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How to Get an Internship at the US Department of Labor

When deciding on pursuing an internship in the private versus the public sector, many times students opt to work in the private sector. The US Federal Government provides optimal internship opportunities which today’s students can grow in and develop their professional careers. In 2010, President Obama signed Executive Order 13562, “Recruiting and Hiring Students and Recent Graduates.” This executive order created two new internship programs and also revised an already established one. Those programs will be discussed in this article as well as the steps to take on obtaining an internship with the US Department of Labor.

Basic Program Overview

The two new programs established through the 2010 executive order are the Internship Program for current college or university students and the Recent Graduates Program, which is for students who have recently graduated. The internship must take place within 2 years from the actual graduation date from a qualifying educational institution. The executive order revised the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program. This program is for students who had completed an advanced graduate or professional degree during the preceding two years. These programs are collectively called the Pathways Programs. According to the US Department of Labor, they “are streamlined developmental programs tailored to promote employment opportunities for students and recent graduates in the Federal workforce.” The basic goals of the Pathways Programs are as follows:

  • Improving the method of recruiting interns
  • Offering clear pathways towards internships for students
  • Affording valuable training opportunities for participants
  • Providing professional career development opportunities

1. Internship Program

The US Department of Labor (DOL) has specific requirements that interns need to fulfill in order to be qualified for the Internship Program. They are seeking the following requirements in candidates: 

  • Educated, creative, innovative and results-oriented individuals
  • Currently pursuing an undergraduate or graduate program in a variety of fields—economics, public policy, political science, business administration or management, international relations, accounting, medical, financial management, human resources, information technology/information systems, pre-law, and law. 

All candidates are considered based upon their current skillset and applicability of their education and experience. Invaluable workplace experience is provided while interns obtain real-world training in their current field of study. Internships are available seasonally in the spring, summer or fall or even year round. The internship programs are available for both part-time and full-time work. Once the internship is completed, the intern may be eligible to obtain a career in the Federal Government or a “career conditional position.”

2. Recent Graduates Program

This program is for students who have recently graduated within the previous two years of applying for the internship. It is geared toward providing developmental experiences in the Federal Government. Additionally, this program was established to create an avenue for promoting possible careers as civil servants for recent graduates. The program requirements are listed below:

  • Graduated within the previous two years of the beginning of the internship
  • Completed a vocational, technical, associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degree
  • Veterans have up to six years after graduation to apply for an internship.

All students will be considered based upon their educational experience and skillset.

3. Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program

The Presidential Management Fellows Program has been a staple in the Federal Government as an invaluable training tool for those candidates with advanced degrees (master’s or professional degrees). The Executive Order 13562 expanded the eligibility window for candidates. Basically, the program became more student-friendly by aligning it with academic calendars. That alignment allowed candidates who received a “qualifying advanced degree within the preceding two years to participate.” This directive also enables the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to establish specific eligibility requirements as well as set minimum qualification standards. It is expected that these new changes to the program will make the internship experience more practical and substantial for the interns.

How to Apply for an Internship

In order to apply for any of the three internships with the US Department of Labor, visit the Office of Personnel Management website. For a current listing of various internships and recent graduate jobs with the Federal Government and the US Department of Labor, visit USAJOBS.

Completing a successful internship with the US Department of Labor will provide an intern with invaluable workplace experience as well as offer career development opportunities. As discussed in this article, there are three different types of internship opportunities.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

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