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PMF Guide: Managing the Application Process

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PMF Guide: Managing the Application Process

  1. 1. 1 Guide to The Presidential Management Fellows Program Introduction You are about to embark on an extraordinary journey if you are contemplating the submission of an application to the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program. Before you move down the road too far, it’s important to thank the Robertson Foundation for Government, a nonprofit family foundation dedicated to helping government meet its talent needs by identifying, educating and motivating top U.S. graduate students to pursue federal government careers. The Robertson Foundation commissioned this Class of 2013 Presidential Management Fellows Application Guide, seeking the technical assistance of GovLoop, the leading knowledge network for public sector professionals. Below is a bit more background on the Robertson Foundation. Established by the family of the late philanthropists Charles and Marie Robertson, and named in their honor, the Robertson Foundation for Government pursues a mission that was central to Mr. and Mrs. Robertson’s philanthropic activities: strengthening the United States government and increasing its ability and determination to defend and extend freedom throughout the world by improving the training and education of men and women for government service. The PMF Program is one such elite entryway into government service that the Robertson Foundation is pleased to support. Helping qualified and deserving recent graduates become PMFs is important to the Robertson Foundation, and one of many ways they are living out their stated mission to improve the United States government. Through this guide, a vast wealth of information from various sources is brought together into one easy-to-use resource. It taps into an unprecedented collection of more than 60 PMF Program alumni, 10 university career advisors, and 10 government agency PMF program coordinators who contributed their definitive knowledge on how to successfully navigate the application process. A great deal of credit for this guide goes to these talented professionals. We hope that their valuable understanding of the PMF selection process will help you make the most of your own application, and will give you the best shot at reaching your goal of becoming a Presidential Management Fellow. We also provide a place for you to learn more, watch videos, read blog updates and interact with others involved in the process at Please note that this is not an official resource endorsed by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) or the Executive Office of the President (EOP), but represents a trusted source of valuable information about the PMF program. While we will strive to post changes as soon as we see them, please regularly check http:// for official information and updates. The Robertson Foundation for Government is grateful to the contributions of GovLoop for their role in helping to prepare this guide. Together we are proud to provide this comprehensive resource to the next generation of government leaders. Applicants, start your public service engines...and good luck!
  3. 3. 3 Guide to The Presidential Management Fellows Program “As the PMF application process undergoes revisions and Andrew Card as the standards for acceptance evolve, it’s our job to make Dean of the Bush School of sure that applicants are equipped with the best, most current Government and Public Service information about the process., the product Texas A&M University of an unprecedented partnership between the Robertson Foundation for Government and GovLoop, breaks down the Former White House Chief of barriers that deterred applicants from pursuing one of the Staff under President George most prestigious fellowships our government has to offer. It W. Bush will be an invaluable resource to every future applicant.” “The PMF is the premier federal program for recruiting the PAUL LIGHT nation’s most talented students into the public service. It has Paulette Goddard Professor of undergone substantial revision in recent years and students Public Service often struggle understanding the process. That’s why I’m excited about The Robertson Foundation Founding Principal for Government has teamed up with social networking site Investigator of the Global GovLoop to create as the “go-to” guide, Center for Public Service helping prospective applicants navigate the PMF process New York University from application to placement. and the accompanying guide gives the PMF program the boost it needs to reignite student interest. If the federal government is to meet the many future challenges it faces, it must have the very best leaders. The PMF Program is the gateway. is your tour guide through the gateway and beyond.” “The Guide to Managing the Application Process is an James b. invaluable tool for any student interested in the PMF Steinberg program, one of the most exciting paths to a career in Dean of the Maxwell School of public service. Draw on the experience and insights of those Syracuse University, who know the program best – from former PMFs, college and University Professor of career advisors and government managers, the Guide helps Social Science, International prospective applicants understand what it takes to become a Affairs, and Law PMF. With this guide, the Robertson Foundation has made an extraordinary contribution by helping to attract the brightest and most committed young men and women to service to the nation.”
