Home Career Services Four tips for finding a federal internship

Four tips for finding a federal internship

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Two years ago, I immersed myself in the world of federal internships. I waded through over one hundred agency websites, compiled a database of hundreds of federal student programs, and sought to learn everything there is to know about federal internships—which agencies have them, the differences between agency programs, and, perhaps most importantly, how to get a federal internship. While the federal government’s pseudo-comprehensive job resource, USAJobs.gov, has a sister site for students, USAJobs.gov/StudentJobs, which boasts valuable resources for both students and educators, it fails to capture every student opportunity available at any given moment in time. That is, while federal law requires that agencies publicize all vacancies for full-time permanent positions (many of which are advertised via USAJobs.gov), no law exists which requires agencies to do the same for internships. This means that while some agencies may choose to use USAJobs.gov as a means to advertise student vacancies, many do not. In turn, this fact can make it difficult for students to find vacancies unless they know where to look or have connections within a given agency. There are a few things students can do, however, which should help ease the burden of finding a federal internship.

  1. Contact field offices in your area or region. While some agencies may have centralized the recruitment process for internship positions, you cannot assume that all agencies rely on their respective headquarters for internship applications and a new, qualified class of interns each year. In light of this, it is important that you contact agency field offices in your area or region. In most instances, field offices will have the most up-to-date information about local hiring initiatives, future or current vacancies, and application deadline dates.
  2. Peruse agency websites. Agencies will often tuck away information about internship opportunities in some corner of their website. In light of this, it is important that you search agency websites exhaustively not only for information about internships, but for contact information, application deadlines, and possible vacancies. If the website directs you to contact an email address with general inquiries—do it. It could allow you to discover the name and the email address of that agency’s internship coordinator.
  3. Use the correct search terms when using USAJobs.gov. The truth is different agencies list vacancies for student positions differently. When searching USAJobs.gov for student positions, search using the following search terms terms: “co-op,” “cooperative,” “summer,” “spring,” “winter,” “fall,” “student,” “intern,” “internship,” “STEP,” “SCEP,” “volunteer,” and “trainee.”
  4. Contact your career services office in the case of any speed bumps. If at any point during the search process, you hit a dead end or hiccup or you have any questions, always remember that your career services office has individuals prepared to reach out to agencies on your behalf with questions. AMU and APU students are always welcome to contact careerservices@apus.edu with specific questions regarding federal internship opportunities.

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