During Centennial Weekend, Hobart and William Smith students gathered in Stern Hall to listen to Dr. Sandra Rivera ’85 deliver a Professionals in Residence lecture titled, “Getting a Job with the Federal Government.” Staying true to the title of her lecture, Rivera conducted a professional, yet relaxed discussion concerning how a person wanting to work within the federal government should go about obtaining such a position.
Working as the Assistant Director for the U. S. International Trade Commission’s Office of Economics, Rivera gave the room full of eager students both encouragement for their future plans and practical advice on how to get a foot in the door.
“Government is the most stabile field of work in these economic times,” she began, adding that independent agencies, such as the U.S. International Trade Commission, are the “best places in government to be as an economist,” due to the greater amount of intellectual freedom provided. With the attendees’ directional confidence boosted, Rivera outlined a number of recommended steps for the students to take.
In regard to internships: “The time to apply is now. Research now, apply now, and follow up.” Noting that a good internship is the first step toward a career in the federal government, and that most internships are extremely competitive, Rivera stressed the essentials of a good application. Federal institutions are looking for writing skills and empirical skills, she emphasized. Applicants without computer skills do not get a second look. Students were advised to “be ridiculously transparent” when it comes to describing their skill sets, for example, listing all of the software programs in which they are proficient. Rivera also encouraged those in attendance to join Toastmasters International which, she insisted, teaches, “The professional behavior critical for success.”
“I found the entire lecture to be very informative and helpful for students looking to get a jumpstart in this field,” commented Amanda Hawley ’11. “Dr. Rivera was extremely direct in letting us know what would be the best actions to take.”