  4. 4. Managing the Application Process 4 “The Presidential Management Fellowship program enjoys PETER F. COWHEY considerable prestige within the government and constitutes Deal of the School of a solid point of entry for those dedicated to pursuing careers International Relations and in federal public service.  For some agencies, like the State Pacific Studies Department, the PMF program is the only viable avenue into Qualcomm Endowed Chair in entry level civil service positions.  Additionally,PMF hires do Communications and Technology well in the US government after the PMF ends because of Policy the program’s rotational opportunities, 80 hours of optional University of California, San Diego training, and significant fast-tracking opportunities up theGS scale that are largely unavailable to other new hires.  I hope that this GovLoop publication, sponsoredby the Robertson Foundation for Government, will generate the enthusiastic participation that this programfully warrants.” “Applying for a Presidential Management Fellowship is not STEPHEN W. easy, nor should it be. In order to identify the most worthy BOSWORTH candidates, applicants are subject to a rigorous review and Dean of the Fletcher School of interview process. We fully support setting high standards Law and Diplomacy for entry into the PMF program, but we also recognize Tufts University that applicants making a commitment to serve their nation deserve the support from their institutions, organizations like Former U.S. Special Representative the Robertson Foundation for Government. for North Korea Policy, a roadmap to the PMF application process, Former U.S. Ambassador to South represents our commitment to the men and women who want Korea, the Philippines, and Tunisia to pursue fulfilling careers in service to their nation.” “The Robertson Foundation’s is an invaluable Donald F. KettlE guide to the often-complex twists and turns of the Presidential Dean of the School of Management Fellow process. For a generation, the PMF Public Policy program has been a stellar opportunity for the very best and brightest to launch their careers in government leadership. University of Maryland, Now, as the Robertson Foundation is providing a powerful new College Park program to help prepare leaders in government service and international affairs, this how-to manual will help countless students find their path to exciting public service careers. We at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy are proud to have shared tips and hints with the Robertson Foundation in improving access to this great program.”
  5. 5. 5 Guide to The Presidential Management Fellows Program SECTION 1: THE PROGRAM History programs.” Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon began his fellowship the same year as this The Presidential Management Fellows Program executive order. (PMF) is one of several ways for current and recent students of advanced graduate In 2003, under the direction of President degree programs to start on a career path as a George W. Bush, the program was renamed the public servant in the federal government. The Presidential Management Fellows Program, program, originally known as the Presidential to more accurately reflect the talent and Management Interns Program, was professionalism of those men and women established by President Carter’s serving in the program. In Executive Order in 1977 to attract young people 1975 December 2010, the PMF became part of the Pathways Program, a with exceptional 1977 hiring reform initiative designed to recruit new talent to the public management Launched potential into sector. by Carter government careers. Several talented people 1982 Overview Expanded got their start in by Reagan The hiring process for the United Sean O’Keefe the early years States federal government adheres of the program, including former to many rules and regulations that NASA head Sean O’Keefe and the 13th Commissioner of Social 2003 attempt to determine a candidate’s Renamed by quality. The PMF program allows Security Kenneth Apfel. George W. Bush recent graduates to compete for jobs against other people of their In 1982, the program mission relative age and experience. It also statement was broadened under 2010 provides management training, President Reagan to attract Repackaged rotations through different “outstanding with Pathways agencies, and competitive entry- men and women from a variety of academic 2012 level salaries. While the PMF program is an disciplines who excellent opportunity to start a have a clear interest in, and career in public service and sets someone up commitment to, a career in for quick advancement, the application process the analysis and management is also extremely competitive. Even if you are Jeffrey Merkley of public policies and one of the few hundred Finalists named out of
  6. 6. Managing the Application Process 6thousands of applicants, you are high as GS-13 (up to $70,000 the Federal Government. Thenot guaranteed a job placement. per year). PMF Program falls under theOPM cites that only 60% of Pathways banner and allowsfinalists ultimately secure a job. By the time you are done with graduates to apply to theWith this in mind, it is smart the program, you will have: program in their final year offor even the most qualified study, as well as for two yearsapplicant to apply for other ● Attended a minimum of 160 following their completion ofopportunities as well. Luckily, hours of interactive vs. their studies.the PMF is not the only “formal classroom” trainingentry point into the federal (80 hours per year) PMFs come   from a varietygovernment. It would be wise to ● Completed at least one of disciplines and graduateapply to the Recent Graduates development assignment four