Frequently Asked Questions

Post-Graduation Employment

What is the post-graduation service commitment?

Upon selection, awardees are assigned to the DoD laboratory where he/she will be expected to serve as a summer intern and complete a period of post-graduation employment service as a DoD civilian. The employment obligation to the DoD civilian Science and Technology (S&T) workforce upon graduation is a one-to-one commitment. For each academic year of a Participant's award, he/she is required to commit to one year (12 months) of civilian employment with the DoD. Participants who fail to comply with the degree completion and conferral time lines on their application will be required to provide an increased ratio of post-graduation service to length of award. Students will be placed in DoD laboratories in civilian positions and must be geographically mobile for placement following graduation.

Will I get to choose the organization I will work for after graduation?

On the application, Participants have the opportunity to indicate their top three choices of DoD organizations by which they would like to be sponsored and their geographical preferences. Participant preference will be considered; however, placement with a Sponsoring Facility (SF) will be determined by the needs of the DoD.

Generally, Participants complete their post-graduation service with their SF. Participants are notified of the identity and location of their SF at the time of award and are expected to complete the post-graduation service with the SF. Participants are responsible for contacting their SF prior to accepting the award to ensure they are compatible with the organization.

In rare cases, a SF may determine that the Participant’s skills and the organization’s needs is not a good fit and/or the needs of the organization have changed such that the anticipated need no longer exists.  In such a case, the SMART Program Office will work first with the SF and Sponsoring Service to locate alternate placement within the Sponsoring Service. If alternate placement within the Sponsoring Service cannot be found, the SMART Program Office will contact other participating DoD organizations to locate placement options.  If no option can be found, the case will be referred to the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) which will determine whether the Participant’s post-graduation service commitment will be waived. Requests for alternative placement of a Participant for completion of the post-graduation service must originate with the SF or Sponsoring Service.

What happens if I don't want to work for the service I have been sponsored by?

Participants are required to complete the internship and post-graduation service with the SF.  Participants are notified of the identity and location of their SF at the time of award and are responsible for contacting their SF prior to accepting the award to ensure they are compatible with the organization. Requests for alternative placement of a Participant for completion of the post-graduation service must originate with the SF or Sponsoring Service.

Can the post-graduation employment period be deferred?

No, awardees are expected to begin fulfillment of the post-graduation employment period immediately upon graduation.

What happens if I don't complete the post-graduate service commitment?

If a Participant fails to properly complete the post-graduation service commitment, he/she will be responsible for the prompt reimbursement of any and all funds expended under the Program by the U.S. Government on behalf of the Participant.

What is the post-graduation salary I will receive?

Participants work directly with the SF to obtain information about salary, benefits, and relocation costs. SFs are usually not able to provide relocation costs; accordingly, participants should anticipate paying for relocation and travel to the SF themselves. Information regarding federal salary levels may be found at www.OPM.gov

 

 

Mentors

How will my mentor be assigned?

SFs assign each Participant a mentor. The mentor is generally a subject matter expert in the Participant’s field of study. Contact information for Participants and mentors will be provided to each by the SF or Sponsoring Service. In all cases, the mentor will be someone within the sponsoring organization who will help facilitate internship arrangements and provide one-on-one counseling regarding the internal operations of the agency.