MSIM graduate wins Presidential Management Fellowship

By Niv Joshi Friday, February 25, 2022

When he graduated with his master’s in information management, Devin Barich wanted to find work that fulfilled him. He obtained a grant through the Seattle Water and Waste Initiative to build hygiene stations for people experiencing homelessness.  

The experience made him want to do more for his community. That is why he applied for the Presidential Management Fellowship, which he won recently. Through the fellowship, he now has the opportunity to put his academic knowledge into practice in public service. 

“Learning about the structure of government while working as a civil servant,” is how Barich described the fellowship, which is a leadership development program for advanced degree candidates. A 1977 executive order created the program to support the growth of future government leaders. 

It’s the kind of work Barich had in mind when he decided to pursue a Mid-Career Master of Science in Information Management (MSIM) at the University of Washington Information School. He wanted to learn more about the intricacies and structures of information systems and data, and the ethical issues involved with information management.

After graduating in 2021, Barich realized that professional experiences that involved “selling, packaging and designing” products in the for-profit sector did not fulfill him in the way it once had. His MSIM courses inspired him to explore other aspects of the technology world where he could make an impact. The fellowship thus caught his eye.  

“You are working inside a fellowship that is administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to build leaders to make this world a better, equitable place,” Barich said about the Presidential Management Fellowship. “I could identify with this message, and that made me think that my work could be something that I could both feel good about doing and be challenged by.”

Finalists for the Presidential Management Fellowship have the opportunity to interview for jobs in government that fit their professional skills and academic background. Barich, for instance, with his training in information management, is looking at jobs that involve supporting organizations in their technical operations and artificial intelligence policies.

The fellowship came with the opportunity to make a positive impact in ways that align with Barich’s interests. Through the program, he has interviewed for jobs that would utilize the skills he acquired through the MSIM program. For example, he has interviewed with agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Veterans Affairs

Barich earned his bachelor’s degree at Gonzaga University, where he majored in international business. During his time at the residential MSIM program at the iSchool, he chose an elective called Data, Science and Diplomacy, which furthered his interest in international policy. He has been able to apply for positions at the State Department through the fellowship program.

During his time in the MSIM program, Barich thoroughly enjoyed the ability to talk through projects and societal issues around information management.

“What I appreciated most about the iSchool is the balance of ethics and process management and the human capacity for empathy that is discussed in courses having to do with cybersecurity,” Barich said. “There is value in this curriculum for students who already possess a technical undergraduate degree, and the opportunity to upskill for students coming from design and operations backgrounds.”