5 Tips to Prepare for a U.S. Government Security Clearance in Advance
By Carmen Iezzi Mezzera, Executive Director, Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (@apsiainfo)
NOTE: This piece originally appeared on CareersinGovernment.com in February 2017
Many highly rewarding careers require a security clearance. While the process can be daunting, advance preparation will ensure that you are ready when the time comes.
The Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA) brings together the leading graduate schools around the world, which specialize in international affairs. Our graduates regularly serve in public and private sector positions that require clearance by the U.S. government.
The timeline for obtaining clearances keeps getting longer and longer. If you expect to need one in the future, advance planning will enable you to go through the process in a timely manner.
Track Where You Go, As You Go
Travel outside of the United States provides important training for today’s workforce. It is highly valued by employers. At the same time, extensive time abroad can lengthen the clearance process.
All time spent outside of the U.S. in the last ten years must be reported (unless you were on U.S. government business). Record the day, month, and year when you begin and end a trip. Keeping up with where you live is just as important as travel, especially if you stayed in a place for 90 or more days. Document your residences (addresses) and the contact information of your landlord.
Keeping track as you go will enable you to accurately recount these details without having to chase them down later. Even if you spend time in a place without formal street addresses (such as Peace Corps service in a remote village), write down any indicators that will enable an investigator to confirm your information.
Remember Who You Know
Relationships with people from different parts of the world broaden your horizons and improve your international understanding. However, hiring agencies need to know about all of your interactions with non-U.S. citizens (“foreign nationals”).
As you build relationships with people from outside the U.S., again note the day, month, and year when you began contact, as well as your last contact with them. As much as possible, learn about their affiliations with foreign governments or employers. Similarly, if you or a member of your immediate family serve as a consultant, intern, or employee for a foreign agency, you will need to disclose those contacts and contracts.
If you have an extensive network of foreign national acquaintances, focus on those with whom you have had the closest ties and/or most interaction over the last seven years.
According to the Office of Personnel Management, “background investigations…gather information to determine whether you are reliable, trustworthy, of good conduct and character, and loyal to the U.S.”
Identify three or more friends, colleagues, roommates, or other associates whose combined association with you covers at least the last seven years. They must be able to speak knowledgeably about you, your character, and your activities. They cannot be family members. Ideally, they will currently live in the U.S.
Select people from different parts of your life and career. Individuals who can speak to your conduct outside of the U.S. could be particularly helpful. As needed, prepare your contacts by reminding them of when you first met, what type of activities you did together, and in what you have been involved since you met.
Understand your Financial Situation
Employers realize that students and young professionals may have debt related to their education, living expenses, or other needs. However, agencies may see considerable debt as a leverage point that could be used against you by foreign entities.
Keep close watch on your finances and credit score. Know exactly how much debt you have. Request copies of your consumer or credit report files, as your clearance investigator will. Understand what these documents say about your financial picture. Ensure you are up to date with federal, state, property, and other taxes. If you have ever applied for bankruptcy, investigators will need the details, including the docket/case number.
Safeguard your Social Media
Your online relationships matter as much as interpersonal ones. Your presence online can reveal a great deal to a potential employer and to outsiders.
Google yourself to see what others will find out about you. Establish strict online settings. Do not include your address, birth year, or other personal information in a profile. Do not download files illegally. Truly erasing information once it exists is incredibly difficult. While private settings are not fool-proof, they can help to reduce your exposure.
Think before you post. Be careful when sharing photos of yourself and loved ones. Never disclose that you are seeking a clearance/cleared position. Consider what news and stories you share online and how they reflect on you and your potential employer. Know who follows you. These contacts may also have to be reported during the clearance process.
If you want to work in a cleared position someday, prepare now with a few simple steps. It will save time and frustration as you go through the process.
OCS Announces Special Interest Career Workshops
The Office of Career Services will host a variety of workshops for career-minded SIPA students. Please register in advance if you plan to attend, and kindly arrive on time.
Interviewing Skills for International Students
Monday, February 20 - 1:00pm-2:00pm IAB, Room 420
Geared toward international students in particular, this workshop will cover the strategic and presentational components of successful interviewing. Areas of focus include: what is essential to know about your job target; the message you must convey about yourself; questions you should anticipate from your interviewer; and how to present yourself to best effect.