studies, such as master’s Pathway program, and other to six months in length students, PhD recipients, andpositions as they are posted on ● Created a performance law students. In addition,USAJOBS, especially GS-9 plan and received an annual the program is encouragingand GS-11 jobs. performance review applicants from a wide array of backgrounds, including“ ● Passed an annual review It’s important to ● Created an Individual individuals with advanced Development Plan (IDP), degrees in humanities, sciences,remember to look at the used to set goals for time in information technology andnumber of applicants the program whatever else you’ve chosenversus finalists. It’s a ● Received Executive as your course of study. Manypretty selective program Resource Board (ERB; or graduates with non-­ traditional- not one you can depend equivalent) certification that backgrounds have harnessed an individual has met all the PMF program to jump-­on getting. You apply start very successful careers program requirementswith the hopes of getting ● Benefited from the of service. Much depends onit but you need to keep assignment of a mentor current needs within the federal “on applying to otherpositions throughout the ● Gained eligibility for non- competitive conversion to a permanent or term position government from one year to the next. Understanding current events will help give you aprocess. upon successful completion sense of staffing trends.- Kaleigh Emerson, PMF Class Changes to future programof 2010, Centers for Medicare Process and Schedule eligibility issues will be madeand Medicaid Services available on the official PMF New program regulations that Program website (http://www.The PMF program is a two- went into effect on July 10, 2012, commitment, during under the Pathways Programwhich participants are paid a strive to make it easier forfull salary and benefits at the students and recent graduatesGS-9, GS-11, or GS-12 levels, to find job opportunities andand in some cases, may go as to get experience working in
  7. 7. 7 Guide to The Presidential Management Fellows Program Traditionally, the PMF program begins to accept applications every fall. Prospective participants are notified that applications are being accepted through an announcement from USAJOBS. Head on over to USAJOBS, set up your account, and get familiar with the system if you have not already done so. It is critical that you are familiar with the application process before you begin your application to become a PMF. Once you have filled out the online application, you will be prompted to complete an online assessment. Based on your score from the online assessment, you will be named a semi-finalist and be invited to an in-person interview. If your score is high enough in the interview, you will be named a finalist and be eligible for a PMF appointment. At that point, you will attend a job fair to meet potential agencies, and be eligible to apply for job opportunities. “ By the start of my final year in Working With Your College / University graduate school, I decided on pursuing Advisor a career in public service and I Your college and university advisors may be established my own network of PMF the best resources available to you along the alumni and other contacts in federal process (in addition to this guide, of course!). agencies. I used my school’s resources, Many university career advisors host an informational session at the beginning of each year to let students know about the PMF my own connections, and professional associations. These conversations “ program and help them decide if the program really helped my preparation. is right for them. Others send out emails and direct students to materials on the internet. PMF Class of 2011 Find out who the career advisor for the PMF program is at your school and ask them for help in laying out a plan for your application. We’ll say it again: they will be one of the most valuable resources for you on the path to PMF.
  8. 8. Managing the Application Process 8SECTION 2:WHY BE A PMF?According to the PMF alumni that we interviewed for this guide, the PMF program is the best wayto start a public service career as it:● Provides exposure to several federal agencies or departments through the built-in rotations.● Creates opportunities for making connections with peers and senior-level mentors.● Offers dependable pay and benefits with a good balance of work and personal development.PMFs also have the potential to work on “It’s the best possible way to enter government,projects they would never have access to in the as far as I’m concerned. Also, the fact thatprivate sector, while still enjoying the leeway an agency is willing to pay a fee and committo explore and find a niche in the federal to training in order to take you on meansgovernment. that they’re somewhat invested in your development as an employee and a person,Other PMFs stress how great it looks on more so than in the general hiring process.”a resume, whether or not you accept the -PMF Class 2008fellowship. You also have access to great jobsand training opportunities that are unavailable “It is a great way to gain a broad understandingto most other federal employees. of management in the federal sector with opportunities to try out different jobs (through rotations) and with regular advancementFrom the Source: A Premier Opportunity opportunities.” - PMF Class 1982“It’s a great opportunity to “The PMF is the bestexperience working for the way to get into the federalfederal government, and government, and the bestit can open doors to many way to get promoted withinexciting opportunities if the federal governmentyou’re willing to make the quickly, and so it is aprogram work for you.” - program that our studentsChristopher Gee, PMF Class look at very favorably.”of 2005, Department of - Matthew Upton, Director of Career Services,Homeland Security Bush School of Government & Public Service
