The initiative aims to promote innovation and bring in new ideas at no cost to the participating agency.
A dozen federal agencies have signed on to a virtual internship program run through the State Department that fields out special agency projects to American college students.
The Virtual Student Foreign Service eInternship program, which launched in 2009 by State and U.S. Agency for International Development, received 315 requests from federal agencies for e-interns this year, a record number compared to the 276 requests in 2013.
Five new agencies signed on to participate in VSFS this year: the Army Research Lab, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, NASA and the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Last year, State and USAID welcomed participation from three other foreign-affairs agencies – the Broadcasting Board of Governors and the Agriculture and Commerce departments – as well as the Smithsonian Institution and the Education and Interior departments.
Agencies this year are putting more emphasis on digital, with projects focused on digital storytelling and training, visualizing and analyzing datasets and in-depth research, Bridget Roddy, program manager for the VSFS program, told Wired Workplace.
“VSFS is a key tool to drive innovation, support new initiatives and bring in fresh ideas and perspectives, all with zero cost to the participating agency,” she said.
The 315 projects available this year include work in research, computer programming, graphic design, journalism, data analysis, social media, finance, blogging, STEM, food security, public diplomacy and law.
If selected, e-interns will commit to volunteering 10 hours per week starting in September 2014 through April 2014. About 20 projects launched in fall 2013 are continuing through the upcoming program year, Roddy said.
Students can apply to their top three projects on USAJobs.gov between July 2 and 22. The 320 projects will be posted on the VSFS website at the end of June.