Good news. Some federal organizations and agencies are offering the year-round internship model many private sector businesses have adopted to keep doors open to talent looking for the most flexibility in career planning.


If Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) disciplines are your interest, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California might be right for you, especially if you need a more flexible career timeline. NASA’s JPL offers STEM-related internships during summers and during the school year for students pursuing STEM degrees. And JPL works hard to cater to a wide variety of student needs. That means flexible schedules, full or part time, weekly stipends, housing and travel allowance if you’re more than 50 miles from JPL, even free parking. It’s apparent that NASA’s JPL is interested in getting excellence in their doors and knocking down obstacles to make that happen.

Working with experts at NASA, STEM students are assigned mentors who assign and guide the work-study program. Additionally, interns can see what it’s like to be a full-time scientist at JPL. Lectures, career planning, and other services are open to interns, too, so you can really immerse yourself in their world and see if it’s right for you.


The Central Intelligence Agency is nearly as flexible in year-round opportunities, but the timelines are understandably significantly longer. So you absolutely have to plan ahead, way ahead. For year-round opportunities, expect a 9-12 month process. If you’re looking at summer 2017, forget it, but you still have until mid-March to make it to summer 2018 and 2019. From Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) disciplines to accounting to analysis to contracting to even clandestine operations, the CIA has a place for you if the world of secret squirrels is your destination of choice.

And you can choose an intern approach or a co-op approach. At the CIA, co-op students will work with the Agency through the course of school semesters or quarters, on an alternating schedule. The co-op programs usually require already established school programs that cater to co-ops, so if a co-op approach works for you, then make sure you ask about the program at colleges and universities that interest you. Traditional internships consist of two 90-day tours with the Agency during the summer.

The good news is that more and more institutions are offering year-round opportunities, and that significantly broadens your options and flexibility in career planning.  If year-round opportunities appeal to you, it’s not too difficult to find them. Just start looking around.

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Ed Ledford enjoys the most challenging, complex, and high stakes communications requirements. His portfolio includes everything from policy and strategy to poetry. A native of Asheville, N.C., and retired Army Aviator, Ed’s currently writing speeches in D.C. and working other writing projects from his office in Rockville, MD. He loves baseball and enjoys hiking, camping, and exploring anything. Follow Ed on Twitter @ECLedford.