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Administrative Careers at NIH

THE MISSION OF THE
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH

Science in the pursuit of knowledge to extend healthy life
and reduce the burdens of illness and disability.

Interns Play a Vital Role in NIH's Mission

Intern programs at NIH develop the management skills of high-achieving individuals enabling them to attain future leadership positions within NIH or the Federal government. Under the guidance of a mentor, you will complete developmental assignments and activities, exposing you to diverse administrative areas and issues.

What Developmental Opportunities Are Available?

The NIH provides you with one of the most flexible and individually tailored programs in the Federal government. You may work with senior management at any of NIH's Institutes or Centers (ICs). You will work closely with your mentor to develop a two-year plan for rotational assignments that meet your specific needs and interests and that help you identify your target career field at NIH.

You may choose from among a wide variety of administrative areas. The list below highlights some of the more common specialties. The administrative areas listed below represent critical personnel needs at NIH, and you must complete at least two rotations (three months each) in these areas.

Are Interns Limited to These Choices?

You have many unique options in addition to these choices. Your plan may allow you to:

  • Work on a special task force, unique project, or closely related scientific program
  • Select an assignment at prestigious off-campus organizations such as:
    • The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina
    • The Department of Health and Human Services
    • Capitol Hill
    • Office Of Management and Budget
    • The National Science Foundation
    • The World Health Organization

How Do Past Interns Rate the Program?

Past interns have assessed it as unsurpassed among internship programs. We think you will agree. In fact, we have included their testimonials in the following descriptions.

What Are Some of the Rotational Assignments Open to Interns?

Budget

Budget officers in the NIH Institutes and Centers coordinate all aspects of budget preparation within their organizations since each IC receives its own appropriation from Congress. Budget officers assist in briefing and preparing their Directors for congressional appropriations hearings and accompany them as supporting witnesses.

"Rotating through the Office of Budget at the Departmental level allowed me to learn how each agency in HHS develops its overall budget. I gained a broad understanding of how agencies work with the department and how the department works with the Office of Management and Budget to decide on the numbers that essentially fund every program in HHS."

— Amy Matush (NIAAA)

What Are My Possible Duties?

  • Monitor the obligations in a program area to readjust financial plans;
  • Develop trend data;
  • Assist program staff in developing future-year estimates for new or ongoing initiatives;
  • Prepare briefing material to assist the Director at congressional hearings; and
  • Respond to requests for funding and program data from the public, other federal agencies, and Congress.

What Competencies Can I Develop?

  • Financial Analysis
  • Performance Measurement
  • Spreadsheet Programs
    (MS Excel and Lotus)
  • Financial Management Databases
  • Rules and practices governing
    obligations and their timing
  • Strategic Thinking
  • Vision
  • Problem Solving
  • Written Communication
  • Oral Presentation
  • Team Building
  • Negotiation
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Reasoning
  • Organization
  • Researching Information
  • Political Savvy

Human Resource Management

Human Resource Management (HR), like most administrative offices at NIH, uses both centralized and decentralized components to manage personnel functions. You may receive an assignment in either of the following offices:

  • The Office of Human Resource Management, which provides policy guidance and program oversight for human resource activities at NIH, conducts central testing and recruitment for a variety of occupations, provides a database for personnel and payroll functions, and operates the NIH Division of Workforce Development.
  • The operating personnel office of an IC, which provides a full range of services including recruitment, classification, pay, employee relations, and other services.

What Are My Possible Duties?

  • Develop performance recognition guidelines;
  • Write award justifications;
  • Learn how to classify position descriptions;
  • Write and/or revise position descriptions;
  • Participate in interviewing candidates for positions;
  • Participate in assessing candidate qualifications for positions;
  • Prepare presentation materials for use at meetings;
  • Assist in preparing for staff retreats;
  • Develop recruiting materials such as brochures and Web site links;
  • Participate in counseling sessions; and
  • Develop performance management surveys.

What Competencies Can I Develop?

  • Human Resource Management
  • Strategic Thinking
  • Problem Solving
  • Written Communication
  • Oral Presentation
  • Team Building
  • Negotiation
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Reasoning
  • Organization
  • Researching Information
  • Partnering
  • Performance Measurement
  • Cultural Awareness
  • Conflict Management
  • Customer Service

General Administration

Administrative Officers at NIH provide support to the scientific or program staff by managing the broad spectrum of administrative activities necessary to the smooth functioning of the office. They initiate actions on behalf of their laboratory or branch and coordinate with specialists such as Budget Analysts and Contract Specialists. They may eventually rise to the position of Executive Officer, the senior administrative manager for the Institute, Center, or central service division of the NIH.

