A Look Inside the FBI Honors Internship Program
Every year, a select group of undergraduate and graduate students embark on an internship with the FBI. To earn a spot in this highly competitive, paid 10-week program (more than 13,000 students applied for 1,200 positions this year) each applicant must pass a complete background investigation—which includes a polygraph examination and drug test—before receiving a top secret clearance and beginning a summer of in-depth experience and a close-up look at the FBI and its mission.
Honors interns have diverse academic backgrounds—including public relations, legal studies, biology, and computer science—and bring valuable skills to an agency with an equally diverse variety of positions, from accountants and engineers to helicopter pilots, psychologists, and more.
One former intern, Brian, was offered a full-time position after his 2018 summer internship and now works for the FBI as an operational support technician in the Philadelphia Field Office. Brian is one of more than 300 interns who were hired by the Bureau last year. “I knew that I wanted to work for an organization that helped people and the country, and I wanted to do something meaningful,” he said.
The 2019 Honors Internship program ended today with a ceremony for the outgoing class. Students interested in the FBI’s 2020 summer internship program can apply at fbijobs.gov. The application period is open August 16 through September 15.
Apply for the Summer 2020 Honors Internship Program
The application period will be open from August 16 through September 15, 2019. Visit fbijobs.gov to apply.
An applicant must be:
- A U.S. citizen
- Enrolled full time in an undergraduate, graduate, or post-doctoral program at an accredited U.S. college or university with a GPA of at least 3.0
- Able to obtain a top secret security clearance
The following will disqualify any applicant:
- A felony conviction
- Drug use (See FBI Employment Drug Policy)
- Default on a student loan insured by the U.S. government
Before returning to school, several 2019 honors interns shared more about their experiences inside the Bureau:
Education: Laura is currently a law student at Florida State University. She earned her undergraduate degrees in criminal justice and theatre studies, with a minor in terrorism studies and a certificate in criminal profiling, from the University of Central Florida.
Assignment - Jacksonville Field Office (Tallahassee Residence Agency): This is Laura’s third year interning for the FBI. “These past three years have been a great opportunity to get a range of experiences,” she said. This summer, Laura compiled information and resources for FBI victim specialists, who will use the resources if a large-scale event occurs in the Florida Panhandle area. Victim specialists are part of the Victim Services Division, which helps crime victims access counseling and support services, stay informed on the status of a case, and even reclaim property abandoned at crime scenes. “Hopefully these binders will never need to be used, but they’re here if anyone needs them,” said Laura.
Internship Highlight: During a previous summer internship at the FBI’s Orlando Resident Agency (part of the Tampa Field Office), Laura assisted the Violent Crimes Against Children and Human Trafficking Unit with a case and attended some of the court hearings.
Why the FBI?: Laura’s favorite experiences with the Bureau included meeting new people, making connections, and networking. “Everyone in the office goes above and beyond to help you out,” she said.
Goals: Laura hopes to continue interning for the Bureau and looks forward to earning her law degree, which she would love to use to work in criminal or entertainment law.
Advice to Future Interns: “Make yourself as valuable as possible. Take all the jobs that you are offered and ask for more.”
Education: Anne is pursuing a biology and chemistry double major at Western Kentucky University.
Assignment - FBI Laboratory (Latent Print Support Unit): Anne gained experience directly related to her major working in the Latent Print Support Unit, which ensures the quality and advancement of the latent print discipline by providing tools, training, and support for investigative, humanitarian, and intelligence programs.
Internship Highlight: Anne visited Dover Air Force Base and observed examiners fingerprint remains from an airplane crash that happened more than 70 years ago.
Why the FBI?: “I applied for the internship because the FBI is the best place for forensic science,” Anne said. “I wanted hands-on experience. Being at the FBI means that I can observe the real day-to-day work of FBI employees in a variety of units.”
Goals: Anne hopes to be a forensic scientist at the FBI Laboratory.
Advice to Future Interns: “Apply for the internship no matter what. You learn so much during the application process, and it is so worth it in the long run.”
Education: Kendall is majoring in computer engineering with a minor in computer science at West Virginia University.
Assignment - Information Management Division (Technology Innovation Section, Strategic Innovation Group): During his internship, Kendall shadowed the program management teams within the unit, gaining experience in different project management methodologies. Aside from managing and servicing vast troves of FBI records and information, the Information Management Division also provides services such as name checks for authorized federal agencies and Freedom of Information Privacy Act requests for private citizens and organizations.
Internship Highlights: The highlights of Kendall’s internship were listening to Director Christopher Wray speak to the interns and learning about all of the career opportunities related to his computer engineering major.
