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57 Minutes – Rob Jackson’s VA Non-Paid Work Experience (NPWE) Internship Success Story

Release Date
Mon, 03/11/2024

Ask anyone who has worked with Rob Jackson, a Communications Specialist with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Talent Management Directorate, and they will tell you he is dedicated, compassionate, and likable as well as bound to succeed in whatever role he chooses. Having served more than 20 years with the United States Army, he is also a proud veteran. 

Rob Jackson
Rob Jackson

Jackson initially joined CBP via the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Non-Paid Work Experience (NPWE) Internship, a program for non-law enforcement mission support positions designed for disabled veterans who are at various stages of job readiness within the VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program. He sent CBP Veterans Employment Program Manager (VEPM) Jeffrey Jack a message and in 57 minutes he had a response and directions on how to join CBP’s Talent Network. Of Jack’s program and services, Jackson said, “It’s one of the best kept secrets out there, and it shouldn’t be.”

Recalling his encounter with Jack, Jackson said, “He was very helpful. He gave me material to read and offered pointers on the interview process,” he continued. “So, he laid the foundation. He gave me the map and all I had to do was follow it.”

The VA NPWE program provides eligible veterans and servicemembers with training and practical job experience at no cost to the Agency, it is paid by the VA. It may be set up in federal, state or local government agencies and the employer may hire a veteran or service member at any point during his/her participation in the NPWE. There is however no guarantee that a position will be available at the conclusion of the internship, so it is critical for the participants to put their best foot forward and make great impressions as they make connections throughout the organization.

Eager to try something new, Jackson turned down a full-time position to accept the NPWE internship with CBP's Office of Human Resources Management in the Strategic Partnerships and Communications Division. The internship offered him an opportunity to support the office’s social media accounts demonstrating CBP as an employer of choice as well as contributing to the HRM Assistant Commissioner’s external engagement strategy.

Having been involved in recruiting with the Army, encouraging candidates to apply was not new to Jackson. Social media, however, was a whole new world and he was excited for the opportunity to use his refined recruiting skillset in a new way. “I enjoy working with young people and I really enjoy helping them,” he reflected on his experience in the Army and how it carried over to his new role. “You know, I just wanted to do some good,” said Jackson. 

With CBP, he would absolutely continue doing good. Over the course of his yearlong internship, Jackson learned the ins and outs of social media posts. He mastered writing for different platforms, choosing graphics, and scheduling for maximum impact. As the internship was coming to a close, he recalled, “It seemed like everybody was doing their best to try to find me a permanent position within our team. But they did not want to hold me back and asked to share my resume with other departments in CBP.”

Jackson, with the help of his immediate leadership and VEPM Jeffrey Jack, successfully lined up two potential positions and chose to become a Communications Specialist with the National Recruitment Division. As an added bonus, the new role would allow him to work in tandem with the team he had spent the last year learning from and growing with.

When asked what advice he would share with potential interns, he said, “If I could pass anything on to others, I will say start looking at the Non-Paid Work Experience internships prior to graduating because that was one of the hurdles that I had.” Jackson was nearly finished with his master’s degree as prescribed by his VA Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) track. He was attending job fairs and met Jack in a virtual event. Jackson later emailed him and received a thorough and welcoming response … not more than 57 minutes later. 

Ready to find your next mission? Servicemembers and veterans alike can contact Jeff Jack, CBP Veteran’s Employment Program Manager, at to get started. To learn more about CBP’s Veterans recruitment programs and join the CBP Talent Network visit  

Last Modified: Mar 11, 2024