Category Archives: Public Policy, Government and Law

Don’t Forget to Network! The Importance of Networking for All Positions – Even the State Department

By: McKenzie Roese, Career Services Ambassador

Trekking up the hill is never my favorite thing to do early in the morning, but my hike was worth it after attending Dean Rusk’s Teatime talk on the State Department application process. Not only did I enjoy a delicious breakfast courtesy of Dean Rusk, I also learned about the intricacies of the application process for the State Department. While the process may seem clear-cut and systematic, there are definitely nuances to application that you should know about before applying.

Stefanie Cook and Paul DiFiore, both members of the class of 2013, starred as the discussion leaders after their remarkable summer experiences with the State Department. Cook spent her summer in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in the US embassy. DiFiore explored the domestic front in the Central American Affairs Office in the Western Hemisphere Affairs Bureau, while also partaking in the Davidson in Washington program. Both did an excellent job informing students about the tedious, competitive, and often disappointing application process while also providing ample tips for the procedure. Their main point: Networking is everything.

In terms of networking’s wonders, Cook stressed the importance of reaching out to her political science advisor, Dr. Menkhaus, for providing an “in” to the Ethiopian bureau. Not only did Cook apply to the obscure, underappreciated Ethiopian bureau, but she also utilized her professor’s connection to the Ethiopian office to give her an edge above other candidates. Likewise, DiFiore reached out to a recent Davidson graduate working domestically in the State Department to help him stand out in the crowd. Reflecting back on his networking efforts, DiFiore honestly admits, “Even though I had a good resume and relevant experiences, there were lots of other grad school students who were way better qualified who were also applying. There always are. Having a contact was what got me in.”

Applying to obscure bureaus within the State Department and utilizing the power of the Davidson connection, both students stressed the importance of networking for landing their summer internships. Cook, reminiscing on her experience, recollected, “I got so engrained in the culture.” Luckily, she had the opportunity to immerse herself in Ethiopian culture, while DiFiore explored the domestic systems of D.C. bureaucracy, because they both reached out to the strong Davidson connection to help achieve their goals. Hopefully this will inspire you to reach out, for any position, to the Davidson community and alumni network when the time comes.

Working in Washington DC: The Ultimate Summer Getaway

By McKenzie Roese, Career Services Ambassador

While summertime is usually my time to kick back, relax, and enjoy a little sunshine by the beach, I decided to resist my normal summer routine: instead, I was going to enter the workforce. This past summer, I ventured away from my Minnesota home to explore our nation’s capital – Washington DC. Being a political science major, I wanted to be thrown into the heart of American politics during such an exciting time in US history: the presidential election season. To get the most out of my DC experience, I applied for the Davidson in Washington program where I took a US foreign policy seminar with a Davidson professor, Dr. Ortmayer, and worked full-time at an organization of my choosing.

Considering marketing and public policy have always been interests of mine, I decided to
work at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) as their only undergraduate marketing and communications intern. CLINIC, a member-based non-profit organization, aims to help provide support to its nationwide affiliates in order to help provide the best legal assistance for low-income immigrants. Because immigration policy is such a diverse field, I worked with a wide-array of people during my time at CLINIC: law students, attorneys, marketing managers, and even accountants. In terms of my work, I performed social media research for immigration-related articles, trends, and legislation. I also created a marketing plan for CLINIC’s upcoming events by designing email-marketing strategies to increase sponsorship.

Working at CLINIC by day and discussing US foreign policy at night, I have to say the Davidson in Washington experience couldn’t have been more rewarding. Not only did I learn about marketing strategy for a nationwide non-profit, but I also lived three blocks away from the White House. Looking back on it, I have to admit having Obama as my neighbor definitely beats sitting by the beach all day long.

New Law Improves Federal Internship Programs

There is great news for students interested in federal careers! On Dec. 31, 2011, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law, a measure which  includes language that will make it easier for students to find federal internships. The law contains the following provisions:
  • Requires federal agencies to designate an internship coordinator and post the name and contact information for that coordinator online.
  • Requires the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to provide links to information about all federal internship programs on a central website.
  • Report language accompanying the new law encourages OPM to develop a centralized database of interns so that agencies can look to this pool to fill job openings. It also suggests that agencies conduct exit interviews and surveys when interns leave so they will have data to help them improve their internship programs.
These provisions originally were part of a  bill introduced last year by Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.), and complement current efforts by the Obama administration to improve student programs. The Partnership for Public Service believes the new law  is a positive  step, and we will continue to work with Congress and the administration on efforts to further strengthen student internship programs. Read more in the  Partnership’s press statement.

