Image of a man wearing headphones and working in front of computersInternships can be a great way to gain valuable work experience, but did you know that there are many federal internships opportunities available nationwide? Learn more about programs and internship openings that may help you on your path to full-time employment.

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Federal Internships: A Path to Public Service

May 7, 2018

Image of a man with headphones sitting at a desk in front of computersDid you know that the federal government offers internships throughout the country – and that many are specifically for young adults with disabilities?

Today we'll look at a few of the federal internship programs that are available and show you how you can learn more about these opportunities.

Finding and participating in an internship may offer you the stepping stone you need to launch your career. And by interning with the federal government, you may build your skills and experience to help you find permanent work in government and public service.

Workforce Recruitment Program

The Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Defense. Since 1995, more than 7,000 students and recent graduates with disabilities have received temporary and permanent federal employment opportunities through the WRP.

The WRP connects highly qualified college students and recent graduates with disabilities with a variety of federal agencies seeking both interns and permanent employment.

Federal Pathways Programs

To learn more about internships and how you can make the most of your experience, check out Work and Learn as an Intern.

The Pathways Programs connect you with federal agencies looking for candidates with a variety of backgrounds and ranges of talent.

The Pathways Programs offers 3 options, depending on where you are along your transition from school to work. The 3 options, including the Internship Program, Recent Graduated Program, and the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program all offer a variety of opportunities based on your experience, skills and education level, from high school to doctorate.

Federal internships – available nationwide

Federal internships aren't just available in the Washington, DC area. Visit USAJOBS and search for internships or other employment opportunities with the federal government near you.

Wage reporting and Work Incentives

Keep in mind that if you find a paid internship opportunity, it's important to report your work and wages to Social Security. This is one important step to avoiding overpayments.

As you think about pursuing a paid internship or other work, talk with a Benefits Counselor! They can help you better understand how earning an income will affect your benefits and introduce you to Social Security Work Incentives, which may help you transition to work.

You can find a Benefits Counselor by working with a Ticket to Work (Ticket) program service provider, like an Employment Network (EN) or your State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency. Or you can work with your local Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) project if you:

  • Are working
  • Have a job offer pending
  • Are actively interviewing for jobs – meaning you've either had an interview in the past 30 days or have one scheduled for the next 2 weeks
  • Are a veteran
  • Are a young adult age 14 through 25, not necessarily actively pursuing work

Through a WIPA project you can talk with a Community Work Incentives Coordinator, who is authorized by Social Security to provide benefits counseling, discuss your work options, and offer guidance on how an internship or paid other work experience will affect your Social Security disability benefits.

For example, if you're currently a student age 22 or younger and receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you may be eligible for the Student-Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE). With the SEIE, Social Security will not count all or some of your earnings when figuring your SSI cash payment. Learn more about this and other Work Incentives in our monthly Work Incentives Wednesdays blog series!

About Ticket to Work

Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits and want to work. The Ticket program is free and voluntary. It helps people with disabilities move toward financial independence and connects them with the services and support they need to succeed in the workforce.

Learn more

You can call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 866-968-7842 or 866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.

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