VSFS Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have some questions about VSFS? We have the answers!

Yes, I am a U.S. college student.

Yes, I am a government colleague or VSFS supervisor




STUDENT FAQS

What is VSFS?

The Virtual Student Foreign Service (VSFS) is an eight-month remote internship program for U.S. citizen students, college-level and above, who would like to make a real difference in the work of the U.S. government. Since 2009, thousands of eInterns have expanded the efforts of the U.S. government, working remotely from their school, dorm room, apartment, local library or coffee shop – wherever they happen to be! Virtual interns work only on unclassified projects. They report to their supervisors at the Department of State and other federal government agencies in the U.S. and around the world by email, phone, or video chat. VSFS is managed by the Office of eDiplomacy in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Information Resource Management. VSFS collaborates with federal agencies across government on this program.

Who can apply to VSFS?

US. citizens who are in “student status” in a full-time or part-time degree or certificate program, and taking classes in-person or online, in the U.S. or abroad, may apply. To be clear, an applicant must be:

  • A U.S. citizen
  • Enrolled as a student in a college level or above degree or certificate program

What kind of work can VSFS eInterns do?

Projects run the gamut, from research to analysis to app development to graphic design to social media management and more. VSFS has something for everyone, which is why the program needs students from every major and background.

How long are VSFS eInternships?

eInternships run from September through May of each year.

How many hours per week are students expected to spend on projects?

Students contribute ten hours of work a week on their projects.

Are VSFS eInternships paid? Are there employee benefits?

VSFS eInternships are not paid. VSFS eInterns are not federal government employees, so they do not receive employee benefits. However, VSFS eInterns can gain invaluable work experience through their remote internships and learn more about the federal government.

When do VSFS applications open?

The VSFS vacancy announcement is open July 2 – 26 on the USAJOBS.gov website. During that time, students may find the listing by searching for “VSFS” or “Virtual Student Foreign Service” on USAJOBS. Students may apply to up to three projects.

How many positions are available?

The number of available positions changes from year to year and depends on the needs of each agency. In recent years, VSFS has had more than 350 projects with over 750 positions, since some projects require more than one student.

Can students graduating in December of January still apply?

Yes, as long as the student commits to the full participation period of the project.

Do applicants need to speak a foreign language?

No. Some positions require a language, others do not. The language requirement for each project is on the project description page.

Can non-U.S. citizens apply?

No, the VSFS eInternship program is only for U.S. citizen students.

Where is a list of the available projects and positions?

All projects will be available on vsfs.state.gov by July 2. Select projects will be highlighted on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram.

How many projects may students apply to?

Students may select up to three projects.

Do applicants have to submit a transcript or a resume?

Applicants will be required to fill out the entire online USAJOBS application including:

  • a resume using the USAJOBS resume builder
  • a copy of an official or unofficial transcript (other documentation accepted if applicant is a first year college or graduate student)
  • a statement of interest

Do applicants need to write a statement of interest or obtain references?

All applicants must submit a statement of interest in that section of the USAJOBS application. The character limit is 2,500. It is important that this statement reflects the applicant! We do not accept references.

How are eInterns selected?

Project supervisors will look through each candidate’s application in determining their selections. VSFS encourages all supervisors to interview top applicants and ask for supporting documentation such as writing samples or a design portfolio. It is up to each supervising team to determine their criteria for selection.

When will students find out if they have been selected?

Project supervisors begin reviewing applications in August. Selecttions are due by August 31 so students will be notified of selection during the month of August. Selected students begin their projects during the first two weeks of September. The VSFS team (VSFS@state.gov) will email all applicants - those selected and those who were not placed - after the application period closes and projects are assigned.

Do eInterns get course credit for participating?

Many students have successfully negotiated course credit agreements with their schools. It is up to individual institutions of higher learning to determine whether or not to grant course credit for VSFS internships.

Will a VSFS eInternship increase a student’s chances of securing a traditional internship and/or full-time employment with the government?

Some VSFS eInterns have gone on to do a traditional internship with the State Department or other federal agencies. While VSFS is not a formal recruiting tool, students will learn about the work of the U.S. government through the program and students will gain invaluable experience working with supervisors, which could make them a stronger candidate for future internships or employment with the government. NOTE: VSFS participation does not constitute official employment with the federal government. A VSFS eIntern awarded a Boren fellowship, for instance, does not need an official letter confirming his/her non-affiliation with the U.S. Government.

Will eInterns need to get a security clearance or background check?

No, VSFS eInterns do not need, and are not issued, security clearances. They will not be handling sensitive information.

If a student is not selected this year, may the student reapply next year?

Yes, as long as the student still meets eligibility requirements (i.e., U.S. citizen enrolled as a student in a degree or certificate program).

May students use the content they create as part of their online portfolio?

Yes! Students should credit their work as being done as part of the VSFS program for the office and agency they are assigned to.

What happens if a student accepts a project, but then cannot complete their assignment?

