Federal agencies have been told that they can continue to use interns referred from third parties such as intern placement agencies after a recent overhaul of government intern-type programs.

The government in July formally launched the Pathways program that revised or replaced several prior developmental and hiring programs for students and graduates. The Pathways Program consists of an intern program for undergraduates, a graduate program and the long-running Presidential Management Fellows program for those with advanced degrees.

Each part of the pathways program provides for training, mentoring and similar career developmental activities, and each creates a potential route into full-time federal employment under certain circumstances

A memo that the Office of Personnel Management sent Friday said that since the revisions, agencies have been asking about the role of third-party intern providers. OPM said that nothing in the new program “restricts in any way an agency’s authority to enter into arrangements with third-party intern providers. Agencies retain the same authority to enter these arrangements that they had before the Pathways programs were authorized.”

Third-party provided interns should get the same access to career development as other agency interns and they also have an opportunity to convert to a permanent job upon graduation, the memo said. Also, those interns who graduate are now eligible for an agency’s recent graduates program.

The memo comes at a time when many students are looking for internship opportunities for next summer. Internship and recent graduate opportunities are posted on the government’s central job application site, www.usajobs.gov.