DoD career programs offer great perks to students, recent grads
(Photo: DoD)

The Defense Department is filled with hard-working folks from all ages and backgrounds, but it isn’t always easy to recruit the best and brightest, especially if they don’t know all of the options available to them.

With that in mind, the DoD created the Pathways Programs in 2010 to provide internship and employment opportunities in the federal workforce for students and recent graduates.

There are a lot of websites that detail these programs, such as the DoD’s Washington Headquarters Services careers website, and the website for the Office of Personnel Management. But here’s a breakdown of two of the Pathways Programs that could be most useful to students and recent grads.

Internship Program

Length of program: This varies on a case-by-case basis. For example, some programs can take place during university breaks, while others may last up to a year.

What it is: It’s paid work experience directly related to a student’s academic program and career goals.

What participants receive: Hands-on, real-world work training toward their career goals. It’s an excellent opportunity to network with government leaders in their industry.

Perks: Students can gain year-round employment and flexible work schedules and assignments, while the agencies they’re interning for get a first-hand chance to check out the abilities of a potential employee.
There’s no limit to the number of times a student can participate in the program, as long as they remain eligible.
YOU GET PAID. Did I mention that?

Eligibility: Participants must be enrolled (or accepted for enrollment) as a student in a certificate, degree or diploma program at an accredited high school, technical, vocational, 2- or 4-year college or university, graduate or professional school. You can also be working toward your GED.

Students must be at least 16 and meet the qualification standards for the position.

Recent Graduates Program

Length of program: One to two years

What it is: A career development program for qualifying recent grads to help students get their foot in the door for government civil service.

What participants receive: Mentorship, a map to track their career planning and professional development, and 40+ hours of formal, interactive training.

Perks: See below.

Eligibility: You must have completed a qualifying degree or certificate (associate, bachelor’s, master’s, professional, doctorate, vocational or technical) within the previous two years of your application.

Active-Duty Military & VeteransIf you have to go into the service after you graduate, you still can take part. If you got your degree on or after Dec. 27, 2010, you can still apply up to six years after you got your degree. You just have to show documentation of said military obligation.

Perks of Both Programs:

Students and recent grads get paid opportunities to work in agencies and explore federal careers.

If they complete all academic and work experience required by the programs, they might be noncompetitively converted to a job with an established career ladder. The requirements are as follows:

  • Complete at least 640 hours of work experience through the Internship Program or Recent Grads Program
  • Complete their degree or certificate requirements
  • Meet the qualification standard for the position to which the intern will be converted
  • Meet agency-specific requirements as specified in the participant’s agreement
  • Perform their job successfully

If you are converted noncompetitively to a permanent position with an established career ladder, the time you spent in Pathways counts toward your career tenure.

Long-term interns and recent grads can be eligible for federal health benefits.

  • Students hired under the Internship Program may enroll in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program IF they have been continuously employed for more than a year without a break in service exceeding five days; however, they would have to pay 100 percent of the premium.
  • Interns and recent grads hired for a position that’s expected to last more than a year are eligible for health and life insurance coverage, as long as they’re expected to get paid during at least a third of that time.

Aside from knowledge, exposure and experience, you might also get a security clearance, and possibly a permanent job – which can lead to some good benefits.

By Katie Lange, Defense Media Activity