October 27, 2023


The federal government offers many student internships—many paid. If you’re currently in college, high school, or trade school, you may be eligible. Students who successfully complete the program may be eligible for conversion to a permanent position with the government. Here are some general provisions:

  • The Internship Program is primarily administered by each hiring agency.
  • Agencies may hire Interns on a temporary basis for up to one year for an initial period, or for an indefinite period, to complete the educational requirement.
  • Interns may work either part- or full-time.
  • Each agency must sign a Participant Agreement with the Intern that sets forth the expectations for the internship.
  • An intern’s job will be related to the Intern's academic career goals or field of study.
  • Agencies provide OPM with information regarding their internship opportunities and post information publicly on USAJOBS.gov about how to apply for specific positions. As of this writing, more than 100 positions are posted for current students on the Federal Internship Portal.

In addition to paid internships, many agencies offer student volunteer internships, which are open to students in high school and college. They are offered by various agencies and have different application processes and deadlines. These opportunities allow students to gain work experience and explore career options, all while developing personal and professional skills. To apply for unpaid internships, you’ll need to contact the Human Resources office at the Federal agency or department where you wish to work. Historically, the Departments of Defense (Army, Air Force and Navy), Commerce, Health and Human Services, Interior, Justice, State, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs have utilized the largest number of student volunteers. Telephone numbers for Federal agencies can be found in your telephone directory under “U.S. Government."

In addition, some Federal agencies, such as the National Park Service and the Forest Service, have specific authorities to accept unpaidservices for specific jobs or functions. Individuals who are interested involunteering their services to the Federal Government should contact the agencyof most interest to inquire about specific opportunities.

The intelligence community (IC) also offers internships, scholarships, and co-op and other programs students in high school up through doctoral candidates. IC internship programs are paid; salary is based on your education level. Some internships may also offer paid time off, holiday and sick leave, subsidized housing assistance, and travel reimbursement. You can start to review possibilities here: https://www.intelligencecareers.gov/nsa/students-and-internships.

Looking to (maybe) go overseas? The State Department offers some overseas(and Washington, DC-based) internships. Many of these are paid as well: https://careers.state.gov/interns-fellows/student-internship-program/.

The above is not meant to be an inclusive list but just to provide an idea of the possibilities. The federal government is open for business and looking for YOU!

Nancy H. Segal
Certified Federal Resume Writer, Certified Professional Resume Writer, Certified Employment Interview Consultant, Master Career Director
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