Federal internship frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Where can I find federal internship opportunities?
Please visit the Federal Internship Portal to learn more about internship opportunities. To apply for most internships, you can create an profile on USAJOBS and apply directly. Once you create a USAJOBS account, you can apply for any internship posting on USAJOBS. Other internships will require you to apply through the agencies’ respective websites.
Are federal interns paid?
The majority of internships are paid, but some are unpaid. Check the Salary section listed in the Overview section of each internship posting and reference the General Schedule (GS) salary table for specific salary information.
How long are federal internships?
Start and end times vary by role. Read the entire internship posting for details. Generally, internships are offered in the fall, spring and summer and may last eight—12 weeks.
Are internships in-person or virtual?
Is there a deadline to apply for internships?
It varies by internship. Each internship posting will list when applications are accepted, with most opportunities open for approximately two weeks. You must apply before the closing date listed in the Overview section.
What makes a federal internship different than an internship in other sectors?
The federal government is represented in every industry and field. We are the largest employer in the United States, with over 2.1 million public servants working to strengthen our nation. Internships offer a great opportunity to work alongside these experts, learn valuable skills, drive change and give back to our communities. A multitude of opportunities are available, offering the possibility to contribute in countless ways. Whether supporting scientists combating climate change, data analysts helping small businesses, assisting engineers in rebuilding America’s infrastructure or health care workers in fighting diseases, you can make a difference.
You could pursue a career in wildlife preservation, archeology, writing or editing, interior design, housing policy, cybersecurity or land rovers on Mars using next generation technology. Some internships may lead to permanent positions in the federal government. For example, students who successfully complete a Pathways Program internship may be eligible for a permanent job in the civil service. Each internship posting will specify if there are opportunities to move into a permanent position.
An internship with the U.S. government is a rewarding experience, and you will have the opportunity to work on real problems in service to the American people.
What are some permanent roles in the federal government?
The federal government is the country’s largest and most diverse employer in terms of positions. There are a large variety of jobs and roles across many different disciplines. Internships are a great way to see which of those roles fit your skillset. If there’s a field you’re interested in, you can likely find it in the federal government.
What application tips do you have for students interested in federal internships?
Review the specific job posting—especially the sections on how to apply, required documents and how your application will be evaluated—and allow plenty of time to complete your application. Some postings include assessments or questionnaires for you to complete and submit as part of the application package.
Make sure you list all courses, skills, projects, volunteer experiences and prior internships or opportunities that may qualify you for the job. In your resume and cover letter, highlight the areas of your experience that most closely match the duties and job description in the job posting.
What is the hiring process?
The hiring agency will start reviewing applications once the internship posting has closed. The posting will specify the closing date. The hiring agency will review applications and select applicants for interviews. After all interviews are completed, the agency will select one or more candidates and offer them the job. Final steps in the process may include a background check and possibly a more detailed security clearance depending on the position and nature of the work.
Can I apply for multiple internships?
Yes. This is generally done via multiple, separate job postings.
Do I need to be currently enrolled in college or university coursework to apply?
The Pathways Internship Program is for current students pursuing a qualifying degree or certificate at an accredited educational institution on at least a half-time basis. Check the internship posting for enrollment requirements for non-Pathways internships.
What is the interview process?
The hiring official or their designees can interview you by video, phone, in-person or in a panel format. Some agencies may require more than one interview round depending on the position and agency.
Where can I learn more about federal agencies and the work that they do?
A good place to start is the Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies, where you can find websites and descriptions of each agency’s mission.