A taste of Air Force life opens doors to future opportunities

  • Published
  • By Michele Donaldson
  • Air Force Materiel Command

More than 200 college interns learned about Air and Space Force culture, mission, and future opportunities in civilian service at the 2024 Premier College Intern Program Symposium in Dayton, Ohio, June 4-6.

The PCIP initiative began in 2017 as an Air Force-wide training and recruitment initiative managed by the Air Force Personnel Center. The program gives college students a ten-to-twelve-week paid experience in a civil service profession, where they work alongside mentors in career fields related to their college major.

"I like putting the concepts I learned in college to work in real-world scenarios, and I like being a part of a mission I believe in," said Kevin Albee, currently interning at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, in the engineering program.

The attendees have already started their internships at various locations across the country. Some interns live near an Air Force installation and were familiar with civil service prior to participation in the program, but many had no idea there was more to service than becoming a pilot.

The symposium allowed students to unite as a group, network and share their experiences while learning from experts and mentors.

The program's goal is to encourage students to take the next step in the civilian career process after graduation. This could be participating in one of the fast-tracked recent graduate programs such as PALACE Acquire or Copper Cap or becoming permanent civilian employees.

According to Ed Bujan, Chief, Strategic Outreach and Recruiting, Air Force Personnel Center, the PCIP has been an enormous success.

"Students like what they see – stability, work-life balance, opportunity," he said. "Eighty-two percent transition into civilian positions post-graduation."

PCIP targets students seeking careers in STEM fields. Seventy-five percent of the interns at the symposium are studying engineering, math, and cyber security, but the PCIP also includes individuals interested in pursuing work in contracting and acquisition and other career fields.

Yanka Mihaylovski is interning at McDill AFB, Florida.

"I am an accountant," she said, "But I'm working in logistics, which will broaden my opportunities tremendously. I learn something new every day."

Selection is prestigious. The PCIP received more than 1,500 applications this year, but only 500 individuals were chosen to participate.

"I'm a testament to the opportunities available in the Federal workforce," said Brenna Cyr, PCIP Program Manager, who was herself a PCIP intern and later a PALACE Acquire program participant, as she welcomed the group.

The interns heard from guest speakers from finance, security, diversity, and other areas who discussed the Air and Space Force structure and culture.

They then had a chance to break into groups where they spoke with current civil service employees about career field-specific information and participated in mentor-focused activities.  

While in Dayton, the interns also visited the National Museum of the United States Air Force and other Wright-Patterson Air Force Base areas engaged in modern technologies.

They learned from historians about the Air Force's heritage. They also spoke with current active-duty and civilian Airmen, who explained their roles and where the interns might fit in in continuing the legacy.

Announcements for future Premier College Intern Program vacancies can be found on the USAJOBs website at www.usajobs.gov. Current students and recent graduates may also visit www.afintern.com to learn more about internships and other career development programs available to them.