OPM turns to agency leaders to promote new intern experience program

OPM said it will be up to agency supervisors and managers to help hit the ground running to promote the new intern experience program, which includes a plethora...

The Office of Personnel Management is leaning on agency leaders to spread the word about its new governmentwide intern experience program.

OPM took the lead on designing and planning out events and opportunities that will be available to federal interns throughout the summer, but the agency said it will be up to agency supervisors and managers to help hit the ground running to promote the new program.

“Your leadership is critical to inspire the next generation of government leaders, and to achieve our ambitious internship and early career talent goals,” OPM Director Kiran Ahuja said in a memo Tuesday, addressed to chief human capital officers.

The program, offering a host of resources and events aiming to give federal interns a positive summer experience, ultimately has its eye on better early-career recruitment and retention for the federal workforce. It’s also a step toward revitalizing the federal internship program, which has struggled for years.

Initially launched earlier this month with the help of NASA astronauts, OPM’s new program will offer training sessions, experiences, information and other support for early-career feds “to succeed in their internships, acquire new skills and grow their federal careers,” Ahuja said.

Federal interns, through the new program, will also have access to mentoring opportunities, including opportunities to attend events throughout the summer with agency executives speaking to, and offering advice for the cohort of temporary employees. A panel of new full-time hires for the federal workforce will also set aside time this summer to share more about their backgrounds and answer interns’ questions. This summer is the first go-around for the program, but it will continue in subsequent years.

To promote the effort, OPM created a new internship hub on its website, offering answers to frequently asked questions from interns and detailing upcoming events that will be available to them. Some of the upcoming events include a memo writing workshop, a resume writing session and an event on how to land a job in the federal government.

And OPM has already held several events this summer, including sessions for reframing problems in projects for those aspiring to become part of the Senior Executive Service (SES), as well as one event focused on “rethinking imposter syndrome.”

OPM’s new intern experience program is far from the only effort the agency has made to help promote and enhance the federal internship program as a whole. In February, for example, OPM created a “one-stop shop” for agencies to post internship openings, with the goal of streamlining the recruitment process.

The intern experience program also stems from broader efforts outlined in the President’s Management Agenda, and for the Biden administration overall, to help revamp the federal internship program. The administration set a goal of hiring 30,000 interns and has emphasized that agencies should offer paid internships whenever possible.

OPM and OMB also gave agencies guidance in January on best practices for hiring, incentivizing and retaining early-career federal employees — including interns.

This summer’s launch of the federal intern experience program will culminate in an executive speaker series, aiming to provide interns with career insights, stories and discussions from leaders across government.

“If we’re going to focus on bringing more interns into government, we [need to] pair that with a real program that can support them, whether they’re coming in person or whether they’re remote,” OPM Deputy Director Rob Shriver told Federal News Network at the internship program’s launch event earlier this month. “It’s making sure that we have the support at the agency to really integrate them into the work that’s going on and integrate them into the culture of the organization.”

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