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Diplomacy in Action

Frequently Asked Questions


General Questions
Eligibility Questions
Application Questions
Contact Information

General Questions

What is the VSFS program?
The Virtual Student Foreign Service (VSFS) program is the State Department’s virtual eInternship program for U.S. college and graduate students, which is administered by the Bureau of Information Resource Management’s Office of eDiplomacy. The VSFS harnesses technology and a commitment to global service among young people to facilitate new forms of diplomatic engagement. You can read a bit about the history of the program and find links to Facebook and Twitter pages.

What is a virtual eInternship?
Virtual eInternships involve work that is done entirely remotely and through a computer. eInterns do not report to a physical work location at the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Commercial Service, and Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), or U.S. diplomatic posts abroad. Instead, eInterns work on projects from their dorm room, apartment, academic institution, or other location determined by the student. Watch the video to learn more.

How long are VSFS eInternships?
eInternships are for the duration of an academic year running from fall through spring semesters.

What kind of work can VSFS eInterns do?
VSFS eIntern duties and responsibilities will vary depending on the needs of the federal agency office or U.S. diplomatic post overseas and the types of VSFS projects identified. VSFS projects may involve research, contributing to reports on issues such as human rights, economics, or the environment. Projects may also be more technology oriented such as working on web pages or helping produce electronic journals. Students are expected to dedicate an average of 10 hours per week on VSFS eInternship projects. Past projects included:

  • Creating a forum for host country and American students to exchange their ideas, experience, and knowledge about environmental advocacy
  • Promoting student programs in the U.S. and civic engagement by using new media
  • Identifying and using journalism trends to reach out to students and young journalists
  • Expanding a post’s English learning and educational advising
  • Creating lesson plans on environmental conservation for schools in remote areas of the country

Are VSFS eInternships paid? Is there any employment benefits associated with being a part of VSFS?
eInterns are unpaid and not Federal government employees. They are not entitled to any employee benefits. A VSFS eInternship is an opportunity to build a relationship with U.S. diplomatic posts abroad and federal domestic offices to work on various projects to advance our nation’s diplomatic and developmental goals. eInterns will act as citizen diplomats to engage in our increasingly interconnected world. Because these eInternships are virtual, students can have a flexible virtual work schedule during the academic year, allowing both academic and eInternship goals to be met.

Do students get course credit for participating?
Applying course credit for participating in a VSFS eInternship must be determined by the student and the academic institution.

How many hours per week are students expected to spend on projects?
This will depend on the schedule to which the student and supervisor agree to at the start of the eInternship. The time commitment range per week is on average ten hours, however this could increase or decrease.

What happens if I am accepted but then cannot fulfill my obligation to complete my eIntern assignment?
Our intent is, of course, that both students and offices are fully committed to the VSFS eInternship program and have both the time and resources to commit to participation. Unanticipated or unexpected circumstances can occur both for the student and supervisor. We will address each situation on a case by case basis. Two possible outcomes include: 1) student resigns from the VSFS eInternship program; 2) student takes time off and then continues eInternship at a later date if supervisor agrees.

What kind of contact do students have with the State Department?
All communication is virtual – email, phone, web chat, document sharing platforms, etc. may be used. Each student will have at least one point of contact or supervisor to work with, report to, and from whom guidance on projects is sought.

Will a VSFS eInternship increase a student’s chances of securing a traditional internship and/or full employment with the State Department or other federal agency?
VSFS is not a formal recruiting tool. However, participants will learn about the State Department and the U.S. government through the program, and students will have experience working with employees, which might naturally make them a more knowledgeable candidate for future internships or employment with a federal agency.

How can I find out about traditional internships with the State Department, USAID, USDA, Commerce, or BBG?
The State Department Office of Student Programs has information on high school and college opportunities. Find out about USAID internship and other opportunities through the Careers site. USDA internship information is available through their Student Intern Program site and BBG has an Intern and Student Programs site for opportunities.

Who manages this program within the State Department?
VSFS is managed by the Office of eDiplomacy in the Bureau of Information Resource Management.

Eligibility

Who can apply to VSFS?
An applicant must be:

  • A U.S. citizen
  • A college or graduate/post-graduate student of freshman status or higher
  • A part or full-time student pursuing an undergraduate or graduate/post-graduate degree

Students will need access to a computer and internet.

How and when can I apply to the VSFS eInternship program?
Applications for the 2014-2015 VSFS program are now closed. Applications for the 2015-16 program will be July 2-22, 2015 on USAJobs.

Can I apply to VSFS if I am not a U.S. citizen?
The VSFS eInternship program is only for U.S. citizen students. Non-U.S. citizens may apply to programs available through the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) at exchanges.state.gov.

I am pursuing my masters in graduate school, can I apply?
Yes, college and graduate/post-graduate students of all years may apply.

Do I need to speak a foreign language to apply?
Not necessarily. Some positions require a language, others do not. The language requirement for each position is indicated in the position description summary.

Will I need to get a security clearance?
No, VSFS eInterns do not need security clearances. They will not be handling sensitive information nor will they have access to the State Department or other agency intranet or email system.

I will be graduating this winter. Can I still apply?
Since you will not be a student for the duration of the eInternship, applications will be considered on a case by case basis.

I will be studying abroad. Can I still apply?
Yes, so long as you meet the eligibility requirements of being a U.S. citizen college or graduate/post-graduate student.

I am a U.S. citizen studying at a foreign university overseas. Can I still apply?
Yes, so long as you meet the eligibility requirements of being a U.S. citizen college or graduate/post-graduate student.

Application Process

How do students apply?
Students will be able to apply to the 2015-2016 VSFS eInternship program July 2-22, 2015 through the USAJobs website. Applications for the 2014-15 program are now closed.

Where can I see a list of the available 2014-2015 projects and positions?
All project s for 2014-15 are here. You can follow the progress of the projects on VSFS Facebook and Twitter.

How many positions are available?
There are 323 projects for the 2014-15 year which means there will be at least 323 positions. Some projects are looking for more than one student. The number of available positions changes from year to year and depends on the number of projects generated by the State Department and participating agencies.

Do applicants have to submit a transcript or a resume?
You will be required to fill out the entire online application (www.usajobs.gov) that incudes using the resume builder on the site. You cannot upload or attach a resume. You must use the resume builder. You will also need to upload or fax a copy of your official or unofficial transcript (other documentation accepted if applicant is a first year college or graduate student) and write a statement of interest. Incomplete applications will not be accepted.

Do I need to write a statement of interest?
Yes, all applicants must submit a statement of interest in that section of the USAJobs application. The character limit is 2,500

Do applicants need a letter of recommendation?
No. Recommendations are not requested and will not be accepted.

How many positions may I apply to?
You may select up to three positions to which to apply. Carefully read the requirements to determine if you are eligible.

How are students selected for eInternships?
The VSFS team will refer qualified applicants to the submitting office or post for final selection. Depending on the position requirements, offices may wish to conduct phone interviews, ask for writing samples, or ask for an online design portfolio. Students are selected based on the content of their application package.

How will students be notified if they are selected?
The VSFS team (vsfs@state.gov) will email selected applicants as well as those who were not placed this year after the application period closes and selections are made.

If I am not selected this year, can I re-apply next year?
Yes, so long as you meet eligibility requirements (U.S. citizen and enrolled in college).

Contact Information

Contact: VSFS@state.gov
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Information Resource Management
Office of eDiplomacy

Date: 11/01/2010 Location: Washington, DC Description: eDiplomacy logo - State Dept Image


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