Summary: Patrick McConnell decided to apply for a Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS) internship with the VA to gain more experience working in a fully virtual environment and to make connections with other interns.
Patrick McConnell discovered Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS) internship opportunities when his mother encouraged him to apply. Since McConnell had experience publishing newsletters from a prior internship, he decided to apply for the position of newsletter intern at the VA. He recalled that the application process was straightforward and also received help from his brother, who is currently working for the federal government in Washington, D.C. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, McConnell advised that interested students should start their applications in advance.
As a newsletter intern, McConnell’s main responsibility is to develop the weekly Digital Media Engagement (DME) newsletter for VA interns. On Fridays, McConnell receives information from various department heads in the internship, which will be included in the upcoming week’s newsletter. This includes important announcements for projects and spotlight sections for outstanding interns. Over the weekend, that information is put into a newsletter draft, which is due the following Monday. When not working on the newsletter, McConnell researches potential Veterans resources, participates in the internship’s Reddit page and works on various side projects.
McConnell enjoys interacting with other departments through surveys and forms in order to decide which questions should be addressed in upcoming newsletters. He also appreciates the self-directed nature of his position, and says, “Deciding which intern out of the intern spotlight form deserves to be recognized that week or what helpful tips from the #daily-tips channel I should use are up to our discretion, which I like.”
McConnell’s advice for prospective interns includes being realistic about the amount of time that can be put into the internship: “As a full time student taking 400 level classes and as an active member of my community service fraternity, I am grateful that the role I have in this internship doesn’t require as much in depth work every day. I realistically don’t see how I could fulfill a full 10 hours a week even if there was enough work in my department, so know your limits.”
McConnell is currently finishing his senior year studying politics and communication with ambitions of attending graduate school to pursue public policy. Through this internship, he hopes to gain valuable experience working in an entirely remote environment and to engage in meaningful communication with other interns. McConnell also expressed his gratitude for the internship during a challenging time: “I’m thankful that this…program exists and can offer young adults like me this opportunity to…gain intern experience. I know…this is a difficult time for a lot of people, so I appreciate having this to do.”
Writer: Corinne Nicol
Editors: Julia Pack & Elissa Tatum
Graphic Designer: Helena Strohmier