Internship is a system of on-the-job training for white-collar jobs, similar to an apprenticeship. Interns are usually college or university students, but they can also be high school students or post graduate adults seeking skills for a new career; they may also be as young as middle school students in some areas. Student internships provide opportunities for students to gain experience in their field, determine if they have an interest in a particular career, create a network of contacts, or gain school credit. Internships provide employers with cheap or free labor for (typically) low-level tasks. Some interns find permanent, paid employment with the companies in which they interned. Their value to the company may be increased by the fact that they need little to no training.
Internships and other student work opportunities are among the best-kept secrets when it comes to getting a leg up on landing a full-time job with the federal government when you graduate.
As with any type of job, the best way to find out if the federal government is for you is to try it out. But it’s not just a chance for you to test-drive the job—the internship also gives the agency a chance to see if they want to offer you a full-time job when you graduate. In certain programs you can even get school credit while interning during the summer or during the school year.
Do Your Homework
* Start with a general search to learn about the wide variety of opportunities. The Partnership for Public Service’s Internship Directory includes information on more than 200 federal internship programs and is searchable by agency, eligibility, location, and other factors. You may also want to check out studentjobs.gov for a list of some internship programs. This government-run site lists opportunities for temporary employment or federal internships. You can use this site to narrow their search to focus only on positions of interest to you. Students.gov also is a good government site to look for internship opportunities.
* Unlike with full-time job openings, federal agencies aren’t required to post their internships. Agencies sometimes only publicize internships on their own Web sites. You can find a complete list of agencies on usajobs.gov. The decentralized nature of internship programs means that you may be able to find other exciting opportunities by putting a little extra time into researching the agencies whose missions interest you most. Don't be afraid to contact an agency, if you don't find anything on their website or need more information, about internship/student opportunities. Ask for the Human Resources office.
* Before you wrap up your search, you should also consider checking out the many organizations that help place students in federal internships and jobs.
* Don’t give up too quickly! Even if the agency you’re interested in does not have any internships posted, offer to meet for an informational interview—it could lead to an actual internship.
Take Advantage of Every Opportunity
* Find a mentor (formal or informal) and get to know the staff in your office
* Attend info sessions, receptions, and events
* Network as much as possible
* Pay attention to the experiences and advice from interns in other offices
* Ask for letters of reference before you leave