Fort Hood Education Services is leading an effort to launch a pilot internship program for area college students in the new year.

Initial opportunities for area college students in the Fort Hood’s Academic Internship Placement Program, or AIPP, will include 16 specialties, according to Mike Engen, chief of Fort Hood Education Services, who noted that his organization is working with Texas A&M - Central Texas and Central Texas College during this inaugural iteration of the program in January.

“We’re working with those (two) schools right now,” he said. “We’re fortunate to have colleges and universities in our own backyard who we work with daily. When this Fort Hood pilot program launches, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Installation Management Command promotes it as a ‘best practice’ and the program expands beyond Fort Hood.”

Engen said there are still some items to be ironed out prior to the program’s launch next semester, including memorandums of agreement between Fort Hood and the the two institutions of higher learning, which he said are currently under review by the schools’ legal teams and should be completed shortly.

The intern positions available cover a wide array of opportunities for area college students, including positions within Engen’s own Education Services Office, Fort Hood’s Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation, Directorate of Public Works, Directorate of Emergency Services, the Directorate of Plans. Training, Mobilization and Security and the post’s Visual Information Center, which also falls under DPTMS.

Engen said the unpaid internships will last for a full semester — 16 weeks — with the student earning three college credit hours and valuable experience.

For the upcoming semester in January, Peggy Stamper, the program manager, said students interested in the internship program should apply through their schools, noting that there are several steps that must be completed before they can begin their internships.

“The students will be registered formally as Fort Hood volunteers,” she explained, noting that process involves the students registering within the Army’s Volunteer Management Information System, or VMIS, which also has an application used to track their hours. Among the preliminary steps required is a background check, which Stamper said can take a few weeks or up to a few months to complete.

Through VMIS, interns will receive an Army email account and a common access card, which will enable them to access the Fort Hood network, Stamper explained.

With that next school semester approximately three months away, Stamper said she’s confident the internship program will launch on schedule.

“I think we’re on the right track,” she added.

Engen said when he reached out to the schools, they were very interested in making it a part of their curriculum.

“One of the things all universities struggle with is how do you translate the theoretical book-based learning to actual, hands-on ‘I know what I’m doing,’” Engen said. “This program helps them bridge that gap.”

“Internships are a part of many of our degree programs at Central Texas College,” Dr. Tina Ady, deputy chancellor, U.S. Campus Operations, Central Texas College, said.  “We are excited to be able to offer students an option to complete internships on Fort Hood. It will be especially attractive for students who may seek future employment on post.”

Ady, who has been in the initial discussions for the internship programs with Fort Hood and on-post organizations and oversees CTC instructional programs that require internships, said establishing the agreement between the installation and her institution is the next critical step in the process of establishing internships and she’s hoping the program grows over time.  

“Once our first students have been placed in Fort Hood internships, we will be able to refine the processes and ensure they are seamless and efficient,” she said. “We are interested in seeing more on-post intern opportunities for students in our career and technology programs become available over time.”  

The plan, Stamper said, is to add more occupational specialties to the AIPP as it evolves.

“We’ve been working with Fort Hood organizations, and will continue to do so, in an effort to expand internship offerings to area students,” she said. “My goal is to grow this catalogue (of internship positions).”