Roosevelt Scholars Act Could Give Jobs to Graduates Interested in Public Service

The US government needs talented, educated individuals to perform essential functions. During the next five years, almost one-third of the government’s top scientists, engineers, mathematicians, economists and other specialized professionals will be eligible for retirement,  packing up their desks and moving on to the next stage of their lives. Who will replace them in the job market?

The government will need to hire more than 193,000 new employees. However, the number of applicants needed to replace these federal workers is dwindling.

The Roosevelt Scholars Act is a bill currently circulating Capitol Hill designed to help address this shortage of workers.  Introduced last July by David Price of North Carolina, The Roosevelt Scholars Act seeks to revitalize the government by recruiting the nation’s best and brightest to fill these crucial occupations. By creating an elite scholarship program to fund graduate-level study in exchange for civil commitment, the program seeks to create a new, high-performing workforce dedicated to public service.

Modeled after the military’s ROTC program, the Roosevelt Scholars Act will create a scholarship program for people pursuing degrees in areas of high skill and need, or “mission-critical” areas. It will establish a foundation award for up to $60,000 in tuition per year, for a maximum of five years, for students completing degrees in engineering, medicine and public health, foreign languages, information technology and law.

Scholarship recipients will be required to complete an internship with a federal agency in addition to serving as a federal service ambassador at his or her college or university. Upon graduation, the scholar will then work with a federal government agency for three to five years, depending on the duration of the degree program.

Learn more about the Roosevelt Scholars Act and sign a petition online expressing your support.  Ultimately, the Roosevelt Scholars program would help restore prestige to federal service by raising awareness about federal opportunities and rebranding the government as a place where the best and brightest go to make a difference.

For more information go to Roosevelt Scholars, sign the petition, and encourage your peers and student leaders and faculty to support the Act.

Public Affairs and Communications Jobs in DC

If you have a flair for communication and a passion for Washington DC, check out the DC Public Affairs and Communications Jobs blog.  It’s updated regularly–about once per day –and includes a variety of jobs (many of them entry-level) and internships in public affairs, communications, public relations, media, web development, lobbying, and related fields.  Bookmark the site and check it regularly for opportunities!

Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellowship: Fighting Hunger and Poverty

The Emerson National Hunger Fellows Program helps participants gain practical experience fighting hunger and poverty through placements in community-based organizations across the country, as well as policy experience through placements in Washington, DC.

Each year, 20 participants are chosen from across the country, meet in Washington, DC in August for orientation, national programs designed to address hunger and poverty, and various approaches to social change. Fellows are then placed for five months with community-based organizations involved in fighting hunger and poverty at the local level.

In mid-February the Fellows regroup in Washington, DC to share their experiences and go through an intensive policy training to learn about national anti-hunger and anti-poverty policy work.  They then work in nonprofit organizations and government agencies at the national level and meet regularly for professional development trainings. For more information: http://www.hungercenter.org/fellowships/emerson .

Benefits:

  • $16,00 living allowance
  • Health insurance
  • Travel expenses
  • Housing during field placement
  • $3,500 end of service award
  • $4,000 housing subsidy in D.C.
  • Relocation subsidies
  • Connection to community of Hunger Fellows and network of alumni, partners, and experts
  • Experience with community and policy leaders
  • Training/mentoring/leadership development
  • Experience in project management

Application details:

  • Deadline to apply for the 2012-2013 program is January 17, 2012.
  • Online applications accepted only:  http://www.emersonapplication.org
  • Semifinalist selection complete by mid-February 2012
  • Interviews scheduled in Washington, DC in March 2012
  • Final selection decision made in April 2012

The Pamela Harriman Foreign Service Fellowships

The Pamela Harriman Fellowship Program is a nationally competitive and highly selective fellowship program, offering a $5,000 stipend for travel and living expenses.  Fellowships are open to eligible juniors and seniors throughout the United States.

The Fellowships provide funding for students interning over the summer in the U.S. Embassies in London or Paris, or the Secretary of State’s Office in Washington, D.C.

