Student Trainee (Information Technology Specialist)

Student Trainee (Information Technology Specialist) GS-2299-04/05


The Economic Research Service (ERS) conducts a broad program of economic and other social science research and analysis relating to agriculture, food, natural resources, and rural communities for use by public and private decision-makers.  ERS’s clients are the executive and legislative branches; environmental, consumer, and public interest groups, including farm and industry groups; and the general public. 

The Information Services Division provides technical leadership, guidance, training, coordination, and other assistance in computing, editing, disseminating information, and operations in support of the research and analysis mission of ERS. 

This position is located in the Information Technology Services Branch which has responsibility for development and management of computer systems and networks that facilitate the economic analysis and research. 

The incumbent serves as a technical analyst in the configuration, set-up, and support of computer systems and the resolution of software problems.  As such, the incumbent installs computer system software, utilities, peripheral device drivers, and files and provides consultation and assistance on computer software applications.  The incumbent utilizes skills of time management by scheduling, monitoring, and reporting progress on assignments. 

The incumbent is enrolled in the Internship Program of the Pathways Program. This position is designed to serve as a developmental experience and in conjunction with formal education, to provide the incumbent with the knowledge, skills, and/or abilities for employment in a civil service career. 

Upon successful program completion and having met all legal and regulatory requirements, the incumbent may be converted to a permanent position or a term position lasting 1-4 years. 


  • Maintains a knowledge of the various computers, peripheral devices, and application software in use in the Agency. Is knowledgeable in the use of most categories of  Agency standard software.  Uses this expertise in software set-up and configuration to resolve problems.  
  • Coordinates set-up of user’s software on new, trickle-down, and take-home PCs with users and help desk staff to arrive at acceptable performance with minimal impact on normal work schedules. 
  • Receives and enters calls into the automated call logging system and monitors call logs for timely resolution of calls. Reports on outstanding calls.  Adjusts assignments to address problem areas and unusual circumstances.  Conducts follow-up calls to gather user input on services. 
  • Drafts tip sheets to inform users of problems and corrective measures to prevent them in the future.


Factor 1.  Knowledge Required by the Position                                     

General knowledge of computer operating systems, applications software, software execution and general system operations to assist users and to correct low level system failures.  Ability to understand Agency IT standards, policies, hardware configurations, computer operating systems, and standard application software. 

Factor 2  Supervisory Controls

The project leader assigns special projects, and deadlines.  The employee carries out the recurring assignments independently, coordinates work with others, and keeps the project leader advised of progress and any major difficulties encountered.  Completed work is reviewed for conformity with instructions, completeness, and proper techniques, methods and guidelines.

Factor 3  Guidelines                                                          

Guidelines consist of Agency IT policies and standards, instruction manuals provided by software vendors and established operational procedures. Precedents and guidelines describe techniques and policies to be followed.  The incumbent must select and interpret the appropriate material to develop plans, and solutions to problem areas. Consults senior staff on issues requiring significant adjustments to established procedures.

Factor 4 Complexity                                                                                    

Assignments consist of a variety of tasks that include computer software troubleshooting, installation, and set-up where technology is evolving at a rapid pace.  Several technologies exist to meet objectives but must be tailored to meet unique user requirements.  Assignments require analysis to determine the nature of possible problems to select appropriate methodologies to resolve.  Evaluation of assignments is complicated by the lack of duplicate systems available to conduct testing due to the variability of individual systems.  The employee recognizes the variation in requests or problems and carries out the work within established procedures.

Factor 5 Scope and Effect                                                                        

The primary purpose of the work is to provide assistance directly to the user in the installation, set-up, and troubleshooting of software on users’ systems while following established routines to complete tasks.  Work contributes to the overall efficiency of users and achievements of the Branch.

Factor 6 Personal Contacts

Personal contacts are primarily with fellow workers within the Branch.  Contacts with other offices are to transmit or request factual information.

Factor 7  Purpose of Contacts                                                

Contacts are generally with employees of the agency to record, clarify, and exchange information needed to complete assignments.  Contacts require diplomacy to prevent escalation of tensions during times of stress.

Factor 8 – Physical Demands                                                

The work requires the ability to deal with equipment movement (generally less than 50 pounds) and repair.

Factor 9 – Work Environment                                               

The work is primarily conducted in a typical office environment.