Placement Week FAQs
1. When and where is Placement Week?
Executive Placement Week will be held from October 20-25, 2019 in Washington, D.C.
Legislative Placement Week will be held from November 17-22, 2019 in Washington, D.C.
2. What time should I arrive in D.C. to give enough time to get to the hotel, settled, and ready for Sunday night's event kicking off Placement Week?
Dinner Sunday evening (Oct 20, 2019 (E) or Nov 17, 2019 (L)) will start around 5 PM. Back-calculating from there, you will need to leave the hotel by 4:30 PM. You should plan to check into your hotel room no later than 3:00 PM. Arriving at Reagan National Airport (DCA) around 2:00 PM will give you plenty of time to get to the hotel. Flying into Dulles (IAD) or Baltimore International (BWI) will translate into 1.5 hr. of travel to get to the hotel.
3. Where will Finalists be staying during Placement Week?
Sea Grant has set up a hotel block with reduced rates for all Knauss finalists.
4. Can I stay at an alternative location during Placement Week. i.e. friend or family's house, instead of staying at the hotel?
In order to be reimbursed for your Placement Week hotel expenses, you must stay at the group hotel. Other benefits include:
a. Your proximity to these various places will be a major convenience to you. The hotel is easy to get to by public transportation from National Airport (DCA), Dulles International Airport (IAD), and Baltimore International Airport (BWI).
b. Staying at the hotel with the other Finalists will allow you to meet and mingle with them, share experiences and thoughts on the week as it progresses. This is an important interaction as you will formulate impressions, talk to your Finalist colleagues, re-form those initial impressions, and so on. You'll find your colleague's impressions to be informative and influential as you move through your interviews. You'll also enjoy getting to know your colleagues and your predecessors. You'll get an opportunity to do this during the week's evening activities at locations around D.C.
c. You have money in your fellowship award to pay for all Placement Week expenses, including the hotel.
5. What do I wear during Placement Week, when do I need to wear it, and do I have to break the bank to update my graduate student wardrobe?
Business dress and business casual are the appropriate professional attire for Placement Week. It constitutes the following:
Men - Suit with dress shirt and tie; business casual would be a non-suit, i.e. a dress jacket (blazer, etc.) with dress slacks, dress shirt, and tie (optional). Dress shoes are an obvious component as well.
Women - Suits (pants or skirts) with a blouse. Dress shoes are part of the getup as well. Hose is appropriate with skirt suits (plus, it's likely to be chilly in October/November). Business casual would be slacks or skirt with blouse or dress sweater.
Bottom line: You want to dress according to how you want to be perceived by the Hosts. Your appearance leaves the first impression and you obviously want that impression to be a good one. However, don't go breaking the bank to achieve this and make sure your shoes are comfortable (or bring a change of shoes along!).
We advise business dress for Monday through Friday of Placement Week, particularly on days you'll be interviewing: 3 days for Legislative Finalists and 2.5 days for Executive. Finalists. Our first event will be dinner and introduction on Sunday night. Since hosts won't be there, business casual is appropriate. Feel free to bring athletic attire if you want to go for a run or want to work out.
6. How flexible is the February 1 start date for the fellowship?
The start date is flexible within 1-2 weeks of February 1. There have been fellows in the past who have needed to start earlier or later due to school- or personal-related matters. The fellowship would simply run 365 days from the time that you start (e.g. Start: Feb 1, 2020; End: Jan. 31, 2021). Having said that, it is strongly recommended that you inform Hosts during Placement Week of your scheduling needs. While Hosts are understanding and flexible on this issue, they prefer not to have any surprises. It is standard for offices to think about their staffing schedules well in advance.
Bottom line: Be forthcoming about your scheduling needs with the hosts during Placement Week and all will be fine.
7. How are my Placement Week expenses paid?
The National Sea Grant Office will be arranging invitational travel for placement week. As a finalist, you will be entered into the Federal Travel System (E2/Sato) and we will be responsible for booking and paying for your flights or train ticket. There will be a hotel block reserved. You will be expected to pay up front for ground transportation (taxi/Lyft/Uber/Metro), hotel and food expenses. A webinar and further details on the paperwork required for this process will be provided.
