Student Civil Service Jobs Overview
Working for the Federal Government while in college, graduate, and/or post-graduate school is rewarding. It is also a win/win situation for both the student and the organization. For the organization, a student position depends solely on the organization’s need for, and ability to fund, that position. Student positions are not counted against the department’s finite number of positions allowed.
As the student, you need to think of your student employment as a government sponsored scholarship program — only the Feds set up this scholarship similar to the Works Progress Administration (WPA) of the 1930s where you work for your money. You do have to keep your grades above average.
Organizations select student new hires based on resume, grades, application, references, and interview. Like all places, if you know someone who works for the Government and likes you, ask her or him to serve as a reference. This includes people your own age. The form you fill out requires references.
Through the Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP), many students start in the clerical and office automation areas, especially for high school seniors and college freshmen and sophomores. Any student taking 6-credit hours or more qualifies for this program. Students attending accredited technical and vocational schools are also eligible to work as a STEP student.
There are career opportunities through the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) where you work for a department in your field of study. SCEP participation commits the organization to train you in your chosen career and, if your work impresses, your supervisor will hire you. For these, definitely check the Federal jobs by college major site. SCEP opportunities exist throughout and especially in some of our under-filled career fields like accounting, acquisitions, contracting, and procurement.
Agencies hire direct for the Federal Career Intern Program. You may need to contact your career guidance counselor, placement office, or teacher; and then contact the Federal agency employment office for details.
A good site for understanding employment in the Defense Department is Go Defense which lists the developmental intern programs for newly graduated students. Some of these require you to sign a “mobility” agreement stating you are willing to relocate. Most have you work in two to three different locations for you to gain experience and develop a world view as the Federal Government is a global organization. I know people who have interned through the Air Force Palace Acquire program and they thought it was a great skill builder that definitely helped them. Student teaching opportunities exist with the Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS) throughout the world.
In the research laboratories, scientists and engineers can take advantage of summer intern programs and other jobs; some of which help graduates work on their thesis. Go to the site of the research laboratory to find these programs. For example the Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate has a healthy Space Scholars program working new technology in space weather, satellites and all things space. Applications close mid January. Ask your instructors about these opportunities.
You can apply for other summer jobs through USAJobs.GOV. Most agencies use students for the summer in seasonal positions, like the Forest Service, or general office help. Check it out. If you live near a base or Federal Government organization, go to their websites. Often the summer hire program processes through the local human resources office.
I hope this helped you to better understand what the Federal Government offers for student employment opportunities. You can have a rewarding career with great benefits and some of the most amazing opportunities in the world when you work for the Federal Government. Part three of the series provides helpful steps to apply for a student position.
If you have questions, ask them in the comments section and I will attempt to answer. If I cannot answer, I will find someone who can or will send you to a website for the answer.
Good luck on your job search! Jan
HELPFUL Sites for Students
Careers in National Defense
USAJobs.gov Civilian site
USAJobs.gov Student site
U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM)
Avue Central’s Crack the Code and
Skills for Applicants.