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College internship program helps Air Force find IT workers

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The Air Force is looking for a few good workers to train for information technology jobs. The pay is good, and so is the training. The opportunities are endless.

But make sure you have a top grade point average and are willing to work hard because Air Force officials are looking for the next generation of IT workers, and they want the best.

The service has launched the Palace Acquire Program, the college graduate internship program that provides civilians with opportunities in 17 career fields. It offers two to three years of on-the-job training and performance-based annual promotions. The entry-level salary for interns is $29,273, which increases to a range of about $36,000 to $43,000 or more, depending on the position and successful completion of the internship.

"The training offers to expose an IT intern to a wide range of IT-related areas," said Jorge Madera, 25, a Palace Acquire intern at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas. "And because of this program, I do believe I will progress up the ranks more quickly than if I was in the private sector."

Jiva Wilsu, 27, another intern at Randolph, also is getting broad experience by learning both the technical and managerial sides of IT. "I don't think I was recruited specifically because of my age, but I think it may have had some weight on the hiring authorities' decision since the demographic of our federal workforce reflects a majority of baby boomers," she said.

Maj. Cheryl Hurley, who works in the chief information management branch at U.S. Strategic Command, said her job is helping train IT interns because "there's always a need to keep bringing folks into the workforce and continually replenishing it," Hurley said. "When I was coming out of college, I was in ROTC. I had really never heard of how someone gets into government service. I think it is awesome that we are out recruiting and that there are opportunities that balance learning and getting hands-on training."

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