security, counterterrorism, and development career sites out there can be overwhelming. This webpage will help you cut to the chase, but it’s by no means comprehensive. We list—a primary site you should bookmark—as well as individual department, agency, company, and organization career pages. But don’t forget to search via job and career fairs; online at LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook; and via the College of Law or Maxwell School career sites.

Network Knowledge—Keep building your circle of teachers, friends, colleagues, and SPL alumni who can help you with career ideas and places and people to contact. If you haven’t done so already, create a LinkedIn page that is a reflection of your resume and begin forming connections.

Résumé Review—Your résumé should be a “living document” that is tailored for each job you are applying to. LinkedIn is a good place to record the basics of your career path, but you must customize your resume each time you apply for a job—scan an application for keywords and competencies that you can highlight in your résumé.

Critical Keywords—These days, your résumé’s keywords MUST match the language used in the job description in order to get you past first-level screeners (which can be “bots” in some cases). In the first round, many employers will award your résumé points based on keyword matching, but points also can be awarded by noting military service, disabled status, school service, and volunteer work related to the job.


Career Search Resources

SPL Panel Discussion: “What National Security Lawyers Do?”

Tailor Made—Although you should keep a general record of your career and education somewhere (we suggest on LinkedIn), don’t submit a one-size-fits-all standard resume to a wide variety of positions. Tailor each resume to a specific job description.

Custom Fit—Your custom résumé should mirror language used to describe the position. Carefully review the position description, focusing on the “duties,” “qualifications,” and “requirements” sections and include keywords and key phrases in your tailored résumé.

Clear Focus—It’s better to spend time and space emphasizing and re-emphasizing areas where your experience or education overlaps with the duties and qualifications listed in the announcement than merely listing every place you have worked.

Numbers Game—Numbers impress, especially when they “show” leadership and change agency (rather than your résumé “telling” these qualities). Percentages, numbers, and data can describe the specific impact you had in a particular job (“under my leadership, social media engagement increased 200%.”) Highlight money saved, time saved, and processes expedited. Be sure your statements are accurate and can be backed up.

Details, Details—Provide as much detail as possible, but be concise. Wordy or irrelevant information will only confuse the reader. When tailoring your resume, delete education or experiences that do not relate to the position.

In Context—Do not assume the reader is familiar with organizations you have worked for. Provide context when appropriate, but omit unnecessary details: the quality of the information is more important than the quantity.

KSA—Some jobs also may require you to submit a Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities document, or KSA, which usually includes an essay. To get the most points on these essays, you should provide specific anecdotes that show how you successfully demonstrated certain skills in past jobs.

Go Beyond—Include skills and achievements that go beyond your work experience and education. Think about activities that might also qualify you for a job, such as volunteer experiences, unique projects, awards, certificates, and subjects mastered.

Know the System—Some organizations use online application systems and may require an online résumé in addition to a paper or PDF version. If you have any questions about what documents to send, contact the agency’s human resources representative for clarification.

Check Please!—Don’t forget to edit and proofread your résumé. Better yet, get a friend or a colleague to do it for you, so that fresh eyes see your work.

Also …

  • Use short declarative sentences, avoiding the first person (e.g., begin descriptive sentences with a verb: “Demonstrated legal skill …”).
  • Use bullet points rather than long paragraphs.
  • Simple formatting is best—common typefaces, clear headings, normal margins.
  • Use specifics whenever possible—numbers, actual tasks, project titles.
  • Be careful of AREs (Acronym Rich Environments)—don’t assume your audience will know what an acronym means; spell them out in full and describe them whenever appropriate.

GoGovernment Resume Tips

A Guide to Careers & Internships is the official search engine for federal jobs and internships (often called “Pathways” programs—see below). Nearly all government job and internship openings are posted on this site and each job/internship announcement includes details about duties, minimum qualifications, basic benefits, and application instructions.

Setting Up—Before searching on, set up your account, which you will need when applying for a job. If you wish, you can begin to store tailored résumés within your account (but be careful about treating these as “generic” résumés—every job you apply for might require a customized résumé).

And/Or— uses a keyword search. It’s important to combine and refine keywords for the type of job you are looking for, so that you avoid scrolling through hundreds of jobs. You do not have to use Boolean search terms on this site (and/or/not); rather, string keywords together, as in this example: Intelligence Law Legal Counsel Attorney. For internships, add the keywords intern internship pathways. The advanced search function can help you refine your search by excluding certain keywords, as in a Boolean search.

