OPM’s ‘Intern Experience Program’ promises to standardize, improve agencies’ internship offerings
The plan is the latest in a series of initiatives aimed at boosting participation in internship programs at federal agencies and improving the government’s ability to recruit younger civil servants.
The Office of Personnel Management on Tuesday announced the launch of the Federal Intern Experience Program, an effort to standardize and improve internship programs across the federal government and better attract young people to careers in the civil service.
Reforming internship programs at federal agencies has been a priority for the Biden administration, following a decade in which the number of participants—and the number of those participants who were subsequently hired by a federal employer—plummeted. The administration has pushed to ensure all federal internships are paid opportunities, and OPM unveiled guidance for agencies to create “exceptional” internship programs last January. The federal government’s HR agency has also issued regulations making it easier to hire college students and recent graduates, and it created a new web portal within USAJOBS to help college students and other prospective interns find opportunities in government more easily.
In a memo to agency chief human capital officers Tuesday, OPM Director Kiran Ahuja outlined new governmentwide elements to agencies’ internship programs. The intern experience program will feature “self-directed training” and other webinars on general skills needed to succeed as a federal employee, mentorship opportunities with current federal workers, a series of speeches from senior executives, panels that go over the hiring process, as well as an intern hub featuring frequently asked questions, a calendar of upcoming events and other resources.
Ahuja said the goal of the intern experience program is to provide a “standardized, high quality professional experience” as well as training and support to help early career talent to succeed in their internships and explore the possibility of working for a federal agency after they finish their education. OPM is working on training materials and webinars to help supervisors guide interns through the new program.
“To help agencies make the most of these new resources, please help spread the word to your agency’s interns, supervisors and human resources specialists to share the exciting new opportunities available to them,” Ahuja wrote. “Your leadership is critical to inspire the next generation of government leaders, and to achieve our ambitious internship and early career talent goals.”