US Forest Service

Central California Consortium


Central California Consortium
1600 Tollhouse Road
Clovis, CA 93611

(559) 297-0706
ext. 4962

Learn more about the California Consortium Employment Program

Frequently asked questions

USAjobs also provides FAQ's. You can view responses to these questions:

Return to Internship Program webpage

  1. What is a Forest Service (FS) Internship?
  2. Why were the STEP and SCEP programs eliminated?
  3. What is the Pathways program?
  4. What are the benefits of an Internship?
  5. What type of internships and career fields are available with the FS?
  6. What does an Intern do?
  7. Do I get paid? How much?
  8. If positions are not local, can I apply for them? Where will I live?
  9. When can I apply?
  10. What is the next step after I submit my application? Will I be contacted?
  11. How are interns selected?

1. What is a Forest Service Internship?

An internship is a supervised, learning experience during which an intern, with guidance and supervision, completes a series of planned activities, with established learning objectives, or project(s) designed to give a broad understanding of an occupational area.

A Forest Service internship experience with the California Consortium (CA Consortium) consists of an agreement between the intern, the supervisor, and the CA Consortium to determine learning goals, activities, and experience. CA Consortium positions are temporary paid internships. Most are summer full time (40 hours per week) internships although there are a few exceptions where positions are part time throughout the year. The CA Consortium offers internships throughout California and sometimes Washington and Oregon. Government housing is available for many internship positions. Students will be hired under the Pathways hiring authority which is a federal student hiring method that all federal agencies utilize to fill positions. A selected few may have the opportunity to become permanent employees through this internship program.

This is just a brief description of Forest Service student employment opportunities. For more details regarding Forest Service Internships, view the rest of the frequently asked questions.

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2. Why were the STEP and SCEP programs eliminated?

The Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) and the Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) have been replaced by the new Pathways federal hiring authority. The Pathways program is similar to the STEP and SCEP programs and allows students to be exposed to the federal government through internships while pursuing their degree.

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3. What is the Pathways program?

The Pathways Program is designed to provide students enrolled in a wide variety of educational institutions, from high school to graduate level, with opportunities to work in agencies and explore Federal careers while still in school and while getting paid for the work performed. Students who successfully complete the program may be eligible for conversion to a permanent job in the civil service. Additional information about the Internship Program can be found at Here are some key provisions of the Internship Program.


  • Current students in an accredited high school, college (including 4-year colleges/universities, community colleges, and junior colleges); professional, technical, vocational, and trade school; advanced degree programs; or other qualifying educational institution pursuing a qualifying degree or certificate.
  • Intern's position will be related to the Intern's academic career goals or field of study.
  • Must be taking at least a half time (typically 6 units) course load at an accredited high school, technical or vocational school, 2 or 4 year college or university, graduate or professional school.
  • Must be at least 16 years old (able to obtain a work permit).

General Information

  • Agencies may hire Interns on a temporary basis for up to one year for an initial period, or for an indefinite period, to complete the educational requirement.
  • Interns may work either part-time or full-time.
  • Each agency must sign a Participant Agreement with the Intern that sets forth the expectations for the internship.
  • For pay and skill level, otherwise known as GS level, view question # 7 for more details

Path to Permanent Employment

Interns may be converted to a permanent position at employer/supervisor request (or, in some limited circumstances, to a term position lasting 1-4 years) within 120 days of successful completion of the program. To be eligible for conversion, Interns must:

  • Complete their degree or certificate requirements.
  • Meet the qualification standards for the position to which the Intern will be converted.
  • Meet agency-specific requirements as specified in the Participant's Agreement, and perform their job successfully.
  • Complete at least 640 hours of work experience acquired through the Internship Program.
  • Agencies may waive up to 320 of the required 640 hours of work for Interns who demonstrate high potential as evidenced by outstanding academic achievement and exceptional job performance. In addition, students working in agencies through third-party intern providers may count up to 320 of the hours they work toward the 640 hour requirement. Time spent under previous Internship Program appointments may count towards required work experience hours.

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4. What are the benefits of an Internship??

Employee Benefits

  • Eligible to accrue 4 hours of sick leave every 80 hours worked.
  • Eligible to accrue annual (vacation) leave every 80 hours worked.
  • For many internship opportunities, students enjoy flexible work hours.
  • Initially, not eligible for retirement benefits, health benefits, and life insurance, but is eligible for health benefits after 1 year of continuous service. Employee must pay 100% of the premium.
  • Permanent career/professional position employees are eligible for retirement, health benefits, and life insurance.

