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story.lead_photo.caption The Virtual Student Federal Service website is shown in this screenshot.

WASHINGTON -- Uncle Sam wants somebody to help him "design a sports-themed bar for the Kabul Embassy Employee Association" at "the U.S. Embassy compound in Kabul, Afghanistan."

He also needs artists to help design posters "commemorating military branch birthdays," researchers to help update the CIA World Factbook, English speakers who can teach the language to Yemenis, and Mandarin speakers who can research China's organ transplant policies.

Only college students need apply. Only U.S. citizens are eligible. No pay is available, and no travel is required.

These are "eInternships." The work can be done electronically, from a dorm room desk or a living room sofa.

Thousands of applicants are submitting resumes, transcripts and statements of interest today, if they haven't done so already. They have reviewed the hundreds of options that are posted at https://vsfs.state.gov/.

A would-be intern must set up an account at USAJobs.gov, the "official employment site" of the federal government.

Once the clock strikes midnight today in Washington, D.C. -- the deadline is 11:59 p.m. EDT -- officials from 55 federal agencies will begin winnowing the field.

There are roughly 600 types of internships available, and many call for high tech or social media skills.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs needs Instagram writers and editors. The U.S. Embassy in Senegal needs someone to design a new housing handbook for incoming staff members. The State Department wants someone to "research the forgotten history and art of the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt [Germany]."

Also in demand: "robot researchers," "cyber warriors" and 3-D modelers.

Internships typically last for about nine months. Some schools offer college credit to participants.

Those who have been selected will get the good news by the end of August.

The eInternship program was started a decade ago and started small.

"It was 40 students, and it was just at the State Department," said Bridget Roddy, the Virtual Student Federal Service coordinator.

By last year, that number had swelled to 1,200.

"This year, we'll have an even larger class. We currently have almost 3,000 positions available so we're able to offer even more opportunities to college students at even more agencies ... than ever before, so it's a really, really exciting time," she said.

The program operates out of the State Department's Office of E-Diplomacy. It acts as a conduit between applicants and government agencies. Its staff is small.

The agencies themselves review the applications and select the winners.

At least nine Arkansas students have participated over the past two years. A University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, student worked on "International Humanitarian Law and Accountability for Mass Atrocities."

A Hendrix College student served as a "virtual mentor for women entrepreneurs."

Andrea Lillig, who graduated in May from John Brown University, monitored Canadian parliamentary hearings for the U.S. Embassy there.

"At some point in my life, I would love to work for the U.S. government, so this seemed like a great opportunity to do just that," the former political science student said in an email.

Though living in the Ozarks, her focus was on Ottawa.

"My internship ran from September to May and was completely remote -- I watched most of the hearings from the couch in my living room! My team's workload was completely dependent upon the Senate and House of Common's schedule, so if they were busy, we were busy, if they weren't in session, we weren't watching any hearings," she said.

After each hearing, she would write a summary, highlighting anything noteworthy.

Lillig speaks Spanish, a skill that wasn't particularly helpful when it came to parliament.

"Canada is a bilingual nation, so the hearings would sometimes be in French and English, and even sometimes an indigenous language. However, the hearings always had translators, so I was always able to listen in English," she said.

"I would definitely recommend the program to other students!" she said. "The VSFS internship is a great way to 'take a peak behind the curtain,' so to speak, and to be involved in important, impactful work that our government is doing."

Metro on 07/31/2019

Print Headline: U.S. eInternships offer students world of work

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