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College students welcomed to Air Force careers during intern symposium

A group of nearly 250 college students in the Air Force’s Premier College Intern Program attend a three-day symposium hosted by the Air Force Personnel Center. During the symposium, June 25-27, the interns learned about Air Force civilian careers, toured Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and listened to briefings that prepared them for their internships. (U.S. Air Force photo by R.J. Oriez)

A group of nearly 250 college students in the Air Force’s Premier College Intern Program attend a three-day symposium hosted by the Air Force Personnel Center. During the symposium, June 25-27, the interns learned about Air Force civilian careers, toured Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and listened to briefings that prepared them for their internships. (U.S. Air Force photo by R.J. Oriez)

College students in the Air Force’s Premier College Intern Program begin a three-day symposium with the Drum Café, an organization that uses interactive drumming exercises to encourage teamwork and diversity in the workplace. The symposium was hosted by the Air Force Personnel Center at the Holiday Inn in Fairborn, Ohio, June 25-27. (U.S. Air Force photo/Karina Brady)

College students in the Air Force’s Premier College Intern Program begin a three-day symposium with the Drum Café, an organization that uses interactive drumming exercises to encourage teamwork and diversity in the workplace. The symposium was hosted by the Air Force Personnel Center at the Holiday Inn in Fairborn, Ohio, June 25-27. (U.S. Air Force photo/Karina Brady)

Premier College Intern Program interns Sarah Earnesty and Kayleigh Brown explore the cockpit of a C-17 during part of their three-day symposium at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The symposium was hosted by the Air Force Personnel Center at the Holiday Inn in Fairborn, Ohio, June 25-27.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Karina Brady)

Premier College Intern Program interns Sarah Earnesty, left, and Kayleigh Brown explore the cockpit of a C-17 during part of their three-day symposium at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The symposium was hosted by the Air Force Personnel Center at the Holiday Inn in Fairborn, Ohio, June 25-27. (U.S. Air Force photo/Karina Brady)

Janet Jackson, Air Force Materiel Command systems engineer division chief, talks with a group of engineering interns during a mentoring lunch at the Premier College Intern Program symposium. The symposium was hosted by the Air Force Personnel Center at the Holiday Inn in Fairborn, Ohio, June 25-27.(U.S. Air Force photo/Karina Brady)

Janet Jackson, Air Force Materiel Command systems engineer division chief, talks with a group of engineering interns during a mentoring lunch at the Premier College Intern Program symposium. The symposium was hosted by the Air Force Personnel Center at the Holiday Inn in Fairborn, Ohio, June 25-27. (U.S. Air Force photo/Karina Brady)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Nearly 250 college students attended the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Premier College Intern Program symposium hosted by the Air Force Personnel Center, June 25-27.

The PCIP is an Air Force-wide program initiated two years ago by former Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson. It is a 12-week paid internship, intended to open the doors of the Air Force civilian workforce to full-time college students who are entering their senior year.

This year, the PCIP has filled 495 slots with students who will be working in financial management, civil engineering, communications and information, contracting, force support, science and engineering, intelligence, office of special investigations and logistics at air bases across the nation.

“The competition to hire the best technical talent has never been fiercer,” said Bill Snodgrass, Air Force Materiel Command director of manpower, personnel and services. “As this program has matured into its second year, we are fishing in a lot of talent ponds, competing with others in the federal sector and big corporations for folks with a high aptitude for engineering and science.”

This year, 119 universities are represented within AFMC, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Alabama A&M University, Vanderbilt University, Princeton University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the University of Oklahoma and Wright State University.

All PCIP interns were required to attend one of four symposiums held during the summer. The Wright-Patterson PCIP symposium was the final event hosted by the AFPC this year. The previous symposiums were held at Hill AFB, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph and Tinker AFB.

“The symposiums allow college interns to experience a professional conference-like setting, all while learning about what Air Force Civilian Service has to offer as a career – not just a job,” said Maili Peters, Talent Management Division chief.

The group of 83 Wright-Patterson Air Force Base PCIP interns was joined by interns from other U.S. Air Force bases, including Edwards AFB, Robins AFB, Peterson AFB, Eglin AFB and the Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, New York to name a few.

The three-day symposium began with a bang at the Holiday Inn in Fairborn, Ohio, on Tuesday morning. As the interns took their seats, they participated in an energizing, team-building exercise with the Drum Café. The Drum Café team led the group in a series of drumming activities, where they celebrated teamwork and diversity in the workplace.

Day one continued into breakout groups divided by career fields, a senior leader briefing given by AFMC executive director Patricia Young, a mentoring lunch and a career field panel. The day came to a close with briefings from 88th Air Base Wing and WPAFB installation commander Col. Thomas Sherman, former PCIP intern Christina Gaebel and Air Force Office of Special Investigations special agent Stephen Klukovich.

Day two consisted of a series of tours at Wright-Patt, where the interns explored the rich history and present-day innovations of the Air Force. The group toured a C-17 at the 445th Airlift Wing and learned about modern technologies being developed at the Air Force Research Laboratory and the 711th Human Performance Wing. They spent the remainder of the day immersing themselves in exhibits at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

The PCIP interns spent their final day of the symposium rotating through briefings about topics that would prepare them for their careers, such as meeting etiquette, Air Force services and resources, mentoring expectations and benefits and entitlements.

As the students transition back into their summer positions, they will be working hard to leave positive impressions with their organizations in hopes of being offered full-time positions after they graduate.

Kristina Whitfield, AFPC PCIP manager, described the PCIP as a 12-week interview where supervisors help interns decide whether an Air Force career is the right fit for them.

“The PCIP internships allow the supervisor and the intern the chance to do a trial run before committing to a position. It is a wonderful opportunity to start carving out the niche that college students want to pursue as they transition to professional life,” said Whitfield.

Eighty-eight percent of last year’s AFMC PCIP interns have transitioned into permanent civilian positions post-graduation.

Announcements for future Premier College Intern Program vacancies can be found on the USAJOBs website at usajobs.gov. Interested individuals may also visit the Air Force civilian career website to learn more about internships and other job opportunities at afciviliancareers.com.