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  1. Homeland Security Careers
  2. Students & Grads
  3. Students
  4. Acquisition and Procurement

Student Hire Internship Pathway for Acquisition Professionals

The Student Hire Internship Pathway (SHIP) for Acquisition Professionals offers current students in relevant educational programs paid internships in DHS acquisition offices during the period before graduation. Upon graduation, student interns may be converted into positions in the Acquisition Professional Career Program (APCP). SHIP is managed within the DHS Office of the Chief Procurement Officer. If you are interested in this program, we encourage you to first learn more about DHS Acquisition Careers.

SHIP targets undergraduate or graduate university students with superior academic achievement (usually a 3.0 GPA or above) who are interested in public service careers at DHS that are focused on one of the acquisition career fields supported by the Acquisition Professional Career Program (APCP). These career fields are business or engineering focused. SHIP interns should be prepared to become APCP participants upon university graduation. SHIP interns must be prepared to work in any DHS Component, Directorate, or Office that supports APCP participants.

SHIP affords interns the opportunity to test DHS acquisition careers for fitness and for DHS to test interns for fitness in acquisition careers.

The pathway currently offers internships during the summer, fall, or spring immediately before graduation. The Summer period is full-time (40 hour per week) and any fall or spring semester periods are part‑time (16 hours per week). Students may be offered the opportunity to extend their internships into subsequent periods, but no internship will extend beyond three periods before graduation. Upon graduation, students may be offered the opportunity to convert into full-time positions in the Acquisition Professional Career Program. Extensions or conversions are not implied or guaranteed at any time for any interns.

Internship positions are filled under the Office of Personnel Management’s Pathways Program authorities. The Pathways Program allows students to gain paid work experience while pursuing a degree, diploma, or certificate at a qualifying institution. Students who successfully complete all work, study, qualifications, and other eligibility requirements may be offered a permanent position with our agency upon graduation or completion of a qualifying certificate.

Key features of the SHIP experience include:

  • Cohort based onboarding experience
  • Orientation to DHS mission and cultures
  • Orientation to federal acquisition careers and the professional environment
  • Structured on‑the‑job experience
  • Partnership with a mentor
  • Peer support and networking with your “shipmate” counterparts
  • Specialized training
  • External events and activities
  • Mission-connection experiences
  • A management interview of a senior professional
  • A leadership shadowing experience
  • Capstone project that showcases your SHIP experiences
  • Special projects

As a student trainee in acquisition, typical work assignments may include the following under supervision:

  • Serve on a team specializing in acquisition to negotiate, award, administer, and closeout actions
  • Engineer or cost estimate of programs
  • Assist in requirements planning and the development and review of statements of work
  • Prepare acquisition documents and obtain legal, financial, and staff review
  • Assist higher-graded staff with the day-to-day administration of acquisition activity
  • Participate in special activities as assigned
  • Assure data in information systems for assigned work is complete, current, and accurate
  • Oversee contractor performance under contracts

Complete training and career development activities

Students are paid at the GS-04, Step 1 level ($17.51 per hour). Approximate salary listed is based on current General Schedule Locality Pay Table in the Washington, DC area. Upon graduation, student interns may be converted into positions in the Acquisition Professional Career Program (APCP) where they progress on a career ladder of increasing responsibility and salaries.


Student interns are not eligible for most federal employee benefits and are not tenured career federal employees with application status preference for other federal job postings, except APCP. Interns accrue paid annual leave and sick leave. If converted to APCP, participants receive normal federal employee benefits at that time.

Student interns must be prepared to meet the Program Eligibility standards outlined under the Acquisition Professional Career Program (APCP) at the time of application and/or graduation. Interns are expected to graduate with superior academic achievement, usually a 3.0 GPA or above.

Each job opportunity announcement posted on USAJOBS will list the official qualifications and eligibility criteria. Please read each announcement carefully before applying.

SHIP is a highly competitive pathway to join. All official applications will be solicited, received, and processed via official job opportunity announcements on USAJOBS. These job announcements are not continuous and usually only appear once or twice each year. DHS typically recruits for SHIP around February or on‑boarding around June.

DHS is also interested in identifying talent at any time. If you believe you are a good fit for SHIP, you may send your resume to AcquisitionCandidates@hq.dhs.gov, specifying your career field of interest. If you are on a university recruitment platform and find SHIP or Acquisition Professional Career Program (APCP) information posted, we encourage you engage with us there because it means we are in an active recruitment cycle. We may not respond to all interested parties, but we always maintain a talent pool that we may notify when job announcements are posted.

If you believe you are an ideal candidate for SHIP and wish to learn more, submit your statement of interest and your resume to AcquisitionCandidates@hq.dhs.gov to join our talent pool. Note that this is not an official application to the pathway.

DHS is an Equal Opportunity Employer

What if I cannot or do not want to work in or near Washington, DC?

SHIP interns may be eligible for partial telework schedules but not fully remote work away from their duty locations unless granted an exception for the internship period only. Most positions are based in or near Washington, DC. We have a small number of individuals in Burlington, VT and Philadelphia, PA. There are occasionally other geographic locations we support, but they are rare. Job opportunity announcements on USAJOBS will list the specific duty locations available under each posting. Please only apply if you are willing to work in a location specified in each announcement.

Is this a career program that may lead to a DHS career in another discipline, such as law enforcement, criminal justice, public administration, international affairs, cybersecurity, information technology, etc.?

No, all opportunities are focused on the business area of DHS with emphasis on the acquisition/purchasing and administration of mission critical products or services obtained from industry. You can learn more about other DHS career interests by visiting the following:

Is the SHIP pathway for university students only?

Yes. SHIP targets current part‑time or full‑time university students entering or within their final year of study at the undergraduate or graduate level via the Internship Pathways Program authorities. However, we also have a direct entry pathway into the Acquisition Professional Career Program (APCP ) for recent university graduates and others and for military members transitioning from service with little or no university education via our Warriors‑to‑DHS Pathway (W2DHS).

When will the next job announcement post or how can I learn more?

Please review the “Openings and Recruitment” section above. We generally do not reply to messages asking only when the next job announcement will be posted. The best advice we can offer is to enter our talent pool so that you may be notified of new job opportunity announcements. You may also set job alerts on USAJOBS. If you have a question that has not been answered on our pages, you may contact us at AcquisitionCandidates@hq.dhs.gov and we may elect to reply. We strive to treat interested applicants equally via public recruiting efforts, information sessions, and through the standard application process that begins on USAJOBS

Last Updated: 02/03/2022
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