Career Planning

What is the Pathways Internship Program?

Looking for a paid internship and a pathway to a career after graduation? Consider a Pathways Internship.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

April 11, 2022

What is the Pathways Internship Program?
Get details on the paid internship experience that could lead to a job after graduation.
The Pathways Internship Program is a prestigious opportunity for both high school and college students. It enables students to work with federal agencies and explore career opportunities with the government after graduation. Each internship experience is also paid. Nearly every branch of the federal government has a Pathways Internship Program, from the Treasury Department to NASA. With all of the opportunities available, Pathways Internships aren’t just limited to political science majors. These roles run the breadth of academic and career fields, meaning there is something for everyone.

Requirements for a Pathways Internship

Generally, requirements for a Pathways Internship are the same despite different branches, departments, and roles. To qualify, students must simply be:
• A U.S. citizen. • At least 16 years of age. • Subject to random drug testing. • Eligible to receive a Secret or Top Secret security clearance. • An eligible student for the entirety of the internship (this means that college students must be attending an accredited institution at least part-time, and high school positions require that they be currently enrolled in high school as well).
• A student with a cumulative GPA of 2.0 at the time of application and through the duration of the internship. To apply, students must submit a resume, current transcripts, proof of enrollment, and proof of veteran status if applying as a veteran, according to U.S. Department of State. Students can apply for open Pathways Internships at

Examples of Pathways Internships

Again, Pathways Internships cover a wide breadth of academic major and career interests. There’s even a job for art majors. Need proof? Check out this list from that covers job roles by college major. With that, take a look at some Pathway Internship experiences: NASA Pathway Internships You don’t need to be an aspiring astronaut to intern with NASA; they accept all majors and career interests. Though engineering internships are plentiful, NASA also needs students to intern in fields like public affairs, business administration, human resources and more. Interns with NASA walk away with practical experience, educational advancement, and a position on their resume at the “Best Place to Work in the Federal Government” by the Partnership for Public Service. U.S. Department of Treasury Pathways Internship You won’t just be counting money at the Department of Treasury. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency provides internship experiences in which students are making a meaningful impact on the Department as a whole. There are roles which explore economics, financial management, human capital, and information technology. Forestry Service Pathways Internship Do you love the great outdoors? Or have a passion for the National Parks? You may want to consider a Pathways Internship with the Forestry Service. Not only do you get to spend most days outdoors, you’ll also be making an impact for the country and the world through conservation efforts as well as preserving cultural and historical resources.

After the Pathways Internship Program

It’s called the Pathways Internship for a reason. It not only provides valuable learning experience throughout your high school or college career, but it creates a pathway to a job after college with the federal government. Eligible graduates are able to take a position within the federal government that lasts anywhere from one to four years. In order to be “converted” from an intern to a full-time position, interns must: • Complete at least 640 hours of work experience though the program. • Complete their degree or certificate requirements. • Meet the qualification standards of the role. • Meet agency-specific requirements for the role as well as the department. • Perform their job successfully. Interns that demonstrate exceptional academic and job performance may waive up to 320 hours of internship experience in order to shift to a full-time role, but those cases are rare.

Similar Experiences with the Federal Government

Have you missed the timeline for the Pathways Internship Program? Don’t worry; there are more opportunities to work within the federal government for recent graduates. The Recent Graduates Program is open to college graduates who received their degree or certification within the last two years. After just one year of service, participants can either continue with a civil service career or move into the “private” sector. Either way, they have great work experience under their belt. Those with an advanced degree can apply for the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program. This program is “designed to develop a cadre of potential Federal Government leaders.” The program lasts for two years, at which point candidates can be converted into a more permanent position.

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