  9. 9. 9 Guide to The Presidential Management Fellows Program “ “I encourage any and every U.S. student It is a fabulous way to come into the who is even remotely thinking about federal government. Since entering in 1982 I employment to throw their hat in the ring. have been in the government the whole Mostly, these are students interested in time. I have hired probably 30 PMFs and government work, but I’ve had several students apply and make it through the I had more in different rotations. I have process who were not necessarily focused on never had a bad experience. The program this career path. It’s largely those focused has the reputation now that you’re never “ on government work, however, who remain going to get a bad person. I have three tenaciously committed to pursuing PMF PMFs on my staff now -- probably more positions well after the summer months. if I count former PMFs! The others normally pursue and accept opportunities elsewhere.” -Tamara Golden, Career Consultant, University of California, San Diego - Bev Goodwin, PMF Class 1982, General Service Administrator “Just the prestige of being a PMF Finalist gives you that leg up. I think folks who are familiar with the program -- and understand what they had to go through to become The federal service retention rate for a Finalist -- understand that this is the cream of the PMFs has been 83-88% after three years crop.” - Lisa Allison-Lee, Veterans Affairs, Agency Coordinator “The Presidential Management Fellowship program enjoys considerable prestige within 63-77% after five years the government and constitutes a solid point of entry for those dedicated to pursuing 1 in 12 careers in federal public service. For some agencies, the PMF program is the only viable avenue into entry level civil service positions. Additionally, PMF hires do well in the US government after the PMF ends because of the PMFs/PMIs between 1982 and 1989 program’s rotational opportunities, 80 hours joined the senior executive service of optional training, and significant fast- tracking opportunities up the GS scale that are largely unavailable to other new hires.” Source: - Peter Cowhey, Dean, School of International Conference%20Summary.pdf Relations and Pacific Studies, University of California, San Diego
  10. 10. Managing the Application Process 10SECTION 3: Application inquiries can be directed toTHE APPLICATION pmfapplication@opm.govHarness The Program. Be Assertive. Be Creative. application. If you were applying to the typical job you might be able to call and say ‘I tried to submitCompleting the combined application and online my resume by email, and didn’t get a response, didassessment is your first step towards PMF success. you receive it?’ You can’t do those types of thingsYou will need to submit your application and when you’re applying for PMF. Youassessment documents between November 5 and need to be a lot more detail-oriented in19, 2012. this application than you do in others.” - Kaleigh Emerson, PMF Class 2010,● Make sure your resume is current and ready Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to submit Services.● Get a copy of your graduate school transcript to upload (3MB size limit on all documents) Top 4 Tips for Completing Your Application● Look up your federal school code if you don’t know it already.● Don’t wait until the last minute to take the START EARLY. Make sure that you have given yourself enough time to complete your online application. un-timed situational and behavioral Past applicants have reported having trouble with the questions, and the three required essays. online submission system, such as not being able to save attachments - problems that can be easily takenWhen you begin your application, you will be care of by starting well in advance of the November 19prompted to create a user name for login, and deadline.provide basic biographical information. Secondly,you will be asked to upload your resume and HAVE YOUR LONG FORM FEDERAL RESUME READY.transcript. After submitting, you will reach a page For those who will be applying to work in the federalwarning that you are about to begin the online government for the first time, make sure that you know the specific details about how to correctly create a federalassessment section. If you wish, you are able to resume. Check out GovLoop’s Rock Your Resumestop at this point and resume your progress later. It Group for examples. While you are allowed to submitis recommended that you complete this section in a traditional resume, formatting in the government styleone session. However, it is expected that this entire will help ensure your qualifications are understood bysection - the application and online assessment federal hiring agents.- could take up to three hours, so make sure tomanage your time accordingly. UNDERSTAND THE PMF PROGRAM. Know what your commitment will be when you are hired as a PMFTips for completing the online assessment portion fellow, and why you are motivated to apply. This is abegin in the next section. good opportunity to start thinking about your “elevator pitch” -- quick talking points about yourself that will come in handy in later stages of the application as well.“It’s important to make sure that every step ofthe application is done accurately. I have severalfriends who would have been well-qualified, HAVE SOMEONE LOOK OVER YOUR APPLICATIONbut they were not considered due to computer BEFORE SUBMITTING. This will cut down on smallmalfunction when submitting their initial needless errors. Your career advisors would be good candidates for this type of assistance.
