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Hidden in Plain Sight – IT Educational Opportunities

Have you ever come across an opportunity that had been hidden in plain sight? You know, the opportunity that had been available to you all along, you just didn’t notice it? I found two such outstanding opportunities around this time last year. The first is called the Advanced Management Program (AMP) and it’s hosted by the National Defense University (NDU) at Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, DC. I was fortunate enough to graduate from the 43rd AMP class this December.

If you’re not familiar, don’t worry. You’re right where I and many of my AMP classmates were before applying. So here’s the quick summary: AMP is a fantastic graduate-level educational program designed for mid/senior level IT leaders throughout the federal government. Students can earn several certificates (to include a federal government CIO certificate) and also work towards a follow-on MS degree, which includes several specialty options. The program is taught in-residence at Fort McNair over 14 jam-packed weeks.

AMP really shines in the over-all leadership and management lessons it imparts. We had several senior-level guest speakers from all over the federal government to include representatives from the Department of the Treasury, US Postal Service, and the State Department. We were also fortunate enough to visit with several senior IT executives at major private sector firms such as Microsoft, Marriott, and Boeing. And we topped it all off with a week of visits to some of the biggest names in the private and public sector. In other words, it’s safe to say we were spoiled for opportunities. It was amazing how the theoretical educational strategies learned at AMP were actually being practiced as a regular part of the daily operations and strategic planning of these private organizations.

One word of warning – AMP is an intense course load. You’re completing 8 graduate level courses in 14 weeks. It’s a full-time job. You won’t lack for things to do, papers to write, group projects and assignments to complete. Your use of collaborative technology will probably expand. You shouldn’t expect to keep up with your work back home while attending AMP. It would be best to set that expectation with your supervisor early.

Who Attends AMP?

My AMP class had 14 students from all over the federal government. Of course, since it’s hosted by NDU we had DoD personnel (including active duty, guard, reserve and civilian). But we also had students from the State Department, Dept of Transportation, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and others. Most AMP classes also have a large numbers of international students as well. Some classes also have attendees from the private sector. Bottom-line: if you’re in government and a GS-12 / O-4 or above, you’re eligible to attend Each agency institutes their own selection process for AMP attendance; most are highly selective processes.

What’s this “IASP” business all about?

The Information Assurance Scholarship Program (IASP) is the second opportunity you may not have heard of. This program is DoD specific. I’m currently an IASP student, and highly recommend the program. The gist of the program is listed below:

  • Sponsored by the NSA
  • Designed to train more DoD employees in information assurance skills
  • Each DoD branch may have its own application guidelines
  • Students gain degrees in related IT fields with emphasis on information assurance
  • Wide range of opportunities for Undergraduate, Graduate and PhD programs

The best advice myself and the five other IASP students from my AMP class can offer is to:

  • Expect to receive some pushback from people who have not heard of the program
  • If you know you qualify, don’t take the first “no” you hear as your final answer
  • However, realize your DoD branch may not allow you to apply even if you meet eligibility requirements

Different branches approach the IASP opportunities in different ways. If you’re interested, check out the links above and email [email protected]. Hopefully you’ll be able to take advantage of these great programs that have been available right under our noses all along.

In the next post we’ll discuss the top 5 lessons learned from my AMP class.

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Jolly Sienda

Thanks Chris for a great article post! In fact, AMP 44 begins January 23!! We’ll have a great mix of government as well as international students starting in just a few weeks. To apply for the September 2012 AMP class, please visit the National Defense University (NDU) iCollege website at: http://www.ndu.edu/icollege

Jolly Sienda

Public Relations and Marketing Management Consultant, NDU iCollege