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7 Reasons Why You Should Apply to the U.S. Pathways Internship as a High Schooler

Participating in an internship as a high school student is a valuable experience. It provides you an opportunity to gain practical, hands-on experience in a professional setting, allowing students to develop important skills and knowledge. Internships also allow students to network with professionals in the industry, as well as like-minded peers. Moreover, participating in an internship demonstrates initiative and a proactive attitude, which can be impressive to college admissions officers and future employers.

The U.S. Department of State’s Pathways Internship Program provides students with opportunities to explore federal careers while being paid for the work performed. It offers a range of prestigious experiences that can greatly enrich one’s academic and professional development. This program includes both the Internship Experience Program (IEP) and the Internship Temporary Program (ITEP). Interns in the IEP program are appointed to non-temporary positions, expected to last the length of the academic program for which the intern is enrolled. The ITEP program allows interns to work during seasonal and holiday breaks in academic programs as well as year-round. 

The ITEP program will likely be the preferred choice for high school students. 


Students must be:

  • A U.S. citizen

  • At least 16 years of age by the closing date of the announcement

  • Subject to random drug testing

  • Able to receive a Secret or Top Secret security clearance

  • Able to maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0 at the time of application and throughout internship appointment


There is no cost to attend the program. Instead, interns will be paid using the General Schedule pay scale. You can find out more about the GS pay scale here

How to apply:

Students will need the following materials:

  • Resume 

  • Unofficial transcripts

  • Proof of enrollment or class registration and documentation that states projected graduation date 

In this blog, we’ve listed 7 reasons why you should consider applying to the U.S. Pathways Internship as a high school student.

1. The program is a pipeline to a future career

Interns are eligible for conversion to the competitive service after completion of the program. To be eligible for conversion, interns must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a U.S. citizen

  • Successfully complete an academic course of study as evidenced by a qualifying degree

  • Graduate with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0

  • Complete a minimum of 640 hours of work experience acquired through the Pathways Internship Program while enrolled as a full-time or half-time degree or certificate seeking student

  • Meet the OPM qualification standards for the position to which the intern may be converted

  • Maintain acceptable performance under the agency’s approved performance management system

  • Receive favorable recommendation for conversion from supervisor

This means that high school students can ensure themselves a job right out of college at a real federal agency. This is an incredibly valuable opportunity for any student looking to work for the government within their field of interest. By participating in this program, students can spend years preparing before guaranteeing themselves a spot in their future career.

2. The program offers real-world experiences

Participating in the U.S. Pathways Internship program entails joining an actual federal agency. Students are asked to apply their theoretical knowledge to real-world challenges, research, insights, and policies. Students are given a rare and valuable chance to have a real impact on policy issues that are important to them! This hands-on experience enables interns to develop essential skills, serving as an immersive introduction to the field to prepare students for their future careers. 

3. The program fosters professional growth

The purpose of the Pathways Internship program is to help students explore federal careers. Engaging in the program exposes students to the realities of their desired profession, aiding them in determining their own career path. Regardless of whether students choose to pursue a permanent position after their internship, the program is built to offer valuable professional development. Students will familiarize themselves with the federal office and process, equipping participants with the skills necessary for thriving in a professional setting. 

4. The program cultivates a strong professional network

Interning at a national agency provides unparalleled networking opportunities. Students will collaborate with leading professionals, experts, and mentors inside the top offices in America, establishing connections across the nation. This network will prove invaluable for future academic pursuits and career opportunities. You might rely on this network for guidance on future projects, college applications, and job prospects. A recommendation letter that comes from a federal agency could significantly enhance one’s academic or professional profile!

5. The program gives students access to top-tier resources

At the federal agency, students will be working at the highest level. This means interns will engage in projects that are at the forefront of their field, gaining insights into the latest developments, advancements, etc. Each agency will have access to cutting-edge technology, equipment, research, and funding to facilitate groundbreaking research. This gives students the opportunity and unprecedented access to accomplish things on a much higher level and much larger scale than any normal internship. 

6. The program is fully funded

The program covers all expenses. Students will actually be paid for their work during the internship, making this an exceptional opportunity. Unlike other programs that can charge high fees for similar experiences, this program not only waves all costs but also provides financial compensation, making this opportunity more accessible for a wide variety of students

7. The program is prestigious

Affiliation with a top-level federal agency will add a prestigious element to one’s resume. This will lend true credibility to one’s work, opening up doors for future research and career prospects. Colleges and potential employers will be sure to recognize the real-world impact and credibility of your time at the Pathways Internship. 

If you are passionate about research then you could consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, an online high school program for students that I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students.

Amelia is a current senior at Harvard College studying art history with a minor in economics. She’s enthusiastic about music, movies, and writing, and is excited to help high school students as much as she can!

Image Source: U.S. Pathways logo


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