Student programs


four externs standing in hallway


From real-world experience to real-world application, our student programs are designed with the future in mind.  They provide talented high school seniors and college students with unique opportunities to leverage their innate skills while honing new ones for the 21st century.

Paid internships and unpaid externships here can range from eight weeks to one year.  Most positions we offer have a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) or intellectual property-related leaning.  But, we also have opportunities in human resources, legal, information technology, finance, communications, international affairs, policy, administration, and procurement.  All provide comprehensive, real-world connections to what students are learning in the classroom.  

If you are a student who is open to a variety of programs to meet your academic and professional goals, consider our summer and annual employment programs.  Class is officially in session!

Search for opportunities on Opportunities may not be available year round.

College Outreach

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is always excited to meet the next generation of engineers, scientists, and programmers, as well as administrative, finance, legal, and human resources professionals. Every year, we visit college campuses across the country to recruit graduating students to join us at our headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, or one of four regional offices in Dallas, Denver, Detroit, and San Jose.

In addition to campus visits, we conduct virtual outreach to educate students about the USPTO, our mission as America’s innovation agency, and our available positions. We also take advantage of opportunities to expose students to the work we do through externships, information sessions, open houses, and other programs.

Please take a moment to view the articles that we have developed based on insights from our staff about their career experiences.

If you would like to review some of our hiring materials, feel free to select one of the links below.

  • How to Use USAJobs to Apply for a Position: Do you have questions about how to complete the federal job application process? This brochure can help you navigate the federal application system.

  • Patent Examiner Brochure: Read about the qualifications to become a patent examiner, what the job entails and the benefits and compensation of the position.

  • Patent Examiner Profile: Rebecca is a patent examiner who joined the USPTO right out of college after receiving an electrical engineering degree. Find out what made her choose the USPTO, and why she is still with us today.

  • Patent Experience Extern Program (PEEP) Brochure: Learn about our externship program that provides exposure to the work of patent examiners, and meet two full-time examiners who started as PEEP externs. 

  • Extern Profiles Brochure: Would you like to know what it’s like to work at the USPTO over the summer? Read the stories of four college students who externed in different parts of the agency.

At the USPTO, the varied work and roles of our talented employees all play a part in introducing new inventions and discoveries to the world. Come join us!

Patent Experience Extern Program  

Students learn about our mission, as well as the responsibilities of various patent practices, including a practical working knowledge of patent decision-making processes. Students experience what it is like to be a patent examiner, while interacting with experts in various disciplines and developing personal and professional skills.

Most students participate in the program during the summer. Spring and fall opportunities are available, but they are limited and usually based on university recommendations, per an existing agreement with the USPTO. Please contact your university’s externship coordinator for available opportunities, or feel free to contact us at

Please note that we do not provide lodging or accommodations for this program.

Student Volunteer Program

Similar to our Patent Experience Extern Program, unpaid externships are also available through our eight-week Student Volunteer Program, which allows students to gain valuable experience in their field of study. Externs experience first-hand what it's like to work here, and they have the opportunity to interact with experts in several disciplines, while exploring various opportunities and enhancing their personal and professional skills.  

Volunteer positions are available throughout the year, pending a signed student volunteer agreement between the USPTO, the student and the student's college or university. For more information about these opportunities, please contact us at 

Please note that we do not provide lodging or accommodations for this program.

Trademark Law Student Extern Program

The Trademark Law Student Extern Program is tailored for law students with an interest in trademark law and the U.S. trademark registration process. Some research may also touch upon international trademark law issues and related intellectual property issues. The program gives students an opportunity to experience work at the USPTO, interact with experts, explore opportunities, and develop or enhance their personal and professional skills. Students may work with attorneys in the Trademark Legal Policy and Petitions Office, Trademark Training and Quality Review Office, Office of the Solicitor, and the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.

Under the program, students participate in an unpaid externship lasting up to 12 weeks during the summer. Students may arrange to receive academic credit through their law school for their work at the USPTO. Students should look for the announcement of the application period for the summer externship program on in January. Selections are made in March and the summer program begins mid to late May.

Additional unpaid externship positions may also become available throughout the year. Announcements for externships during the school year will be submitted to local law schools for posting. For further information, please contact us at and include “Trademark Law Student Extern Program” in the subject line.