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What is the Federal Fellows?

The program combines a fall seminar course taught by industry experts with professional development workshops, one-on-one resume and interview reviews, and federally-related events throughout the year. The program's mission: to prepare talented, diverse undergraduate students to excel in professional internships and pursue careers of influence and impact, especially in the public sector.

Program Design

Fall Seminar (3 credits)

Congressional Internships 2013Students enroll in a subject-based federal policy seminar course where they learn about the policy-making process and discuss related issues in a seminar led by an industry expert. Site visits to federal agencies, guest speakers, and round table sessions ensure that students receive a variety of real-world perspectives on their chosen policy area. Students interested more specifically in the international sector should also visit our sister program, Global Semester in Washington, D.C. for additional concentrations.

Spring Internship (3-6 credits)

Students complete a spring internship in a public service organization, government agency, embassy, or other policy-related organization where they apply lessons from the seminar and supplementary courses to real-life situations. Staff work with students individually to guide them through the internship application process, but students are ultimately responsible for securing their own internship placements. Students may receive credit through UNIV398J, UNIV399, or through an internship course in their major. Students enrolled in UNIV389J or UNIV399 complete journal entries and participate in discussions and workshops that link federal policy knowledge with the professional realm. A final reception and presentation event culminates the Federal Semester experience.

Supplementary Courses (6 credits)

In addition to the core Federal Semester policy seminar, students take two supplementary courses intended to support students' knowledge of public policy, issues discussed in the seminar, and career/professional development. Courses must be a minimum of 3 credits and taken at the university. Students may apply courses taken previously toward this requirement. For a list of pre-approved courses, see the Courses page. Students may suggest other courses for approval.

Professional Development and Events

Throughout the semester, students attend out-of-class events related to federal policy. These events can range from a debate on a specific federal issue to a networking session with federal agency contacts. The program also hosts professional development workshops to help students draft resumes/cover letters and practice interview skills.

Benefits

"Federal Semester Fellow" Notation on Transcript (NEW!)
Students who successfully complete all program requirements will earn a "Federal Semester Fellow" notation on their transcript. Students who earn the notation are also privileged to wear blue and red Federal Semester cords at their Commencement ceremony.

Learn about Public Service and Public Policy
FEMA 2008 Field TripDOE, NSA, CIA…beyond learning the alphabet soup of federal government lingo, students gain knowledge of how government operates -- from the inside. Expert practitioners and leaders teach our students about pressing issues in their concentration areas and offer real-world perspectives on the policy-making process. Field trips and guest speakers illuminate further perspectives on life in the federal government, public policy, career fields and other opportunities, and the challenges facing the U.S. and the world.

Professional Development in a Supportive Environment
What does it mean to enter the workforce? Federal Semester provides that missing link between school and the professional world. Through field trips, special events, workshops, and advising, we work with students to expand knowledge in areas necessary to succeed in the workplace and make a differences in the world. We examine interpersonal skills, workplace behavior, written and oral communication skills, and work ethic and attitudes. Speakers and leaders share content that is crucial for industry best practices. We offer a friendly and supportive environment where students can ask questions, practice skills, and engage in self-development for their futures. Although students are responsible, ultimately, for securing their own internship, we provide information about opportunities that come our way through relationships we've developed throughout the D.C. metropolitan area.

Personalized Advice and Guidance
Sookdeo with FAA supervisorOnce you are accepted into our program, your success is our success, and we do all we can to maximize your potential. Our staff members are available for individual consultations with students to explore interests and work on applications. We assist in the internship search by developing students’ skills in resume and cover letter writing, interviewing, networking, and communications. We also provide personalized support and guidance throughout the internship work experience. We assist students in building the confidence and skills needed to succeed in the world.

Networking During and After the Program
From the first day of class, students step into an enthusiastic and expansive network of peers, mentors, friends, and opportunities. We offer opportunities to build lasting relationships. Whether it is a classmate, course instructor, guest speaker, staff member, internship supervisor, colleague, or graduate from over 500 program alumni, Federal Semester students have the opportunity to build a meaningful network that can be valuable for insider knowledge, career advice, informational interviews, or job referrals. At Federal Semester, students expand knowledge and contacts to further their professional lives. The official Alumni Group commenced Fall Semester 2013. When you complete the program, you may join this dynamic, diverse group for career assistance, friendshp, and lifelong support.

Funding Assistance
Health Policy field trip 2011We provide our students with funding of $500 each so that our students can afford to engage in and travel to unpaid internships.