The College of William and Mary established the Pamela Harriman Foreign Service Fellowships in 2000 to inspire the best of a new generation to pursue careers in public service. The Awards are offered annually to three outstanding undergraduates from across the nation, chosen from students serving in a summer professional position with the U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC, and the U.S. Embassies in London and Paris.

Selection Criteria:
The Fellowships are open to students who:

  • Are chosen by the Department of State for internships in London, Paris, or Washington, DC
  • Are U.S. Citizens
  • Are enrolled as sophomores continuing on to their junior year, juniors continuing on to their senior year, or seniors continuing on directly to graduate studies
  • Show evidence of substantial scholarly research and/or creative projects
  • Show evidence of leadership, public service, and commitment to community
  • Demonstrate an excellent academic record.
  • Obtain an institutional endorsement from candidate’s college/university.
  • Strong, detailed letters of recommendation:  two total, at least one of which are from faculty who have taught the student.

The names of State Department interns who have authorized the Department to provide their information to other organizations will be forwarded to the Pamela Harriman Fellowship Board for consideration.

The Harriman Fellowship Board will then invite eligible candidates to apply for the Fellowship and provide application instructions.

For more information on the Pamela Harriman Fellowships:
harriman@wm.edu 

Fellowship Timetable:
http://www.wm.edu/sites/harriman/timetable/index.php

Application Process:
http://www.wm.edu/sites/harriman/application/index.php

General Information About the State Department Internships:
http://www.state.gov

Specific Application Information and Forms About the Harriman Fellowships:
http://careers.state.gov/students/programs.html

Apply for State Department Internships by November 1st

Applications for the U.S. Department of State’s Summer 2012 Student Internship Program are now being accepted.

Click here (http://careers.state.gov/students/programs) to read more about the Student Internship Program, and to start the Gateway to State online application process. Please note that the deadline to submit completed applications is November 01, 2011.

To be eligible for this program, you must be:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be a full- or part-time continuing college or university junior, or graduate student (including graduating seniors intending to go on to graduate school).
  • Have good academic standing
  • Successfully complete a background investigation
  • Be able to receive either a Secret or Top Secret clearance.

Please read the entire vacancy announcement carefully for all qualifications and requirements.

You can also visit our Student Programs forum (http://careers.state.gov/engage/forums/student-programs) to post questions or read discussions about this program.

PLEASE NOTE:  Remember that the USAJobs.gov website will be down and transitioning from Oct. 6-12, and may have periodic shutdowns after Oct. 12th, as well. For this reason, we encourage all interested students to apply as soon as possible.

USAJobs.gov Website Down October 6-12, 2011

USAJobs.gov will transition to a new system October 6-12, 2011. During this time, the ability to conduct job searches, apply for jobs or receive application status updates will not be possible. Employers will not be able to post any new jobs. Even after the transition is complete, there may be sporadic, unannounced shutdowns.  Check here for updates on the USAJobs.gov website.

For those applying for U.S. Department of State opportunities, you are encouraged to complete your application prior to October 6, if possible, to reduce the possibility of system problems preventing an on-time submission.

At this point, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) does not anticipate a need for extending any application deadlines. However, Career Services will monitor the situation and keep you informed of any changes.

For those applying for State Department Internships:
The application deadline is November 1st.  However, it is recommended that you apply immediately to avoid any glitches that may arise due to the website transition.

Use LinkedIn to Find Federal Jobs

Using LinkedIn to narrow down hires for the federal government? It’s true, with the introduction of LinkedIn’s two new tools, Skills and Similar Profiles.  Both federal government websites and  LinkedIn use algorithms to highlight individuals based on their talent, influence and expertise.

When seeking jobs on LinkedIn, include a “robust” LinkedIn profile, with many contacts and recommendations, a portfolio and links to your work, and provide an interesting introduction with keywords applicable to your relevant field, with a long bulleted list of specialties.  Your “profile” then stands out to employers, and gets noticed – to federal recruiters, as well as recruiters from corporate and nonprofit organizations.

Users look at groups that are within their particular field. Frequent postings on LinkedIn will move your name up higher in the search engine rankings. Hiring managers can then “notice” you, make contact, and refer you to appropriate federal application processes, all while keeping you in mind for positions that are open.  Find out more by reading Key Words in Social Media: A New Way to Find Top Talent.