Agencies of Experience: Potential government summer internships

Where do you see yourself after you graduate?

That question can be both terrifying and exhausting for an 18-year-old who is getting ready to head off to a college or university. All those years of school have been spent preparing for college, and before teens are even fully packed they are asked to contemplate a future that is four years away from beginning. It may also be an unfair question to ask because students might not have had a lot of work experience before they enter postsecondary education, limiting their knowledge about what fields or positions they find interesting.

What can students do to build work experience? How can they experiment within the job market without looking as if they can't keep a job long-term? Having access to summer internship programs may give students this opportunity. A number of government agencies offer summer programs where students can work an internship and perhaps find out what they are interested in pursuing while in school.

Internship opportunities

The Centers for Disease Control offers paid summer internships that may intrigue students looking for careers in public health or nursing. In order to qualify, students must submit an application, be enrolled in a two- or four-year college or university at least half-time, and be old enough to work for a federal agency. One of the internship opportunities may include working for the Indian Health Service as an administrative and office support student trainee. Responsibilities for this position can include making copies, filing documents, sending out mailings, handling telephone calls and greeting visitors.

The Department of State offers both paid and unpaid internships with their agency. The unpaid internship is for students who have completed at least 60 postsecondary credit hours. Successful applicants can serve in U.S. embassies located overseas or in offices in the U.S. The paid internship also offers the chance to learn what the Department of State does. Students who have aspirations of working in international relations or political science may be interested in applying. For more information on these internships please visit the U.S. Department of State website.

The National Park Service has many different internships that pay undergraduate and graduate students a stipend for summer work. Interning at the park service may ignite an interest in environmental science through chances to work with monitoring systems, research projects and taking inventory on NPS materials. One of the programs, the Mosaics in Science Internship, ends with a career workshop that takes place in Washington D.C. If nothing else, students can get a lot of fresh air working in nature.

The National Institutes of Health has an eight-to-10 week summer internship that allows students to conduct biomedical research. Applicants must be enrolled at least half-time in college courses. They must also submit a resume with a list of coursework, a cover letter with their research goals and two letters of reference. The internship offers a stipend for students who are chosen to participate. This could be a good choice for people thinking about earning a degree in biotechnology.

Fun in the sun

Many students may not want to give up their summer vacations, preferring instead to enjoy the fun and the chance to rest. However, the opportunity to try out different career paths while earning some money could give them a head start on understanding where their talents and interests lie. These internships can also look really good on a resume. For students interested in learning more please visit the USAJobs website (


Opportunities for Students and College Graduates, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,

Careers Representing America, U.S. Department of State,

Jobs for Students, National Park Service,