Dec 10, 2012
NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — A public affairs student trainee here has the distinction of being NAVAIR’s first Pathways Program employee.
Emily Burdeshaw was hired as part of the Pathways Program, part of President Obama’s federal hiring reform initiative, which became effective in July 2012. Pathways consists of two new programs — the Internship Program and the Recent Graduates Program — and modified another, the Presidential Management Fellows Program. These developmental programs are tailored to promote employment opportunities for students and recent graduates in the federal workforce and make it easier for them to pursue federal careers.
“Pathways helps NAVAIR bring untapped talent to our workforce. The programs for students and recent graduates, coupled with the overall hiring reform, help ensure we bring the right talent to NAVAIR at the right time with greater speed and efficiency,” said Rebecca Hampshire, NAVAIR Pathways program manager.
Burdeshaw first learned about NAVAIR through St. Mary’s College of Maryland’s career center. She was looking for real world opportunities to apply the lessons she had learned as an English major, she said. Her interest in public relations and journalism seemed a perfect match with NAVAIR’s Public Affairs.
She started a summer internship in 2012, writing news articles for NAVAIR’s website and the Tester, the Patuxent River Naval Air Station newspaper.
“Once I started, I found that I liked the work, because I wasn’t just sitting at a desk,” she said. “I was up and moving around, meeting and talking to a lot of new people, and working on multiple stories and projects at once. The dynamic nature of the job is what kept me coming back.”
Part of the job meant meeting new people and telling their stories.
“I love talking to new people. I like chasing stories and learning new things about naval aviation from people who are passionate about their work,” she said.
One such story was about the Sailor of the Year Award, for which Burdeshaw said she corresponded with a sailor in Afghanistan for a couple of weeks. When the story was published, she felt a palpable wave of excitement.
“While it may be more commonplace here, coming from a non-military environment to one where that type of interaction was more of the norm, I was thrilled. I loved the idea that I was responsible for telling this sailor’s story,” she said.
Currently, as a public affairs trainee, she assists the Unmanned Aviation & Strike Weapons (PEO U&W) program office by writing communications plans, providing media training, attending interviews and writing news articles. She said she hopes to learn to be the best liaison she can be between the media and NAVAIR leaders.
“I think that it is really challenging and interesting to take the technical language of the engineering world and turn it into something digestible for those outside of the field,” she said. “I enjoy the challenge and the process of learning enough about a program or project to turn it into something intelligible to people who are not familiar with the jargon.”
She will become a full-time NAVAIR civilian employee after her graduation in spring 2013.
Jamie Cosgrove, PEO U&W public affairs officer, said, "This is an excellent opportunity for a young professional like Emily to pursue a career in public affairs and give a fresh perspective to our team. She will gain valuable experience with media relations and both internal and external communications.”
Burdeshaw advises students looking for federal jobs to feel comfortable marketing themselves and the skills they can bring from the classroom to the workplace, such as writing, research and critical thinking.
“Lots of the learning that happens in a university setting can be translated to the workplace,” she said. “While we lack the specific experience, students and recent grads can bring fresh perspective and energy to an environment. Ambitious, hardworking students are going to be able to do a job and do it well, with direction from a mentor.”
Find out more about Pathways.