Student Testimony

Image of Ojewumi with Rep. Pelosi"Without Federal Semester I probably would not have considered an internship with the federal government, much less a long career with them…Thank you for inspiring students like myself to work in the federal government and making us feel that we can make a difference in our world."
        -Chelsea W., Homeland Security Policy

"Use the people in the Federal Semester office to better yourself; they want to help and are always there for you when you need them. They are genuinely excited for you and want you to succeed in whatever you choose to do. For me, the Federal Semester office was my support system and sometimes all you need to achieve your goals is a little encouragement."
        -Lebona H., Foreign Policy

"The experience I gained in Federal Semester, both in and out of the classroom, has been monumental. The opportunity to work for the government at the headquarters of the Department of Defense has been fantastic. Without Federal Semester, it would never have happened."
        -Daniel D., Homeland Security Policy

Volke tabling at USCIS event"The Federal Semester Fellows has been critical to my personal development as a college student, and has opened my eyes to an entirely new world of public policy."
        -Nathan H., Energy and Environmental Policy

"The Federal Semester is an amazing opportunity to stand out as an undergraduate at the University of Maryland. The fall semester seminar was by far one of the best classes that I took during my college career. In addition to having an incredibly distinguished and understanding teacher, I was surrounded by like-minded students who created an engaging environment."
        -Elana S., Foreign Policy

"The Federal Semester staff is comprised of hard working and dedicated individuals who want to see nothing but success for Federal Semester students. Together with their help, you will be able to discover the numerous opportunities available. Ultimately you will find an internship that is perfect for you whether it be working in the federal government, a congressional office, or a non-governmental organization."
        -Wayne E., Homeland Security Policy

Mowry at NCSL office"The Federal Semester Fellows is very unique and tailors to many educational and career interests and is extremely flexible. The possibilities are endless when it comes to Federal Semester and there aren’t many other Universities who have programs like this, which link you to the Federal Government and really allow students to experience as well as network in the Federal Government."
        -Josiane T., Public Health Policy

"Joining this program was one of the best decisions I’ve made at the University of Maryland! The program is simply amazing. Now, when you’re applying to various internships and jobs (even beyond the Federal Semester Fellows) you’ll have a sparkling resume and a cover letter that reflects you and your wonderful abilities."
        -Joanna A., Energy and Environment Policy

"The one-on-one time with staff, including practice interviews, greatly helped me in getting internships and making smart choices about where to go work...I met a lot of people that I will be keeping in touch with and have also learned a great deal about the inner workings of a non-profit."
        -Anna C., Foreign Policy

"I am so thankful for all of the hard work by Federal Semester staff and dedication that each of you put into your job. Your help has truly impacted my future and inspired me to be a harder worker."
        -Allison W., Homeland Security Policy

Student Profiles

Leah Schleifer
Major: Environmental Science & Policy
Program Concentration: Energy and Environmental Policy
Student picture, Leah

Comment on Federal Semester: Applying to the Federal Semester was without a doubt the best decision I have made in college! It has opened up tons of doors to new jobs, internships, and opportunities.  For example, I will be travelling to Australia this summer for a conference that I found out about on the Federal Semester listserv! The unbelievably amazing and supportive Federal Semester staff and faculty have taught me how to write a cover letter, edit my resume, and interview like a professional. In addition, my seminar was honestly the most engaging and collaborative class I've taken at Maryland. If you are interested in pursuing any kind of political-oriented career, I would highly recommend applying to the Federal Semester. It's so worth it! 

Internship: U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Learning and Workforce Development
Role of Intern: At the DOE, my main project is editing a catalog of Senior Executive Service training classes. I also assist with planning leadership events, sit in on meetings, and network!

Rachel DeCampo
Major: Anthropology
Program Concentration: Homeland Security Policy
Student picture, Rachel

Comment on Federal Semester:I've found the program to be helpful for providing participants with first-hand experience in regards to starting a career in the Federal Government through guest speakers and other events. The application process for federal jobs can be extremely confusing, and getting a job often requires other efforts such as networking and acquiring clearances. Being in the program has helped me to understand this process more thoroughly and to take advantage of unforeseen opportunities. I would highly recommend any student interested in civil service to apply to the program in order to enhance their potential of starting a federal career after graduation.

