How the State Department Selects Interns

Over the past two days, we have talked about State Department Internships, as well as how to make your application stand out.  Now, I’d like to touch on how the department selects its interns.  Much of this is laid out in the Student Internship Program Brochure.

The State Deparment internship selection process typically takes several months, with many summer interns hearing about offers during January and Fall interns receiving notification in August.

From the bureaucratic side, there are five primary steps:

1) Once all applications are submitted, the Student Programs Office submits applications to the appropriate bureaus and overseas missions;

2) Once bureaus or missions have their intern pool, they select their candidates and submit these candidates to the Student Programs Office.  During this period, the bureau or post may interview potential candidates.

In past years, interviews have often included offers on the phone, so be prepared to make a decision with asymmetrical information.

All offers, made via phone or e-mail, directly from the bureaus/posts are considered tentative until verified by the central Student Programs Office.

3) After candidates are identified, the Student Programs Office reviews selections and coordinates official notifications.  The programs office will notify primary candidates and alternate candidates for all positions.

4) Once candidates are identified, the Student Programs Office sends both primary and alternate candidates hard-copy selection letters including information about the selecting bureau or mission.  These letter will also provide a intern coordinator contact and a set of US Government fingerprint cards for the security clearance.

You will need fingerprint cards for your security clearance process.  The SU Department of Public Safety can help with your cards, and more information is available at

5) All student interns must go through a security clearance background investigation conducted by the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS).  This process generally takes approximately 60–120 days to complete from the time the forms are received by the DS

Investigations may take substantially longer than 90 days if a candidate has extensive international travel, education, and or residence history.  If a candidate has extensive overseas contacts, family members, or spouses.  Credit worthiness and history with substances may also affect your clearance eligibility.

Although these problems will not necessarily preclude you from receiving a security clearance, they will lengthen the time required to complete the clearance process.