Student employees are extremely important to the activities and summer research of the Southern Insect Management Research Unit (SIMRU). SIMRU has a long history of involvement with students, and many former student workers are now leaders in the USDA, various universities and a range of agricultural and nonagricultural industries.
There is significant demand for these federal STEP positions at the Stoneville, Mississippi location. In 2011, SIMRU had more than 25 applicants for only a few open positions. Because of this obvious competition and this unique opportunity to encourage scientific excellence and because of the importance of insuring appropriate fairness and diversity, SIMRU initiated a new unit-wide, transparent process for recruiting and selecting STEP employees. That process is being used to recruit and selected STEP employees in 2012. This year SIMRU has 14 STEP positions available. Applicants are encouraged to apply for position (s) that best fit their experiences, skills, and education.
All applicants will be placed in a unit-wide pool of candidates for annually described STEP positions and a two-step interview process will be formalized for selection of employees. First step will include a unit-wide committee review and ranking of applicants. Second step will include an oral on-site interview of finalists for each position by the Research Leader or supervisor.
Returning students will be given priority, and individual scientists will make final selections from the list of new applicants based on research needs of their research programs. A clear understanding of the importance of diversity and fairness will be maintained throughout the selection process. All SIMRU scientists have agreed to this process, and all federal supervisors are responsible for encouraging equal opportunity and diversity standards within our workplace.
To hire a diverse and highly motivated group of STEP employees to facilitate SIMRU research and promote an understanding of science and the benefits of scientific inquiry in the Mississippi Delta.
Procedures developed in 2011 that will be used in 2012:
(1) Each calendar year in January or February, the Unit will determine the total number of STEP positions available to each research program. Former STEP employees will be contacted to determine the number of new STEP employees to be recruited. Simple descriptions of each position including unique and preferred qualifications will be posted on the SIMRU website.
(2) All applicants and referrals must complete resume, OF-306 form, Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) agreement, and verification of good academic standing (i.e. unofficial transcript or an official letter from college/university for USDA employment. Applicants should target specific positions listed on the Unit’s website. Recommendations for potential student workers are appreciated, but all will be managed through this collective pool of applicants. No students will be hired outside of this pool. Applications must be on file in the SIMRU office by March 23, 2012. Applicants are strongly encouraged to carefully complete the forms and provide as much detail as possible.
(3) A committee of SIMRU supervisors and outside MSA colleagues will be appointed by the Research Leader to review the list of applications based solely on the written applications and narrow the pool of candidates for final interviews. Ideally, the committee would provide a list of preferred candidates for each open STEP position.
(4) Supervisors will individually interview each of recommended candidates for each STEP position and make final selections. All supervisors are evaluated relative to their professional communications, supervision and EEP/CR responsibilities.
(5) The Research Leader and/or the individual supervisors will correspond with all applicants including those not selected and encourage them to reapply when additional positions are available.