Aspiring federal interns just got a new tool to help them sift through hundreds of programs.
USAJobs, the federal government’s premiere online job site, has been listing opportunities for interns and fresh college graduates for years, though not every agency’s program is included. It’s why the Partnership for Public Service unveiled a tool Thursday that pulls from agencies’ websites and filters information by pay level, application deadline and agency.
The listings include professional opportunities for students and recent graduates, as well as government-sponsored academic opportunities.
“One of the biggest challenges for students is to better understand the full landscape of federal opportunities,” said Michelle Amante, vice president of federal workforce programs for the Partnership, in an interview. “We know that there are hundreds of additional internship opportunities that agencies use that are not posted through USAJobs, so students were missing a huge piece of the puzzle.”
Agencies often post their own information about specific programs, like the State Department’s FAIT Fellowship, on standalone websites that may not be included in broad databases.
Revamping the federal internship recruiting process has been a high priority for the government for some years as the number of internship programs has decreased and agencies have struggled to hire and retain younger workers in general. This year, the Biden administration tweaked its USAJobs portal to break out occupation-specific job boards and provided more mentorship and support for government interns through the Office of Personnel Management.
OPM also proposed regulations to reform the Pathways program, which would make it easier to convert interns into full-time employees.
Still, though, 7% of permanent full-time federal employees are younger than 30 compared with 20% in the broader labor market.
“Internships are meant to be a pathway to a job, and it’s discouraging for students if they go into an agency and have a great experience, become dedicated to that mission and then there are no opportunities for them to get a full-time job with the agency,” Amante said. “Traditionally agencies will use their open slots for more mid-career or advanced placements, and obviously we need to bring in experienced folks into federal government. However, most agencies are not being strategic about building their early career pipeline.”
Amante said the Partnership encourages agencies to reach out to advertise an internship program they’re recruiting for and said that the website will be updated quarterly to reflect new openings.
Molly Weisner is a staff reporter for Federal Times where she covers labor, policy and contracting pertaining to the government workforce. She made previous stops at USA Today and McClatchy as a digital producer, and worked at The New York Times as a copy editor. Molly majored in journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.