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Pathways Programs

The USDA Internship Program

The Internship Program provides paid work experience to students currently enrolled in high school or an accredited college or university (this includes Home-Schooling, Certificate Programs and Community Colleges). Interns may work during the summer, fall, spring, or year round.


  • U.S. Citizen or U.S. Permanent Resident
  • Age 16 years or older
  • Enrolled in, or accepted for enrollment to, an accredited high school, community college, college or university; professional, technical, vocational, or trade school; advanced degree program; or other qualifying educational institution and pursuing a qualifying degree or certificate
  • A 2.0 GPA to Good Academic Standing (typically a 2.0 on a 4.0 scale)
  • Apply to an open vacancy announcement

To Apply:

The United States Department of Agriculture is looking for highly qualified students who are eager to assist us with meet our mission. To apply, please visit the following links.

  • Step 1: - Review current USDA Pathways opportunities by typing Student Trainee in the search tab.
  • Step 2: - Create an account on USAJOBS and sign up to receive information about vacancies meeting your interests.
  • Step 3: Find the announcement to which you wish to apply, and select the ‘Apply On-Line’ button.

Sample list of career paths in the USDA Pathways Internship Program:

  • Agricultural Marketing Service Virtual
  • Food Safety Veterinary Studies
  • Foreign Agriculture
  • Information Technology
  • International Agricultural
  • The Saul T. Wilson, Jr.

USDA Pathways Recent Graduates Program:

The Recent Graduates Program is for individuals who have recently graduated from qualifying educational institutions or programs. To be eligible, applicants must apply within 2 years of degree or certificate completion, except for Veterans precluded from doing so due to their military service obligation, who will have up to 6 years after degree or certificate completion. Successful applicants will be placed in a dynamic, 1-year career development program. Extension of an additional year may be granted. Agencies may non-competitively convert participants who successfully complete the program to term or permanent competitive service jobs. The USDA Recent Graduates Program provides the opportunity to those individuals who are at the beginning of their careers and are interested in engaging in meaningful work experiences.


  • U.S. Citizen or U.S. Permanent Resident
  • Must apply 2 years from date educational requirements are completed (eligibility period for certain Veterans may be extended 6 years from date of completion of academic requirements)
  • Grade limitations apply (GS: 11)
  • Sign a participant agreement
  • Apply to an open vacancy announcement

In addition to meeting these basic eligibility requirements to apply for the USDA Recent Graduates Program, individuals must:
  • Meet the qualification standards of the position; and
  • Meet any Agency-specific requirements identified in the job announcement (e.g., security).
  • Recent graduates may be converted to a permanent position (or, in some limited circumstances, a term appointment lasting 1-4 years). To be eligible for conversion, recent graduates must:
  • Successfully completed at least 1 year of continuous service in addition to all requirements of the Program;
  • Demonstrated successful job performance;
  • Met the qualifications for the position to which the Recent Graduate will be converted; and

To Apply:

USDA Recent Graduate opportunities are posted on USAJOBS. You may go directly to to begin your search. Please follow the directions below to apply for a USDA Recent Graduate position:

  • Step 1: - Review current USDA Pathways opportunities by typing Student Trainee in the search tab.
  • Step 2: - Create an account on USAJOBS and sign up to receive information about vacancies meeting your interests.
  • Step 3: Find the announcement to which you wish to apply, and select the ‘Apply On-Line’ button.

USDA Pathways Presidential Management Fellows Program (PMF):

The USDA Presidential Management Fellows Program is a prestigious, competitive program that is managed by the Office of Personnel Management. The PMF Program supports leadership development for recent graduates who have been pre-qualified or recommended by a network of graduate schools. Graduates are provided with a 2 year appointment at USDA that may lead to conversion to a permanent appointment.

USDA supports the Federal Government’s premier leadership development program for advanced degree candidates. The Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program is managed by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Individuals who have received a qualifying advanced degree within the preceding 2 years may wish to participate in this program. Over 100 Government organizations, including USDA, participate in the PMF Program.


  • U.S. Citizen
  • GPA 3.0 or higher
  • Recently graduated from a graduate degree program
  • Pass online and in-person assessment
  • Acceptance to the fellowship program
  • Find a position within the Agency.

For questions: you may obtain detailed information by visiting the PMF website at

Success Stories

Laura Sepulveda Ramirez, former USDA Intern, 2004.
I joined USDA, Food Safety and Inspection Service as a Human Resources Student Trainee in June, 2004 under the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP). While a student, I had the opportunity to work closely with members of FSIS’ Human Resources Operations (HRO) in Minneapolis, Minnesota; the Human Resources Policy (HRP) team in Washington, DC; and with the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA), Veterans Health Administration (VHA) in Lexington, Kentucky. As a student trainee I performed a number of different functions in the HR arena including HR staffing assistant duties, recruitment, development and coordination of the 2005 VMO mass mailing project in HRO, and was part of the FSIS Leadership Competency Initiative team during the summer of 2008. While on DVA, VHA I performed duties as a Nurse Recruiter Trainee, which gave me exposure to various HR areas like recruitment, budget management, and labor and employee relations. All of these valuable experiences as a student trainee gave me the knowledge and skills to be selected for my current position after earning my MBA in Human Resources in 2009. I now manage the program that once gave me the opportunity to join our Agency.

Tamara Johnson, former USDA Intern, 2012.
I am a junior at The Pennsylvania State University. In May of 2014 I plan to graduate with a BA in Criminal Justice and English, and upon graduation I plan to attend law school to become an advocate of Family Services. I was born and raised in Washington D.C. and because I attended a law-based high school (Thurgood Marshall Academy), it gave me many opportunities to learn about the judicial system through connections and internships with law firms, the Superior Court, and The National Bar Association. However, I wanted to experience another part of the government, and to explore other areas of interest. The summer after my freshman year of college, I worked for USDA through the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). That summer I gained valuable work experience and knowledge about what USDA does for the