Outreach‎ > ‎

Career Development

Career advice & development
During our December 2013 election survey, APAEA members shared these brief snippets of career advice with other APAEA members in what they thought were essential in career development. Thanks to all APAEA members who contributed their candid words of wisdom based on their own experiences.

Take the time & effort to reach out to each other.

Avoid complacency, and get over your tendency to not want to rock the boat.

Advancement won’t be simply handed to you — neither as an individual, nor as APAs facing systemic bias and unconscious stereotypes. Gifford Pinchot constantly advocated for himself, and he liked to stir things up.

Everyone should have a resume ready at all times and apply to positions to show your interest for upward mobility, not just when you are planning to leave.

Get involved with new things.

Always be with a positive “can do” attitude and remember that our Asian heritage speaks a lot of how we take pride in our job and in whatever task is at hand.

Listen well. I don’t know how it is in the WO office, but on the units, work assignments are given in one sentence. If you’re not listening, you may not know that you were given an assignment, and you may not get told again but the expectation will be there.

Continually seek opportunities to stay connected to the resource! We live in a digital age where much of the work we do takes place in meetings, on the phone, or in front of a computer. While this is necessary work, our employees need to seize opportunities to be in the field and see/contribute to land management in action. All too often we focus on increasing our knowledge base and professional abilities by executing office work.

Employees shouldn’t neglect the opportunities for learning and growth that only come by being in the field too.

It’s never too late to ask for career advice. I’m in my 13th year as a USFS and NPS employee and am still learning from mentors and fellow co-workers.

Be mobile. If you really want to move up, mobility is the key.

View challenges and problems as opportunities.

Network, network, network. Get to know your fellow APA employees.

Don’t be in a hurry, do things you love doing when looking for jobs, be open to working in rural America.

Don’t put down roots. In order to succeed in this agency you will need to move many times.

It’s all about networking and connecting with others! — Don’t be afraid to reach out to others for advice and mentors.

Also don’t be afraid to help others by sharing your experience. You never know what friends and/or advocates you’ll make in the process.

Having support and networking opportunities through APAEA is a definite plus that you can contribute to and benefit from.

That it is important to share the positive experiences with other AAs and PIs. Negative can really dissuade qualified individuals.

It really doesn’t matter your capabilities and experience in the FS; it’s really who you know to come up in ranks.

Work hard; do good things; and ask for help. Things do change–one step at a time.

Take advantage of detail opportunities to gain more visibility and to become more marketable. And network, network, network.

Always stay connected, even as careers take us further apart. Keep the network strong and grow it continually.

Don’t be afraid of assignments in really rural places and outside of your comfort zone.

Remember the importance of formal and informal networks.

Take advantage of details.

Get engaged in the important issues of the agency. Make a difference.


APAEA sponsored employee development events

  • Developing Emotional Intelligence webinar with Steven Dickerson, Conflict Management and Prevention Program Manager, USDA Forest Service CELT. Download recording and slides: Emotional Intelligence for Teams
  • Webinar celebration & mentoring in honor of APAEA’s most influential original guide, John Kusano’s retirement. January 8, 2014. Check your email for details. Contact Cliff Alagar (calagar [at] fs…us) for more info

How to be proactive about your career development
Be in the know! Are you interested in receiving outreach notices for particular types of jobs or details (developmental assignments)?  You may be able to apply your technical skills and cultural context to a detail assignment with Forest Service Office of International Programs (IP). Select IP and other outreach announcements are occasionally posted for APAEA members (passwordrequired).

Hone your skills: Don’t have funding for training or travel?  Sign up for some online training on AgLearn!

Find a mentor to help show you the way: A mentor can provide you with valuable insights into agency culture and skills or experiences you’ll need to pursue your desired career.  Most people will be flattered that you would like their advice, so don’t be shy in asking those you consider to be your role models for a little bit of time to answer your questions.  If you aren’t sure who to talk to, APAEA is currently working on a mentoring program to help pair mentors and mentees, so make sure you’re on our member list to receive updates!

How to conduct/handle interviews

On June 18, 2013, APAEA was a cosponsor of a workshop on how to conduct/handle interviews.  Here is information about the workshop with a link to the webinar and handouts.

Link to recorded webinar
  • Workshop Materials (click on the links below)
  • Workshop slides
  • USDA Employee Development Guide
  • STAR Method
  • Executive core qualifications
About the session
After successfully being referred to the hiring official because of your stellar resume, the last remaining hurdle to getting the job you desire is the job interview. If you are searching for any additional tips that will increase your chances of getting the job during the interview, then join us for this workshop from the federal job perspective. This workshop will cover the steps to follow in order to make preparations before the interview, as well as what to expect during the entire interview process. 

You will learn:

  • How to address the employer’s needs
  • How to prepare for the interview
  • How to respond to different types of interview questions
  • How to conduct yourself in an interview
About the Guest Speaker
Jake Faibisch has more than 15 years of experience helping agricultural and conservation-focused organizations achieve success through leadership development, educational programming, effective communication, marketing, and information technology. He is the USDA lead for supervisor training and development at the USDA Virtual University. Jake has provided consulting services in management, organizational development, and leadership development to senior leaders from more than 35 state and Federal agencies. A wildlife biologist by training, Jake holds a Master of Public Administration in Public Management and Leadership from Walden University and a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology from University of Vermont.