Kelly Griffin has put in countless hours of work in pursuit of her credentials in higher education, culminating in the spring of 2022 with a master?s degree in social work from IU South Bend. Now, she has gone even further: Griffin is one of only 850 applicants (from a pool of over 10,000) to be named a Presidential Management Fellowship Finalist for 2023. The Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) is a federal government pathway program with a goal towards employing the future leaders of the federal government.
Growing up as a ?military brat,? Griffin spent much of her youth in Hawaii, where her father served in the Army as a mechanic. Before she embarked on her journey through college, she spent eight years following in her father?s footsteps in the armed forces. ?I had a particular amount of self-awareness when I was in high school, and I knew that I wasn?t yet ready for college,? Griffin says. ?At the same time, I wanted to do service for my country, which is a family tradition.? Those next few years involved basic training, advanced training, and an overseas assignment to Germany. She worked as an Army mechanic, just like her dad, and she became a parent herself. Eventually, when her son no longer required constant attention, Griffin began to contemplate her next phase.
?I did a self-evaluation, and I decided that I had become mature enough and disciplined enough to get on a career path that would involve going back to school,? she says. She obtained a bachelor?s degree in criminal justice and sociology from Western Michigan University and a master?s in administration of justice and security from the University of Phoenix. For most of the next decade, she parlayed those credentials into a career as a parole officer, first in Tennessee and then in Michigan. By 2020, Griffin knew she wanted a master?s in social work, so she matriculated at IU South Bend and began an internship with the Office of Veteran Student Services. With a certainty that she had the drive and the skills to pursue the world of mentorship at an elite level, she applied to be a Presidential Management Fellow last fall.
?I recognized it as a phenomenal opportunity to enter into the federal government system,? Griffin says. The job description of a PMF varies, because a PMF can serve in a myriad of ways from Program Analyst to Asylum Officer. ?A PMF is a humble servant of the federal government,? Griffin says. ?You need to have the humility and self-awareness to identify the opportunities that are going to come your way. You can apply for any position you are qualified that comes into the PMF talent-management system.?
A PMF application requires enrollment in graduate school or within two years of graduating with a master’s degree or Ph.D. There is a rigorous application process and training, but also an emphasis on the ?soft skills? such as empathy, listening skills, teamwork, and adaptability. ?There is a good position in the federal government for anyone studying at IU. It’s just a matter of narrowing it down to your interests and going for it,? Griffin says. ?It’s not always about the degree ? it’s just as much about the ?soft skills? too.