Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Doing Meaningful Work

In 1961, President Kennedy urged Americans to commit themselves to achieving the goal of landing a person on the moon before the decade was out. It was one of the most ambitious goals a nation had ever undertaken. And it was the kind of goal that required such vast support, resources and coordination, that only the United States federal government could have achieved it.

Last July marked the 40th anniversary of Americans landing on the moon. This anniversary got a lot of media coverage and what struck me over and over was the way that everyone involved in the space program was proud to have played a part in achieving that monumental goal. They didn’t just help America gain bragging rights, they changed the course of human history. Their work had meaning.

Today, America faces issues that are vastly more complex and more urgent than taking a person to the moon. Climate change, the global recession, leading nations to ensure all people have access to basic human rights, these are all situations that cannot be solved by market forces or individual organizations. These problems need the size and the capacity that only the U.S. Federal Government can bring to bear. 

But the U.S. Federal Government faces another kind of challenge— recruiting talented, passionate young people who bring new ideas and the potential for leadership to federal service. It’s been estimated that one third of federal employees will be eligible for retirement in the next five years. This exodus of baby boomers is made worse by a federal recruiting and application system that is old, slow and difficult to navigate.

The Good News (Part 1)
Luckily the President’s Fiscal Year 2011 Budget and Plan  established requirements for hiring reform. And congress is drafting legislation to overhaul the way that federal agencies attract and hire people. These efforts should hopefully make finding and landing a job with a federal agency simpler and faster. But it’s still not easy to wrap one’s mind around the huge number of federal agencies and how to get into them.

The Good News (Part 2)
Another bright spot is that the University of Washington was recently awarded one of five grants from the Partnership for Public Service to promote students exploring careers in the U.S. government. As a result of this grant, a diverse group of UW students, faculty and staff are working together to make sure that UW students and alumni have the tools and the knowledge needed to explore federal careers. This includes not only the blog  you’re reading, and links to helpful documents and websites, but also real human beings; UW students and alumni who have done or are doing work with federal agencies, as well as employers from federal agencies. Agencies that are doing meaningful work like mitigating global climate change (Environmental Protection Agency), recovering from the global recession (The Federal Reserve Bank), ensuring human rights (The Peace Corps), or even being part of a mission to put a person on Mars (NASA). To get involved and/or learn more, please attend the events promoted on this website and/or email uwmakingthedifference@gmail.com.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Apply by Sept 29th for Part-Time Student Jobs with the EPA

Student Temporary Positions (must be enrolled and pursuing a degree)

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Submit resume by Monday, September 28 to Westley Foster at foster.westley [at] epa.gov

TWO POSITIONS with the The Fiscal Management and Planning Unit, which manages the Environmental Protection Agency Region 10's fiscal resources and ensures the region complies with standardized accounting policies and procedures:

1) Entry Level Budget Technician
2) Entry Level Financial Technician


The Budget Team manages the Region's payroll and FTE budget centrally, oversees Regional Support and Working Capital Fund budget, and allocates, monitors, and reports on the budget. Budget is responsive to our customers at every level within the Agency, just as we rely on employees at all Agency levels to be responsive to our needs. FMPU is a dynamic Unit that often works under pressure and tight deadlines.


1. Serve as an entry level budget technician for the FMPU's Budget Team.
2. Perform general office or program support duties such as preparing, receiving, reviewing, and verifying documents; processing transactions; maintaining office records
3. Locate and compile data or information from files and other data sources
4. Research EPA regulations and guidance to make recommendations for the resolution of pending budget and accounting issues.
5. Maintain Excel spreadsheets used to track and report budgetary and accounting information related to appropriated funds and recovery act funds.


The Finance Team (Finance) deals specifically with regional policy, quality assurance and control, payroll and time-and-attendance, funds control, superfund cost recovery, travel, and financial systems. Finance is responsive to our customers at every level within the agency, just as we rely on employees at all agency levels to be responsive to our needs. FMPU is a dynamic unit that often works under pressure and tight deadlines.


1. Serve as an entry level Financial Technician for the FMPU's Finance Team.
2. Liaise with other regional finance offices, EPA financial centers, and Headquarters to research pending financial and accounting issues.
3. Research EPA regulations and guidance to make recommendations for the resolution of pending financial and accounting issues.
4. Maintain Excel spreadsheets used to track and report budgetary and accounting information related to appropriated funds and recovery act funds.
5. Assist Superfund Cost Recovery personnel track bills, dunning notices, and other cost recovery documents needed to maintain accurate cost recovery files/records.

