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Well-Paying, Dynamic Federal Internships and Special Recruitment Programs for Young Professionals | The Gov Gurus - Gov't Career Advice That Works

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Well-Paying, Dynamic Federal Internships and Special Recruitment Programs for Young Professionals

Posted on 04 March 2009 by admin

One of the best kept secrets in government is that federal employers sponsor hundreds of well-paying, dynamic internship programs for students and young professionals.  That’s right, even if you’re just starting your career, you don’t have to slave for free.

Federal internships are based all over the U.S. and available in virtually every field.  The timing and duration of federal internships vary from program to program: some internships are held during the summer; some internships extend throughout the academic year; and some special management programs for young professionals last one or more years.

Here is a sample of programs:

  • The Commission and Security and Cooperation in Europe: Students and recent grads spend one semester researching human rights, religious liberties, corruption and law, and free media; communicating with House and Senate offices about pending foreign policy initiatives; and assisting staff advisors with hearings and briefings; see
  • Congressional Budget Office Internships: Summer positions in Washington, DC, available to undergrads and graduates of advanced degree programs in policy, economics, health analysis, and public administration. See
  • Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Corporate Employee Program: College grads participate in a three-year internship program, which includes an orientation, rotations, on-the-job training, opportunities to earn certifications, and other activities to become Financial Institution Specialists. Financial Institution Specialists evaluate the practices, international controls, and management of financial institutions and their compliance with consumer protection, fair lending, and civil rights laws. For more info, type the program name into the search window at
  • Federal Trade Commission: Entry-level lawyers, economists, and PhDs conduct research, educate consumers, and the business community and enforce laws in a fast-paced and challenging environment. See
  • FBI Programs: Undergrads and grad students work with special agents on important cases in DC or forensics labs in Quantico, Virginia. One prestigious program recruits language students. See
  • Global Change Education Programs: Undergrads in the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience spend multiple summers researching global change in U.S. labs and universities, and participate in professional development activities. The Graduate Research Environmental Fellowship Program supports grad students studying global change. See
  • John A. Volpe Transportation Internships: Grad students in engineering, science, and social science alternate periods of work and study, or continuously work part-time in a world-class lab in Cambridge, MA. Interns work side-by-side with transportation leaders and receive a salary plus travel and up to $10,000 for tuition. See
  • Justice Department Programs for Lawyers: A highly competitive summer program recruits law students. The Attorney General’s Honors Program recruits entry-level attorneys. See
  • National Cancer Institute Health Communications Internships: Grad students work on health communications projects for six months near Washington, DC. See
  • National Gallery of Art Internships: Summer and year-round positions as curators, lecturers, and other positions in Washington, DC for college grads and grad students. See


Federal internships that are based overseas internships provide unparalleled opportunities to earn substantive, career-boosting experience addressing hot-button issues such as global warming, trade, and disaster relief.

All four Foreign Service agencies sponsor overseas internships for students and recent grads during the academic year and summer. These four agencies are 1) The State Department; 2) the United States Agency for International Development; 3) The Department of Agriculture; and 4) the U.S. Commercial Service.  In addition, the Association of Schools of Public Health also places interns in international positions in federal agencies.

Other agencies that sponsor U.S.-based internships addressing international issues include the African Development Foundation; agencies in the intelligence community including the CIA; the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe; the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, the Department of Health & Human Services, the FBI, the Federal Communications Commission, the Government Accountability Office, the Library of Congress, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, and the Voice of America.


Many federal internship programs are specially recruiting for minorities, women and people with disabilities.  In addition to paying excellent salaries, many of these programs cover travel and housing.  Here is a sample of such programs:

  • CIA Programs: Interns work with highly-skilled professionals and observe how the CIA contributes to foreign policy. Summer and year-round internships and scholarship/internship packages are available for undergrads and grad students who are minorities or have disabilities.  See
  • Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc., Programs: Undergrads work for Congressional Black Caucus Members in the summer.  See
  • Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Internships: Undergrads spend the summer and college grads spend nine months working for Congress in positions that offer dynamic assignments, interaction with high-level official, and professional development activities. See
  • Defense Intelligence Agency: Minorities, women, and people with disabilities who are undergrads and grad students are in demand for summer and year-round internships.  See See
  • Energy Department Programs for Minorities: 1) The Minority Education Institution Student Partnership Program: Undergrads and grad students conduct research and work on policy, business, and communications issues in nationwide labs and offices. They work side-by-side with leading scientists, engineers, and other top professionals to develop professional and leadership skills. See 2) The College Student Summer Internships for Native Americans at Sandia National Laboratories is discussed at 3) The Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship provides summer internships for minority students in science and engineering throughout the U.S. See
  • National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO): Students from historically and predominantly black colleges and universities are placed in federal offices during the summer and school year. Stipends, travel expenses, and housing are covered. See
  • Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science (SOARS): Does it get any better than this? Interns work in state-of-the-art labs in beautiful, groovy Boulder, CO, on fascinating scientific projects, are mentored by top scientists, and live in modern group housing. Activities include conducting research and attending science writing workshops and other trainings. This is a multi-summer program and salaries increase each year of participation.  See
  • Women’s Research and Education Institute for Women and Public Policy Fellowship: Grad students and recent grads who are committed to women’s issues work for 8 months in Washington, DC as Congressional aids. See
  • Workforce Recruitment Program for College Students with Disabilities: This program serves as a pipeline for undergrads, grad students, and law students who have disabilities into summer and full-time jobs throughout the federal government and private organizations.  See; type Workforce Recruitment Program into the search window.

Finding MORE Internship PROGRAMS

Almost every federal agency sponsors an internship program.  But unfortunately, most of these programs are not advertised on, and the federal government has not created a consolidated directory of its internship programs.

Find federal internships by using these resources:

  • How to Land a Top-Paying Federal Job (Amacom Books) by Lily Whiteman features a comprehensive, hyperlinked directory of internships and special recruitment programs for students and recent graduates as well as a directory of programs that are specially recruiting minorities, women and people with disabilities. The book is on sale on here.
  • Check the career sections of the websites of your target agencies.  A hyperlinked A-to-Z directory of agency websites is posted here. Also check the career sections of national parks, forests and marine sanctuaries and federal libraries, museums and federal research laboratories.
  • A list of science-based opportunities for students of all levels, recent grads, and post-docs is posted here.
  • More internship programs are listed on these sites:
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