Lauren Hansen, a 3L at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, was recently named a finalist in the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) program. The PMF program is run through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and is designed to “develop a cadre of potential government leaders” by serving as a leadership training ground. Finalists are awarded a two-year placement in a Federal agency with the increased potential of conversion to a permanent position. This year the PMF program received 12,120 applications and only 663 graduates were named as finalists.
In the interview below, Hansen describes how she came to apply and how her education at the College of Law provided her the leadership, decision-making, and other skills that the program’s assessors were looking for.
How did you first become aware of the PMF program?
I first found out about the program while I was an intern in the Political Section for the U.S. Mission to NATO in Brussels, Belgium. One of the individuals in the Public Affairs section was a PMF and I had the opportunity to work with her on a few projects. She had nothing but positive things to say about the program and working with the State Department. My mentor at NATO also encouraged me to apply for the program as soon as I had the opportunity. Becoming a PMF was then one of the main goals that I had coming into law school.
How did your courses and skills training help to qualify you to apply?
The application process for the fellowship is a little non-traditional in the sense that I had to go through an in-person assessment that consisted of four parts: an individual interview, a group exercise, a press conference, and a written portion consisting of a self-evaluation. Two courses in particular were then essential for me being successful with my application. First, being on the Phillip C. Jessup International Moot Court team for the past two years gave me the ability to stand on my feet and advocate a position while responding to questions from assessors during the press conference. Second, being both a student a student in the Global Perspectives in Counterterrorism course and then on the Simulation Design Team this year gave me the opportunity to learn and apply many of the skills that the assessors were looking for, including leadership, group decision making, and advocacy and articulation. The group exercise was set up just like one of the mini-simulations for Global Perspectives in Counterterrorism, which gave me an advantage as I had already been through a similar scenario.
How long have you been interested in government service? What sparked that interest?
My first introduction to public service and the change that an individual can make was when I was pretty young. My father became involved with the fight to preserve Utah’s open lands when a ski resort tried to develop into Snake Creek Canyon. He taught me to never be afraid to take a stand and fight for something you believe in. However, it wasn’t until I went to Cambodia in 2007 that I really wanted to get involved with public service myself. The experience opened my eyes to the world beyond my comfort zone and as soon as I came home I enrolled in my international relations class. I was fascinated by the power of words through diplomacy and how human relationships may prevent nation-states from using force and going to war. Going into government service and working with the State Department then seemed the best way for me to get involved with public diplomacy, and my internship with the U.S. Mission to NATO further cemented my desire to get involved with public service.
Anything else you would like to add?
I would not have able to get this fellowship without the amazing faculty that we have here at the S.J. Quinney College of Law. All of the international professors have been fantastic to work with and have exponentially increased my understanding of international affairs. More importantly, however, is that the professors are truly interested in seeing their students succeed. As such, I feel honored that I’ve been able to learn at the hands of some of the top international scholars while in Utah.