At the 2011 International Association of Emergency Managers conference it was mentioned over and over to the students whether in group settings or in one on one sessions that a large percentage of the existing Emergency Management leaders would be retiring beginning in the next 5 years. The question, we the students, no matter the level of education responded with is “How are we to gain experience in the field in the next five years while we wait our turn at the few existing emergency management positions?”
Our (Shai Cooper & Marya Dominik) idea was that Federal Emergency Management Agency create a Federal Disaster Management Externship program, where for three, six or nine months a student rotates through Planning, Logistics, and other Offices as well as to any disaster events that occur during these months. The Externship candidates could also serve as On-Call Response and Recovery Employees, Disaster Assistance Employees and assist with Individuals with disabilities.
The Externship candidate gets vital ‘deployment’ experience, the field teams get support, and in the end FEMA, State and local Emergency Management agency get trained members of the EM community who have both experience and education that so many agencies are looking for these days. The assumption is that the Externship candidate will have preliminary training before going so that they will be an asset not a hindrance.