What Are My Possible Duties?

  • Gather information from NIH scientists, administrators, and other sources;
  • Act as a liaison between NIH scientists and administrators and other Federal agencies;
  • Review and approve travel requests and vouchers;
  • Research personnel issues such as employee awards;
  • Assist with transition logistics and implementation;
  • Perform budget analysis, formulation, tracking, and reporting; and
  • Assist staff in planning operational changes.

What Competencies Can I Develop?

  • Customer Service
  • Problem Solving
  • Written Communication
  • Team Building
  • Negotiation
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Reasoning
  • Organization
  • Financial Management
  • Performance Measurement
  • Human Resource Management
  • Conflict Management
  • Cultural Awareness
  • Partnering
  • Contracts Management


Information Technology

The NIH also uses both a centralized and decentralized approach to bring the benefits of cutting-edge information technology (IT) to the research table. You may receive an assignment in either of the following offices:

  • The Center for Information Technology (CIT), which provides overall guidance and support in all aspects of IT for the NIH. The CIT manages the NIH Computer Center, supporting major NIH information systems.
  • The IT office of an Institute or Center, which provides local information technology support such as e-mail, Internet access, and the sharing of desktop application files.

"My rotation in IT management offered opportunities to gain a broad-based knowledge of the ubiquitous functions of IT throughout DHHS, NIH, and the individual Institutes and Centers including the impact of governmental policies, reviews, security issues, and enterprise systems. From the array of unlimited experiential opportunities, I was able to work on critical IT projects that impacted all of NIH."

— Elizabeth Elliott (NIGMS)

What Are My Possible Duties?

  • Research, evaluate, and introduce innovative computer tools;
  • Market technology services;
  • Perform requirements analyses for program offices;
  • Provide customer support;
  • Assist senior officials in developing and implementing policy;
  • Implement data security requirements; and
  • Review the IT budget.

What Competencies Can I Develop?

  • Systems Analysis
  • Financial Management
  • Performance Measurement
  • Data Base Management
  • Problem Solving Interpersonal
  • Written Communication
  • Team Building
  • Negotiation
  • Customer Service
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Technical Credibility
  • Strategic Thinking
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Reasoning
  • Organization
  • Researching Information

Grants Management

Each year, the NIH disburses more than 80% of its budget to the behavioral and biomedical research community in the form of grants and cooperative agreements. Grants management offices manage the review, negotiation, award, and administration of this funding.

"My rotation in Grants Management gave me a better understanding of how NIH partners with public and private institutions to reach its mission, as well as a better understanding of how each Institute or Center sets its research priorities."

—Melissa Moore

What Are My Possible Duties?

  • Process grant awards;
  • Communicate information between grantees and NIH staff;
  • Provide responses to grantee requests;
  • Design surveys for grantees; and
  • Evaluate current grant policies and procedures.

What Competencies Can I Develop?

  • Cost Analysis
  • Communication Regulations,
    and Policies
  • Customer Service
  • Researching Information
  • Team Building
  • Reasoning
  • Organization
  • Problem Solving
  • Written Communication
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Negotiation Team Building
  • Performance Measurement
  • Records Management

Contracts Management

The NIH also supports or acquires scientific investigations at other organizations under contracts awarded by NIH components. Unlike a grant or cooperative agreement, a contract purchases a specific product with a specific time line. A contracting office assists its IC in planning for new contracts, awarding contracts, and administering existing contracts.

"My Contracts rotation allowed me the opportunity to interact with both fellow Federal employees and private industry representatives in a professional business setting. / was able to be involved in the several phases of Government acquisition, including communicating program requirements to the public, analyzing business proposals, negotiations, and post-award contract administration."

— David Lisle (NIAID)

What Are My Possible Duties?

  • Participate in planning activities;
  • Determine proper acquisition mechanisms;
  • Plan, review, and revise contract specifications;
  • Write Requests for Proposals (RFPs);
  • Evaluate technical, business, and cost proposals;
  • Observe selection discussions and negotiations for a contract award;
  • Process requests for changes in a contract;
  • Resolve funding and general administrative problems; and
  • Participate in site visits.

What Competencies Can I Develop?

  • Contracts Management
  • Procurement Analysis
  • Federal Acquisition
    Regulations (FARs)
  • Records Management
  • Interpersonal relations
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Reasoning
  • Organization
  • Problem solving
  • Written communication
  • Oral communication
  • Team Building
  • Negotiation
  • Cost analysis
  • Researching information
  • Performance measurement


Administrative Training Committee

The Administrative Training Committee is the governing and advising body responsible for the oversight and management of the NIH Internship and Fellowship Programs.

This page was last reviewed on March 17, 2014