  11. 11. 11 Guide to The Presidential Management Fellows Program SECTION 4: THE ONLINE ASSESSMENT The assessment portion of the application is “The only thing you know for sure is that they untimed and unproctored, which means you can are looking for leadership qualities. Just be submit it any time between November 5 and 19, honest. One of our online assessments was 2012. personality leadership. I’m not sure what it tested. We answered a lot of strange questions The on-line assessment includes three that you couldn’t prepare for - they weren’t components: knowledge-based so you just have to trust that you are a good candidate and answer those 1) a video-based situational judgment assessment, questions honestly.” - Ashley Cassels, PMF 2) a questionnaire designed to assess specific Class of 2010, Small Business Administration work styles and work-related characteristics required for success and fit in the PMF Program, Read a selection of sample questions and below so that you will not be surprised 3) essay questions. when you see them on the assessment: The essays are collected during the application process, but factored into the in-person Sample Questions: assessment. ● When you have an appointment, do you typically arrive: A) very early B) early C) on time There have been some changes to the assessment process this D) late E) very late” year and the information we share below offers the unofficial input from interviews with past participants. Much of their advice and the sample questions are still relevant, but please ● Write an appropriate topic sentence for the be sure to read the official PMF Assessment Preparation following paragraph.... Guide located at: ● After which sentence should the following text be broken into a new paragraph? “Many of the questions were repeated in slightly different ways to see if you would answer ● Which of the following subjects did you get your lowest grade in during high school? consistently. It felt like I was getting everything (Biology, Math, Foreign Language...) “wrong” but realistically there was probably no wrong answer. Many had ● Which of the following group of words include an obvious answer as well, if a misspelled word? you are able to work well with others and perform well on ● How would your colleagues/peers describe the job, etc.” you? How do they like your organizational - Elizabeth Fischer Laurie, skills? PMF Class of 2011, General Services Administration ● They also asked what you would do in specific situations that had an ethical slant--like whether
  12. 12. Managing the Application Process 12 you would confront a co-worker who was doing something that you didn’t agree with, versus Overall, the most solid advice we can give you for going directly to your supervisor. the online assessment is: be yourself, don’t over- think questions, and write essays that showcase ● What grades did you receive in high school? your motivation for public service. ● How often do you go out in the evenings? “I did not do a whole lot of prep for [the online ● How strongly would you agree that people like assessment]. We did receive a little practice guide you as a person? that had a couple questions. I went through that multiple times. A former PMF suggested going ● If your boss asks you to do something that is through the LSAT practice book, so I did read beyond your skill set, what do you do? through that. It was helpful to get me in that 1.) Try your best to do it yourself. logical frame of mind. [My advice is to] just go sit 2.) Find a colleague that can help you. in a library for an afternoon and read through the 3.) Don’t do the assignment. LSAT practice book to get the gist of how you’re supposed to be thinking on the logic portion of the Many scenario questions were asked, such as: assessment.” - Kaleigh Emerson, PMF Class of 2010, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ● If you were a manager, and one of your employees had issues and was not meeting work goals, and the employee’s stated reasons Advice from a Career Counselor: was a lack of training, what would you do? “What the PMF is looking for is collaborative a) Publicly confront the employee in front of team-builders. What they are not looking co-workers and berate him/her for not doing for are alpha personalities. I have seen some his/her job. outstanding candidates who I knew were strong b) Threaten to fire the employee if he/she doesn’t personalities get knocked out in the first round. start doing a better job. I probably know about forty or forty-five PMFs, c) Work with the employee to develop a training and with one exception, every single one of them schedule to work on the necessary required skills. is not an alpha personality. There is one person d) do nothing. who seems to have slipped through the cracks, but the others are not. They are thoughtful, A lot of the questions were trying to determine the self-effacing people, total team players, potential PMF’s personality. While there are no fiercely committed to public service, patriots, right/wrong answers, the PMF program usually and that is really what you need to be to be a tries to look for well-balanced, sociable, intelligent, PMF. You can’t make yourself into a personality flexible people with a strong work ethic and an that you’re not and if you think you’re a strong enthusiasm for getting the job done, and being alpha personality, take the test and see what creative to do so if necessary. happens.” As an applicant and semi-finalist you are evaluated on the following during the online and in-person assessments:- problem solving - oral communication - public service motivation - adaptability- interpersonal skills - written communication - personal accountability
