Pathways interns explore the federal sector

This summer five Truman School students participated in the federal government Pathways Internship program. These students gained valuable professional experience in the federal sector in Missouri. Emily Dwyer, Lesta Newberry, Charlie Parker, Miranda Schloman and Emma Smoczynski have all had the opportunity to work in the federal government and have found it interesting and challenging.

Emily Dwyer with site supervisor Dr. Greg Batson at USDA Office of Rural Development

The Pathways Programs, a result of 2010 Executive Order 13562, which offer students and recent graduates opportunities into federal service. Interns learn what working for the federal sector could entail with the added bonus of potentially converting to an entry-level, full-time position at the end of their term. The programs focuses on the intern’s work is related to their field of study or career goals.

“I think there’s a difference between an internship and a professional internship,” Dwyer said. “This was a professional internship where I was working the full time hours. I was very involved in the different networks of USDA. You see how to progress through your career because they put you in the network.”

Dwyer, who worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Rural Development in Columbia, feels lucky that the federal hiring freeze did not affect her or her classmates’ participation in the Pathways program.

“They work with you,” Dwyer said. “The program is flexible to meet the needs of the student because it is investing in the student.”

Serving in the National Guard , Dwyer said her intern experience definitely influenced her future professional goals because she saw how expansive the USDA is in working to connect with the community through outreach. She said working with the state of Missouri served as a good foot in the door to get to state and federal government jobs, but is also thinking about careers on the local level.

“Eventually, I think I would like to explore city or local government. I would like to go back to my hometown in Peoria, Illinois. I want to grow my city and make it better. I see a bigger picture of local government helping Illinois grow.”

The growth processes of the government work are as slow as you think it is, according to Dwyer. She said she learned that you have to wait on the political process because you can only do so much. Also you have to have patience to adjust to administrative changes.

Miranda Schloman worked for  the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Office of Evaluations and Inspections in Kansas City.  Moving through the processes, Schloman said, she appreciated the privilege of seeing multiple evaluation and inspection projects at different phases of completion, including the study design and approval process, data collection, data analysis, and final report.

Miranda Schloman

“My time as a Pathways intern confirmed my desire to have a career in the public sector, where I can focus on serving others,” Schloman said. “Completing evaluations and inspections is an indirect method of public service, in that our office does not typically interact with the public.”

While not working directly with the public, Schloman said the results of their evaluations and inspections encourage efficiency and effectiveness within HHS, with a focus on preventing waste, fraud, and abuse. She said they often collaborate with other components that directly serve the public, including the Office of Inspector General’s Office of Investigations, and other HHS divisions.

“I gained experience not only in evaluations and inspections, but also in participating in a team and contributing to a positive working environment,” Schloman said.  “I was able to apply my knowledge from my Masters coursework, namely Research Methods I & II, to real-life evaluation projects.”

For Schloman, she said internships allow for growth in professional development and provide networking opportunities that aid you in reaching your full potential.

“Through Pathways, I was exposed to the Federal hiring process, which is especially different from hiring for private sector positions,” Schloman said.  “I gained experience through participation in Intern Enrichment activities, which provided opportunities for Pathways interns to tour various Federal agencies outside of current agency work. Overall, interning for the Federal government was exciting and beneficial in my professional development.”