8. Can I contact the host (i.e. the supervisor) personally?
Contact with any host (including current fellows) prior to Placement week is strongly discouraged and can be grounds for dismissal from the fellowship program. It is important that no finalist has an advantage (or even a perceived advantage) over other finalists. Conversely, hosts should be on a level playing field as well. This can happen, even innocently, if hosts and finalists are in discussions prior to Placement Week. Finalists will receive information on Host location and contact information during Placement Week introductions.
9. When do we sign up for interviews for Placement Week?
Sign up for interviews will follow presentations by all potential hosts on Monday, so finalists will be able to hear from each host office before choosing interviews.
10. How many interviews should I sign up for during Placement Week?
Executive - We encourage you to sign up for 16-18 interviews, based on your impressions from the Host position descriptions in the database and Host presentations on Monday. Fewer than 16 and you won't meet many host offices, more than 18 and it might be hard to assess the best fit.
Legislative - With a smaller number of host offices than Executive Fellows, you will be able to interview with nearly every host office.
11. When are interviews during Placement Week?
Interviews take place in the host office. Finalists will be provided locations and directions to host offices and are responsible for their own transportation.
12. Should I bring my resume to each of my interviews during Placement Week? How about my goal statements, etc.?
There is no need to bring any part of your application package to your interviews during Placement Week. Hosts will have portions of your application packages on file via a password-protected website. It is their responsibility to have your application package on hand as a resource for your interviews. We encourage you to review your personal statement - it will have been months since you wrote it, but Host offices are viewing it for the first time.
13. What if I have updated information that isn't on my resume that I want to convey to hosts?
If there are new activities, achievements that you want hosts to know about that aren't on your resume or in your application package, bring this up verbally in your interviews. There's no need to update your resumes/CVs for Placement Week. Giving hosts a verbal update on your credentials will suffice. It will also serve as a good conversation starter.
14. How are Hosts and Fellows matched, i.e. how does placement work?
After the week of presentation and interviews, Hosts will fill out a ranking sheet of Finalists they have interviewed to the Knauss Program Manager. Those rankings will then be provided to the Finalists on Friday. Finalists will choose, following rank order, which Host Office they will commit to. A Finalist may only choose one Host Office. Once a Finalist has chosen a Host Office, that Finalist must cross his/her name off of every other list on which they are ranked. The process continues until everyone has selected a Host Office.
15. How is the fellowship agreement finalized?
The National Sea Grant College Program has a "Ratification Document" that commits the Host and the Fellow jointly to the fellowship program. It is signed by a Host Office representative, the Fellow, and the Knauss Program Manager.
16. Where do I start looking for health insurance? My state Sea Grant program? My host office? Go on my own? How are insurance costs covered?
Health insurance costs will come out of the $11,500 non-stipend funds as part of the fellowship (moving expenses and fellowship travel are also part of that $11,500). Your host office does not cover your health insurance. Here's how you get the health insurance ball rolling:
a. Call your state Sea Grant program or University and check to see if they enroll their fellows in a health insurance plan. Some SG programs will put their fellows on the same health insurance plan as other state SG employees (if you are an employee of your state SG program, or your college/university). If the SG program does in fact enroll you in their program, work with them on the details of how those premiums are paid, the details of the plans, etc.
b. Most fellows not covered by your state SG program will search out health insurance on their own. Some will enroll in a policy in their home state before coming to D.C. Others will enroll in a plan once they get to D.C, through the DC Healthcare Exchange (https://dchealthlink.com/) . There's no conventional wisdom here and where you enroll may depend on how long your current policy runs. Be sure to check on the dates of your current plan as well as the terms of potential plans you're shopping to avoid a lapse in coverage.
c. Married? If you're married and your spouse has his/her own health insurance plan, you might be able to get incorporated into your spouse's plan. This would circumvent the need to enroll in a policy for just yourself and would free up more money in your $11,500 for moving expenses and travel.