UWIRE: Federal government to revamp student internship program

The federal government is in the process of creating a new internship program to give students more opportunities to try out federal careers.

The new Pathways Programs will organize internships for both undergraduate and graduate students, according to an executive order signed by President Barack Obama.

It will replace the current Federal Career Intern Program on March 1, which was often used by agencies to circumvent hiring military veterans, who must be given priority for government jobs.

The executive order says the current federal hiring process discriminates against applicants who do not have previous work experience.

Students in high school, college and graduate school are eligible for these paid internships, as well as students who have graduated within the last two years.

The order also states the new program will help agency employers evaluate students on the job, to see if they will do well in future federal careers.

A December 2005 School of International Service graduate, who declined to be named for this story, was hired through the Federal Career Intern Program in April 2006.

He said he found his current job through the program, working to assist foreign militaries with counterterrorism aid.

“It’s very difficult to get a job at the Department of Defense right out of college,” he said. “If you’re not a veteran of the military, it’s very difficult to get a federal job.”

As an undergrad, he worked for a private sector firm in the Pentagon. He said the people at the Pentagon liked his work and brought him into the Federal Career Intern Program after his graduation.

He was hired directly into his current agency after the intern program ended.

He advises current students to look to consulting and contracting firms that work with the government while the new federal intern programs are still getting set up.

“I thought it was pretty helpful for getting started within government,” he said of his private sector job.