Jack Brandon, SIPA MIA '80, coaches career-bound graduate students in writing and interviewing skills. His professional background includes more than 20 years in sales and client relations in the broadcast television industry.
Talking Money: How to Discuss Salary and Negotiate Your Compensation
Tuesday, February 28 - 1:00pm-2:00pm IAB, Room 420
Almost no one is comfortable discussing the question of salary. Yet a conversation about compensation must enter into the give and take of every serious employment interview. This workshop, designed for experienced professionals and first-time job seekers alike, offers perspectives on salary discussion and strategies for negotiating the terms of an employment offer. You'll learn what ideas and language are likeliest to work in your favor - and what won't.
Ken Lawson is Director of Student Relations at SIPA's Office of Career Services. He has held positions in media, HR consulting, service industries and higher education.
How to Dress for Your Career Success
Wednesday, March 1 - 1:00pm-2:00pm IAB, Room 420
How should you look during a job interview? What should you wear to an information meeting? And what's the difference between the "professional formal" dress code and "professional casual"? This highly visual workshop is designed to give students a better understanding of how to create a favorable first impression, why appearance matters in your career pursuits, and how to dress for success in a variety of professional situations.
Chrissy Ercole is Assistant Director of Student Relations at SIPA’s Office of Career Services.
Summer Internship Funding Opportunities
Thursday, March 2 - 1:00pm-2pm IAB, Room 420
The great majority of summer internships are unpaid, but there’s help. In addition to grants and fellowships offered by other Columbia departments and external organizations for summer internships, SIPA also provides a limited number of summer internship funding opportunities. Attend this information session for an overview of funding opportunities, how to research them, and what to expect during the application process.
Chrissy Ercole is Assistant Director of Student Relations at SIPA’s Office of Career Services.
Public Speaking Clinic: Feedback to Upgrade Your Skills
Thursday, March 2 - 4:00pm-5:30pm IAB, Room 420
This special clinic offers customized feedback on public speaking skills. Participants will gain confidence in communicating key ideas and persuasive messaging while developing stronger leadership ability. Each participant must prepare and deliver a 5-minute presentation (with or without PowerPoint or other support tool). A team of evaluators, headed by Professor Yumi Shimabukuro, will offer suggestions for improvement and steps to enhance your oral presentation skills and competence.
Enrollment is strictly limited to 8. Participants must arrive on time and commit to attending the full workshop. Latecomers will not be admitted.
Yumiko Shimabukuro, Ph.D. teaches courses for the PEPM and EMPA programs and for the Urban and Social Policy Concentration of the MPA and MIA programs. She also leads workshops for the Picker Center for Executive Education.
SCC Workshop Series: "Interview Day: Step by Step"
The SIPA Consulting Club (SCC) is beginning a series of workshops, facilitated by consulting professionals, that are designed to help students get the consulting internship or job they desire!
Interview Day: Step by Step
Friday, February 24 - 1:00pm-3:00pm IAB, Room 405
In the second SCC workshop session, students will learn about the key elements of a consulting interview, from behavioral to case components. This interactive seminar will give prospective applicants the tools to master the structure and pacing of the one-hour, one-on-one interview used by leading consulting firms. Time will be allotted to walk through the core structure of a case and to answer interview-specific questions. Limited space available - please sign up here.
Stay up to date with SCC on OrgSync and Facebook!
NYC Career Series Schedule
Below is the spring 2017 schedule for the NYC Career Series. The spring series focuses on public sector and nonprofit industries because the majority of their hiring takes place during this time. Conversely, private sector panels are held during the fall semester. Panelists include a mix of SIPA alumni and other professionals working for a variety of companies based in the NYC metro area. For more information about these career panels, or to register to attend, please log on to SIPAlink.
