Converse Experience Propels Grad to Job as Middle East Analyst
The Presidential Management Fellow (PMF) is literally the most prestigious award that one can earn in the area of government and public affairs. Agencies that hire PMFs include the Departments of Defense, Energy, Homeland Security, NASA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the United States Agency for International Development.
In June, Gaffney, S.C. native Casey Addis, who graduated from Gaffney High School in 2000 and Converse College in 2004, became the third Converse alumna be named a Presidential Management Fellow. On June 23rd, she began her duties as a Middle East Analyst in the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division of the Congressional Research Services.
The selection process for PMFs is grueling and competitive with roughly seven hundred of the four thousand applicants being selected as finalists. Only half of the finalists are actually offered positions. Those that do make the grade are invited to a job fair to interview with as many as eighty agencies.
“It is the nature of the history and politics courses at Converse and the training I received in the college’s national award-winning Model Arab League program that gave me the endurance and confidence to be successful at the job fair,” explained Addis, a politics and economics double major at Converse. She recently earned her Master of Arts in Middle Eastern Studies and a Master of Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas.
“There was no ‘typical’ interview or standardized format; I had to field behavioral, situational and informational questions,” Addis continued. “Most of my interviews also included substantive questions about the Middle East, economics, international affairs or U.S. policy. One person actually asked me, ‘What should the U.S. do about Hezbollah?’ I did this from 9 am to 4 pm each day of the fair. It’s not a process that is friendly to the timid. You really have to put yourself out there and sell yourself as a strong candidate for the position. The interdisciplinary nature of my undergraduate and graduate degrees really helped. I tell people that I am a generalist intentionally because I believe you have to understand a lot of different things to understand any one thing well. My understanding of a variety of subjects and my broad liberal arts background gave me a lot of latitude in the interview process.”
The two other Converse PMF recipients are Valerie Brock (Class of 2003) and Cheryl Woody McIntyre ‘(Class of 1995). Brock works for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia. McIntyre served on the Iraqi Transition Planning Team in 2002 and worked to transition Department of Defense contracts and responsibilities to the Department of State at the time of the standup of the U.S. Embassy and the nominal resumption of authority by the Iraqi government.