Back in October, 2010, 9,100 graduate students from around the country applied to become Presidential Management Fellows. Of those, only 1,530 made it through the rigorous selection process to become semi-finalists, and ten of them hail from Fordham.
Henry Schwalbenberg, Ph.D., associate professor of Economics and Director of the Graduate Program in International Political Economy and Development (IPED), noted that the percentage of Fordham students who have made it this far (10 out of 39, or 26 percent) is much higher than the national average of 17 percent.
With five semi-finalists hailing from the School of Law, three from IPED, one from the Graduate School of Education (G.S.E.) and one from the Graduate School of Business Administration (G.B.A.), Fordham is well-positioned for one of the country’s most prestigious fellowships.
“The presidential management fellowship program is the flagship leadership development program for the federal government. It attracts and selects the best candidates coming out of America’s graduate schools,” he said. “It is designed to develop a cadre of potential government leaders for the future.”
The process of becoming a fellow is one that finishes in March, when 900 finalists are offered jobs within the federal government. Schwalbenberg noted that the final round of the process, which is taking place right now, involves a full day of interviews and observations in Washington D.C.
The payoff for such a grueling process is a two-year long fast track into the agencies that make the executive branch function. Former students who have completed the fellowship have gone on to work in the International Trade Administration, which is part of the Commerce Department, the Foreign Agricultural Service, which is part of the Department of Agriculture, the Department of the Treasury and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“The aim is that towards the end of their career, these will be the leaders of the Civil Service,” Schwalbenberg said. “So they won’t be the political appointees, but they’ll be the people who actually run the bureaucracy for the different secretaries and political appointees.”