Students seeking a way to gain valuable work experience and develop critical skills that employers need may want to explore opportunities with the Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS).
The VSFS is a nine-month unpaid remote internship program in which students work closely with a mentor at a government agency and complete designated projects. Penn State is consistently among the schools with the highest number of applicants.
A wide range of opportunities
Although VSFS is hosted by the U.S. Department of State, mentors from a broad variety of government agencies participate and offer internships. This year’s program includes internships with the National Park Service, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. Department of Labor, among many others.
A record number of 955 opportunities are available this year — and there is something for everyone, no matter what your interests, major, or career goals. The 50 participating federal agencies are planning to work with nearly 3,000 interns.
How the process works
Every year, employees from across the federal government register as “mentors” and submit projects for which they would like assistance from interns. In July, students then browse the hundreds of available projects, pick three that interest them most, and introduce themselves virtually to the mentors who posted those projects. Mentors select interns in August, and work begins in September. Students work approximately ten hours a week through the academic year. Virtual interns report to their mentors by email, phone, or video chat.
VSFS internships are open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are high school graduates and currently enrolled at least half time at a college or university.
How to get started
If you are interested in applying, follow these steps:
- Visit the VSFS website and click on the “Students: Start HERE” link.
- Click on “View Projects” to browse available projects. You can filter by agency or skill set to narrow the results.
- Go to USAJOBS.gov and register (if you don’t already have a USAJOBS account).
- Look up the VSFS vacancy announcement (available through the month of July) on USAJOBS.gov by entering VSFS in the keyword search.
- Apply to three projects before July 31.
- Check your email for offers in August!
Note: As part of the application process, you will need to prepare a personal statement. This is an important step, so take your time. While some mentors will conduct interviews with prospective interns, others make their selections based primarily on the personal statement.