College students receive training through AF internship

  • Published
  • By Ashley M.D. Murphy
  • Air Force Services Agency student intern program manager
College students can intern in Air Force youth and recreation programs - and get paid for it.

The Air Force Services Agency Student Intern Program is open to college juniors, or older, to become Air Force nonappropriated fund employees at nearly any Air Force installation world-wide, and earn college credit at the same time.

The program was established by the Office of Secretary of Defense and Headquarters Air Force Airmen and Family Services in 2009, as a way to recruit and retain high performing students for future careers with the Air Force. While the focus is primarily on child and youth programs, it was recently expanded to familiarize interns with a variety of support functions such as community centers, Outdoor Recreation, Arts and Crafts, Libraries, and Airman and Family Centers.

According to JoAnne Dimitriou, the AFSVA plans and force management director, the Student Intern Program provides an opportunity for college students to integrate classroom theory with practical on-the-job work experience in child, youth and school-age programs. The internships are challenging and help individuals become competent, effective and productive employees in a variety of occupational areas. The internship is a full-time position that can also be used as course credit at some universities.

"Working with military families allows me to serve my country and those who serve," said April Osz, a student intern with the child development center at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. "It also allows for me to make a difference in so many families' lives. I know I am working with the best program out there and that is an extremely wonderful feeling - knowing I am learning from the best."

"The most challenging part of the internship has been finding balance," Osz said. "There are so many obstacles to tackle working in the CDC; between daily operations, trainings, scheduling, the budget and extra programs. Management puts in a lot of extra hours and heart to ensure their programs are a success. The team works very hard to see that everyone is happy, including coworkers, staff, parents and children. That is an extremely difficult job."

"I have gained a lot of experience and hands-on training that I would not have had the chance to do otherwise," said Melissa Sugars, a student intern at Peterson AFB, Colo. "I would like to continue working in youth programs because my passion is working with military children and families. Since both of my parents were in the military, I can relate to them."

The program is open to all college students with at least two years of education completed. They can request to be placed at any Air Force installation in the world.

The application process starts with Purdue University, which partnered with OSD to publicize and manage similar internship programs across the Department of Defense. Students are required to fill out an application, write an essay, and provide letters of recommendation, as well as transcripts, before being considered for the position. Purdue provides incoming interns a week-long orientation.

"Orientation gives interns a chance to meet their supervisors, learn about military child and youth programs, and generally prepare them for the next six months," says Amy Schott, the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Intern coordinator. "Interns also tour a local Air Force installation, and spend the week learning about the benefits of being an Air Force NAF employee."

Interested students can visit for more information. Applications are currently being accepted for Spring 2012.