What is the VSFS program?
The Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS) is an eInternship program for U.S. citizen students, college-level and above, to work on projects of global importance throughout the U.S. government. VSFS is managed by the Office of eDiplomacy in the U.S. Department of State’s Information Resource Management Bureau. Through VSFS, the government benefits from the energy and excellence of a new generation and U.S. citizen students help advance national priorities on projects all over the world. VSFS eInterns work remotely from their school, apartment, or other locations, reporting by email, phone, or video chat to mentors across government.
How many positions are available?
The number of available positions changes from year to year and depends on the needs of each agency. Some projects need one student, while other projects allow students to work on teams.
Who can apply to VSFS?
U.S. citizens who are enrolled as students in a full-time or part-time degree or certificate program, whether taking classes in-person or online, in the U.S. or abroad.
What kind of work can VSFS eInterns do?
VSFS eIntern duties and responsibilities vary. VSFS projects run the gamut. There is something for everyone, which is why we need students from every major and background.
How long are VSFS eInternships?
September through May (the academic year!)
Are VSFS eInternships paid? Are there employment benefits?
VSFS eInterns are not paid, nor are they federal government employees, so they do not receive employee benefits.
Do students get course credit for participating?
Individual institutions determine whether or not to grant course credit for VSFS eInternships. Many students have successfully negotiated course credit agreements with their schools.
How many hours per week are students expected to spend on projects?
Students spend on average ten hours a week on their projects.
What happens if I am accepted, but then cannot fulfill my obligation to complete my eIntern assignment?
Our intent is 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 for both for the student and mentor. 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 resumes the eInternship at a later date, if their mentor agrees.
Will a VSFS eInternship increase a student’s chances of securing a traditional internship and/or full employment with the government?
Some VSFS interns have gone on to secure a traditional internship with the government, but VSFS is not a formal recruiting tool. Students will, however, learn about the work of the U.S. government through the program and students will gain experience working with mentors, which could make them a stronger candidate for future internships or employment with the government.
NOTE: VSFS participation does not constitute official employment with the federal government. A VSFS eIntern awarded a Boren fellowship, for instance, does not need an official letter confirming his/her non-affiliation with the U.S. Government.
Who can apply to VSFS?
An applicant must be:
- A U.S. citizen
- “In student status” at an institute of higher education
An applicant may be:
- A part-time or full-time; undergraduate, graduate or PhD candidates
Can I apply to VSFS if I am not a U.S. citizen?
The VSFS eInternship program is only for U.S. citizen students.
I will be graduating this winter. Can I still apply?
Yes, as long as you commit to the full period of the project.
Do I need to speak a foreign language to apply?
Some positions require a language, others do not. The language requirement for each project is on the project description page.
Will I need to get a security clearance or background check?
No, VSFS eInterns do not need, and are not issued, security clearances. They will not be handling sensitive information.
How do I apply to the VSFS eInternship program?
Applications for the Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS) program are accepted every year from July 1-31 on USAJOBS.gov. There is only one VSFS vacancy announcement.
Where can I see a list of the available projects and positions?
Do applicants have to submit a transcript or a résumé?
You will be required to fill out the entire online application (www.usajobs.gov). You may create or upload your résumé, though it is recommended that you use USAJOBS.gov’s résumé builder when applying for projects. 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 or obtain references?
All applicants must submit a statement of interest in that section of the USAJobs application. The character limit is 2,500. It is important that this statement reflects you! We do not accept references.
How many positions may I apply to?
You may select up to three positions.
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 all applicants – those selected and those who were not placed – after the application period closes and projects are assigned.
If I am not selected this year, may I reapply next year?
Yes, as long as you still meet eligibility requirements (i.e., you’re a U.S. citizen enrolled as a student in a full-time or part-time degree or certificate program).
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Information Resource Management
Office of eDiplomacy