A central piece of the Secretary’s Modernization Agenda has been to ensure that the Department attracts and retains top talent. In Fall 2022, the Department announced its transition to paid internships to help develop the next generation of leaders and foster a workforce that truly represents America.
Now, three cycles later, the Office of Global Partnerships has witnessed how the transition to paid internships has opened doors to skills development and networking for students of all socio-economic backgrounds. This progress is best embodied in the experience of our former Spring 2023 intern, Viviana Gonzalez, an American by Choice, who began her college education as a 24-year-old. She graduated with an M.A. in International Relations from The City College of New York last month. When I asked if she would have applied to the Department during the previous unpaid internship cycles, she responded:
“No, working for free is not sustainable when you pay out-of-pocket for school. People of color often face systemic barriers and disparities in access to resources and opportunities. By offering paid internships, organizations create a level playing field where individuals can compete based on their skills and qualifications, rather than their financial circumstances.”
Viviana expressed how valuable she found the networking opportunities, skills development, and access to mentorship she gained from her time as a paid intern. Special Representative Dorothy McAuliffe became her mentor and champion, helping her visualize a future with a seat at the table. During her time with us, she attended the 2023 Africa FinTech Summit where she heard from industry leaders about innovative solutions to address financial literacy throughout the continent—a topic she felt passionately about after five years as a financial services professional. More broadly, she learned about how the Department of State collaborates with the private sector through partnerships. In her own words, “by addressing financial barriers, providing skill development, and expanding professional networks, paid internships can help bridge the gap in access to career opportunities and contribute to a more equitable society.”
The Department’s DEIA Strategic Plan 2022-26 recognizes recruitment for diversity as a key priority in addressing equity at State. In doing so, the Department seeks to leverage internship and fellowship programs with a proven track record of increasing diversity. This includes increasing paid internships and examining the onboarding and conversion processes for interns and fellows, so the Department can retain exceptional talent.
The Student Internship Program is intended to expand opportunities for students in post-secondary degree programs to gain experience and insight into the role of diplomacy in advancing United States foreign policy objectives, and to be exposed to the variety of careers available at the U.S. Department of State and its diplomatic missions worldwide. By providing paid internships, the Department seeks to remove barriers for students who may not have the financial means to support themselves during an unpaid, volunteer internship.
The program considers all qualified applicants for 10-week internships.
Students must meet all the following requirements:
- Be a U.S. citizen at the time of application;
- Be at least 18 years old;
- Be enrolled in an accredited academic institution on at least a part-time basis, pursuing a baccalaureate or graduate degree;
- Be in good academic standing, with at least a 3.2 GPA;
- Be a college junior, senior, or graduate student with at least 60 credit hours completed;
- Students must be returning to school within 5 months of completing their internship in order to qualify for the program.
- Be able to receive either a Public Trust, Secret or Top Secret clearance.
- Have not previously participated in the U.S. Department of State’s Student Internship Program.
Students selected for the Student Internship Program receive pay at the GS-04, Step 1 level, which is currently $18.36 /hour in the Washington D.C. locality. They also receive housing accommodation and transportation to and from the office, whether in Washington, D.C. or overseas. Applications for the Summer 2024 Student Internship Program will open in early October 2023.
For more information about this opportunity and other internship opportunities, please visit: https://careers.state.gov/intern/student-internships/.