Students Can Now Earn up to $72,000 Annually, Federal HR Director Says

sturti / istock

OPM Director Kiran Ahuja said the federal government is looking to overhaul internships, telling students “we need more of you and your colleagues coming into the federal government.”

Office of Personnel Management Director Kiran Ahuja on Monday encouraged students at George Mason University to consider pursuing a career in the federal government as officials work to revamp hiring and internships and rebuild agency workforces.

In a conversation with Reps. Gerry Connolly and Don Beyer, D-Va., on opportunities for the “next generation” of federal workers, Ahuja said that thanks to a combination of changes to the hiring process and the need to rebuild agency payrolls, now is the perfect time to seek out a job in the federal government.

“OPM under this president and under my leadership is looking to do some major surge hiring,” Ahuja said. “This is actually the moment to come into the federal government. There’s a lot of hiring going on for a lot of good reasons, and some for challenging issues like climate change, and we’re also in a phase where we’re rebuilding a lot of these agencies.”

Connolly said it has never been more important for federal agencies to rethink how they recruit new employees and encourage young people to consider a career in public service.

“Here’s the challenge: a third of the federal workforce is currently eligible to retire, while only 8% of the federal workforce is under the age of 30,” he said. “In the private sector, that figure is 28%. We’re not attracting the young talent that we need to be attracting, and we’re facing a huge bulge in retirement that has to be replaced.”

Ahuja said her agency is working on a number of ways to improve the federal government’s recruitment efforts, particularly for young people. Recently published regulations from OPM that will make it easier for federal agencies to pay and offer jobs to their interns, including authorizing college and graduate school students to make up to a GS-11 equivalent salary while they are still in school and making it easier to move interns into permanent jobs when they have completed their studies.

“What’s really great about this is it gives a lot of different opportunities, and it moves up the potential for pay in the federal government,” Ahuja said. “You can earn up to a GS-11 as a student—that’s $72,000 per year, depending on hours, experiences and the kind of job. That’s really good money to be in school, paying for bills and circumventing loans you might already have. We’re really trying to think long and hard about how to make it easier [because] we need more of you and your colleagues coming into the federal government.”

And Connolly noted that while there needs to be continued improvement, the average time to hire a new federal worker has decreased from 98 days in the previous administration to 59 this year. Ahuja said her agency is working to find ways to continue to speed up hiring while still adhering to the merit system principles at the heart of federal personnel policy.

“It’s a mix of both, where can we start not only streamlining around internships and streamlining around hiring,” Ahuja said. “For instance, there are some very similar jobs at the IRS as there are at the Commerce Department, and we want to encourage agencies to post those positions and then use the same candidate list . . . But it’s a push and pull because there’s a strong emphasis on merit system principles and the federal government prides itself on a very equitable process.”

One student asked Ahuja and Connolly about whether pursuing a graduate degree would be a valuable way to boost one’s qualifications before trying to get a job in the federal government. Both officials argued against that line of thinking.

“I would never use [a degree] as a screen when I’m hiring, and I would discourage it in the federal workplace too,” Connolly said. “There are a lot of people who can use government as an entry level portal for employment, and then they can get an advanced degree as they think they need it in federal service, with some help [from the government]. But everyone’s different. You may not be ready to decide whether you want a graduate degree, and you’ll want to have some experience before you make that decision.”

And Ahuja noted that OPM is currently in the process of decoupling degree requirements from dozens of federal positions, an initiative that began under the Trump administration.

“Right now we’re reviewing a lot of occupations to move towards skills-based hiring and removing the college degree requirement,” she said. “If you have that degree, that’s great, but to [Connolly’s] point, we’re looking more for those appropriate skills. It’s really relevant in the tech and cyber spaces, where people are not necessarily getting degrees, they’re learning on the job.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.