Veterans Receive Hiring Preferences for Paid Federal Internships
Using your GI Bill for college or a training program? Did you recently graduate from a school or training program? Are you a veteran working toward an advanced degree? If so, you have a hiring preference that can put you on the fast track to a paid federal internship or fellowship.
Federal internships allow veterans an opportunity to smoothly transition from a paid internship into a federal job without re-applying or competing.
The 3 Programs: 2 Internships and 1 Fellowship
The federal government offers two types of internships and a fellowship through the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Pathways Programs. The three programs are:
- Internship Program
- Recent Graduates Program
- Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program
Each hiring agency designs and administers their own Pathways programs based on OPM guidance. Applicants must demonstrate the necessary qualifications in their application package to be considered for a positon.
For the selection process, according to the OPM Pathways Program website, “Agencies must apply veterans’ preference in accordance with the procedures outlined in 5 USC 3320 and 5 CFR 302, as well as any applicable agency-specific policies.” The same veteran hiring preferences that apply to federal jobs, apply to federal internships.
Federal hiring agencies can set up their OPM Pathways Programs to allow interns and fellows who successfully complete their programs to be hired into term or permanent positions without competition or re-application.
That means, depending on how the hiring agency sets up the program, it is possible to go directly from a paid internship or fellowship into a federal civil service job.
You can find current internships by typing “pathways internship” in the search bar on the USAJOBS website. Not all federal internships convert to jobs. If the internship is set up to allow conversion to a job, the details and requirements will be included in the agency’s job announcement.
Each of the Pathways Programs addresses a different part of the veteran population.
Pathways Internship Program
Designed for students enrolled part or full-time in accredited schools or training programs, the Internship Program allows veterans to work part or full-time in a paid temporary position related to their academic career goals or job interests.
Participants sign an agreement with the hiring agency that covers what is expected of the intern. You can find federal internship positions with various agencies posted on USAJOBS.
Recent Graduates Program
The Recent Graduates Program allows hiring agencies to offer paid internships to people who have graduated from an accredited school within the last two years. The internship can be full or part-time. After signing an agreement setting out expectations for the internship, participants receive mentoring, individual development plans and a minimum of 40 hours of training per year.
Veterans have up to six years to apply to a Recent Graduate Program if military obligations kept them from applying within two years after graduating.
Hiring agencies post Recent Graduate Program internship opportunities on the USAJOBS website. To find open positions, type “recent graduate” into the search bar.
Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program
The Presidential Management Fellows Program is a two year leadership development program for students pursuing advanced degrees. According to OPM, students must “demonstrate academic excellence, possess management and leadership potential, and have a clear interest in and commitment to public service.” OPM announces the opportunity to apply for the program around late summer or early fall.
If selected, you will receive extensive career support and at least one developmental assignment. The PMF website says, “After successful Program completion and job performance, the PMF may be converted to a permanent position (or, in some limited circumstances, a term appointment lasting 1-4 years) in the competitive service.” You can learn more about this program on USAJOBS under “Students & recent graduates.”
As a veteran, you can be on the fast track to an internship with the federal government that turns into a job you don’t have to re-compete for. Whether you are attending college or training program, just graduated, or want a career in the federal sector, OPM Pathways Programs help answer the question, “What’s next?”