ABPA Institute has a partnership with Washington Headquarters Services (WHS) to place students into internships. WHS has been providing consolidated administrative and operational support to several Defense Agencies, DoD Field Activities, DoD headquarters, various military departments, the White House, and Congress since 1977. If you are interested in one of the many areas of procurement, facilities services, information technology, financial management, human resources, facilitating meetings, and a promise of equal employment opportunities, there may be an internship opportunity awaiting you!

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Image: Washington Headquarter Services Organizational Chart (as of January 2019)

WHS is organizationally aligned under the Director of Administration and Management (DA&M) for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). Currently, WHS has a $1.2 billion budget, approximately 1,200 civilian and military employees, and 2,000 contract employees, performing a wide range of administrative and management services in support of DoD operations.

WHS is particularly interested in encouraging a broader diversity of applicants, such as groups historically under-represented within their organization (e.g., minorities and individuals with disabilities) and students from diverse disciplines that might not typically consider a career with the Department of Defense.

ABPA Student, Ibraheem Al Ani at WHS

Ibraheem Al Ani

Through ABPA Institute’s Internship Placement Program, Ibraheem was placed at WHS as a Civil Engineering Student Intern in February 2020. He is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering with a concentration in Critical Infrastructure Protection at George Mason University.

We asked Ibraheem some questions about his internship experience at WHS thus far.

How did you find out about WHS?

I found out about WHS through ABPA. The program coordinators sent out an email about opportunities in D.C. with WHS, and they helped me revise my resume and helped me obtain the internship with them.

What is an average day like as an intern?

Every day is different as I move around different departments and get placed with different mentors. I’m able to see the construction, design, and management aspect of engineering. My roles include managing SharePoint for ECM (a medium-large-sized federal government organization), modifying and reviewing the budget for projects, and using Excel for senior management briefings. Also, reviewing and revising multiple Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) such as the security badging process for onboarding new interns, and the process of how to obtain an intern position with the DoD/Pentagon/WHS. In addition, I designed a SharePoint logo for the ECM website, created instructions for Citrix Virtual desktop for Mac OS and Windows OS, reviewed structural analysis for a project, and write meeting minutes for project managers.

Is there anything you find interesting about WHS that maybe an outsider or someone who isn’t familiar should know?

At first, I had difficulty adapting to the fast-paced environment and all the security procedures in-place. However, with the help of my manager and multiple mentors, I was able to adjust to the work environment quickly. WHS allowed me to experience different aspects of engineering that would be hard to experience in other companies, as they usually focus on one aspect, such as design or construction. Working on projects at the Pentagon is a truly special experience. I also gained insight from the client-side of engineering, since WHS is the client rather than the contractor.

Do you have any advice you could give if someone were to get a job at WHS?

My advice is to be patient. When I first started, I expected to immediately receive engineering tasks. I was usually working on tasks that were non-engineering because I have no experience in real-life engineering applications. However, the tasks are related to the projects in some way, such as the budgets, the meetings, and the PowerPoint slides I was assigned. The most important thing is to show people around the office that they can trust you with more important tasks by doing well with the smaller tasks that you are given. This internship also taught me to act. Many times, I would finish my tasks early, but rather than sitting down and waiting for people to check up on me, I visit my mentors who involve me in anything that they are doing.

I am so grateful for this experience that was only possible with the help of ABPA. Before joining ABPA, I was struggling to find an internship. I could confidently say that ABPA has given me the resources needed for a successful career in engineering.


Are you interested in working for WHS as an intern? Apply for our internship placement program now or email us at communications@abpadc.org.

For more reading:

WHS 101

WHS Publication: The Pipeline (four issues)

Thomas M. Muir, Director, Washington Headquarters Services speaks about the COVID-19 pandemic

DoD Chief Management Officer

Federal Government Pathways Program Explained

ABPA Panel: Arab-Americans in Public Service (Video)

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