Location, Location—Before searching, decide where you are willing to be located. includes a location search to further refine results.

Getting Closer—Other search refinements can be made on the search page, including refining by salary, GS grade level, and department/agency.

Job Alert!—A useful feature, you can save a well-refined search string and set up a RSS feed to give you alerts when a suitable position is posted.

Paper Chase—Job applications might require that other documents be uploaded—such as a college transcript, DD‐214 (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty), or KSA essay (Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities)—or that additional forms be completed, such as biographical data pages or assessment questionnaires.


Go Government Guide to USA Jobs Help Center

Internship Sites

Here the SPL career resources page provides links to dozens of internships in the fields of national security, counterterrorism, defense, human rights, peacebuilding, and capacity-building.

Students & Grads: USAjobs Pathways Program

Career Sites

While not exhaustive, our list of federal, JAG, and consultancies, international organizations, NGOs, and not-for-profits job sites will help you get started on your career or internship search. In many cases, these organizations have hired SPL alumni in the past (see break-out box below).

FEDERAL CAREERS FederalGovernment US House Employment Information

Don’t forget to sign up for email alerts at the sites above, and others!

US Department of Defense

DOD Careers

Air Force



Marine Corps

Marine Corps Intelligence Department

Defense Intelligence Agency

Defense Logistics Agency

Defense Threat Reduction Agency

National Defense University

US Department of Homeland Security

Customs and Border Protection

Federal Emergency Management Agency (NOTE: sign up for FEMA job alerts here.)

Office of Intelligence and Analysis

US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT)

US Coast Guard

US Secret Service

US Department of Justice

DOJ Careers Page

United States Attorneys

Office of Justice Programs

FBI Jobs

US Department of State

DOS Careers

DOS Available Jobs

Bureau of Counterterrorism

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

Bureau of Diplomatic Security

Bureau of Intelligence and Research

Bureau of International Organization Affairs

Bureau for International Narcotics & Law Enforcement Affairs

Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs

Bureau of Political-Military Affairs

Foreign Service Institute

Office of Global Criminal Justice

US Agency for International Development

Other Federal & Intelligence Careers

Intelligence Careers

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Department of Energy Office of Intelligence

Department of the Treasury Office of Intelligence and Analysis

Inland Revenue Service

National Air & Space Intelligence Center

National Reconnaissance Office

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

National Geospatial Agency

National Security Agency (NOTE: The NSA runs an Honors program that opens up every August, accepting applications from 3L national security law students.)




NGO Job Board


Arnold & Porter

  • Anti-Corruption
  • International Law
  • Mass Torts
  • National Security
  • Privacy and Data Security

Baker, Donelson

  • Defense Policy and the Law
  • FEMA Dispute Resolution
  • Privacy and Data Security

BAL (Berry, Appleman, & Leiden LLP)

  • Immigration Law
  • Global Migration
  • Government Relations

Compass Rose Legal Group

  • Security Clearance & Polygraph
  • Whistleblower

Covington & Burling LLP

  • Anti-Corruption
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data Protection
  • Immigration Law
  • Mass Torts
  • Privacy and Data Security

Crowell, Moring

  • Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
  • Government Relations
  • Israeli Relations

Dentons US LLP

  • Anti-Corruption
  • Sanctions
  • Immigration Law
  • International Law

Foley, Hoag

  • Human Rights Law
  • Immigration Law
  • International Law
  • Privacy and Data Security
  • Sanctions

Hogan, Lovells

  • Government Relations
  • Immigration Law
  • IT Law
  • Privacy and Data Security
  • UAS Law

Kennedy Law & Policy

  • Cybersecurity
  • Facilities Security
  • Maritime Security

Saul Ewing, LLP

  • Cybersecurity and Privacy

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, & Flom LLP

  • Cybersecurity and Privacy
  • Mass Torts
  • National Security

Wiley Rein LLP

  • Cybersecurity
  • Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
  • Privacy and Data Security
  • UAS Law
  • Whistleblower Actions


Catalyst Partners

  • Government Relations
  • Homeland Security
  • Critical Infrastructure
  • Risk Management

Kennedy Law & Policy

  • Cybersecurity
  • Facilities Security
  • Maritime Security

PwC (PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLC)

  • Aerospace and Defense
  • Chemical Security
  • Cybersecurity


Get Published!

