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Ariana Scurti MPP ’19 shares her journey to a career in the federal government

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Ariana Scurti MPP'19 in front of Welcome to UMD sign
Image courtesy of Ariana Scurti MPP ’19

When Ariana Scurti MPP ’19 says she wouldn’t be where she is today without Maryland, she’s talking about more than just her classes. Scurti came to Maryland as a Robertson Fellow and, later, participated in the Presidential Management Fellow (PMF) program, both of which prepared her for -- and landed her -- a job in the federal government.

“I had so much support and mentorship when I was a student and I learned so much from the people around me,” recalls Scurti.

As a Roberton Fellow, Scurti knew she wanted to go into a career in the federal government. The fellowship, in partnership with the Robertson Foundation For Government (RFG), allowed Scurti the opportunity to get a sneak peek at what exactly that career entailed while studying at the School.

“For my two years at Maryland I was constantly around people through my unpaid and paid internships, through the Robertson Fellowship, that I could see firsthand what it meant to be a public servant,” she says.

It was a natural fit, then, to apply for the PMF program, a highly competitive cohort that receives an initial two-year rotating appointment in a government position and access to networking opportunities.

“When I was taking the PMF exam...I remember thinking, ‘what would this person at the Treasury Department have done in this situation?’ or ‘what did I do when I was at the State Department?’" she says. “I could really think back to those unpaid internships, to those networking events, to those conversations that I had.”

Now, Scurti works as a program analyst at the U.S. Agency for International Development's Democracy, Human Rights and Governance Center. And, she’s working to prepare the next cohort of PMF students.

Scurti recently held a job search and networking workshop, where she provided advice to Maryland’s PMF finalists. Six out of eight at the University of Maryland are School of Public Policy students, three of which are also Robertson Fellows.

For Scurti, this meant coming full-circle, from a participant in the program, to training the current finalists.

“Being in the federal government now, I see the need for that young talent of people with master’s degrees that have gone through all these internships and trainings,” Scurti explains. “There’s always work to be done and I think Maryland students are uniquely positioned to be able to do it.”

Scurti gave the students advice for navigating the PMF application, a daunting process, she says, including, “Envision where you want to be, get a game plan to get there, also just take a deep breath every once in a while.” She also provided PMF-specific advice to help ease the stress of the process.

“It’s a fun career choice and an important career choice,” Scurti says. “We want the best candidates to get into the federal government and I’m hoping to be at least, someone that is here to answer questions and alleviate some of those stresses.”

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