Beyond increasing their technical skills, FDIC’s DIRM interns are learning valuable life lessons on how to set and achieve goals.
Doreen Fulton, DIRM’s Student Program Manager, has begun a "Dream Team" campaign to actively encourage each student to set goals and follow his or her dreams.
"I am convinced that all of you have the potential to be great and to make your dreams come true," said Fulton in an email to all of DIRM’s co-op students.
Student interns, or co-ops, are a part of the Student Career Experience Program, (SCEP.)
The SCEP program was designed to give students work experience that complements their major in Information Technology. While other FDIC divisions also hire SCEP students, DIRM currently has the biggest student program. Each student must maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average to remain in DIRM’s SCEP Program.
The program also provides DIRM management with highly charged individuals with IT skills, according to Fulton.
SCEP students love their positions at FDIC, and often do not want to leave.
"The SCEP program is one of the best student programs to be in with the federal government," said John Boldt, who has been with the program for more than a year.
Fulton started the "Dream Team" program because she knew that it was not possible to hire all of the students into full time FDIC positions after graduation.
"I looked around and I saw many people in flux – not exactly knowing what the next step should be for themselves, and I saw a need for people to take deliberate action to ensure that they were doing something to fulfill their desires and needs," she said.
As the students became busier by taking on additional technical responsibilities, Doreen realized that she needed to step in and help the students with their career goals, whether those careers would include FDIC or not.
"I saw many of the students who were very highly charged and enthusiastic, and being appreciated by supervisors, but not getting hired into the permanent work force ," Fulton said. "So rather than focusing strictly on day to day operations, they should start thinking about what they wanted to pursue personally and in their career."
Fulton has significant experience in dream mentorship, as she has studied the subject extensively and often helps other employees on her own time. Soon she will be going to Dream University and learning more so she can assist DIRM managers and DIRM’s Career Opportunity Program (DCOP) participants.
"I very much want to assist not only the students, but the employees who are in the DCOP program and our DIRM managers," Fulton said.
Any employee can take advantage of Fulton’s "dream" lessons. The lessons are not just for students. Fulton recommends the following three steps in reaching any dream or goal.
1. First, she urges sharing one’s dreams with others. Speaking out loud about what is on one’s mind makes the goals appear more real.
2. Second, people need to confront obstacles and limiting beliefs with action. They need to take action on their dreams, to prove to themselves and others that they believe in them.
3. Third, one should take time to acknowledge even small successes as they occur and share these accomplishments with their dream team for further encouragement and ideas.
The SCEP students say that following those three steps, with the detailed guidance from Fulton, has helped them immensely.
"Doreen’s infectious enthusiasm has re-energized the motivation I have to seek out change and new challenges," said John’s Hopkins University student Edwin Patzan. "As a result, I have examined what I really want so I can formulate a plan to achieve my goals."
However, Fulton realizes that obstacles often get in the way of a person’s lifelong goals. Fear of the unknown, lack of time, and putting others’ needs before one’s own are the biggest obstacles people face, according to Fulton.
George Mason University graduate Jackie Mai is one student who overcame such obstacles and found a position outside of FDIC. While Mai was praised extensively by her supervisors, given meaningful assignments, and even won an award during her tenure as a SCEP student, a permanent position simply wasn’t available to her at FDIC.
With encouragement, Mai did some networking and scored an interview with PEC Solutions, Inc., a Fairfax based corporation. One week later, PEC hired her to be contracted to the Department of Homeland Security.
"By putting us all together we were able to hear what everybody else’s goals and dreams were and it helped us to figure out what we wanted to do," Mai said. "I think Doreen was a good role model for us too, in the sense that she was working on a dream herself. She wanted to buy a beach house in North Carolina and did."
"We were able to view her results which motivated us even more to reach our dreams!" Mai added.
The most valuable part of the "Dream Team" was the mentorship Mai received, she said.
"Personally for me, I didn’t even view the meetings as ‘dream meetings’, but I viewed the process as a mentorship," Mai said. "Doreen helped guide us."
Mai is excited about her career move to PEC Solutions.
"I’m very excited because it’s a new opportunity and it’s in a different type of environment, but of course I am going to miss it here!" she said laughing.
Mai is thankful for her time at FDIC. In addition to acquiring technical skills, Mai learned about corporate culture and got a feel for government processes and order of operations.
Another student, Wesley Chang, received a promotion at FDIC with Fulton’s guidance. Chang graduated with honors from University of Maryland and is now a full time grad student.
Promotions and permanent positions aren’t the only types of dreams that the team works on. Johns Hopkins University student Chirag Bhavsar recently won a scholarship from the "Carter Scholarship Fund."
By winning the scholarship, Chirag realized that additional, bigger dreams are also possible to achieve.
"My dream is to buy a motel and after achieving the short term dream -scholarship – it feels like nothing is hard to get if there’s enough enthusiasm and dedication," Bhavsar said.
Fulton finds working with the students extremely rewarding.
"It’s really delightful to see someone get a star award or a promotion," Fulton said. "I am really excited to see students share information, contacts and special skills, and it is wonderful to see them making their dreams come true."
As for Fulton herself?
"My dream is to continue to help others realize their dreams and surround myself with high energy happy people."