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NIH Virtual Hiring Manager Guide Series: Section Two – Intern Recruitment

Collage of individuals from left to right: a man on a laptop, resume and a laptop, a woman on the phone, and a laptop, a woman typing. Virtual Hiring Manager’s Guide Blog Series – Intern Recruitment – Section Two

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is dedicated to playing an active role in sharing knowledge and expertise with the future generation of NIH scientists, managers, and administrators who will strive to improve the nation's health. Internships are a way of providing on-the-job training that allows students to measure their interest in a chosen professional area.

To achieve optimal success, diversity and inclusion recruitment initiatives need buy-in and support from leadership. Part one provided a guide for posting internship openings and conducting interviews. This section includes resources that will help hiring managers demonstrate their support for the NIH diversity and inclusion recruitment efforts. In addition, it offers suggestions for hiring highly qualified diverse interns. Our goal is to provide practical Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) information, strategies, and resources to ensure equity in internal and external hiring practices when actively recruiting interns.


Outreach and recruitment can help with the challenging task of recruiting interns. Developing strategies such as utilizing diverse recruitment sources can generate individual interest in an internship opening. Some strategies for targeted outreach may involve marketing your job openings directly to known audiences e.g. professional organizations, or academic institutions that are producing the talent required for the position. It can also involve reaching out to one of NIH's Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), after-school programs, and local universities with an emphasis on mentoring targeted student populations.

Creating an outreach plan for your internship needs is one of the most important actions to ensure that diversity and inclusion become integral to the NIH. Consider expanding your diversity outreach at the earliest stages of your job search.

Executive Orders, Code of Federal Regulations, HHS and, NIH policies authorizes the use of various targeted strategies to support diversity and inclusion - see Executive Orders.


The NIH Summer Internship Program (SIP) and its subprograms provide students from educational institutions throughout the U.S. an opportunity to spend a summer working at the NIH side-by-side with some of the leading scientists in the world, in an environment devoted exclusively to biomedical research. Internships are located within NIH's intramural facilities at the 240-bed Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center and more than 1200 laboratories and research activities located on the main campus in Bethesda, MD; Baltimore and Frederick, MD; Research Triangle Park, NC; Hamilton, MT; Framingham, MA; and Detroit, MI. With some exceptions, participants normally spend a minimum of eight weeks, with students generally arriving at the NIH in May or June. The NIH Institutes and the Office of Intramural Training and Education sponsor a wide range of summer activities including lectures featuring distinguished NIH investigators, career/professional development workshops, and Summer Poster Day.

The Summer Internship Program in science at the NIH attracts:

  • High school students who are at least 16 years of age,
  • College students,
  • Graduate students, and
  • Professional school (medical, dental, pharmacy, etc.) students.

Altogether, the NIH is home to about 1,100 interns each summer, all of whom are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Interns come from most of the U.S., the District of Columbia, as well as U.S. Territories.

The NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education (OITE) manages three special subprograms under the SIP, the Community College Summer Enrichment Program, High School Scientific Training, and Enrichment Program, and The Amgen Scholars Program.

Other NIH Summer Internship Programs in Science:

Several NIH Institutes and Centers have implemented additional internship programs in science for special student populations. It is important for the applicant to visit the websites listed under these programs to learn more about the requirements, eligibility, and application process. We embrace the diversity that our trainees and workforce bring to the NIH and believe this diversity inspires innovation and elevates unlimited success in pursuing our mission.

NIH internships in science help prepare individuals for careers in biomedical, behavioral, social, and clinical research. NIH's diverse research teams in the biomedical sciences broaden scientific knowledge and enhance the potential to solve population-specific health problems.

The section below provides laboratory chiefs and scientific program managers with strategies to help broaden the participation of students from underrepresented groups in Scientific Internship Programs.

Scientific Internship Program Strategies:

  • Attend scientific conferences and career fairs frequently attended by minority students.
  • Connect with the OHR CRU to support planned activities at local and national career events.
  • Reach out to the Director of the NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education (OITE) for collaboration in their special programs for underrepresented students.
  • Coach prospective students in coordination with OITE and OHR CRU.
  • Convey to students the importance of applying early to NIH internships in science and having complete applications, including letters of recommendation.
  • Establish a collaborative relationship with diverse schools and universities and offer information sessions related to your internship program.
  • Connect with scientific contacts obtaining funding from the NIH who are involved in mentoring students from underrepresented and special populations (see NIH RePORTER database). Contact the project leader and ask for assistance.
  • Using the NIH RePORTER, search for leaders and participants of the NIH Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) and the NIH Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) programs.
  • Take advantage of social media and new technologies to connect with potential applicants.


