How to Meet People in the FDA

I don’t know how many of you have ever tried getting a job in the FDA, but it is difficult. The process is hard, and the resources are confusing.

This is a short article that was spun off from Steven Gendel’s interview where he explained in depth how to get a job in the FDA. Surprise surprise, its about who you know.

However, knowing where and when to ask people helps too.

Steve gives you a lot of examples on how to get your foot in the door. I help a bit too. Enjoy!

How to Meet people in the FDA

Scientific Conferences and Local Organizations

Most food conferences will have the FDA running around. However, it’s more of chance that you will meet them than anything but you’d be surprised. Ideally, most FDA personell will go to the top food safety lectures so you can find them there.

Local meetings at Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) and International Association of Food Protection (IAFP), the American Chemical Society, Society of Toxicology, help too. It’s a better chance to find them there.

Overall, most quality managers will know someone in the FDA because they have to be audited. The more interconencted you are in quality or fod safety, the more liekly you will encounter the FDA.

USA Jobs is where the government posts all of their jobs. It’s designed to be public area where anyone can apply. It’s also required for the government to post what the position pays.

If I search FDA, here is what pops up:

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As you can see, there are a lot of bureaucratic numbers.

Below is a snippet of the job description. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to decipher the numerical values of the posting. Also, you have to submit your college transcripts. What is this, graduate school?

SPECIALIZED EXPERIENCE: Experience directly related to the position to be filled which has equipped the applicant with the particular knowledge, skills and abilities to perform successfully the duties of the position.

GS-13: Applicants must have one year of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-12 in the Federal service which includes applying practical knowledge of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) to the production of safe fresh produce products; planning, implementing and executing the development of policies, regulations and/or procedures on the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fresh produce; communicating technically and/or legally complex materials to diverse audiences; and demonstrating community interaction which includes education and outreach with the farming community and federal/state/local officials.

DOCUMENTING EXPERIENCE: In accordance with Office of Personnel Management policy, federal employees are assumed to have gained experience by performing duties and responsibilities appropriate for their official series and grade level as described in their position description. Experience that would not normally be part of the employee’s position is creditable, however, when documented by satisfactory evidence, such as a signed memorandum from the employee’s supervisor or an SF-50 or SF-52 documenting an official detail or other official assignment. The documentation must indicate whether the duties were performed full time or, if part time, the percentage of times the other duties were performed. It is expected that this documentation is included in the employee’s official personnel record. In order to receive credit for experience in your resume that is not within the official series and grade level of your official position, you must provide a copy of the appropriate documentation of such experience as indicated above.

EDUCATION REQUIREMENT: Applicants must have successfully completed one of the following (A or B):

A. Degree: which includes at least 30 semester hours in one or a combination of the following: biological sciences, chemistry, pharmacy, physical sciences, food technology, nutrition, medical science, engineering, epidemiology, veterinary medical science, or related scientific fields that provide knowledge directly related to consumer safety officer work. The 30 semester hours can include up to 8 semester hours in statistics or course work that includes principles, theory, or practical application of computers or computer programming;

You will have to apply to even if you know someone or not. Keep in mind due to the speed of the government, that the positions may already be filled. Steve says high level positions are usually filled before they’re even posted up.

Office of Regulatory Affairs

There are District Offices. They act as sort of a hub for the Consumer Safety Officer.

If you are really good at cold calling, then the FDA has a directory for this program. Click here

It’s a list of all of the people working in every Office of Regulatory Affairs. That’s the best part of a government job is that the people who work there must be transparent!

Commissioner’s Fellowship

If you’re still into formal applications, maybe the Commissioner’s Fellowship is right for you. According to their website, here is how you can apply:

FDA invites outstanding health care professionals, scientists, and engineers to apply to its two-year Fellowship Program, where they will receive regulatory science training and the chance to conduct cutting-edge research on targeted scientific, policy, or regulatory issues under the mentorship of an FDA senior scientist.

Class of 2017 Application Process Key Dates

–  FDA will accept applications from June 7, 2017 to July 7, 2017 5 p.m. EST.
–  Letters of recommendation are due July 20, 2017 by 5 p.m. EST.
–  July/August — Interviews
–  July through August – Applicants Notified

–  November – Program Start Date

A link to the online application will be placed on this website on June 7 through July 7, 2017 5PM EST. Late and/or incomplete applications will not be considered.

(unfortunately you just missed it. this article will be updated when it’s back up again)

Getting into this program is a huge advantage as you will be working face to face with the FDA’s best.

ORISE- Oakridge

This one was new to me so I don’t know much about it. From what I’ve researched, this program has a very good internship/postdoc program for undergraduates, graduates, and post graduates.

If you are planning to get your advanced degree and work as a researcher, this is a very good program to go through.

CFSAN – Centers for Food Safety in Universities that work collaboratively.

CFSAN has over 800 employees and is located in the eastern part of the United States. Steve says that CFSAN works with Universities all over the United States

According to their website, this is who they are collaborating with:

The Center is actively involved in high-visibility endeavors with several academic institutions through its Centers of Excellence (COE) program. These collaborations yield critical information that enhances our on-going efforts to protect the food supply. CFSAN has four COEs, the National Center for Food Safety and Technology (NCFST) with the Illinois Institute of Technology; the Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (JIFSAN) with the University of Maryland; the FDA COE for Botanical Dietary Supplement Research at the National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR), University of Mississippi; and the Western Center for Food Safety (WCFS) with the University of California at UC, Davis. In addition, formal agreements with the states for conducting inspections enhance the Center’s ability to meet its public health mission.

If you are thinking of graduate school, then this might be a great opportunity to apply with a professor who is collaborating with CFSAN.

Really glad I got to talk to Steven and flesh out these resources. He also mentions that fiscal year affects a lot about when they’re going to be hiring. So here’s a tip

Fiscal Year for the Federal Government: Begins October 1st, ends October 1st. But start looking now!

Good luck!

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