College students participate in virtual civilian internship

  • Published
  • By Toni Whaley
  • Air Force’s Personnel Center Public Affairs

As COVID-19 continues to shape a new normal for Air Force and Space Force operations, several hundred college students virtually on boarded as Air Force civilian service summer interns June 15.

Civilian personnel staffs across the Air Force enterprise in processed approximately 500 college students participating in the Air Force’s Personnel Center virtual Premier College Intern Program, or vPCIP.

“Our team worked hard to put together a viable program with meaningful experiences for the participants,” said Dave VanSteenburg, Director, Civilian Personnel Operations. “They took an in-residence program and translated it into a virtual one in less than 90 days, which is simply amazing. It was important to do so because we made a commitment to these interns.”

Interns participated in a weeklong symposium that included a welcome from Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower Gwendolyn DeFilippi, an overview of civilian service, and the professional opportunities civilian service with the Air Force offers, said William Cavenaugh, AFPC Force Renewal and Strategic Engagement Chief.

The virtual internship will run for six weeks and consist of an acculturation week developed by Air University, a group project spanning the entirety of the program, four senior mentor small group sessions with 50 Air Force civilian senior leaders from across the enterprise, and a career field-specific functional experience.

In addition to partnering with Air University, we also incorporated a “Chat with an Airman” day as part of the symposium where active duty guest speakers from various professions give interns first-hand knowledge and a better understanding of what the Air Force does, said Cavenaugh.

“We made a commitment to these interns and that means something to the Air Force,” Cavenaugh said. “We work hard to build relationships with the universities they attend--relationships that allow us to have access to their campus and their students to share Air Force civil service opportunities. We want to cultivate a reputation as the organization of choice with these universities and their students.”

PCIP feeds the Air Force’s Palace Acquire and Copper Cap programs with approximately 75 percent of participating students.

“The Air Force depends on this summer internship to produce candidates for our Palace Acquire and Copper Cap programs, ensuring we are able to meet future demands in STEM, Cyber and other critical specialties,” VanSteenburg said. 

“If after the experience they feel the Air Force is right for them and their supervisors feel they are right for the Air Force, they will be given an opportunity to convert to a three-year extended internship that could lead to permanent outplacement,” Cavenaugh said.

For more information about the PCIP, go to