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Perhaps you are taking one of our top online Bachelor’s degree programs in Emergency Management and are want to add experience to your study plan. There are opportunities to gain experience in the profession prior to completing your undergraduate degree in this discipline. Some of these are available while attending high school.

The organization synonymous with natural disasters is the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The agency’s primary purpose is to coordinate the response to a disaster that has occurred in the United States and that overwhelms the resources of local and state authorities. The governor of the state in which the disaster occurs must declare a state of emergency and formally request from the president that FEMA and the federal government respond to the disaster. These events are not always natural in origin as the agency responds to all emergencies unless it occurs on federal property. One example is the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

FEMA has what they call the Pathways Program, which is an internship opportunity from high school to post-graduate school. Some of these positions pay the intern throughout its duration. There are also Recent Graduate Programs that have jobs for recent graduates of trade and vocational schools, community colleges, universities, and other qualifying educational institutions or programs. To be eligible for these one-year internships, individuals must apply within 2 years of receiving their degree or certificate.

Another possibility is FEMA’s Student Volunteer Employment Program for those eager to gain experience directly related to their academic field of study. Applicants must provide proof of enrollment in at least half-time academic or vocational and technical course load in an accredited educational institution. Prospective candidates must request an appointment within their program area of interest, i.e., emergency management, public affairs/external affairs, policy, etc.

FEMA regions post internships seeking applicants currently enrolled in a graduate or undergraduate school at the junior or senior level. Applicants require previous work or ongoing study at the bachelor’s level in public health, liberal arts, business, public administration, communications, training, economics, emergency management, or public relations. One example (August 2017) is the New Jersey/New York region of FEMA that is seeking an intern in the Community Preparedness office. You will gain valuable knowledge in such a program, as there are workshops in school safety, flood, active shooter incident, and power outages, to name a handful.

States are also another source of accruing experience as you continue your education. An example is the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) that provides students with a hands-on program. It is designed to strengthen fundamental emergency management concepts. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited college or university during the time of their internship at FDEM. These positions are particularly competitive. Applicants typically will undergo a telephone interview and finalists will have an in-person or Skype interview. The latter format reserved for distant applicants.

You could be fortunate enough to have the university you are attending offer an internship. For example, the University of Texas at Dallas is seeking (Sept. 2017) an intern who is an undergraduate or graduate student interested in the emergency management discipline. The candidate must be pursuing a degree to which this position is relevant. The UT Emergency Management Intern will assist in the development of emergency management plans, job aids, standard operating procedures, exercise design, and training. This person will also assist in the management of the UT Dallas Campus Emergency Response Team (CERT) and the campus public education campaign.

The purpose of this article is to acquaint the reader with a sampling of the opportunities offered as an adjunct to your formal education. Thus, if you are yearning to gain experience prior to graduation, there are definitely internships and volunteer programs available.