PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) is opening doors for the next generation. With their Security Cooperation Office’s (SSCO) Junior Personnel Development Program, students, whether undergraduates, graduates, or recent alumni, find an avenue to delve deep into the realm of NAVAIR international programs.

This program’s chief aim is to expose its interns to the multifaceted world of NAVAIR, urging them to aspire for full-time roles post their academic journey. By facilitating direct involvement in projects vital to the Navy and Marine Corps international partner aircraft and weapons systems, the initiative is designed to mold future leaders.

The NAVAIR SYSCOM Security Cooperation Office’s (SSCO) Junior Personnel Development Program interns attended a briefing with Robert Kimble, Program Executive Officer for Aviation Common Systems and Commercial Services (PEO(CS)), far right, as part of their final activities for the summer session. Credit: U.S. Navy

Scott Wiener, SSCO director, emphasizes the importance of the program, stating, “The SSCO advances our nation’s strategic objectives by establishing and growing key allied partnerships through security cooperation efforts across the Naval Aviation Enterprise.” He further noted the Junior Personnel Development Program’s crucial role in fostering future leadership for NAVAIR’s international endeavors.

Eligibility criteria include being enrolled or accepted at an accredited institution or being a recent graduate within the past two years. Prospective candidates should have or be working towards a bachelor’s degree in finance, business, administration, government and politics, and international relations. A summer commitment of 40 hours weekly is mandatory, and successful completion may unlock opportunities for full-time roles within the SSCO post-graduation.

The summer intern experience is immersive. The learning curve is steep, from the basics, like securing a government ID and obtaining security clearance, to more profound insights into the SSCO’s mission and associated program offices. The interns wrap up their summer stint assisting various teams within SSCO, such as the Tech Data team and the New Business/Data Analytics team, to name a few.

Dan Keller, SSCO personnel development coordinator, states, “The SSCO Junior Personnel Development Program is a multi-year opportunity.” The structure is such that the inaugural year prioritizes intern acclimatization to SSCO, NAVAIR, and the Naval Aviation Enterprise. The subsequent years entail direct program-specific tasks, ensuring a holistic understanding of international efforts.

Since its establishment in 2015, the program boasts an impressive 75 percent retention rating. Of the 39 individuals integrated into federal civilian service, 28 have remained steadfast in the SSCO community.

The broader vision of SSCO revolves around fortifying U.S. strategic objectives. This is achieved by aiding key international and allied partners in acquiring, training, and sustaining U.S. defense systems on behalf of the Naval Aviation Enterprise. SSCO’s pivotal role in providing acquisition, lifecycle sustainment, and management integration across product support elements for foreign military sales programs.

Those eager to learn more about the NAVAIR internship programs can visit Additionally, listings for SSCO student internships are available at

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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