Unanticipated or unexpected circumstances can occur for both student and supervisor. VSFS will address each situation on a case-by-case basis. VSFS will also try to help facilitate a positive outcome. However, if that not possible, a student may be asked to resign from the VSFS eInternship program or a supervisor may be asked to close their project. In rare cases, if a supervisor agrees, a student may take time off and resume the eInternship at a later date.




SUPERVISOR FAQS

What is VSFS?

The Virtual Student Foreign Service (VSFS) is an eight-month remote internship program for U.S. citizen students, college-level and above, who would like to make a real difference in the work of the U.S. government. Since 2009, thousands of eInterns have expanded the efforts of the U.S. government, working remotely from their school, dorm room, apartment, local library or coffee shop – wherever they happen to be! Virtual interns work only on unclassified projects. They report to their supervisors across the federal government at agencies in the U.S. and around the world by email, phone, or video chat. VSFS is managed by the Office of eDiplomacy in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Information Resource Management. VSFS collaborates with federal agencies across government on this program.

What kind of work can VSFS eInterns do?

Projects run the gamut, from research to analysis to app development to graphic design to social media management and more. There is something for everyone, which is why VSFS needs students from every major and background. VSFS eInterns work only on unclassified projects.

What agencies participate in VSFS?

VSFS is open to colleagues across the federal government. Agency participation varies year to year and the number always increases!

Is there a cost to the agency or office to participate in VSFS?

No, VSFS is cost-free.

How does an office or team submit a project?

VSFS project requests are submitted annually between May 1 and June 10 on the vsfs.state.gov site. Agency colleagues who are ready to submit a project, must first register by clicking the button on the top right. VSFS supervisors can submit more than one project and request more than one eIntern. VSFS needs this info:

  • Agency
  • Office
  • Supervisors
  • Project title
  • Project summary
  • Project description
  • Desired Skills and Interests
  • Language requirements
  • Any other helpful information

How do supervisors write a great project?

  • Write a catchy title
  • Be as specific as you can
  • Say what you want, use plain language
  • Explain why your project matters

When do eInternships begin and end?

eInternships run from September through May.

Who can apply to VSFS?

U.S. citizens who are in “student status” in a full-time or part-time degree or certificate program, and taking classes in-person or online, in the U.S. or abroad, may apply. To be clear, an applicant must be:

  • A U.S. citizen
  • Enrolled as a student in a college level or above deree or certificate program

How many hours per week are students expected to spend on projects?

Students are expected to contribute ten hours a week on their projects.

Are VSFS eInternships paid? Are there employee benefits?

VSFS eInternships are not paid. VSFS eInterns are not federal government employees, so they do not receive employee benefits. However, VSFS eInterns can gain invaluable work experience through their remote internships and learn more about the federal government.

When do VSFS applications open to students?

The VSFS vacancy announcement is open July 2 – 26 on the USAJOBS.gov website. During that time, students may find the listing by searching for “VSFS” or “Virtual Student Foreign Service” on USAJOBS. Students may apply to up to three projects.

How many projects may students apply to?

Students may select up to three projects.

How are eInterns selected?

Project supervisors will review applications for students who picked their project as one of their top three. VSFS encourages all supervisors to interview top candidates and ask for supporting documentation such as writing samples or a design portfolio. It is up to each supervising team to determine their criteria for selection.

How are eInterns offered positions?

VSFS supervisors review applicants, make selections, and offer positions directly on this site. Offers must go out by August 31.

Can supervisors change the number of eInterns they initially requested?

Supervisors can always pick more! To increase the number of eInterns, edit your project and edit the "number of interns" field.

How soon can a supervisor work with selected eInterns?

Supervisors review applicants and make selections during the month of August. Offers can go out any time in August and work must begin by the second week in September.

Can eInterns access Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU) information?  Do they have access to internal networks?  Can they have a .gov email address?

The answer to these questions is “no.” eInterns do *not* go through security clearances or background checks. They must only work on unclassified projects and do not have access to internal networks. eInterns are not employees.

Is there a VSFS supervisor handbook?

Yes, all supervisors will receive an electronic copy. Please email VSFS@state.gov for a copy.

May eInterns use the content they create as part of their online portfolio?

Yes! Students should credit their work as being done as part of the VSFS program for that office and agency.

What happens if a student accepts a project, but then cannot complete their assignment?

Unanticipated or unexpected circumstances can occur for both student and supervisor. The VSFS team will address each situation on a case-by-case basis and try to help facilitate a positive outcome. However, if that not possible, a student may be asked to resign from the VSFS eInternship program or a supervisor may be asked to close their project.

What office manages the VSFS program?

VSFS is managed by the U.S. Department of State in the Bureau of Information Resource Management’s Office of eDiplomacy.

Can a colleague be added to a project during the applicant review phase?

Yes, this can be done on this website. If a colleague does NOT have a VSFS account:

  1. Ask the colleague to register for an account using his/her work email address as the username at: http://vsfs.state.gov/login
  2. Colleague activates account by clicking on a link in an automated email (note: check spam or junk folder) which should arrive within 5 minutes.
  3. Once account is activated, email vsfs@state.gov asking for an additional supervisory position.
  4. VSFS adds the new supervisor.