Virtual Student Foreign Service

The Virtual Student Foreign Service ( VSFS ) is a US Department of State program that offers opportunities for American college and university students to virtually intern at US federal agencies. In 2017, the application period for VSFS internships is open from July 2-26. There are over 500 opportunities available at 33 federal agencies, and many of the opportunities are for more than one intern. Interns can be enrolled in a class or classes at any tertiary institution, but they must be American citizens. All work is virtual, and background clearances are not required. These opportunities are unpaid, but offer real work experience, sometimes with foreign languages.

The Virtual Student Foreign Service was announced by the United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in May 2009 [1] as one of several programs in Clinton’s 21st Century Statecraft initiative. Twenty-first Century Statecraft is defined as, “[t] he Complementing of traditional foreign policy tools with newly Innovated and adapté instruments of statecraft That fully leverage the networks, technologies, and demographics of our interconnected world.” [2] VSFS partners with US Agency for International Development (USAID), US Department of Agriculture (USDA), NASA, and many other agencies to provide virtual internship opportunities.

The first virtual internship year coincided with the 2009-2010 academic year.

Program details

Internships begin in the fall and end in the spring, with an application open period in July. Students commit to the academic year , contributing 10 hours a week for the virtual internship. Students communicate with their supervisors through email , phone , and Skype .

The nature of work varies depending on what the agency needs. The work may be research-based, where the student is required to contribute to reports on issues such as economics , the environment , and human rights , or the work may be technology-focused, such as creating blogs and producing electronic journals. Language skills are sometimes required.

Here are some examples of 2017-18 projects that are currently available for application:

State Department: Help build a successful partnership among Department of State.

USAID: Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN) at USAID, a global network of universities that harnesses science, technology, and innovation to solve development challenges.

CIA: We seek an internship which can assist in identifying best practices from academia (eg cognitive / behavioral science, business / management theory), government, and the private sector.

Smithsonian: Help millions of National Zoo by designing and building a cutting edge “plan your day” tool.

National Park Service: Display and interpret three large fossil specimens in a permanent Visitor Center installation. This project will include designing an interpretive panel, sign or wall display that tells the story of these fossils, while offering the visitor with some context for the significance of these artifacts.

Defense: Analyze open-source online data to map and draw conclusions on insurgent activity and international response in conflict areas in Africa.

NASA: Facilitate agency-wide virtual events and teach employees how to effectively use multi-media platforms; You will be responsible for coaching NASA employees on the logistics of running a virtual event.

Application process

The competitive process starts with the website . In the application, students may choose from a list of available projects, selecting three in their order of preference. EInterns must be US citizens .

Further information

  • Government crowdsourcing
  • Virtual Student Foreign Service – US Department of State
  • Virtual Student Foreign Service (VSFS) 2011-2012 eIntern Positions – US Department of State
  • Frequently Asked Question – US Department of State


  1. Jump up^ “Remarks at the New York University Beginning Ceremony” . US Department of State . Retrieved 27 March 2012 .
  2. Jump up^ “21st Century Statecraft” . US Department of State . Retrieved 27 March 2012 .

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