  13. 13. 13 Guide to The Presidential Management Fellows Program Be sure to review OPM’s official PMF Assessment Preparation Guide at SECTION 5: THE IN-PERSON ASSESSMENT If you pass the online assessment, as a semi-finalist you will be invited to the in-person assessment. The in-person assessment is a half-day immersion experience that puts Semi-Finalists through a series of group and individual exercises designed to simulate “the day in the life” of a PMF. Candidates will interact with real issues and senior government leaders in four major components: Group Exercise, Press Conference, Behavioral Interview and a Writing Exercise. Semi-Finalists will be observed and evaluated by a panel of assessors in each exercise. The in-person assessment will last approximately five hours and is designed to be a challenging, highly engaging experience. While the schedule includes two short breaks, you should be prepared to have very little “downtime”. The 2013 in-person assessment locations are Atlanta, GA; Chicago, IL; Houston, TX; Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; and, Washington, DC Metro Area (to include Baltimore, MD). Semi-finalists travel and participate at their own expense. Plan on participating in a full day of activities. Below are a few examples of the types of questions you might encounter: Writing Exercise Example Questions: -What is your motivation for a career in public service? -Should the federal government charge people for using plastic bags instead of paper? -Should the government increase internet security protocols? -What motivates you? Group Exercise and Behavioral Interview: Question prompts are of the same variety for both the group exercise and behavioral interview. -Tell us about something you have researched, written papers on, or are generally passionate about. -Tell us about union representation and whether or not workers should be allowed to unionize. -Take a position on a current event that you have read about and explain how you all would have solved that problem, or avoided an unfortunate outcome. -Suggest legislation that would benefit your future agency and tell why it would or would not be effective. Show Off Your Skills During the In-Person to answer questions that will demonstrate: ● your abilities to solve complex problems, Assessment, But Be a Team Player ● your flexibility in the workplace, The key for the in-person assessment is to stay ● your motivations for applying to the PMF program, calm and collected during the interview. The ● your interpersonal and oral communications skills. interview should take you about one hour. The This is your time to shine as a potential PMF panel of interviewers will be composed of two or candidate. You have already made it this far, and three federal agency representatives. Be prepared you are getting closer to your PMF appointment.
  14. 14. Managing the Application Process 14 appear to be curt. They are scribbling furiously to“When you go to the group interview, you don’t take down their impressions, but I think they havewant try to outshine everyone received special instructions on how they are andelse and put people down. are/not supposed to interact with the interviewees.You want to show how you - PMF Class of 2011collaborate with people. Even ifsomeone says something really ● Stay calm. Don’t necessarily be swayed by thestupid, which they might in the other applicants (everyone has their own idea ofinterview, saying something how the process works, what they are looking for,like ‘well, that’s an interesting or what they have “heard” through the grapevine). -point, have you looked at it PMF Class of 2011from this view?’ is a good approach. So you’rediplomatic, collaborative and building off what ● Be well-groomed, clean and neat. Prepareother people say.” - Bev Godwin, PMF Class of by reading op-eds in major newspapers on1982, General Services Administration a variety of topics. Remember to make eye contact, engage others, answer clearly and articulately and be on point. DemonstrateIn-Person Assessment Advice from PMFs that you are a leader, but also a team player.Here are a few other nuggets of wisdom from people - Bridget Shea Westfall, PMF Class of 2005,who’ve preceded you: Department of Health and Human Services● The assessors are looking for good team players,who voice their opinions and make a meaningful In-Person Assessment Advice from Career Advisors:contribution to the discussion, but who are cordial ● The interviewers will tell you exactly how muchand who seem like they would be a solid colleague. time you have to answer each question. Keep your- PMF Class of 2006 answers concise – be sure to answer the question posed to you, but don’t ramble and think you have to● Take a deep breath and relax before going into take up the entire amount of time allotted.the assessment. Be well-rested and speak concisely.Respect your fellow applicants and allow them to ● Some interviewers were friendly, some were stone-speak during the assessment. - PMF Class of 1999 faced. You need to be ready to perform at your best even if you’re not being given the normal body● Be a team player during the language or facial cues that might otherwise providegroup presentation--that part you with positive about how you handle and - Tamara Golden, Career Consultant, University ofresolve team issues more than California, San Diegoit is about your speech topic. ● The assessors are looking for good team players,It’s a long day--wear something who voice their opinions and make a meaningfulthat you can be comfortable contribution to the discussion, but who are cordialin, but still look professional. and who seem like they would be good to work with.