Other benefits offered to students through an internship experience:

  • An opportunity to explore career fields of interest first hand.
  • Application of academic knowledge in a practical work environment.
  • A chance to gain “hands on” experiences.
  • Making contacts useful for future employment.
  • A setting, which broadens experiences and encourages self-confidence, maturity and accomplishment.
  • A source of recommendations for graduate study, post-graduate employment, or future employment.

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5. What type of internships and career fields are available with the FS?

Below is a list of some of the career fields, departments, and/or functions of the USDA, Forest Service. All of the summaries contain some information regarding roles and responsibilities of interns within those areas.

Archeologist survey and record archeological data on forest lands, perform archeological examinations of roads, reservoirs, recreation, and prepare maps, inventory, reports and records. Interns may assist with organizing and collecting data and other duties delegated by Archeologists.

Botany/Plant Science interns survey and monitor threatened endangered, sensitive, and rare plants. Conducts field surveys for rare plants, poisonous weeds, and map locations. Additionally, interns locate and manually remove invasive plants by pulling, digging, or cutting.

Business Administration interns may manage programs by organizing, filing, and/or retrieving documents, records and reports. Manage assigned projects, use of services, supplies, and/or equipment. Additionally, administrators may also be responsible for performing clerical office duties such as answering phone calls, taking messages, and directing calls.

Civil Engineers interns are engaged in planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance activities for roads, bridges, trails, buildings, landing strips, wastewater systems, ski lifts, communications systems, and much more. Interns analyze information and evaluate results to select the best solution and solve help create solutions.

Environmental Science Interns assist in resource management activities such as land management, planning, and implementation following the environmental guidelines and handbooks. Interns assist in data collection field activities, and conducts standard forest and rangeland soil resource inventories and watershed restoration needs inventories of assigned areas.

Fire - Engine, Hotshots, and Handcrew interns perform assignments as wildland firefighters and develop a working knowledge of fire suppression and fuels management techniques, practices and terminology. This consists of fireline construction, use of pumps and engines, hose lays, safety rules, and basic fire behavior. Interns identify and extinguish burning materials by moving dirt, applying water by hose or backpack pump, etc. Additionally, interns chop brush, fallen small trees, move dirt to construct fireline using various hand tools such as axes, shovels, Pulaskis, McLeods. Interns clean, recondition, and store fire tools and equipment.

Forestry Interns apply advances in science and technology to ensure the health of forests and watersheds, wildlife habitat, air and water, and to provide safe and clean places for people to recreate. Interns assist foresters, or work as a team member in accomplishing select portions of projects which include all or most of the following: running sale boundary lines, cruising and marking timber, and receive training as a scaler.

Geology/Soil Science Interns survey and investigate techniques and procedures used to identify management opportunities. Then conduct geologic studies and prepare reports of findings to properly identify geologic environment and evaluate mineral resources. This position exposes interns to resource management activities such as Forest Service land management planning and implementation. Interns may assist with organizing and collecting data and other duties delegated by Geologist.

Geographic Information Specialists Interns work with satellite imagery and map overlays of thousands of acres as part of the major projects, such as cooperative research programs. Interns conduct mapping research, in the field and in the office to resolve conflicting information and to ensure accuracy of the data. Interns assist in creating and printing maps and other duties delegated by GIS Specialist.

Hydrology Interns conduct hydrologic evaluation techniques and procedures to identify management opportunities. They survey roads for erosion issues and inspect culverts; assess water resource capability and suitability. Additionally, hydrologists measures and test the quantity, availability, movement, and distribution of ground and surface water. Interns may assist with organizing and collecting data and other duties delegated by Hydrologist.

Law Enforcement Interns conduct preliminary crime scene investigations and patrol to prevent violations of Federal laws and regulations on National Forest System lands. Interns locate, secure, and protect crime scenes; collect and/or seize evidence; learn, and assist in obtaining physical and documentary evidence.

Public Affairs Interns educate the public and media about the Forest Service (FS) mission, how the FS relates to the public, and how the public affects Forest lands. They also work with people whose backyards adjoin the national forest in a “wildland/urban interface” area to protect their families and property.

Visitor Information Interns greet guests entering establishment and direct/escort them to specific destinations; perform daily activities to support the operations of a visitor center such as security, sales, inventory, and equipment maintenance. Additionally, the Visitor Information Intern operates telephone, provides information about the organization and center, and schedules appointments.

Recreation Officers manage recreation sites, plan and manage winter sports areas, wilderness backpacking areas, and a wide variety of trails. Interns may perform general custodial tasks in cleaning and maintaining park facilities, as well as greet visitors and represent the FS.

Crew Leaders lead a crew of 4 to 5 high school students; maintain trails, recreation areas, and facilities throughout different Forests. Crew Leaders also provide leadership workshops and environmental education lessons. This position requires driving to remote areas in the national forest. Wildlife

Biologists help make the forests a healthy environment that meet the needs of wildlife in terms of vegetation, water flow, canopy cover, and other biological requirements. Interns assist in conducting physical habitat surveys such as bird, amphibian, or fish surveys.

