George Mason University senior Frank Diallo enjoys an interim secret clearance, a benefit he’s earned by interning with TSA’s Intelligence and Analysis (I&A). As an information systems and operations management major, Diallo fine-tunes his analytic and critical thinking skills developed in the classroom as he researches and reports on bulk cash movements through TSA checkpoints.
His work provides field agents with vital information in forming solutions for difficult security issues. TSA is a good fit for Diallo, who has a strong interest in homeland security and has completed coursework in government contracting and procurement.
Focusing on the money transfer businesses that use couriers to move cash in bulk, Diallo gained a practical understanding of the inner workings of government and the need for strong stakeholder engagement. “Frank is a fantastic addition to our team,” said I&A Deputy Director of Field Intelligence Peter Clemens. “He jumped right in, went to work and started providing great analysis on the bulk cash project. It’s great to have him.”
Brandon Persaud, a rising junior at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale, is assisting in the mission support office at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL). Having lived in Germany and been educated at an international school during his early teen years, Persaud values diversity and enjoys engaging with others. Narrowing down his criminal justice degree focus, he decided interning with TSA was a great place to gain practical work experience.
“At FLL, we require all of our interns to serve as decoys for screening, K9 and compliance testing before they perform any other functions,” said Federal Security Director (FSD) Jason Martin. “Beyond that, we use interns in screening to assist Transportation Security Specialist – Explosives tracking local testing results and help with audits of national and local operation requirements.”
Persaud will spend the fall semester assisting with FSD initiative programs and special projects and acting as a training decoy.
“At the end of his time at FLL, he will have a full understanding of screening operations, compliance and mission support,” said Executive Assistant Hillary Lazo.
Diallo, Persaud and dozens of others landed coveted TSA internships, getting training and practical hands-on work experiences while cultivating skill sets they’ll use throughout their careers.
“The Student Internship Program is administered by Human Capital (HC) and Policy and Career Programs,” said Student Programs Coordinator Iram Shahzad. “[It] includes several different internship programs, paid and unpaid, which are geared toward current students as well as programs for recent graduates including the Presidential Management Fellows Program.”
Student internship opportunities are announced through career centers and career websites at different academic institutions and through career and internship fairs. USAJobs also advertises vacant internships.
“Student outreach is an important part of student programs and has successfully pivoted to the virtual format since the pandemic,” said Shahzad. “These events are mostly collaborative efforts between HC and program offices interested in hiring interns.”
Students can apply for announced positions by submitting a resume, transcript, and cover letter, by direct outreach at internship events, or by reaching out to TSA’s student programs coordinator at TSAInterns@tsa.dhs.gov.
Acceptance criteria may vary based on the needs of the hosting office and what skill set they are looking for as well as the academic and career interests of the students. Other basic eligibility requirements include being in good academic standing, proof of current enrollment, and approval from a student’s academic advisor.
The future is bright for the interns and the program. “We are seeing an increase in number of students seeking internships and entry-level jobs and think that this will continue to be the case until the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and most likely beyond,” said Shahzad.