Fellowship Changes Alum's Career Path

PROVO, Utah – Jan 11, 2018 – A prestigious government program changed 2015 alum Todd Tapp’s career plans—a program he wasn’t even going to apply for until his MPA professors encouraged him.

Tapp says his professors inspired, encouraged, and helped him prepare his application for the U.S. Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) position. The PMF is a highly selective, prestigious two-year leadership and development program administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Applicants underwent an arduous, three-phase program interview and testing process. The first phase involved completing an online exam, five essays, and a résumé, which Tapp turned in three minutes before the deadline. The second phase required applicants to fly to Washington D.C. for an in-person assessment that lasted three to four hours. For the last phase, finalists interviewed for PMF slots within different government agencies.

“The process in D.C. was probably one of the more challenging interviews I’ve been through,” Tapp says. “I couldn’t believe I made it that far and had offers in front of me. It felt like it was too good of an opportunity to pass up, even if I ended up leaving government after the two-year fellowship.”

The Office of Personnel Management has now streamlined the application and selection procedure, converting to a digital process that allows more students to complete the entire process without travel costs. With this change the BYU MPA program is now working towards having 100 percent of the second-year student body apply for the program.

Tapp ended up working for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). During his two years, he worked in six different offices: SBA’s Washington D.C. Field Office, SBA Headquarters’ Office of Communications and Public Liaison, SBA Headquarters’ Office of Economic Opportunity, U.S. Agency for International Development’s Global Development Lab, U.S. Agency for International Development’s Development Credit Authority, and SBA Headquarters’ Office of Capital Access. “It’s been a wild ride because every four months, right when you start to feel comfortable, they move you to a different office,” Tapp says.

During the fellowship, Tapp gained extensive experience in grants management, program management, program evaluation, international development, capital markets and banking, and several other fields. He also experienced other opportunities, including a two-month detail with the SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance to help with the recovery efforts for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

When the fellowship ended, Tapp changed from being a PMF to a financial analyst. “I came from micro-lending and learned that the SBA had a microloan program working with refugees, immigrants, and all kinds of disadvantaged entrepreneurs,” Tapp says. “I felt like that would be the best fit.”

Although he initially had no intention of working for the federal government, Tapp couldn’t be happier. “I’ve had opportunities to experience deep fulfillment, and I’ve been engaged in meaningful work that affects a lot of people” he says.

After his experience as a PMF, Tapp is an advocate of the program and encourages other MPA students to apply for the fellowship, even if they’re not interested in government work. “You compete against people with impressive experience and loaded résumés from elite graduate programs all over the country,” Tapp says. “I’ve learned that the BYU MPA program is second to none, and the program prepares graduates for their professional careers as well as any program in the country.”

Tapp is grateful for the encouragement he received from the MPA program and for the push to leave his comfort zone and apply for the fellowship—a decision that will undoubtedly shape his entire career.

Media Contact: Jordan Christiansen (801) 422-8938
Writer: Emily Colon