- Jeni Webb, PMF Class of 2011, Department of - Career AdvisorHousing and Urban Development ● Don’t try to compete with those around you.● Make friends with your cohort of competitors Treat it as you would the work environment and actthat are taking the assessment with you -- everyone accordingly. If you have a group assessment engageis highly qualified -- no need to be mean about it. as you would if these were your colleagues. - CareerDon’t feel bad if the assessors don’t look up or Advisor
  15. 15. 15 Guide to The Presidential Management Fellows Program Congratulations: You’ve Been Named A Finalist! If you pass the in-person assessment and are selected as a Finalist, you will be invited to participate in the Job Fair. Notification of your Finalist status is typically sent via email in late January. Below is a bit more statistical information about the types of people who are selected as Finalists. One quick note before you peruse the tables and graphs below: Even if you see that your school, your degree or your target agency is under-represented in the data below, do not be discouraged. Apply anyway and give it your all! The PMF application process is designed to reward merit, so you have just as solid a chance of success as anyone else. Increasingly Selected Law Students An increasing number of law school students are applying and attaining Finalist status over the past decade. In fact, the PMF Class of 2012 had an almost equal number of finalists from law schools (160) and schools of public affairs, public policy or public administration (163). For more information about this trend, please check out this blog post: presidential-management-fellows-pmf-program-does- 45 Schools of Public Affairs 40 Colleges of Law 35 Percentage of Total Finalists 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Year Source: Graham Drake, University of Kentucky
  16. 16. Managing the Application Process 16Data for University locations where PMFs semi-finalists and finalists come from: Source:
  17. 17. 17 Guide to The Presidential Management Fellows Program What Did the 2012 Finalists Study? Where Were PMF Finalists Placed in 2012? Field of Study Number Law (JD or other law degree) 160 Department of Health and Human Services 79 Public Affairs/Policy 83 Department of State 40 Public Administration 80 Homeland Security 25 International Affairs/Administration/Studies 68 Veterans Affairs 19 Business Management/Administration 46 Department of Agriculture 18 Health Administration/Public Health 26 Department of Housing and Urban Development 16 International Development/Trade 26 Department of the Treasury 15 Security Policy/Studies 16 Defense 13 Environmental Sciences/Natural Resources 14 Interior 12 Environmental Policy/Studies 13 International Development 11 Social Work 11 Financial Protection Bureau 10 Community/Regional Planning/Development 10 Energy 10 Political Science 10 Labor 10 Other Subject Areas 9 Transportation 9 Policy Analysis 9 President 6 Engineering 8 Personnel Management 5 History 8 Source: Biological Sciences 6 Diplomacy 6 TAKE NOTE: Management 6 Once you have been named a Finalist, you now National Security 6 have to get hired into a PMF position, pass a Conflict Analysis/Resolution 5 background investigation, and go through the agency’s on-boarding process. It can take several Which Schools Placed the Most Finalists in 2012? months on top of that to pass a security clearance Georgetown University 24 for those positions that require it. George Washington University 23 American University 20 Agency PMF Program Coordinators strongly University of Michigan-Ann Arbor 18 suggested that candidates view the Projected Harvard John F Kennedy Schl of Govt 17 Positions System (PPS) for available positions for George Mason University 14 PMF finalists. The PPS is a way for agencies to Emory University 13 advertise available PMF appointments and is only George Washington Univ Nat Law Ctr 13 for current PMF finalists. Check frequently as new Tufts University 10 positions are posted and change often throughout Univ of London-London School Econ 10 the year. University of California-Berkeley 10 John Hopkins Univ Sch Advan Int St 9 Please also remember that: Univ Maryland Clg Park 9 • Finalists have 12 months from the date they are Univerisyt of Minnesota-Twin Cities 9 selected as Finalists to be appointed to agency Yale Univ Sch Forestry Environ Std 9 positions as Fellows Columbia Univ Sch Intl Pub Affairs 8 • Employment policies and incentives are University of Denver 8 determined by individual agencies University of Georgia 8 • Finalists who are current graduate students must University of Wisconsin-Madison 8 complete advanced degree requirements prior Duke Univ-School of Public Service 7 to onboarding
