European Union Policy Studies

Alumni Spotlight: Briar Dunn, Presidential Management Fellow


 
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As the sun set on my time in Florence, I packed up, said ‘ci vediamo’ to the friends I’d made, and headed home to Texas. While I contemplated my next steps, I returned to my hometown in Dallas to my old job as a recruiter. I knew I wanted to work in Washington, D.C., and I dreamed of one day returning to Europe. But how would I get there, and with whom would I find the right opportunity? When Dr. Scherpereel passed along information to EUPS alumni about a high-level program, the Presidential Management Fellowship, I was presented with the chance I had been looking for.

‘There is no way I am a competitive candidate,’ I recall thinking. I am no Harvard graduate, and this is THE top fellowship for the government. Yet I went for it. What did I have left to lose? At this point I applied for nearly 300 positions both in and out of the US Government, resulting in only a handful of interviews and zero job offers. With few expectations, I was not anticipating within 6 months I would open my mailbox to find a letter congratulating my acceptance into the Presidential Management Fellowship. It was surreal! Within just one month, offers poured in from the Departments of Defense, State, Commerce, and Homeland Security; more opportunities than I could have hoped for. After much deliberation, I decided to work with the Department of Defense (DoD).

Immediately thrown into the water, I was left to sink or swim while working with numerous teams around the world. Thanks to the EUPS program, I was capable of tackling anything thrown at me both domestically and internationally. While working with the Pentagon, I was tasked with the responsibility of spearheading a game changing idea for the DoD’s recruitment strategy regarding millennials and PMFs. The new strategy I developed was passed along all the way up to one of the highest ranking Senior Executives for the DoD human resources community. Impressed by my proposal, she quickly signed off on it and sent me to the DoD World Wide HR Conference in Boston to brief executives and members on the new strategy.

Set aback, I could not believe that just two years prior I believed I was underqualified to apply for the PMF program. I was still in denial that something I developed could be valued so highly and have such a large impact. I watched myself go from the “great pondering” all recent graduates experience to seeing myself as unstoppable. I know without a doubt that this confidence in my professional abilities would not have been possible without the sometimes challenging but always rewarding endeavors I had the privilege of pursuing.

As a Presidential Management fellow, I have been able to reconnect with some of JMU’s diplomatic connections including Mr. Antoine Ripoll of the European Parliament Liaison Office in Washington, D.C. This connection has extended my network immensely to members of the European Parliament. As of November of this year, I will be transferring to the Department of Homeland Security as an Asylum Officer on their International Operations team, where I will be assigned to long-term security details in Rome on behalf of the United States. My hopes of moving back to the country I fell in love with are becoming a reality.

For every student reading this, keep your head up, keep pushing, and never stop aspiring to be great even when you feel discouraged. I am confident in what JMU EUPS has prepared each and every one of us to be; effective and highly capable leaders. I encourage all graduate students from the EUPS program to apply for the PMF program post-graduation. In bocca al lupo!

For more information on applying to the PMF program, click here!

Written by Briar Dunn (M.A. 2014)

Published: Monday, October 31, 2016

Last Updated: Monday, October 31, 2016

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