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Federal Government Roundtable Gives Insight into Internships and Jobs

Friday, October 05, 2012
The federal government has thousands of internships and jobs earmarked for students and recent college graduates. On October 3, Marymount students had the opportunity for face-to-face meetings with representatives from top federal agencies, receiving tips on how to increase their job prospects.

David Wilmes, Marymount’s executive director of Career Services, which organized the event, said, “The federal government is a tremendous resource for Marymount students, and the University’s close proximity to Washington, DC, makes it very easy to tap into that pipeline of internships, while they’re still in school, and jobs upon graduation."

The two-hour roundtable drew both undergraduate and graduate students, who met with representatives from the State Department, the FBI, the Smithsonian Institution, and the General Services Administration. A retired CIA officer also attended. Each of the government representatives gave brief presentations, offered résumé advice, and answered questions – providing students with valuable insider views on the various agencies and how to be a stand-out job applicant.

Students learned, for example, about Pathways, a new federal program rolled out in July 2012, that centralizes government internship and job opportunities for recent graduates. The database lists positions in Washington, DC, across the nation, and even abroad.

Amanda Guillett, Marymount assistant director of Career Services, says, “Interning with the federal government gives students a foot in the door because agencies tend to give preference to candidates that already have federal experience. And once you’re a federal employee, there is much easier upward or lateral mobility within or across agencies.”

FBI Special Agent Joe Daley told the students, “You will be competing against hundreds of others, so you must find a way to make your résumé stand out. For example, identify a problem you encountered and explain how you helped to solve it. Showcase your talents, but don’t exaggerate because we do extensive background checks.” Agent Daly also distributed a handout about the FBI’s new Volunteer Internship Program, a summer experience that starts in June 2013.

The State Department representative said, “State your objective at the top of your résumé, and link it to the job you’re applying for. The goal is to tell me something about yourself that makes me want to follow up on it. Give me specifics. Don’t just say you have research skills; tell me what you researched and how this ties in to the job requirements.”

Alan More, whose government career included work at the CIA, the Pentagon, and Treasury Department, said, “We also look for passion. I want to know what you’re passionate about. I also expect you to ask some really smart questions about the organization. So, before you go to an interview, find out about their mission and their culture.”

Stephen Boyce ’15, an Information Technology major, already has an internship with the State Department providing IT support services to employees. But his dream is to join the FBI, so he was eager to attend the roundtable. He said, “The most useful aspect of the event was the résumé workshop. I learned some useful tips to improve mine, like adding my security clearance and being more detailed in job descriptions. I also learned that my security clearance from the State Department won't transfer, but having it will make the process easier.”

Sabrena Fary ’16, a Psychology major, added, "I found it really useful to hear exactly what they look for in a résumé, and how I can put my work experience in the best light, relating it to the job I'm applying for. It was also very helpful to sit down and talk to them informally, learning about their own work experience with the federal government."
- Harvy Hinostroza ’14, a Criminal Justice major, listens as FBI Special Agent Joe Daly explains what qualities his agency seeks in students applying for internships or jobs.

PHOTO 2 - Retired CIA officer Alan More discusses with MU students how to make a good impression when interviewing for an internship or job.

PHOTO 3 - MU student Stephen Boyce ’15, an Information Technology major, listens to Smithsonian Institution representative John Chiu explain about the application process for internships or jobs.

PHOTO 4 - MU student Sabrena Fary ’16, a Psychology major, listens to General Services Administration representative and Marymount alumna Shauntae Barber ’11(M.B.A.) give tips on government employment.