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March 11, 2011

UW-Eau Claire MBA Student Named Semi-Finalist in the Presidential Management Fellow Program

Karla WaldKarla Wald, a University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire MBA student from Chippewa Falls, WI, is a semi-finalist in Presidential Management Fellow (PMF) program, a federal, entry-level leadership development program for graduate students. The program, which was created by Executive Order in 1977, was established to attract outstanding individuals from a variety of academic disciplines and career paths to public service.

Wald is one of 1,500 semi-finalists chosen nationwide from a pool of 9,100 graduate students from such prestigious universities as Georgetown, Harvard, Stanford, University of Chicago, and the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Approximately 700 to 800 applicants become finalists each year. She will learn if she has been selected in early April.

Wald first heard about the Presidential Management Fellow program in October 2010 when UW-Eau Claire finance professor Dr. Raj Aroskar forwarded an email from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to his MBA students.

“The PMF program intrigued me,” said Wald. “It’s a chance to be part of something significant and it’s a special experience that only comes along once after graduate school,” she continued. “The opportunity to work at The White House, the Pentagon, or other national agency was enticing. I wanted to see if I have what it takes to become a Fellow in the program.”

The PMF application and selection process is an intensive one that takes approximately six months. All applicants complete an application form, submit a nomination from their graduate program, and complete a timed, online assessment. Individuals selected as semi-finalists then participate in an in-person assessment, which consists of an individual presentation, group presentation, and writing sample.

Wald travelled to Chicago for her personal assessment. On the day she interviewed, she competed against five law students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Drake University, a graduate student from an international marketing program at the University of Maryland, and an environmental scientist from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

“Deep down though, I knew that I belonged there,” said Wald. “I had the confidence and knew I could compete with other students from top academic programs in the country.”

Semi-finalists who pass the personal assessment move into the finalist stage of the PMF selection process.  Finalists have one year to get hired into a PMF position, pass a background investigation, and go through their agency’s orientation and training process.  PMF positions are posted to the program’s online job bank throughout the year. In addition, an annual job fair is held each spring in the Washington, DC area exclusively for finalists. Federal agency representatives attend the event, discuss hiring opportunities with finalists, and make job offers.

During their two-year appointment, Presidential Management fellows receive 160-hours of formal classroom training on leadership, management, policy and other topics, and participate in four to six consecutive month-long development assignments. Fellows receive full salary and benefits, and they also may be eligible to receive assistance with student loan repayment depending on the agency they work for.  Upon successful completion of the program, Presidential Management fellows are awarded a certificate of completion, which permits immediate appointment to a position in the competitive or excepted service and carries prestige in the workplace.

Whether she is selected or not, Wald feels the experience has been well worth the effort.

“The PMF program is an amazing leadership opportunity,” said Wald. “It provides a chance to use my education and business acumen to make a difference and to offer something of value to the American people,” she continued. “It's an honor to be chosen - even for the semi-finalist level and I think it’s definitely a testament to UW-Eau Claire’s MBA program.”


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