As we acknowledge the National Preparedness Month theme for the week of September 11-17 “Preparing Through Service,” I challenge educational leaders to elevate emergency management career awareness and exploration to a new and exciting level of career immersion.

In its early years, the profession of emergency management was gifted with the talents of many retired or transferred leaders from previous fire and rescue and law enforcement jobs.  Decades later, secondary and post-secondary formal educational opportunities emerged and are now producing a generation of workers with solid theoretical knowledge, critical thinking abilities, superior technical skills, and a wealth of historical lessons learned to guide their roles as emergency managers.  However, as emergency management educators, are we doing enough to directly promote career-related activities for lifelong service in this dynamic field?

Immersion experiences complement formal learning and allow the student the opportunity to process and reflect upon the experience with not only their instructor, but also with field personnel.  These valuable experiences allow students to gain application and analytical skills in conjunction with revisiting classroom instruction.  Career immersion events prompt students to evaluate their own skills and refine their short- and long-term academic and job goals and develop a commitment to lifelong service.

As the emergency management workforce matures and the need for new emergency managers increases, our communities will face a workforce navigating in an environment where disasters are more frequent, intense, and complex.  In-depth immersion fieldwork provides our next generation of workers with a realistic learning environment to hone their skills, ultimately providing a better workforce.

What do you do to allow students to explore and experience emergency management through work-based learning and how can work-based learning support preparing through service? Are we doing enough to encourage our talented retirees to continue to serve in community-based volunteer roles?

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