Before applying for a Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Pathways internship, first make sure you meet all program eligibility requirements.

Step 1: Choose Your Internship Period

The BIA Pathways Internship Program typically recruits interns six months in advance of their desired start date. If you want to intern during the summer months, we recommend that you apply during the Fall semester of the preceding year. See the timing guide below to plan your application.

Summer Internships

When to Apply: Fall Semester or Fall Break
When You’ll Hear Back: December – January
When You’ll Intern: May – August (start and end dates flexible)

Spring Internships

When to Apply: Summer Break
When You’ll Hear Back: September – October
When You’ll Intern: February – May (start and end dates flexible)

Fall Internships

When to Apply: Spring Semester or Spring Break
When You’ll Hear Back: December – January
When You’ll Intern: May – August (start and end dates flexible)

Typical Internship Timeline

Step 2: Prepare to Apply

Applying for an internship with the federal government is a multi-step process. We recommend getting a head start on your application by completing the steps below before a Pathways hiring announcement is posted. Completing these steps early will allow you to quickly apply for internships once they become available:

Step 3: Build a USAJobs Profile is the website all federal agencies use to announce jobs and hire new employees. The BIA uses this site to collect applications for the Pathways Internship Program. All internship announcements are posted on To apply for an upcoming BIA Pathways internship, you will need to create a USAJobs profile by following the steps below:

  1. Visit and create a new account
  2. Verify your email address and personal information
  3. Log in to with your new username and password
  4. Update your user account and profile as indicated

Step 4: Request and Upload Required Documents

Tip: Request your documents early! Tribes, schools, and government offices often need multiple days or even weeks to provide a signed BIA Form 4432 or other required documents. It’s best to request these documents several weeks in advance of the application deadline to ensure you have the documents ready when you apply.

To apply for the BIA Pathways Internship, you will need to provide the following:


Unofficial Transcripts

You must upload a current copy of your unofficial transcript from the college, university, or technical school you attend. Unofficial transcripts can usually be obtained from your school’s website.

If you are given a job offer you will be required to provide an official copy of your transcript.


Indian Preference (BIA Form 4432)

If you are an enrolled member of a federally-recognized Tribe or are an Alaska Native, you must claim Indian Preference status by submitting BIA Form 4432“Verification of Indian Preference for Employment” with your application.

There are four different “categories” or methods for verifying Indian Preference on BIA Form 4432. All require one or more signatures from Tribal representatives and BIA representatives. Contact Tribal representatives in advance to provide ample time to sign and return the form.

BIA Form 4432 is the only acceptable document to verify Indian Preference for federal employment. Other documents such as a Certificate of Degree of Indian or Alaska Native Blood or a Tribal Enrollment Card will not be accepted.


Veteran’s Preference (DD-214, SF-15)

If you are a veteran, you can qualify for a 5-point veteran’s preference by uploading a copy of your DD-214, “Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty.”

If you are a disabled veteran, you can qualify for a 10-point veteran’s preference by either submitting a completed form SF-15, “Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference,” or uploading a letter from the Veterans Administration on VA letterhead that includes your dates of service, discharge status, and disability rating.

Copies of both forms and additional information on veteran’s preference is available from the USAJobs Veterans guide.


Current or Former Federal Employees (SF-50)

If you are a current federal employee or a former federal employee with reinstatement eligibility, you must upload both a copy of SF-50, “Notification of Personnel Action” and your most recent performance appraisal. If you do not have a copy of your most recent performance appraisal, please submit an explanation as to why it is unavailable.

Form SF-50 can be obtained from the Human Resources office within your agency. More information about how to obtain a copy of SF-50 is available from the USAJobs SF-50 guide.

Step 5: Create a Federal Resume

To apply for a BIA Pathways internship, you will need to submit a resume. A resume is a record of your work history, education, and skills.

Federal government jobs have specific resume requirements that may be different from jobs outside of the federal government. USAJobs has a guide for what to include in your federal resume.

To prepare your resume to apply for a position you may either upload a resume you created with an external application or build your resume online using the forms on USAJobs.

Building your federal resume on USAJobs can help ensure you include all the required information in your resume. USAJobs offers a guide for how to build a resume using their resume builder.

Step 6: Search for Job Announcements and Setup Notifications

BIA Pathways internships for all positions are solicited via a single job announcement for “Student Trainee (Pathways)”. BIA Pathways job announcements are usually published in the winter or early spring.

To be notified of BIA Pathways internship job announcements the day they are available, you can save a job search to your USAJobs profile by following these steps:

  1. Visit and sign in to your profile.
  2. Create a filtered search for “Student Trainee” and “Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs.”
  3. Click “save this search” and choose to receive daily email notifications. For more information, read the USAJobs guide to saved searches.

Step 7: Prepare a Job Application

Once the BIA Pathways job announcement is available, review it carefully. If you have questions about terms used in the job announcement, start by searching the USAJobs Help Center. You may also contact the recruiter using the contact information listed at the bottom of the job announcement.

When you are ready, click “Apply” to start filling out a job application. Ensure that you respond to all requirements listed in the job announcement.

After you start an application you may save your progress and return later to complete your application. Your completed application with all required documents must be submitted no later than 11:59pm Eastern Time on the closing date of the job announcement.

After you submit your application, USAJobs will automatically redirect you to a questionnaire with additional questions. Completing this questionnaire is required. Your application is not complete until the questionnaire is filled out and submitted.

If your application package is incomplete in any way, you will not be considered for this position. Requests for extensions will not be granted. Please double-check your application before submitting.


Alternate Applications and Reasonable Accommodations

If you are unable to apply online, require reasonable accommodation in the application process if you are an applicant with a disability, or need to fax a document you do not have in electronic form, you can learn more about alternative applications from the USAJobs Reasonable Accommodation policy.

What to Do Next

After the closing date of the job announcement, you will receive a response by email within 2-3 weeks. In some cases, you may receive a request for additional information or a request to schedule an interview.


What Happens If I Am Accepted into the Program?

If your application is successful, you will receive an email with a tentative job offer. Contained in your offer email will be a link to complete onboarding documentation and provide information for a background check.

After clearing a federal background check, you will be given an official offer letter as well as instructions for how to apply for a federal personal identification verification (PIV) card and attend an online orientation session.

After orientation, you will be given an internship interest survey followed by a phone call for a one-on-one session to discuss your interests and abilities. You will then be offered a duty assignment with a Tribal Nation or BIA agency based on your interests and abilities.


What Happens If I Am Not Offered an Internship?

If you receive an email that you are not being offered an internship, don’t be discouraged! We encourage you to review and revise your application and reapply for future Pathways internship opportunities.

Many applicants are not offered internships because their applications are missing requirements. Pathways staff are not authorized to offer feedback on specific applications, but be sure to double-check the following before applying to future job announcements:

  • Did you fill out and complete every question on each form?
  • Do you meet all eligibility criteria?
  • Does your federal resume work history include complete information such as start dates, end dates, employer addresses, and hours worked per week?
  • Did you include a copy of your unofficial transcript?
  • If you are an incoming student or a first semester student and do not have a transcript, did you include documentation verifying your enrollment, such as a course schedule or university acceptance letter?
  • Did you include a copy of your BIA Form 4432?
  • Did you complete the questionnaire after submitting your application?

Additional Information

Contact Us

Branch of Pathways
301 NW 6th Ste 311
Oklahoma City, OK 73102
8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. CST, Monday–Friday.