There are three different pathways for students and recent graduates at the NIH. An individual can become an NIH Intern while attending school, apply to enter the Recent Graduate Program after graduation, or be recruited into the Presidential Management Fellows program by being selected by the talent acquisition team.

The NIH Internship Program under Pathways gives students an opportunity to join the NIH and gain valuable experience in temporary or permanent positions. Interns may be converted to a permanent employment position (or, in some limited circumstances, to a term position lasting 1-4 years) within 120 days of successful completion of the program.

Eligible candidates must be at least 16 years of age; a U.S. citizen, national or legal permanent resident (non-citizens may apply but must a U.S. citizen prior to conversion to competitive appointment); enrolled or plan on enrolling in the current or upcoming semester at least half-time in an accredited degree-seeking program: High school, Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's, Professional, Doctorate, Vocational/ technical, and Certificate (must be equivalent to post-secondary level education and at least one academic year of full-time study); in good academic standing (cumulative GPA 3.0 or above); and enrolled in an accredited institution/program.

Pathways Internship Program Strategies:

The Internship Program allows students to participate in part-time or full-time employment during the summer or year-round while enrolled in various eligible educational programs. Here are some ways that hiring managers can achieve diversity:

  • Contact your NIH Office of Human Resources (OHR) Corporate Recruitment Unit (CRU) to plan for local outreach activities before posting internship announcements.
  • Connect with job and training placement coordinators from local schools and universities; focus on diversity programs and activities for underrepresented groups.
  • Invite students from local after-school programs to tour your office and work facilities.
  • Offer shadowing opportunities, flash mentoring, and career information to local students.
  • Work with NIH OHR CRU to plan for applicant coaching sessions and seminars before posting the internship announcements.
  • Use current technologies such as Adobe Connect, WebEx, GoToMeeting, Zoom, and social media venues to connect with student groups, faculty, and diversity program coordinators.
  • Share your vacancy announcement with diversity-focused NIH Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).


The Recent Graduates Program under Pathways affords developmental experiences in the Federal Government intended to promote possible careers in the civil service to individuals who have recently graduated from qualifying educational institutions or programs. Recent graduates must complete at least 40 hours of formal, interactive training each year of the program. They must also be put on individual development plans to create and track career planning, professional development, and training advancement. Mentorship is provided throughout the program.

After program completion, recent graduates may be converted to a term or permanent, career or career-conditional appointment in the competitive service upon completing the one-year service requirement.

Eligible candidates must: be a U.S. citizen, national or legal permanent resident (noncitizens may apply but must be U.S. citizen prior to conversion to competitive appointment); have completed, within the previous two years, a qualifying degree or certificate from a qualifying institution: Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's, Professional, Doctorate, Vocational/Technical Degree, or Certificate (must be equivalent to post-secondary level education and at least one academic year of full-time study); and have obtained a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above. GPA cannot be rounded.*

*Veterans unable to apply within two years of receiving their degree due to a military service obligation have up to six years to apply after degree completion.

Recent Graduate Program Strategies:

  • Connect with OHR CRU to develop a targeted strategy for reaching out to colleges and universities where diversity candidates can be found.
  • Connect with an EDI Portfolio Strategist to target diversity focus areas using their networks, social media, and contacts at professional organizations.
  • Attend conferences and career fairs with NIH positions ready to hire.
  • Explore the social media presence of targeted professional organizations and career services in popular venues like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
  • If possible, plan to open vacancies coinciding with graduation dates.
  • Work with the OHR CRU to coach prospective applicants in the application and interview processes.


The NIH Management Intern Program (MI) provides NIH employees the opportunity to explore different administrative and leadership opportunities. Each year, this highly competitive program offers a select number of outstanding NIH employees a two-year opportunity to rotate through different administrative positions, gain invaluable insight into the NIH and position themselves as future leaders. Graduates have become some of NIH's most respected administrative managers, including Executive Officers, Administrative Officers, Grants Management Officers, Budget Officers, Public Affairs Specialists, Contracting Officers, and Program and Management Analysts.

