I don't want to be perfect, just better...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How I got My FEMA Internship

So occasionally I pretend that I'm a good blogger and check things like most popular posts and traffic sources and what words some of you are using to find ME.

One of the posts that seems to be drawing an awful lot of attention is FEMA Internship, Part Time and My Wallet.  I even got this comment and question from Judy, a fellow student of emergency management:

Hi Judy,

I too anticipate finishing my studies in December 2011, completing a Master's in Emergency Management. I found the ad for the FEMA internship through a LinkedIn group. (When they say relationships matter, they mean it). The original ad is below.

FEMA’s Individual & Community Preparedness Division is seeking motivated individuals interested in acquiring knowledge and valuable work experience in disaster preparedness. This is a great opportunity for an ambitious individual with self-initiative, critical thinking, and good administrative skills looking to get basic experience in the preparedness end of emergency preparedness and disaster management. Interns will work on a variety of projects that may include community outreach, planning for client meetings on emergency preparedness, and/or research on a variety of related issues. Project examples are the September Youth Preparedness Education Summit, Minor League Baseball outreach efforts, Citizen Corps Council registration, developing stories and content for website and email programs, and contributing to content for social networking programs (Twitter, Facebook, etc.). We will encourage all interns to write a memo or paper on their experience, the results of their work, and any suggestions they have for improving the intern experience. 
This is an unpaid internship position but may fit the requirements for college credit. Internships may be full or part-time. Work hours are flexible to meet the needs of students and ICPD. The ideal candidates will be currently enrolled in a Bachelor’s Degree program or in a Master’s Degree program in a related field to disaster preparedness. However, students who are majoring in all disciplines are encouraged to apply. Candidates will have excellent computer skills, be proficient with Microsoft Office Suite (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook), and have documented experience conducting research using a variety online resources. Candidates must have excellent writing skills and a strong knowledge of English usage, spelling, grammar and punctuation. Familiarity with community preparedness is preferred, but not required. Please note: Interns must by U.S. citizens and a basic background check will be conducted before the internship can begin. 

I'm not sure of which LinkedIn group it was because it has been over a year (May 2010) since I applied. I am a member of as many emergency management groups on LinkedIn as possible. This is for several reasons, my name is distinctive and the more people see it they more likely they will be to remember it when I begin applying for EM jobs.

Second, I joined so many groups is because I want to see and know what current EM's are discussing as their major problems. I do this so I can know what skills are lacking currently in the EM field and which of my skills I can attempt to beef up that will make me more competitive. Many of the more tech savvy EM's are actively exploring how we can better serve through the use of social media and technology.

Now back to the internship. My internship was part time even though I had the option to participate full time. I initially applied to the Individual and Community Preparedness Division but after a delay (I was notified that I was chosen in June but did not get go ahead until September). I was sent to the Office of Preparedness Integration and Coordination. 

In applying for the internship, I blew out my resume. Listing everything that I had written, coauthored and edited. I dropped the full position description of my previous jobs instead of just bullet points. This made my resume almost four pages. 

I wrote the best cover letter I have ever written in my life. I stressed all of the reasons that I thought I would be the best candidate. I matched every job skill of mine to one that was asked for in the position description.

I was patient and persistent and that is the basics of how I got my internship.

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