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Questions and Answers

What is the Career Intern Program?

The Federal Career Intern Program is designed to help agencies recruit and attract exceptional individuals into a variety of occupations.  It was created under Executive Order 13162, and is intended for positions at grade levels GS-5, 7, and 9 or other trainee positions.  In general, individuals are appointed to a 2-year internship.  Upon successful completion of the internships, the interns may be eligible for permanent placement within an agency.

Individuals interested in Career Intern opportunities must contact specific agencies directly.  The Office of Personnel Management will not be the central source for career intern opportunities.

May agencies fill any entry level job at the GS-5, 7, and 9 (or equivalent) using the Career Intern Program?

Yes.  An agency may use the Career Intern Program for any occupation as long as the agency has determined that the occupation lends itself to a formal training and development component.

Is public notice required when filling positions under the Career Intern Program?

No. Public notice is a statutory requirement under 5 U.S.C. 3327 and 3330 only when filling positions through the competitive examining process. However, agencies must follow merit principles when filling vacancies under the Career Intern Program.

How does the Career Intern Program differ from the Presidential Management Internship (PMI) Program?

The Career Intern program differs from the PMI program in several ways:

  • Career Intern Program has no nominating process;
  • OPM does not administer the Career Intern Program;
  • Agencies develop and implement their own Career Intern programs;
  • Career Intern Program is not restricted to individuals with graduate degrees;
  • Career Intern appointments may be made at any time during the year.

May agencies make initial Career Intern appointments at grade levels other than GS-5, 7, or 9?

Yes. Agencies may make initial appointments at any grade level as long as the agency has an established 2-year training program at the grade level to which the Career Intern is to be appointed. Agencies may request OPM approval when filling Career Intern positions at other grade levels appropriate for the program.

May agencies develop internship programs that will last more than 2 years?

Yes. Agencies must have OPM approval to develop or extend internships beyond 2 years. In these cases, internships may extend for up to 1 additional year. Agencies must submit their requests to: Director, Staffing Policy Division, Employment Service, 1900 E Street, NW., Room 6500, Washington, DC 20415.

Are candidates subject to a new 2-year internship period if they move from one Career Intern position to another intern position?

No. Agencies are responsible for ensuring every intern is provided with at least 2 years of formal training. In a case of an intern transferring from one agency to another, time previously spent under a Career Intern Program counts toward the completion of the 2 year period if the intern is reappointed without a break in service. Agencies, at their discretion, may require additional training of Career Interns who move from one position to another to make sure the interns meet the new agency’s requirements. Any extension of the training program beyond 2 years must be approved by OPM.

Does veterans’ preference apply in the selection of Career Interns?

Yes. Veterans’ preference applies to the selection of Career Interns. Since Career Interns are appointed to positions in the excepted service, agencies must follow the procedures described in 5 CFR 302. There are many options for applying preference within the excepted service. An agency may consider candidates:

  • using a numeric rating and ranking system;
  • according to preference categories (i.e., preference and non-preference); or
  • developing procedures that would grant as much preference in referral as the procedures used in 5 CFR 302

Are the Career Intern regulations exempt from 5 CFR 302 procedures?

The Executive order establishing the Career Intern Program does not exempt agencies from the Veterans Preference Act of 1944, as amended, or from applying part 302 procedures. Consequently, there is no legal basis for exempting these appointments from the procedures of 5 CFR 302. Agencies must establish specific rules and procedures for accepting, rating, and ranking applications in accordance with 5 CFR 302.

Will Career Interns be subject to a probationary period after they are converted to the competitive service?

No. Career Interns will not be required to serve a probationary period following their conversion to the competitive service. The 2 years the employees spend on the excepted appointment will serve as the employee’s probationary (trial) period.

If an agency selects one of its current career or career conditional employees as a Career Intern, does the agency have to return the employee to his or her former position if the employee does not successfully complete the internship?

Yes. If the employee fails to complete the program for reasons unrelated to misconduct or suitability, the agency is obligated to place the employee back in a position of equivalent status, tenure, and pay as the position the employee left.

When filling professional and administrative positions at the GS-5 and GS-7 level, are agencies required to use OPM-approved assessments?
Yes. Agencies must use the appropriate OPM assessment when filling certain positions through the Career Intern Program. However, public notice is not required when filling these positions.

Can ALL agencies directly administer the OPM-approved assessment to evaluate applicants for Career Intern positions?

Yes, but only if the agency has been trained and certified by OPM to use the approved assessments. The assessments must be given to the agency’s certified test security officer.