The eligibility requirements include the General Schedule (GS) Grade 7 level up to GS-12, or be a Wage Grade (WG) equivalent to a GS-7 up to GS-12; Be a current career/career-conditional NIH employee or be an NIH employee on a Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA), Schedule A (disabled) appointment, or other appointment that offers non-competitive conversion by the closing date of this announcement; and be continuously employed by the NIH for the previous 52 weeks with no break in service within 30 days of the announcement closing date; and be willing to work full-time.

NIH Management Intern Program (MI) Strategies:

  • Contact the NIH Training Center to identify how you can meet current Management Interns.
  • Mentor interns assigned to rotational assignments and engage them in workforce diversity and inclusion projects.
  • Encourage internal NIH candidates from diversified groups to apply to this NIH elite program.
  • Use internal NIH ERGs to promote the MI Program.


The Government-Wide Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan, Executive Order 13583, highlights the importance of ensuring that student internships and fellowship programs have diverse pipelines to draw candidates from all segments of society. Third-party interns are non-FTE individuals performing services on a temporary basis incidental to the pursuit of the individual's educational objectives. Some third-party interns receive no compensation from any source, while some may receive compensation or other assistance from an educational institution, non-profit organization, or non-government sponsoring entities. Over the years, many agencies, including the NIH, have developed beneficial relationships with third-party intern providers.

Providers can serve as a good source of diverse, qualified, and motivated students who are interested in internship opportunities at the NIH. While these internships are not directly connected to federal employment, third-party interns that apply and are selected into the Pathways program can be granted up to 320 hours of the required 640 hours for converting into a permanent Federal job.

Using third-party interns will allow you to bring students to the NIH from across the United States. Hiring officials may select third-party intern providers that pay for all the costs associated with the internship.

Note: See Professional Organizations and Third-Party Intern Providers

Third-Party Internships Strategies:

  • Connect with Professional Organizations that offer third-party internships to learn about their programs (see listing).
  • Establish a budget to support third-party internships in your division/IC.
  • Work with your Administrative Officer and the Acquisitions staff to develop a contract mechanism to pay for internships.
  • Refer to Executive Orders, OPM guidance, and NIH MD-715 goals to justify sole-source contracting for internships.
  • Take advantage of third-party internship providers in the GSA Schedule to expedite the contracting process.
  • Engage third-party interns in mentoring and career development activities like resume writing and federal job application seminars.


Professional organizations can serve as a starting place to search for potential candidates and share job announcements using multiple vehicles. Many organizations allow hiring managers to list job vacancies on their websites and publications. Below are some suggestions:

  • Attend annual conferences and job fairs
  • Review the organization's mission to determine which would best serve your needs
  • Focus your attention on using key language to attract your candidates
  • Use the organization's website and social media venues to connect with prospect applicants
  • Interact with as many people prospects as possible and build your visibility

Note: Some professional organizations may charge a fee for advertising an internship.

Third-Party Intern Providers are organizations dedicated to providing internship opportunities to students and recent graduates. Hiring managers must use their contract acquisition processes to outsource these individuals. Access databases and select the best-qualified candidate. Next, invite the provider to engage local interns in NIH mentoring and outreach activities. Last, be aware of the contracting deadlines, Federal Acquisitions process, and funding cycles.


About Executive Orders
The NIH recruits and makes efforts to retain diverse professionals not only because it's the right thing to do but also because it is required by the Executive Orders and agency directives. These executive orders may assist you and serve as a legal basis in the justification and implementation of your targeted outreach and recruitment efforts:

Executive Order 13562
Recruiting and Hiring Students and Recent Graduates, dated December 27, 2010, provides for the establishment of the Pathways Program, which includes the Internship Program, the Recent Graduate Program, and the Presidential Management Fellows Program.

Executive Order 13583
The President's Executive Order 13583 promotes the Federal workplace as a model of equal opportunity, diversity, and inclusion.

Executive Order 13163
Federal agencies must comply with Executive Order 13163 that mandates "Increasing Opportunities for Individuals with Disabilities to be Employed in the Federal Government." Selecting officials are strongly encouraged to consider individuals with severe disabilities, including veterans with disabilities, under Schedule A, as well as the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP). Turn to the "Special Hiring" tab for more information.

This employer's guide is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to replace legal, compliance, or other professional advice. The Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) assumes no liability for the use of this guide.

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