If you have questions about either position, please contact Westley Foster at foster.westley [at] epa.gov or 206-553-1604.

Westley Foster
Tribal Coordinator
Vice-Chairman, National EPA Hispanic Employment Mgmt. Council
Region 10 Hispanic Employment Program Manager
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Ecosystems, Tribal and Public Affairs
Tribal Trust and Assistance Unit, TTAU-085
1200 Sixth Avenue, Suite 900
Seattle, Washington 98101
Phone: (206) 553-1604
Fax: (206) 553-015

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Serve America Challenge

The Federal Government Supports Your Community - Do You?

On April 21, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which calls on Americans to make a difference by volunteering. In support of the President’s call to serve, we challenge you to serve your community. If you are a current or recent undergraduate or graduate student in the greater Puget Sound area, we want to recognize you for your volunteer service efforts.

Step 1: Serve your community.

Volunteer a minimum of eight hours of your time at a recognized organization. Find volunteer opportunities at http://www.serve.gov/.

Step 2: Tell us about it.

Create a work of art, a video, essay, website or photograph that demonstrates how your volunteer activity served and improved your community. Please be sure to answer each of the questions below in formulating your creative entry.

What did you experience?  How did it make a difference?  Why was it significant to you?

Step 3: Get recognized.

All participants will have their names published on the SFEB website: www.seattlefeb.us Just follow the links to “Serve America Challenge.”

Need more incentive?

A $100 award will be given to the overall top entry!

In addition, one participant in each media category (art, video, essay, website, or photo) may receive*:

- Publication of their accomplishment.
- Job Shadow with a local federal executive.
- Tour of a federal facility, such as a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) vessel.

Be recognized at the Executive Leadership Council meeting of the Seattle Federal Executive Board. This meeting brings together leaders from 25 of the largest federal agencies in the Puget Sound area. It is a great learning opportunity with senior executives.
Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to share your volunteer experience, receive recognition for your accomplishments, and network with executives in the federal community!!

Deadline approaching fast! [October 16, 2009]; Learn more by visiting the link below and/or on Facebook by searching “Serve America Challenge”


Pop Quiz


What do these 5 institutions have in common?



Each competed [and won!] nationally for a grant from the Partnership for Public Service, focusing on raising the profile of federal employment for undergraduates, graduate students and alumni.

Why is this important?

Well, the U.S. Federal Government IS hiring and needs new talent. UW will host a variety of federal-career-related events and workshops throughout the year - don't miss out! Explore this blog for resources, links, announcements and REASONS why you should seriously consider pursuing a federal career.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Presidential Management Fellowship Information Session

Grad Students -

Are you interested in a great job after finishing graduate school? One that comes with a salary of $48,000 to $69,000, possible student loan repayment of up to $60,000, extensive training, a great network of mentors, and excellent health and retirement benefits?

Then consider applying for the Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) - a special, paid, 2-year fellowship program in the federal government, which is exclusively for students finishing a graduate program between September 1, 2009 and August 31, 2010.

The Career Center, Graduate School, Evans School, & Jackson School are co-sponsoring an information session about this amazing opportunity. Come learn about the required application materials, assessments, deadlines, opportunities, and the short-term and long-term benefits associated with being a Presidential Management Fellow. Also, hear from agencies who hire fellows and from individuals who recently completed their PMF tenure.

Thursday, October 1st, 4:30-6:00, Thomson 125

No registration required.

Learn more about PMF at - https://www.pmf.opm.gov/HowToApply.aspx

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

“Define Your Own Road In Life”: Roadtrip Nation & Federal Careers

What is Roadtrip Nation? Watch this short clip to find out:

Below are several short video clips and links to help you explore the paths of individuals who have worked for the U.S. federal government. Stay tuned to this blog for opportunities @ UW to connect in-person with federal recruiters and federal employees. You can build a great career working for the U.S. Government. You alone can define what that path, or paths, entails. The time is now. Go for it.

Former Clinton Advisor Clyde Williams about his career:

Frederick Gregory, former deputy administrator at NASA and Astronaut, offers his advice about life/careers:

My Harrison, Section Chief at the FBI, offers her advice about life/careers:

Click here to hear Wanda Sykes talk about studying marketing in college … then having a successful career with the National Security Agency for about 10 years … then taking a big risk and jumping into her now world of comedy.

Click here to hear Andrew Steele talk about his life as a microbiologist @ NASA.

Be sure to explore the Roadtrip Nation government page.  Connect with Roadtrip Nation in Nov. '09 @ UW!