Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Whirlwind of a Week

This past November, I along with the rest of the 2012 class of Knauss Marine Policy fellows, traveled to Washington DC for a week of interviews, happy hours, and tough decisions. The goal of placement week was for each fellow to be matched with a host office, an office in either the executive or legislative branch of the federal government, which he or she would work for during the fellowship year. At the end of placement week, everyone was matched with a host office and we all left with a better idea of how we would be spending the next year.

As an executive fellow, my week began Monday morning with a series of presentations by representatives of each potential executive branch host office (44 to be exact…). The presentations described each office’s responsibilities and gave us an idea of what it would be like to work with them. A broad range of offices were represented ranging from various positions within NOAA, the US Coast Guard, the Navy, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of State. The day was a bit draining but it was very exciting to consider the potential experiences each office could offer.

The next three days consisted of interviews (I signed up for 14, but others signed up for as many as 18!), happy hours, and getting to know the DC area. Interviews were a chance for the fellows to understand what it would be like to work in an office and for the representatives of the host office to get to know the fellows beyond a paper application. In the evening, we were off to happy hour which allowed a bit of relaxation but also presented an opportunity to interact with staff from the host offices on a more personal level. Days were jam-packed but it was a great opportunity to improve interview skills, begin to understand the diverse group of federal agencies responsible for managing our marine and Great Lakes resources, and figure out where each of us might fit in as a fellow. It was also nice to see that many former Knauss fellows have become permanent employees in these offices. Most of my interviews were in Silver Spring, Maryland at NOAA and it seemed the “NOAA Mafia” (Knauss alumni) was well represented in each office.

For the executive fellows, the placement process concluded Friday morning when we all found out where we would be working over the next year. I accepted a position with NOAA Fisheries Service in the Office of Habitat Conservation. Though I will be based in the DC area, much of my work will bring me back to Michigan where I will be working on Great Lakes habitat restoration issues. More to come later!

-Eric, 2012 Knauss Fellow

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