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Frequently Asked Questions: APHIS Intern Career Development Program

What is the APHIS Intern Career Development Program?
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Intern Career Development Program is an Agency-wide initiative to recruit college student interns using the Federal Government’s Pathways Program, which established programs for students and recent graduates. The overarching goal of the program is to develop participating student interns into successful APHIS employees. Outside of the day-to-day responsibilities related to intern positions, students will be part of a cohort, and will attend regular interactive meetings, work on group projects, partner with a mentor, and participate in trainings and other learning activities facilitated by the APHIS Intern Support Office (ISO).

What does it mean to be part of the cohort?
A part of the APHIS Intern Career Development Program, you will:

  • gain real-world understanding of the situations and issues facing Federal employees every day;
  • engage in a series of online and in-person training workshops focused on the APHIS mission and culture, career and leadership development, and teambuilding; and
  • have a strong support network to help you navigate your internship and eventual career path.

How do I apply to be a part of the APHIS Intern Career Development Program?
Interested students must apply online via  Link. Please note that you must have a USAJOBS account to apply.  In order to apply, you must:

  1. Be a U.S. citizen; 
  2. Meet any applicable educational and curriculum requirements of the internship program position for which you apply. These requirements, as well as the specific duties of the position, will be stipulated in each internship announcement and may include a wide range of majors or fields of study; 
  3. Be enrolled as a part- or full-time student and/or accepted for enrollment in an accredited college or university within the United States;
  4. Be in good academic standing; and 
  5. Agree to complete a minimum of 640 hours prior to completion of studies.

Why is this program year-round instead of just summers?
The type of professional development, mentoring, and teambuilding in the Career Development Program is designed to maximize the amount of time for interns to learn about APHIS and the work that we do.  Due to that, it is necessary to have students working in their positions all year.

I’d like to apply for the GS-3 position but won’t have 30 credits until the end of this semester.  Can I apply now?
Unfortunately not.  To qualify as a GS-3, you must have 30 credits completed at the time of application.
The same is true for the GS-4.  You must have 60 credits completed in order to apply.

My school doesn’t use semester hours or quarter hours - can I still apply?
Yes.  Your school’s registrar should be able to provide information about how your hours compare to a quarter or semester schedule.  If that calculation shows that you meet the 30 credit or 60 credit requirement to apply, then you can apply.

I am graduating in spring 2018 and want to apply to these positions.  How does my graduation affect my application?
Pathways Internships require you to be enrolled in school throughout your internship.  If you are graduating in the spring and are not already accepted into another academic program, you are not eligible for this program.  We suggest that you look for Pathways Recent Graduates opportunities, which are open to those graduating in the spring. 

If you have already been accepted to another academic program—going from an associate degree program to a bachelor’s degree program, going to graduate school, going for a 2nd bachelor’s degree, etc.—and can provide proof with your application that you are already accepted, you are eligible to apply.

I see that you have desired majors listed in the announcement.  What does that mean?  And what if I don’t know my major yet?

Desired majors are the fields of study that supervisors feel are a good match for the position, but you may still apply if you have not declared a major.  There are however some positions (Biological Science, Financial Management, and Information Technology) that require a degree in that field to qualify for a permanent position with APHIS after graduation.  

The announcement says these internships may be eligible for conversion to a permanent position.  What does that mean?
This means that if you successfully complete a Pathways Internship and meet the all the requirements, you may be offered a job with USDA-APHIS after you graduate.  

I want to be able to take classes during summer break.  Is that ok?
Yes.  To participate in the program, you are only required to work at least 16 hours a week.

I have not enrolled for the fall and I don’t know what my schedule will be.  Is that a problem?
No.  You need to be able to work at least 16 hours a week during the school year, but it is okay if you don’t know what your exact schedule is yet. 

What if I am enrolled in a program that is completely online?

As long as your program is accredited by an institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, you are eligible to apply.  If you are in a fully online program and are willing to move at your own expense to the duty location, you can also apply to any location.

I spend my summers in a different location than my school.  What locations should I apply to?
You should only apply to locations that you can be in year-round, which means that locations you apply to need to be close to your school.  If offered the internship, you would need to make arrangements to stay near your school/duty location during the summer as well as during the school year. 

What about housing costs?
APHIS is not responsible for and will not pay any housing costs.  If you need to find summer housing or would need to move to accept the position, you will need to do so at your own expense.

What about travel costs?
If you are moving to accept the position, APHIS will not cover those travel costs.  If you accept the position and are sent on official travel for training or work purposes, then your costs would be covered.

What benefits will I receive as part of this internship?

  • Paid employment as a Student Trainee, participation in the Federal Employees Retirement System and Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), and paid vacation and sick leave. Based on the length of the work periods, compensation may also include health insurance benefits.
  • The possibility of conversion, without further competition, to a permanent appointment with APHIS upon successful completion of Pathways Program, with required degree, training, and other work requirements. 
  • Full-time work during summer break, and a full-time or flexible part-time work schedule of at least 16 hours per week during the academic year.
  • Professional development, teambuilding, and mentoring experiences as part of the Pathways Program.

I will be attending a different school in the fall.  Are there any problems with that?
It depends on your specific situation.  Please contact the Intern Support Office at for further guidance.

How will I know if I am selected for an interview?
If you are selected for an interview, you will be contacted by a supervisor.  We anticipate that interviews will take place in February and March.

When will selections for these positions be made?
Selections for these positions will be made no later than mid-April. 

I have other summer commitments and will not be able to start an internship on May 27th or June 12th.  Why are those dates so important?
The teambuilding and development opportunities for the summer have been carefully scheduled so that interns in all locations can participate in as many as possible.  After June 12th, we will not be able to accommodate starting more people and trying to get them caught up on what they missed.

Where can I found out more about USDA or APHIS, or the specific programs mentioned in the announcement?
To learn more about the important work APHIS does, visit

If you have questions related to the APHIS Intern Career Development Program, please email the Intern Support Office at

I meet all the requirements and am interested in applying.  What documents must accompany my application? 
The online application system at will prompt you to answer self-assessment questions and to submit the following: 

  1. Resume; 
  2. Transcripts for all completed college work to date; 
  3. Proof of current enrollment and if applicable, a letter of acceptance to graduate school; and 
  4. A copy of your DD-214, if you are claiming Veterans’ Preference.

Additional supplemental information and documentation will be requested at a later date if you meet eligibility and initial application requirements.

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