Technology, Media, and Communications
Wednesday, February 22 - 6:00pm-8:00pm IAB, Room 1512
Monday, February 27 - 6:00pm-8:00pm IAB, Room 1512
Wednesday, March 1 - 6:00pm-8:00pm IAB, Room 1501
Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs
Monday, March 6 - 6:00pm-8:00pm IAB, Room 1512
Monitoring and Evaluation
Tuesday, March 7 - 6:00pm-8:00pm IAB, Room 1512
Economic and Political Development
Monday, March 27 - 6:00pm-8:00pm IAB, Room 1501
Wednesday, March 29 - 6:00pm-8:00pm IAB, Room 1512
Monday, April 3 - 6:00pm-8:00pm IAB, Room 1512
Registration for the Alumni/Student Networking Reception has closed. You may register for the wait-list here; if a spot becomes available, you will be notified via email.
Career Talk on Impact Investing
Featuring Antony Bugg-Levine, CEO at Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF)
Have you ever wondered how to chart a career in impact investing? Do you want to learn more about how impact investing is making a positive difference in New York neighborhoods and other U.S. communities? Do you wonder why all of this matters in a time of Trump and Brexit? Or, are you simply curious to find out what all the fuss is about?
Join NFF CEO and industry leader Antony Bugg-Levine for an informal discussion about what impact investing is, where it comes from, and where it is going, as well as the skills needed to land and succeed in the impact investing job that's right for you.
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Columbia Business School
Uris Hall, Room 330
New York, NY 10027
Upcoming Virtual Career Fairs: Veterans and Diversity
Register now for the Veteran's Virtual Career Fair on Tuesday, February 28, 2017. The event is open to all U.S. veterans worldwide with college and university-level education. Full-time employment, internships, and co-op positions will be available. It is free for veterans to register and participate. You can learn more here.
The Diversity Virtual Career Fair, held on Tuesday, March 21, 2017, is open to diverse students and alumni from college and universities throughout the U.S. It is free for jobseekers to attend. You can learn more here, and register for the event here.
CareerEco, the new career ecosystem, is a virtual recruiting platform and talent community for jobseekers, prospective graduate students, academic institutions, and employers who leverage the power of technology and embrace innovation in order to accomplish their professional and academic goals. CareerEco's cloud recruiting events offer a unique method of connecting virtually that allows everyone to save time and eliminate the many burdens and costs associated with travel.
The Tamer Fund for Social Ventures
More information can be found here.
Among the criteria, a qualifying social venture must be a nonprofit, for-profit, or hybrid early-stage social venture, ideally one that is financially self-sustaining in the longer term. The upcoming spring deadline is March 1, 2017. A sample of previously funded ventures can be found here.
Upcoming Federal Employment Webinars
These events are for applying to positions with the U.S. Federal Government, which only hires U.S. citizens.
A Senior Federal Recruitment Advisor with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in Washington, DC will be presenting several practical webinar information sessions during this spring 2017 semester to help students learn more about how to find and apply for federal jobs and internships (including Pathways) and strategies on preparing their federal resume.
Each webinar lasts approximately 90 minutes, including a Q&A period. There is no cost for the webinars, which are delivered via a link to Adobe Connect, a web-based software application that allows students to participate in the webinars from the convenience of their own individual laptops/desktops, wherever an internet connection is available. There is no separate phone line as audio will be through the participant’s laptop/desktop speakers.
Please note that registration for each session is limited to 1500 participants on a first-come, first-served basis.
Writing Your Federal Résumé - This webinar teaches you how to develop and write your federal résumé. By the end of this session, you will:
February 21, 2017
- Know the importance of your résumé in applying for federal jobs and why preparing a thorough résumé is the single best step you can take towards obtaining federal government employment
- Leave with tips and guidelines for improving your résumé
- Learn how to use the USAJOBS Résumé Builder to create a new résumé
4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. EST (1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. PST)
March 21, 2017
2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. EST (11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. PST)
Finding and Applying for Jobs in the Federal Government - This comprehensive webinar offers strategies to search and apply for federal jobs and internships. By the end of this session, you will know:
March 7, 2017
- How to navigate USAJOBS, the main federal employment website to find and apply for federal jobs in the competitive civil service
- Be able to read and make sense out federal job postings (also known as Job Opportunity Announcements)
- Helpful information on marketing yourself to federal agencies
4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. EST (1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. PST)
Federal Pathways Programs for Students and Recent Graduates – This webinar introduces the Federal Pathways Programs for students and recent graduates. By the end of this session, you will:
March 8, 2017
- Understand the three Pathways Programs, i.e., the Internship Program, Recent Graduates Program, and Presidential Management Fellows Program
- Know eligibility requirements for each program, what is the same, and what distinguishes the programs from one another
- Learn how you can find and apply for positions under each of the Pathways Programs.
