SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill - The Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, the Army Service Component Command to the United States Transportation Command and a Major Subordinate Command to U.S. Army Materiel Command, is using internship opportunities to help develop its next generation of federal employees.
Internships provide a way for students to prepare for and enter the federal workforce by helping to build a foundation for future professionals. The programs have expanded to help recruit students, foster innovation and add emerging skills and new ways of thinking into the federal workforce.
SDDC uses numerous federal internship programs, including the Army Career Development, Army Logistics Fellows, and the Pathways Intern Program, to attract and retain a diverse group of young individuals who expand civilian talent within the organization. The programs provide college students and recent graduates the opportunity to enter the federal government non-competitively, offering “real-world” experiences in their desired career fields to learn the ins and outs of how the command works. Within SDDC, this effort is managed by Lance Davidson, a human resources specialist in SDDC’s Personnel and Manpower Directorate.
“The end result of the apprenticeship or internship is the placement of a new Army civilian with the right skills, at the right time and at the right place to meet the needs of the Army and SDDC,” he said.
One of the programs offered at SDDC is the Army Career Development Program, a two-year, full-time, entry-level position opportunity that trains and develops recent graduates and college students to obtain new skills. The apprentice program is funded by the Department of the Army and offers students a chance to start at the General Schedule-7 level and with eligibility to be promoted to GS-9 after one year. After completing the two-year program, they become permanent GS-11 employees.
“The two-year program is designed as a GS 7/9/11 developmental position, and each year you see a grade increase if you meet the performance-based requirements,” said Alyssa Crockett, a public affairs specialist currently serving with the Combined Arms Support Command at Fort Lee, VA. Crockett completed the program at SDDC last year.
“The government will fund associated costs to the training schools, the Pentagon and other rotations, and your permanent duty assignment,” added Crockett.
The Army Logistics Fellows program is another subset program offered within ACDP, specifically targeting students who are interested in supply management, material management, and transportation management. The program provides professional development through formal classroom training and a series of rotational, on-the-job-training opportunities with Department of Defense agencies throughout the United States.
“A huge benefit from being in the ALFP is knowing that after being trained, you have job security to be placed in a permanent position where you can continue to grow and strengthen your skills in areas where you are interested in,” said Jimmie Zilliner, an SDDC logistics management specialist, who recently completed the program.
Current students with a 3.0 GPA or higher are granted the opportunity to work for the command through the Pathways Intern program. It gives current students the opportunity to complete a paid, full- or part-time internship on a temporary or ongoing basis while completing their degree requirements.
Pathways internships allow students to gain experience and professional connections that can help prepare them for post-graduation employment. Upon internship completion and graduation, students can fill a full-time position if available.
“This program allows for the command to have the opportunity to develop new talent and observe current students’ on-the-job performance before making a hiring decision post-graduation,” said Davidson. “The intent is to be able to teach students the SDDC way, so upon completion of the internship or apprenticeship, they can be placed in a permanent position within the organization.”
In addition to job security, the internship programs provide competitive starting salaries and the potential for performance-based increases, flexible hours, and the ability to achieve and maintain a balanced lifestyle.
“The internship program allows you to gain valuable training, knowledge, and professional development while receiving a benefit package and competitive pay,” said Crockett.
According to the latest data in “Call to Service,” less than 7% of the federal civilian workforce consists of employees under the age of 30. Intern programs give those under 30 a chance to enter the federal workforce through a variety of programs, allowing individuals to learn from colleagues and explore different career paths available to them, even if it leads them to working elsewhere. In addition, the programs provide young people a head start in advancement within an organization.
Students can apply for opportunities in the federal workforce through recruitment on their campus or from job postings on the federal employment website, USAJOBS.com. On the website, be sure to select positions open to recent graduates or current students.
“The process to apply was simple, being that I previously had applied for jobs on USAJOBS,” said Crockett. “The job has specific locations listed on the announcement and you have the ability to go to any one of the locations. During the process, there are documents that are required such as transcripts and your resume. It also made you fill out an extensive questionnaire.”
SDDC and many other commands have been pleased with the success of the internship programs. They have allowed the command to continue its mission in recruiting and hiring students from all over the country to support the command.
“SDDC currently has 48 employees placed through the Pathways program, Army Career Development Program, or Army Logistics Fellows Program,” said Davidson, adding that the command plans to continue to build its workforce through hiring employees enrolled in college or recently graduated and will continue to work with colleges to find the next set of emerging leaders to work for the Army as a civilian.
“These programs are an effective means to attract, acquire, develop, and retain an essential pipeline of well-trained, capable, and diverse civilian personnel,” said Davidson.
Many of SDDC’s recent intern program graduates have participated in different recruiting events to share their experience and make others aware of the opportunities that are available as a federal employee.
“I’m extremely grateful for being placed at SDDC for my permanent duty location. SDDC provides a plethora of opportunities for growth and knowledge,” said Zilliner.