Virtual Student Federal Service
July means that applications are open for the Virtual Student Federal Service! If you are interested in student opportunities related to the foreign service, make sure to read through this blog post to learn more about the VSFS.
What is the Virtual Student Federal Service?
The Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS) is an eight-month, unpaid, remote internship program that runs from September through May. Students contribute (on average) ten hours of work a week. Through the VSFS, students have an opportunity to work on a unique project with one of more than 50 federal agencies. While the program is housed within the U.S. Department State with many projects offered by the State Department, other US federal agencies participate in this program as well. There are nearly 600 different projects and thousands of open positions, covering topics such as research and analysis work, app development, graphic design, and so much more.
What are the benefits?
This program is one of the largest virtual internship programs in the world! The VSFS is a great (and flexible!) opportunity for students, as it is remote and does not require a security clearance. For students interested in building their professional network, this program provides valuable connections to mentors, as well as to peers also interested in a future career with the federal government.
What makes me eligible to apply?
For starters, you must:
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Be a student, meaning that you are enrolled (part-time or full-time) in a college level or above degree or certificate program.
- If you are a December graduate, you are still eligible to apply but must maintain the commitment through the spring semester.
When do I apply?
Applications are open July 1-July 31 every year.
How do I apply?
Students can apply to up to 3 projects at once. The application requires the following pieces:
- A completed federal resume. Not sure how a federal resume differs from your current resume? Watch our video, the Insider’s Guide to the Federal Resume. You can also utilize the federal resume builder tool, available on www.USAJobs.gov
- A copy of your official or unofficial transcript.
- A statement of interest. This document is where you can express your interest and reasoning for applying to the three specific projects you have selected. You can view all of the open projects here. While you only have a short amount of space (3,500 characters) it is important to address all three projects, as this will be sent to each project you apply to.
Pro Tip: Create a draft of your federal resume (using the resume builder tool) as well as your statement of interest and then set up an appointment with a career counselor to have your materials reviewed.
Is there a best practice or strategy for selecting your top three projects?
The best strategy is to apply to projects that are truly of interest to you. Prior work experience is NOT required for this program. Project mentors are looking for candidates who demonstrate reliability, good judgement and a commitment to public service as well as those who develop personal statements that are error free. State Department officials have expressed to us the importance that students select projects they feel they can write about and contribute to according to their individual interests.
Have more questions about the logistics of applying?
Review the VSFS “How to Apply” page here.
What happens after I apply?
After submitting your documents, project mentors, who are the supervisors for the project, will review each candidate who applied to their project. Each project manager has their own selection criteria, and they are all encouraged to interview their top applicants before official selection, but not all project mentors conduct interviews.
When will I find out if I am selected?
Selections must be finalized by August 31, so students will hear back on their application status during the month of August. Project work will begin at the end of September. Notifications go out to all applicants in early September if not selected.
Pro Tip: During the month of August, do not ignore phone calls from unknown callers, especially if the area code is 202. This could be someone calling from a federal agency to conduct a short interview with you.