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Vol. LX, No. 5
March 07, 2008

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Program Trains Next Generation of Administrators

  Administrative Fellow Bridget Meggett  
  Administrative Fellow Bridget Meggett  

The hall is filled with the sounds of shuffling feet and papers being passed. It is the end of another new employee orientation session at NIH. But this is not just any group of first-time employees; there is a special feeling of excitement and prestige among these newcomers.

As the crowd shifts into the waiting elevator, a smiling face shines through the human traffic. “Hello, my name is Bridget. I’m an intern in the Administrative Fellows Program [AFP].”

Bridget Meggett, who has a background in human resources from the University of Maryland’s University College, will be serving as a human resource specialist in the NIH Office of the Director. During the course of her 2-year fellowship, she will receive training in all areas of human resources under the guidance of a senior-level mentor.

Meggett is not alone. There are more than 50 administrative fellows spread across NIH—each of them living proof that NIH has started looking for tomorrow’s administrative leaders today. Over the next 10 years, it is estimated that more than 9,700 employees will qualify for retirement from NIH. To prepare for this “retirement tsunami” and to preserve its strong tradition of administrative excellence, NIH recently created the AFP to help recruit and train the next generation of administrators.

AFP was launched on a pilot basis in spring 2007 under the guidance of Timothy Tosten, executive officer of the Fogarty International Center. “The AFP is a great opportunity for professionals to explore different administrative career fields while gaining invaluable insight into the NIH,” said Tosten, who as AFP chair assists in recruiting talented candidates for internship openings and encouraging experienced NIH employees to serve as mentors.

Administrative Fellow Justin Hentges (l) and NIDCR’s Tom Murphy look over budget numbers.

Administrative Fellow Justin Hentges (l) and NIDCR’s Tom Murphy look over budget numbers.

Specifically, the AFP internship provides on-the-job training, mentoring, rotations and individualized career development plans in several administrative areas. It also identifies an institute or center in which fellows can find a permanent position.

Administrative fellows hail from many different educational and cultural backgrounds, but, according to Tosten, all are united by their thirst to learn and their dedication to the NIH mission.

Justin Hentges, the first administrative fellow for the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, said, “Overall, I am very pleased with the program. The AFP invites professionals to ensure scientists are able to do their research and help the NIH fulfill its mission.”

His supervisor, NIDCR Executive Officer Tom Murphy, also is positive about the AFP experience. “Everyone who was interviewed was stellar. We would have been happy to pick up any one of the interviewees, but the program allowed us to choose the best fit for what we do.”

Currently, the AFP is planning to take part in recruitment fairs at several local colleges to seek candidates for its next fellowship class. Possible positions for this upcoming round include administrative officer, budget analyst, contract specialist, ethics specialist, grants management specialist, human resources specialist and management analyst. Qualified candidates should have earned at least a master’s degree in an area related to the position being sought or have one year of qualified experience.

For the first time, potential AFP candidates will be offered the chance to tour NIH prior to the interview process. These invited candidates will have the opportunity to attend sessions that will address how the AFP fits within NIH while getting a chance to speak with current members of the first two AFP classes about becoming an administrative leader. To learn more about the AFP, send an email to NIHRecord Icon

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