O-4's hate me wrote:Any idea if they'd consider waiving that criteria?
I am not sure, but you can call the two POCs and ask.
Sum1 wrote:Of course, there's always an application later, I suppose
Others have PM'd me about the timing as well, and although I have been giving each individualized feedback, there seems to be a common question, so let me touch on something that I didn't in the original post. Although the msg states "The program is appropriate for junior officers who are completing their Division Officer tours, or who will go to Department Head tours after the PMM" implying this is for a LTJG or junior LT -- these are NOT the people they are selecting. Of the 20 active duty military officers at Harvard, only two of us are O-3s. The rest are all O-4s, O-5s and O-6s. Of the five of us in the Navy's PMM Program, we have two O-4 SEALs coming off of their XO tours (14 years in), one CDR (SEL) Intel Officer and one LCDR (SEL) FAO (the other O-3), who is just leaving the sub community. Your "work experience" is important for getting selected by the PMM board, but it is also REQUIRED for each of the schools. John's Hopkins (SAIS) requires 9 years of experience, Harvard/Tufts/Georgetown 7, Michigan/NYU 5. The AVERAGE work experience of students admitted to Harvard is 14 years.
Additionally, some have asked what you can do to bolster your record.
(1) Things you CAN'T control (anymore).
* Your undergrad institution and GPA - It is helpful if you went to a top-tier undergraduate school and graduated with a relatively strong GPA, BUT you are NOT going to be automatically cut if you went to a lesser known school or graduated with a GPA below 3.5 -- you will just have to make it up in other areas.
(2) Things you CAN control.
* Essays/Curriculum Vitae/Resume - MOST IMPORTANT. Remember in the PMM/School application process that the board wants to know how this degree is going to empower you to help the IW community/Navy/America. Never forget that. Yes, it is nice to go to a civilian institution and it will benefit you personally, but that is NOT a reason to pick you. Use the essays to "tell your story." On the first day of orientation, the Dean of HKS spoke about the application process and stated that they select a class that brings leaders from the public/private/NGO sectors with unique backgrounds, so that we can collectively analyze a problem from a variety of perspectives and come up with an innovative solution. What makes you stand out from everyone else? What is the Navy/school going to miss if you aren't selected? How are you going to use this degree to make the Navy better afterward? Your focus should be on STRATEGY. You will serve as a strategic planner for 3 years after school. What are you passionate about? What is lacking now? At this particular point in time, this should ABSOLUTELY be a “strength” for our community. Cyber, EW and SIGINT are all MAJOR investment areas for the Navy, but what is the Return on Investment (ROI) and how do we improve it?
* Your record. Just like promotions, the Navy is looking for sustained superior performance, recommendations for command, AND your impact on the IW community moving forward. You can't control the FITREPs that have already been written, but ensure you are both a stellar performer and have diversity in your tours. Have you been stationed overseas (this is HUGE for the schools – all of which ask you to list all of the places/times you’ve lived outside the US)? Have you completed tactical, operational and strategic tours? The latter will end up being VERY important for your grad school essays (since they want you to reference your experiences in policy-making in your essays). For the purposes of the Navy's board, you can bolster this by submitting Letters of Recommendation (LOR). LORs are optional, but I would HIGHLY recommend including them in your PMM application.
* GRE score. Required for your package AND the schools. Along with your GPA, this is the other "quantitative" metric schools can use to evaluate you. There are three sections:
(a) Your quantitative skills for college math questions have likely deteriorated since college. There are countless resources (GRE prep books/online sites) to prep.
(b) Verbal (vocabulary, reading comprehension). The vocabulary you are expected to know for the test is NOT the vocabulary we use around the office. They sell flashcards with the most commonly used words on the GRE (2 boxes, 500 words in each box). If you want to improve, I would recommend buying both and memorizing the definitions for each. This sounds like a daunting task and will take some time, but you can go from an above average score to a great score by simply by doing this. If you aren't applying this year, you have PLENTY of time to study a few words each day. Incorporate these words into your vernacular. Start now.
(c) Analytic Writing. I actually think that as IW officers this is a part of our job on a daily basis. Again, there are GRE test books that outline what they are looking for, how they want you to think about a problem, etc, but this is definitely a skill that should not be limited to your GRE preps.
* Your Letters of recommendation for school. In addition to the PMM board, you will have to provide 3 LORs to each of the schools you apply to (assuming you get selected). People will OFTEN make the mistake of choosing the most senior person in their organization, but the schools are looking for people that work with you on a daily basis and have a THOROUGH understanding of your strengths/weaknesses, goals, aptitude, work ethic, etc. These are the letters that will differentiate you from your counterparts. For schools, you will need 1 letter from a teacher you had in college and two from your post-college life. Like all of the senior officers will tell you, networking is important -- keep in touch with your mentors!
Again, this is NOT an quick/easy process and you might put in a lot of effort and not get selected (the selection rate is VERY competitive), but (in my opinion) it’s worth it. I am SURE there are other questions, but hope this additional information helps.