To view which career opportunities you may be interested in based on your major, select the following link.

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6. What does an Intern do?

The majority of the internship positions are technical and field going. However, students are hired from a wide variety of academic disciplines into a variety of positions and settings.

Each intern has a different assignment, which varies according to the department and supervisor. Work may include laboratory experiments, conducting research, fieldwork, collecting field data, organizing, conducting administrative and customer service duties, and/or other opportunities.

If hired, while representing your school and the CA Consortium, you are expected to follow these guidelines:

  • Maintain a good work ethic.
  • Arrive to work on time every day.
  • Dress appropriately for your work environment.
  • Exhibit an enthusiastic attitude for your assignments and your co-workers.
  • Maintain a professional image.
  • Attend all mandatory meetings.
  • Complete all required paper work in a timely fashion (i.e. time sheets, employment paper work, evaluations, etc.).

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7. Do I get paid? How much?

View links for GS table which illustrates qualification and pay levels for the Forest Service: Hourly Pay and Annual Pay. All employees begin at a STEP 1 (only view the first column under STEP 1) B= base pay and O= overtime.

Every CA Consortium Forest Service Internship is a paid internship. Entry level students begin at a GS-2 ($10.95 per hour) or GS-3 level ($11.95 per hour) depending on education and work experience. More experienced students can start at GS-3 ($11.95 per hour) or 4 ($13.41 per hour). Persons in doctoral or professional, masters, and even bachelors programs are eligible for up to GS-11 ($27.51 per hour) based on qualifications.

Each candidate’s transcripts and government standard resume is evaluated to determine the GS level the individual qualifies for and whether the candidate qualifies for the position applying for.

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8. If positions are not local, can I apply for them? Where will I live?

Government housing is available for most students that are offered internship positions out of town. Housing is usually in barrack spaces that look like dorms or reconstructed homes. Students share living quarters with other student interns and Forest Service employees. The average cost is roughly $6-8 a day, which adds up to roughly $200 a month. The amount is taken directly out of each paycheck, so students do not need to worry about a monthly payment. Considering most internships available are full time and starting at roughly $11 per hour, housing is very affordable.

The California Consortium understands how difficult it may feel to move away from home to an unfamiliar place. However, remember this is a temporary summer internship. If selected, the California Consortium can assist you to prepare for your summer journey by providing encouragement and support, connecting you with supportive networks at your destination, and ensuring your hiring paperwork is completed. The program will provide guidance on what to take and what you can expect. If you are selected, view the link below for a checklist that can help you prepare for your exciting adventure with the Forest Service.

Internship Relocation Guide (.pdf)

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9. When can I apply?

Students can start their applications on now by creating an account and building their profiles as well as preparing and attaching their resumes and valid transcripts onto their usajobs profile.

All California Forest Service Internship Positions will be available for students to apply during a short window around the month of February. Continue to view our main Internship Program webpage for the latest update on when these positions will be open.

FYI: USAJOBS expires all jobs at 11:59 PM Eastern Time (ET) on the published closing date. Consequently, on the West Coast these same jobs would expire at 8:59 PM Pacific Time (PST). In addition, the Forest Service reserves the right to close, remove, or cancel announcements from USAJOBS at their convenience.

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10. What is the next step after I submit my application? Will I be contacted?

The California Consortium will focus on recruitment during the months of November through February. The timeframe to apply for 2013 internship positions on USAjobs will be sometime in February. However, the screening process (interviews and reference checks) and most position selections should be made from March through May. Each position will have a separate selection period and will occur during this time. If you would like more information about a particular position selection period or the status of your application, you may check the status of your application(s) from the “My Account” menu. Otherwise, you may call or email the agency point of contact listed within the job opportunity announcement you applied for to check the status of your application. Each position you apply to may have a different point of contact.

It is strongly encouraged that you complete your profile as soon as possible so you are ready to apply for unlimited Forest Service and federal internship opportunities in February.

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11. How are interns selected?

Your application and the questionnaires you complete before submitting your application (including Core Eligibility Questions, Application preferences, Minimum Qualification Questions, and Assessment Questions) will be evaluated to ensure you qualify for each position you applied to. If you qualify, your application information will be ready for review by the supervisor. The supervisor or assigned FS employees may further evaluate your application through interviews, reference checks, and a detailed assessment of the application before making a selection. Supervisors do not need to contact you directly, conduct interviews, or check references before making a selection.

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US Forest Service - Central California Consortium
Last Modified: Monday, 16 December 2013 at 14:18:58 CST

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.