Why the FBI?: Kendall has a passion for helping others, and his desire to be part of something bigger than himself led him to the FBI.
Goals: Kendall has been offered a position as an information technology specialist in the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division following his graduation in December. CJIS provides law enforcement, national security, and intelligence communities with the criminal justice information they need to better protect American citizens. Kendall looks forward to continuing to support the FBI’s mission.
Advice to Future Interns: “Do not wait to be asked to do something. Always ask for work first.”
Education: McKinley is majoring in industrial and systems engineering and minoring in Spanish at Auburn University in Alabama.
Assignment - Counterintelligence Division (Data and Technology Exploitation Unit): This is McKinley’s second year as an intern in the Counterintelligence Division. This summer, she aggregated large amounts of data and analyzed trends.
Internship Highlights: A project McKinley worked on last summer was briefed at a large data management conference. She also enjoyed working on a brief to present project findings to other units.
Why the FBI?: McKinley was looking for a workplace that helps people and pushes its employees to think critically. She said she found that at the Bureau. “I love being a part of something that is going to make a difference in the long run,” she said.
Goals: McKinley has always wanted to work at the FBI, and the internship opened that door for her. She can see herself becoming a special agent some day.
Advice to Future Interns: “Make friends with everyone around you. Step out of your comfort zone, talk to people around your unit, and ask for new projects.”
Education: Mara is a pharmacy major at Hampton University in Virginia.
Assignment: Norfolk Field Office (Peninsula Residency Agency): This is Mara’s second summer with the Bureau; she has supported cases in several investigative areas.
“No matter where you are placed, regardless of your major,
take the time to learn something new.”
Internship Highlights: This summer, Mara saw firsthand how her pharmacy major connects to the work being done by the FBI in the prescription drug arena, as many of these drugs end up being sold illegally or used to make illicit drugs. “It’s amazing to see a connection where you didn’t think you would see one,” she said.
Last year, Mara worked at the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, helping with with new programs to assist with handwriting analysis. Her favorite experiences involved visiting the Chemistry Unit and talking to employees from a similar academic background.
Why the FBI?: Growing up watching special agents on television shows, Mara can’t remember wanting to do anything but work for the FBI. At first, she wanted to study psychology and work as a behavioral analyst, but when she changed her major to pharmacy studies, she wondered if she could still find a place in the Bureau. When the FBI visited her university to talk about the internship program, however, she discovered the FBI’s need for her skills and knowledge.
Goals: Mara hopes to work in the Chemistry Unit at the FBI Laboratory and use her pharmacy knowledge in future investigations.
Advice to Future Interns: “Treat every opportunity as a lesson learned. No matter where you are placed, regardless of your major, take the time to learn something new.”
Education: Victoria is pursuing a master’s degree in forensic psychology at Kean University in New Jersey. She received her bachelor’s degree from Seton Hall University in New Jersey.
“This is the most rewarding job anyone could ask for.”
Assignment - Newark Field Office (Franklin Township Resident Agency): This summer, Victoria worked with the Violent Crimes Against Children and Human Trafficking Unit, which investigates and counters the threat of all child abductions, child sexual exploitation, offenses against children, and child pornography offenses under the FBI’s purview and works to strengthen partnerships with other law enforcement agencies. Victoria assisted the unit with data collection, spreadsheets, and jail call transcripts. She also had the opportunity to go out in the field to observe searches.
Internship Highlight: Victoria assisted with a sex trafficking case that occurred in her hometown.
Why the FBI?: Victoria applied for the internship because she was interested in law enforcement and always thought the FBI would be a great place to work. She has a passion for helping people, and that is why she loved going to work for the Bureau every day.
Goals: Victoria wants to continue her work in outreach and public service, and her internship has inspired her to become a special agent or a victim specialist.
Advice to Future Interns: “Always put your full self into your work, because this is the most rewarding job anyone could ask for.”
About the Author
Mary Katelyn is a senior at Belmont University in Tennessee, where she is studying public relations and music business with an emphasis in legal studies. She was assigned to the FBI’s Office of Public Affairs, where she wrote feature stories, worked on national media campaigns, and much more. She counts writing this story and learning about other interns’ experiences among the highlights of her summer. Upon graduation, she hopes to secure a job in public relations and continue telling stories that make an impact on others and advance an organization’s mission. Her advice to future interns: “Be yourself, don’t be afraid to step up to the plate, and soak up every opportunity that is handed to you. It’s truly an experience of a lifetime.”