Internship: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of the Under Secretary for Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy, Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communication
Role of Intern
  • Supported senior project planners with initiative design and implementation using research skills, presentation creation, and actied as a liaison between planners and project partners
  • Provided input to the team's findings and presentations and presented findings to the supervisor
  • Utilized knowledge of the communications environment to maximize impact of projects and improve communication infrastructure capabilities in target regions
Andrew Marcoux
Majors: Government & Politics and Criminology & Criminal Justice
Program Concentration: Homeland Security Policy
Student picture, Andrew

Comment on Federal Semester: Federal Semester is an amazing opportunity that provides students with everything they need to reach their full potential. Interesting courses, dedicated staff, and assistance in finding/succeeding at an internship make Federal Semester both unique and indispensable to a student interested in the Federal Government.

Internship: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice, Office of Communications
Role of Intern: support the efforts of the communications team at the National Institute of Justice in disseminating written materials, grants, and programs targeted towards improving criminal justice.

Emily Leonard
Major: Neurobiology & Physiology
Program Concentration: Health Policy
Student picture, Emily

Comment on Federal Semester: The Federal Semester allowed me to quickly gain a knowledge base that I could not have possibly attained within my major's subject matter. This program forces you to challenge yourself professionally and has granted me the confidence boost and job skills I need before I enter today's competitive work force.

Internship: The AIDS Institute
Role of Intern: The AIDS Institute is an AIDS policy advocacy non-profit. I attend meetings and summarize the important aspects of the meetings for my coworkers, compile data used for advocacy projects, and create handouts and documents used for distribution in meetings.

Megan Williams
Major: Geography
Program Concentration: Homeland Security Policy
Student picture, Megan

Comment on Federal Semester: Federal Semester provided me with opportunities that most people, let alone students, never get to experience such as a visit to the National Counterterrorism Center and an active listserv of internship positions. It was the best program I participated in at UMD, and I look forward to staying in contact with my new Federal Semester network!

Internship: National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START)
Role of Intern: I managed the geodatabase of the Global Terrorism Database to ensure location coding accuracy and consistency. To do this, I used ArcGIS to modify polygons of countries' administrative divisions and added polygons for cities with the most terrorism incidents.

Event Photos

Click below to view Federal Semester event photos hosted on our Facebook page.

Photo Link to Facebook Photo Album

How to Recruit our Students

Interested in recruiting bright, committed students as interns or volunteers for your organization?

Program Information Sheet
Student Internship Position Template

Program Overview

  • Mission: To prepare talented, diverse undergraduate students to excel in professional internships and pursue careers of influence and impact, especially in the public sector.
  • Student availability: Our students are available to engage in internships of 10 to 20 hours per week from late-January through mid-May (the university’s spring semester).
  • Students receive college credit for their internships through a university-administered internship experiential course.
  • The program provides students with funding to assist with their transportation costs.

How to Recruit an Intern

  • The most effective recruitment period is mid-September through late October; students generally prefer to secure their spring internships early to mid-fall semester. We also circulate positions later in the fall semester.
  • How to advertise an opportunity: You may send your own position description as an attachment; fill out our position form instead; OR send just an informal position description in an email text to federalsemester@umd.edu. In all cases, please use as your subject line: [name of your organization/office]) Position Description.  
  • Please specify whether you prefer for students to apply directly to you or you wish us to compile resumes on your behalf.   
  • For more information, please contact Program Coordinator, Naz Beyranvand, at nbeyran@umd.edu or (301) 314-0261. You are also welcome to contact the Director of Federal Semester, Dr. Joan Burton, at jburton1@umd.edu or (301) 314-1920.

Additional Information

  • The University of Maryland’s Federal Semester Fellows attracts applications from high-achieving undergraduate students from all the colleges (the minimum GPA is 3.0).
  • Our students major in a multitude of disciplines. In our program, they enroll in theme-based concentrations such as homeland security; energy and environment; foreign policy; science and technology; global challenges; and public health.
  • The program combines a fall seminar course taught by industry experts with professional development workshops, one-on-one resume and interview reviews, and federally-related events throughout the year to enable students to excel in their spring internships and pursue careers and activities related to public service.
  • Students may complete a spring internship at a federal agency, congressional office, or related organization, including NGOs, non-profits, think tanks, and private industry.

Partner with Federal Semester

Final Reception photoFederal Semester is actively developing both formal and informal relationships and agreements with government offices, private companies, nongovernmental organizations, and other related agencies. If you are interested in initiating an ongoing relationship with the program, please contact the Program Director, Dr. Joan Burton, by email or phone, (301) 314-1920.