Student interns head back to college to tout Energy Department

A second class of student ambassadors have completed their internships with the federal government, and six of them will return to their college campuses talking about the Energy Department.

Of the 30 participants in the 2009-2010 Federal Service Ambassador Program sponsored by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, six college students were enrolled in a new Energy Department-specific internship. Energy's program is the first department-specific program coordinated between the government and the nonprofit.

During the next two years, Energy will have to fill more than 800 engineering jobs, according to the Partnership for Public Service's latest annual Where the Jobs Are Report published in September 2009. To meet that challenge, department officials believed they had to go beyond traditional recruiting methods, so they teamed up with the Partnership for Public Service's Federal Service Ambassador Program.

"We wanted to market and brand the Department of Energy in a more progressive way, but in such a fashion that is more interactive with the public, rather than just doing it via Web or e-mail, or waiting for people to come to us," said George Waldmann, director of employment solutions division for Energy's Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer. "It's kind of two tier. First, we want to get them interested in a government job, and then get them interested in working for DoE."

The Federal Service Ambassador Program, created in 2008, provides stipends of $2,200 to students to promote federal government services on their campuses after their internships are completed. So far, 45 interns have completed the program.

Six student interns worked at Energy this past summer, and now are receiving stipends from the nonprofit's program to promote the department on their respective college campuses. The internships included statistical analysis as well as international relations, and students worked with Energy officials involved in drafting international treaties relating to energy use.

"We have some ambassadors who have an engineering background, some in mathematics, some in international relations," Waldmann said. "It's diverse, because the mission of the department is diverse."

Tim McManus, the Partnership's vice president for education and outreach, said the program is modeled in part on Teach for America, the nonprofit teaching program that has been phenomenally successful at recruiting recent college graduates to work as educators across the country.

"They're specifically promoting the hard-to-fill jobs at Department of Energy," McManus said. "We think it's really a low-cost alternative to full-time government employee recruiters."

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