ELIGIBILITY

Please review all the sections below to learn about basic qualifications and other requirements to prepare to apply for the next cohort; Class of 2021:

Military Service

  • Veterans Innovation Partnership (VIP) Fellowships are open to U.S. Armed Forces Veterans and Transitioning U.S. Military who are honorably discharged, provided they have completed a minimum of two years of time in service or are retired. Separating service members may apply with an official, signed letter providing a schedule date of separating and discharge, and as long as that date comes before the official start date for each cohort year.
  • Eligible veterans must apply within two years of graduate degree completion, except for those precluded from doing so due to their U.S. Military service obligation, who will have up to six years after degree completion to apply.  Exception for service time extends to six years from a final graduation date, not from military discharge or retirement.
  • U.S. Armed Forces Reservists and National Guard Members are eligible, provided they have completed a minimum of two years of time in service.  Please note that Military Leave (ML) as stipulated in the program’s Civil Service (CS) Temporary Excepted Appointment (TA) hiring authority is not available, however acquired Annual Leave (AL) may be used for military duty days, weekend drills and necessary travel time.
  • Veteran status should be confirmable through U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Reserves and guard status must be confirmed by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) through official orders or documentation from the associated branch of service. All service branches are welcome to apply to the program, including: Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard, and there is no age restriction or special needs limitation.

Education

  • Veterans and separating service members must have completed a Master’s Degree program or higher in the preferred fields of International Business, International Relations/Affairs, Political Science, Public Policy, Public Administration, Global Affairs, or a related field within two years of the application submission dates.
  • An applicant’s cumulative master’s degree Grade Point Average (GPA) must be 3.2 or above on a 4.0 scale. If applicants went to a foreign university, they must provide a certified letter of GPA equivalent in English signed by a senior official in student records.  Official transcripts may be required at a later time and any unofficial transcripts should be included unless otherwise unavailable due to extreme circumstances.
  • Individuals scheduled to graduate within 4-8 weeks of the application closing date may still apply as long as their official start date occurs after their graduation date. The official graduation date should be highlighted in required documentation during the application process and mentioned during any interview that follows.
  • Degrees outside preferred educational fields are still accepted, however it is suggested that applicants attempt to relate their educational background to current U.S. foreign policy priorities and within the framework of the position descriptions provided in the job announcements.

Selection Criteria

Key components include, but are not limited to: Outstanding leadership and life experiences, as well as demonstrated excellence in academic, cross-cultural, and communication skills.

  • This program is highly competitive due to the limited spaces available; therefore, it is recommended that each applicant provide the most comprehensive assessment of skills, leadership qualities, accomplishments and achievements in a limited and to-the-point format.
  • Take advantage of the cover letter to provide more personal influences and points of interest in offices across the agency or in foreign policy more broadly.

Security Clearance

  • Applicants must be able to claim a Secret (S2) or Top Secret (TS) security clearance and pass a suitability review.  As hosting agency, the U.S. Department of State (Department) pays for the background investigation and clearance review.  However, applicants must cover fingerprinting, document preparation, and mailing costs.
  • While having a previous security clearance can assist and expedite the review process, a new or re-validated clearance that is specific to the fellow’s position is required.
  • Contingent upon successful completion of a security investigation and granting of a clearance, the fellowships will last twelve months from each individual start date.  This is considered a Full Time Employee (FTE) position as a one year (365 days) Civil Service (CS) Temporary Excepted Appointment (TA) under the Schedule A hiring authority.

Timing & Structure

Key components include, but are not limited to: Twelve-month full-time employment, beginning in the fall or winter of each year, alongside mentorship and professional development opportunities throughout the year

  • Each fellow receives a complete CS FTE GS-9 Level Portfolio, which includes assigned work commitments as determined by the position being filled, Foreign Affairs Officer or Program Analyst.
  • On boarding and orientation occurs in waves due to differing personal situations.  Most fellows on board 2-6 months after receiving an official offer letter.
  • Veterans must be available to start working and have completed graduation at least two months after the initial application process has been completed. Regarding current employment, a 2-4 weeks’ notice period is generally given when determining an official start date.
  • This program is not designed to lead to permanent federal employment and does not convey preference in seeking such employment.  Nor does it convey the ability to convert non-competitively to a competitive service Federal position automatically.  Full time employment slots must be sought out individually.

Duty Location

  • All positions will be in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area (DC) and salaries paid for by central Department funds.  The expected duration of the Fellowship will be one year.  No fellowships are held outside DC at this time.  Lodging, moving costs and travel are not included for relocation to DC.  Fellows may travel for work purposes during the year; however, these costs must be covered by the supervising host office along with any overtime.
  • Per program policy, Fellows are allowed a minimum of one rotational opportunity for 60-90 days while staying within the Department. Fellows may move to another bureau and office as long as they remain in DC. This provides exposure to different jobs across the Department. Fellows are charged with arrangement between supervising host office and the accepting office.
  • Fellows will be provided with career development resources and job search support while actively in the program.  Pay grade salaries are centrally funded and directly deposited starting three weeks after on boarding, but include back pay from day one of orientation.

Compensation & Benefits

  • Each fellow is paid the same level and step on the General Schedule (GS) for Federal Government employees, which is currently a GS-9 level at step 01 and includes the DC locality pay adjustment.
  • A GS-9-1 salary ranges from $59,543 to $75,411 with the higher end dependent upon previous experience and/or prior Federal Government employment. This is paid over the twelve months of employment as a part of the VIP Fellowship program.
  • A request to negotiate to increase pay to a higher step will require extra documentation and proof of pay cut/reduction upon entry to the program. To request a higher step, soon-to-be Fellows must provide a clear and concise description of previous paygrade, salary or equivalent at the time of offer.
  • Fellows will acquire Annual Leave (AL) as they did in the military or prior federal employment (which transfers over), as well as Sick Leave (SL), however Military Leave (ML) does not apply to a CS TA hiring authority.
  • Participants are offered the opportunity to enroll in the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (FEHB). However, the program does not provide life insurance or similar benefits. Housing is also the responsibility of the fellow to obtain. All eligible Fellows automatically qualify to receive Veterans Health Administration Benefits. To enroll, visit https://www.va.gov/health-care/.

Expectations

  • There are two position descriptions available for submission, Foreign Affairs Officer and Program Analyst. To learn more about duties, roles and responsibilities, search for prior application postings and position descriptions on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) website at: https://www.opm.gov/.
  • Interested veterans can apply for one or both job announcements. Applications may close earlier than the indicated closing date if 250 applications are received per individual position description. Do not delay in applying and start preparing as soon as possible.
  • A well-prepared and thorough resume and cover letter should be submitted for each job position description, providing relevant background, experience and accomplishments which relate to each announcement’s prescribed duties, roles and responsibilities. All applicants are expected to be capable of carrying the professional weight of a GS-9-1 or higher CS FTE portfolio with ease and without fail to best represent the program to the rest of the department.
  • Interested candidates may submit applications each year by searching “Veterans Innovation Partnership on https://www.usajobs.gov/ during the official application time period. Applications are accepted during certain time frames of the year only and any received outside of these dates will not be eligible for consideration.

To review the application process, visit How to Apply.  For more information about the program, review the FAQ.

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