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  1. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN)

Student Volunteer at the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN)

Interested in advancing your career with an internship at CFSAN?

Jobs at CFSAN

Are you an undergraduate or graduate student (including masters, law, and other doctoral programs) interested in advancing your career with an internship at CFSAN? We strongly encourage individuals with diverse educational interests, such as law, chemistry, engineering, biostatistics, public health, public policy, to apply. We offer a limited number of unpaid internships. As a CFSAN Student Volunteer, you can expect to work on substantive projects, develop additional professional skills, improve research skills, and benefit from the personal attention of a mentor.

CFSAN Overview

CFSAN, in conjunction with the Agency's field staff, is responsible for promoting and protecting the public's health by ensuring that the nation's food supply is safe, sanitary, wholesome, and honestly labeled, and that cosmetic products are safe and properly labeled.

Student Volunteer Opportunities

CFSAN provides services to consumers, domestic and foreign industry and other outside groups regarding field programs; agency administrative tasks; scientific analysis and support; and policy, planning and handling of critical issues related to food, dietary supplements, and cosmetics. CFSAN is comprised of different offices:

  • Office of the Center Director - OCD serves as a central point for planning, developing, administrating, executing, coordinating and managing policies, programs, activities and projects related to food and cosmetics.
  • Office of Applied Research and Safety Assessment - OARSA conducts research to develop methods for preventing and mitigating foodborne and cosmetic-associated illnesses.
  • Office of Analytics and Outreach - OAO promotes and protects public health through the development and coordination of policies, programs and activities involving food defense, communication, education, and risk assessment. OAO also provides emergency response to food, nutrition, and cosmetic safety and security issues.
  • Office of Compliance - OC serves as the center point of contact for enforcement of policy. OC supports inspections, field exams, sample collections and analysis to ensure industry complies with food, cosmetic, and dietary supplement policies and regulations.
  • Office of Cosmetics and Colors - OCAC develops guidelines, regulations, and policies for cosmetics and color additives, and communicates these to the public, industry and international regulation bodies. OCAC administers the Agency Color Certification Program and provides scientific and technical advice on cosmetic product and color additives.
  • Office of Food Additive Safety - OFAS is responsible for the safety of food ingredients (food additives, color additives), food packaging and food contact materials, including sources of radiation used to treat or inspect food, and foods derived from bioengineered organisms.
  • Office of Food Safety - OFS provides oversight on regulations, guidance, policy and programs related to food safety and chemical and microbial safety. OFS provides advice to federal agencies, industry and international organizations on food safety programs.
  • Office of Management  - OM is responsible for supporting CFSAN staff and programs including acquisitions, budgeting, workforce management, training, facilities management and information technology.
  • Office of Nutrition and Food Labeling - ONFL is responsible for developing policy and regulations for nutrition labeling and food standards, infant formula and medical foods as well as for scientific evaluation to support such regulations and related policy development. ONFL staff also support compliance/enforcement actions and is responsible follow-up and research related to adverse events associated with infant formula.
  • Office of Regulations Policy and Social Sciences - ORPSS is responsible for coordinating the development of all CFSAN regulations and guidance documents.
  • Office of Regulatory Science - ORS manages and conducts research in food safety, nutrition, cosmetics, and foodborne chemical and biological contaminants in support of the agency’s regulatory policy, compliance and enforcement programs.

How To Apply for a Student Volunteer Opportunity

Minimum Qualifications

Before the first day of your internship, if selected, you must be:

  • A Student;
  • At least 16 years of age;
  • A U.S. citizen, or national, or lawfully admitted to the United States as a permanent resident or otherwise authorized to be an employee;
  • Meet VISA requirements for non-citizens;
  • Be enrolled at least half time at an accredited educational program (includes high school, home school, college, and online programs);
  • In good standing as defined by the educational institution;
  • Meet suitability, background investigative and physical requirements; and
  • Meet all qualifications specified by the FDA.

Submit Required Materials

To apply, you must submit:

  • A cover letter expressing your interest in working for the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, your letter must include your preference for an Office if you have one
  • A current resume
  • Expected date of graduation
  • The names of three references including name, title, relationship to applicant, telephone number, and email address of each reference
  • If you do not submit a current resume, expected date of graduation, cover letter, and reference information, you will not be considered.
  • Please submit all materials to: cfsanjobs@fda.hhs.gov.

Submit Materials

Interview Process

  • CFSAN has a limited number of unpaid student volunteer opportunities and we are unable to interview all applicants.
  • Applicants who submit the above required documents and meet the minimum qualifications will be considered for an interview; we will notify you if you are selected for an interview.
  • We may ask for additional information or documentation before or after the interview..

Selection Process

Applicants will be selected based on the application, interview, and demonstrated interest in public service. The documents and factors considered may include:

  • Resume
  • Cover letter
  • Academic excellence
  • Reference recommendation
  • Evidence of the skills needed to work with the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
  • Personal and professional maturity
  • The candidate’s potential contribution to the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and FDA
  • The anticipated benefits for the candidate
  • Upon acceptance, candidates must consent to the following:
  • Undergoing security clearance review prior to the anticipated start date, including fingerprinting and background checks
  • Potential random drug test

If the security clearance and background check reveal information that requires CFSAN to cancel the volunteer offer, we will convey this prior to the anticipated start date.

All security measures are confidential and intended to protect the applicant as well as FDA.

Expectations of Volunteers

FDA strives to maintain a pleasant, efficient, and professional work environment that fosters cooperation and understanding. FDA’s workplace policies are designed to create an environment where all staff, including interns and members of the public, are treated respectfully and with consideration.

Volunteers are expected to fulfill their assigned tasks, present a professional appearance at all times, and behave professionally in a manner that will not discredit the Agency or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. FDA reserves the right to dismiss interns from the program due to security reasons or intern misconduct.

Onboarding & Legal Requirements

When first reporting to FDA, student volunteers will be required to complete onboarding activities. These include ID badge paperwork, and interns are required to wear a badge at all times while at FDA. Please be sure to bring (2) documents that prove your U.S. citizenship. Permanent U.S. residents need to provide a permanent resident card (I-151 or I-551).

Acceptable proofs of U.S. citizenship include:

  • Original birth certificate
  • Social Security card
  • U.S. Passport
  • Driver's License

Student Volunteers are prohibited from releasing, publishing, or disclosing non-public information, specifically any confidential commercial or trade secret information obtained while serving as a volunteer and will be subject to a background check in order to obtain security clearance before their internship begins.

The applicant must complete all the forms, including the following, and mail them to FDA in accordance with the instructions provided in the FDA acceptance email one month prior to their internship:

  • E-QIP Initiation Form (PDF - 26KB)
  • Form 306: Declaration for Federal Employment. Students must bring two forms of government issued identification (driver's license, passport, social security card, etc.) to the internship
  • FD-258: Fingerprinting form. To be completed at FDA campus or a local Police Station


The positions are unpaid. Students should contact their Academic Advisor to determine if they will receive academic credits for volunteering in accordance with the policies of their school.

Equal Employment Opportunity

The FDA is committed to ensuring equal employment opportunity (EEO) and promoting workforce diversity to maintain a strong, effective, high performing public service organization. The FDA strongly supports and vigorously enforces all applicable Federal EEO laws, regulations, Executive Orders, and management directives to ensure that all our highly talented employees are afforded an equal opportunity for success in the workplace and every protection under the law and to safeguard the integrity of our mission.

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