But first, some reading …

  • This resource is about submitting law student articles for publication and is by University of Missouri School of Law professors. It includes a chart of the policies of 194 law reviews with respect to whether they will publish student articles, comments, etc.
  • This essay is by Lawfare‘s Jack Goldsmith, who teaches at Harvard Law. He asks, “Why write for the public in law school?” A useful piece for a young legal writer to read.

Some Writing Venues

Several journals and writing competitions have sent Calls for Papers to SPL in the last few years, indicating that they encourage submissions from students and practitioners in the fields of security and counterterrorism:

Links and information about these and other security, international affairs, and development journals can be found at our Academic Resources page.

SPL Employers

Just some of the organizations that have employed SPL alumni since 2003. For more detail, visit our Alumni & Students page.

Bureau of Diplomatic Security

Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs

Centers for Disease Control

Central Intelligence Agency

Cyber and National Security Unit, US Office of Management and Budget

Executive Office of the US President

Federal Communications Commission

FEMA Recovery Directorate

Foreign Service Institute

Government Accountability Office

House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade

Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT)

International Security Assistance Force, CJIATF-Afghanistan

National Nuclear Security Administration

National Security Agency

National Security Council

Nuclear Risk Reduction Center, US Department of State

Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs, US DOD

Office of the Director of National Intelligence

Office of Foreign Assets Control, US Department of the Treasury

Office of Global Women’s Issues, US DOS

Office of the Inspector General, US DOJ

Office of the Principal Legal Advisor, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, US DHS

Office of the Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Policy, US DOD

Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), US AID

Office of War Crimes Issues, US DOS

Postal Regulatory Commission

Social Security Administration

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR)

US Department of State Bureau of Political-Military Affairs Office of Weapons Removal

US Agency for International Development

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims

US Environmental Protection Agency

US Global Leadership Coalition

US Office of Cybersecurity and Communications, US DHS

US Office of Personnel Management

US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

US Transportation Security Administration


Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention Implementation Support Unit

International Criminal Court

International Justice Mission

International Monetary Fund

International Organization for Migration

UN Development Assistance Frameworks

UN Development Programme

UN High Commissioner for Refugees

UN Joint Inspection Unit

UN Office of the Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth


The World Bank

World Food Programme


Air Combat Command, US Air Force

Bundeswehr (German Army)

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

Defense Intelligence Agency

Judge Advocate General’s Corps

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

NATO Allied Joint Force Command

NATO Cooperative Cyber Security Centre of Excellence

Naval Air Systems Command

Naval Justice School

Naval Surface Warfare Center

National Security Innovation Network

Operational Law Branch, Judge Advocate Division, US Marine Corps

Regional Command East, Afghanistan

Southern European Task Force

Striking Force NATO

US Air Force

US Army

US Coast Guard

US Maine Corps

US Navy

US Pacific Command


Airbus Group, Inc.

Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP

Blank Rome LLP

DevTech Systems, Inc.


Innovative Federal Strategies

Interos Solutions, Inc.

iSIGHT Partners

Lockheed Martin



Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC)

Seneca Solutions


Atlantic Council

Booz Allen Hamilton

Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security

Brookings Institution

CAMRIS International

The Carter Center

Catalyst Partners

Center for Strategic and International Studies

Chemonics International

Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Creative Associates International




Delta Resources

emissary LLC

Forcier Consulting

Institute for Defense Analyses

Institute for the Study of War

New America Foundation

North American Electric Reliability Corporation

Quadel Consulting Corporation


Roland Berger

Signal Group Consulting


Wittenberg Weiner Consulting


Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission

American Red Cross

Boulder Institute of Microfinance

Caritas Switzerland

Congressional Hunger Center

FHI 360

Global Health Action

Innovative Agriculture Research Initiative

International Justice Mission

International Medical Corps

The Jewish Federations of North America

Karuna Center for Peacebuilding

Konrad Adenauer Foundation

Near East Foundation

OXFAM America

Partners In Health

Population Services International

Reprieve UK

Robert H. Jackson Center

Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy

World Vision



American Society of International Law

Center for Health and Homeland Security, University of Maryland

Hanyang Cyber University

Hume Center for National Security and Technology at Virginia Tech


National Defense University

National Security Education Program

Potomac Institute for Policy Studies