Jana Baldwin, MPH '10
Digital Engagement Specialist, Ready.gov
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Alumni Profile: Jana Baldwin, MPH '10
What degree did you receive from GW? What was your concentration?
MPH, Health Communication and Marketing
Please tell us about your current position. Can you describe a typical day?
I’m the digital engagement specialist for the Ready campaign, which is the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s and Ad Council’s National emergency preparedness campaign. As part of the strategic communications team in external affairs, I manage the Ready.gov website, Facebook page and Twitter handle (@Readygov). I write content, create images, and promote preparedness campaigns 365 days a year!
Most emergency managers will tell you that there day typically doesn’t start and end at a certain time. I enjoy my job because each day brings something different to the table. My day begins with monitoring the weather and looking at the monthly content calendar I created that includes national campaign hooks for social media content for the Ready Facebook and Twitter pages. I attend weekly planning meetings with federal partners including the Department of Homeland Security social media leads as well as the Ad Council to discuss our public service announcements. I analyze web and social media data to make sure that our content is relevant and timely. If there happens to be a storm or a disaster occurring my schedule may change to a 12-hr day or night shift by working in our National Response Coordination Center where I monitor disaster communications with various federal agencies. At FEMA we have to be available 24-7-365. At the end of the evening I check the Ready social media accounts to see if any Americans have replied to posts or Tweets and do my best to reply to people to thank them for engaging with us, check my e-mail, and look at the forecast for the next day.
Please tell us about your path from the Milken Institute SPH to where you are today. How did you get your first job in the field?
My journey to find my career field was challenging. I worked various odd jobs, short term contract jobs, non-profit jobs while looking for my full-time career. When I wasn’t networking and volunteering I was working on improving my resume and interviewing skills. My opportunity with the federal government came after attending a veterans and disability hiring event. About eight months later I was able to apply for my position through what is called a Schedule A hiring authority for people with disabilities. The federal government has many opportunities to hire a diverse workplace so make sure and visit USAjobs.gov to see what you may qualify for.
What is the best career advice you have ever received?
If you are unemployed make sure people know you are looking for job, and then be clear about how people can help you — either through resume assistance, introductions, or interview preparation. Don’t be offended by people being critical of your job search tactics and be open to changing it up if it isn’t working. Also, be bold! Always ask for exactly what you want. My former director asked me during my interview, “What do you see yourself doing in five years?” I replied, “Working for you, here at FEMA.”
What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in your field?
Volunteer to gain experience in emergency management. I knew I wanted to work in emergency management, but I didn’t have a lot of experience, so I volunteered. I spent three years volunteering as the Neighborhood Watch Director in my Washington, DC community. Through this opportunity I worked with police, fire, and various local and federal agencies to gain emergency management skills. I also became CPR certified, and joined the Community Emergency Response Team, a program run by FEMA.
As the digital engagement lead it is important to have a solid technical background. Be sure to take as many technical and certification classes as possible. These are not skills the government will teach you on the job. I took a six-month training course in web design and development where I learned html, flash, and how to use the Adobe suite. The more technical skills you have, the better!
What was the impetus for getting your degree at the Milken Institute SPH?
I wanted to finish my MPH in Washington, DC and work for the federal government. (I started at another School of Public Health.) Naturally, GW was a perfect fit being located right in the middle of the city.
Interview conducted November 2014