1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. EST (10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. PST)
CCSI Now Accepting Applications for Summer Internships
The Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI), a joint center of Columbia Law School and the Earth Institute, is now accepting applications for internship positions for summer 2017. Interns are staffed to one or more specific research projects depending on the background and interests of the particular applicant. Unpaid and paid opportunities are available; summer internships are full-time (35-40 hours per week).
CCSI is a leading applied research center and forum dedicated to the study, practice and discussion of sustainable international investment. Their mission is to develop and disseminate practical approaches and solutions to maximize the impact of international investment for sustainable development. The Center's work is organized around 3 major areas of research: Sustainable Investments in Extractive Industries, Sustainable Investments in Land and Agriculture, and Sustainable International Investment Law and Policy.
Summer 2017 internships are listed here. The deadline to apply is March 31, 2017.
Reminder: Spring 2017 Internship Paperwork Reporting Requirements
Internships are an integral part of the student experience at SIPA. While matriculated within their MPA or MIA degree program, students are required to complete at least 120 hours of an internship along with submitting completed paperwork as part of their academic coursework.
Students may also choose to complete the internship requirement with no credit (no course registration required), or they may choose to register for: U9013 course section 001 for 1.5 credits (for 120+ internship hours) or U9013 course section 002 for 3 credits (for 240+ internship hours). The internship must be related to the student's concentration/specialization, as well as it must include professional, substantive work. Lastly, the internship may not be conducted in a family-owned organization/business. For full details, please review all sections of the Internship Requirement page here. Information regarding the required paperwork can also be found at the same link under the "Required Paperwork" section.
The deadline for all paperwork (the student's Internship Report, the Internship Employer Information Form to be completed by the student, and the Supervisor Evaluation Survey) for Spring 2017 internships is *April 15, 2017.
*However, students graduating as of May 2017 should submit their paperwork before the April 15 deadline, so that they may be certified in time for graduation upon review of their internship information.
PLEASE NOTE: International students should be aware of special regulations when seeking paid internships in the United States. Please review the International Student Work Authorization section of the OCS website here.
Summer 2017 Internship Funding Opportunities
Looking for funding for your summer internship? Returning students in most SIPA programs may be able to receive specific grants/fellowships or even awards from other Columbia institutes or external organizations if the internship is also a degree requirement. Below is a short list of the SIPA funding opportunities, plus you can review a full list of opportunities and eligibility requirements via SIPAlink and the OCS website here. Best of luck for a successful summer!
Writing Opportunity for Students and Young Professionals
Looking to get your writing out into the world? Looking for more experience in editing or translation?
A new project aiming to help students and young professionals to publish op-eds online has just been launched, called The Policy Corner www.policycorner.org.
Their aim is to publish all articles in English, German and French and they invite submissions in all three languages. This is a great opportunity for anyone looking to get their writing published, or even gain experience in editing or translating.
Prospective contributors are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the project’s mission, topic areas and the submission guide at www.policycorner.org. For any inquiries concerning submissions, please contact the submission team at: email@example.com
JOB, INTERNSHIP, AND FELLOWSHIP POSTINGS
Each week, OCS compiles a list of new job postings from SIPAlink. Please click below to view the Excel spreadsheet and click on the tabs on the bottom of the sheet to view the list of Full-time Jobs, Fellowships, and Internships. You can find these jobs on SIPAlink by entering the Job ID. SIPAlink has hundreds of available opportunities. Please be sure to check both under Full-time and Internship Postings and On-Campus Interviews when doing a search. Please note that only new positions are listed here. For a comprehensive list of open positions, please visit SIPAlink.
Full-time Jobs and Internship Opportunities
In addition to over 6,900 jobs that OCS posts every year, OCS also pays for subscriptions to online publications to assist you with your internship and full-time job search.
Latest publication information and updated subscription passwords
Please share your offer/acceptance information with OCS by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to hear from you!
Updates from the Employer Relations Team
- Morgan Stanley – Twelve SIPA students were interviewed for the Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Fellowship