Shirley Salvi and John Biondo, both M.A. Diplomacy and International Relations ’16, have been named 2016 Presidential Management Fellowship finalists.
The Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) program is a competitive government sponsored training program for those interested in careers in government service. The PMF program was created by Executive Order in order to allow qualifying students to gain experience and training in the government that can help them prepare for a future career. The fellowship lasts for two years and provides recipients with funding for advancing their education, interactive training, challenging work assignments, and the potential for promotion within government agencies.
Both Salvi and Biondo expressed excitement at being chosen for the fellowship, and are looking forward to the variety of opportunities available through the program.
“I'm looking forward to working at different agencies and in different positions, perhaps a rotation overseas,” said Salvi. Biondo also named the rotational assignments as the feature he is most looking forward to in the program. Because appointment lengths vary depending on the fellow’s assigned agency, fellows can rotate every three to six months for up to two years, either externally or internally. “This gives PMFs the opportunity to find positions where they feel they can best contribute to an agency's mission and pursue a career they find personally fulfilling.”
The application process for the PMF program required multiple steps, including writing an essay, completing an online assessment and an in person interview in Washington, D.C., that can last between four and five hours. Both fellows agreed that the arduous process was worth the invaluable training and access they will receive through the fellowship.
“I think the required hours of leadership training is one of the most valuable things that come with the PMF,” said Salvi. “The training offered is sometimes training only GS13s and above receive. To be able to even participate in so many training opportunities is rare; whereas with the PMF, it is built into the system.”
“Beyond laying the foundation for a promising career, the ability to obtain a security clearance through the PMF should not be understated,” said Biondo. “The security clearance process is time-consuming and expensive. Possessing one automatically opens new doors to you as far as employment is concerned.”
Fellows in the PMF program have the unique opportunity to convert their training into a career with the U.S. government following the completion of their fellowship term.
When asked what advice he would give to future PMF applications, Biondo emphasized the benefits of finding an agency in which you are interested, and researching the types of careers and opportunities available within that agency.
“Of the approximately 6,050 applicants, only 522 were chosen; so my advice would be to stand out,” said Salvi. “I met many semifinalists during the interview phase and every one of them volunteered and served their community or country in some way.”
Intimidating as the interview process may seem, Biondo said it is important to not only be prepared, but relaxed. “The interviewers aren't trying to throw you any curve balls,” said Biondo. “They simply want you to elaborate on your experiences, so be prepared to talk about how they have prepared you for this new opportunity.”
Salvi and Biondo will join seven PMF fellows selected from the School of Diplomacy in the past three years.