  18. 18. Managing the Application Process 18SECTION 6:THE JOB FAIRThe PMF Job Fair is where Finalists begin the “I recommend going if you can afford it. It’sprocess of finding their appointment. Typically, a really good place to get a sense of whatthe job fair is held in Washington, DC, and agencies are out there and the breadth ofincludes dozens of agency representatives agencies. I know my year HUD was taking athat are there for one reason: discovering ton of finalists, so it’s very interesting to seesomeone like you. Many participants find their what opportunities are there. It’s also nice toappointments during the job fair. Others use put faces with names. It gives you an opp tothe fair to learn more about agencies to inform have in-person interviews without having totheir decision-making process. Ultimately, pass phone interviews first. So I would go inthe job fair is your best shot at meeting with probably like three different representatives and nailing down your The first goal is to get a job, but you might wantappointment. to have two other goals in case it doesn’t work out. The second goal is to get interview practice - I would suggest doing mock interviewsShould You Attend the Fair? beforehand. Third, use it as a chance to learn about agencies. I was not familiar with jobsOne question some finalists ask is: how in the federal government before the job fair.important is it to attend the job fair? There are This was my first interview to see agencies.a couple considerations to think about: I asked a lot of questions in my interviews. I wanted to learn more about the agencies● Are the agencies you are interested in going rather than get a job right away. I would goto be there? Some agencies only attend the job home and process what I learned, then lookfair if they know they are going to be hiring for more positions in those agencies later.”a PMF. Others don’t attend the job fair. Call -Kaleigh Emerson, PFM Class of 2010, Centersthem and ask if they will be there. for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “● Are you interested in working in WashingtonDC, or do you want to work elsewhere? Most We don’t go if we don’t have anfederal government agencies are headquarteredin the Washington DC area and have regionaloffices located around the country. A few “ opening to fill. If we’re there, we’re looking to hire and we’re looking for the best person. We’re usually very anxiousagencies are headquartered outside of DC to fill that position.and you should try to schedule an interviewwith them if you’re interested in a particular -Bev Godwin, PMF Class of 1982, Generallocality, but it’s always good to get face time Services Administrationwith headquarters.
  19. 19. 19 Guide to The Presidential Management Fellows Program Here are some other reasons ● You may find out about Before the Fair: Do Your an agency or a job that you why finalists don’t want to hadn’t previously considered, Homework miss the fair: but ends up being a good fit. Here are three important steps ● The fair is an awesome Many agencies also have PMFs to take before the job fair: opportunity to improve your working their booths, so it’s a interview skills. Interview good opportunity to talk to 1. Research agencies that after interview for several them and find out what it’s like interest you. Let’s face it: days straight really cranks up to be a PMF in their office and government’s big. Your options your game a notch or two, and agency. are immense. You will want it makes for fun story-telling to learn as much as you can down the line. ● If you are hoping for a job about prospective agencies in DC, it’s good to attend the in advance so that you can ● Some interviewers will let job fair because there might speak knowledgeably to their you interview at their offices, be opportunities to tour representative at the fair. which helps avoid the craziness facilities and meet employees. and rush of the job fair. If you You never know - you might “The applicant should do can, we recommend scheduling like an agency until you see research up front to know your flight so that you can be in where you’ll work...and you which agencies they are DC, and available for interviews might just want to reconsider interested in...and then be sure either the day before or the day based on your future digs (or to go and talk to people at that after the fair. dive). booth, but also to be open that maybe they haven’t heard of. ● The fair is an excellent THE BOTTOM LINE: DON’T MISS IT! They likely don’t know every opportunity to meet people. agency. You can go online Never again will that many and look up the government PMFs from your cohort be in You will be expected manual to learn about the the same place at the same time to cover all of your mission of every government and it will give you the chance expenses for the job agency...there are some to make some connections that fair. Of course, your interesting small agencies or could be useful down the road. offices within agencies that return on investment is do really cool things. So be ● Even if you’re not looking landing that sweet GS- open to other things and spend for a position in DC; even if 11 or GS-12 opportunity time talking to as many people you think you have something and getting your public as you can.” - PMF Class lined up already, the job fair is of 1982, General Services an unparalleled opportunity. sector career started Administration You can get insights into agency off on the right foot - so culture, information on the day- spend the money to get 2. Prioritize your top picks. to-day duties of various positions, Once you’ve done your and meet a whole lot of interesting there if you’re out of homework on your favorite people (both formally and at the town. You won’t regret it. agencies, it’s always a good many happy hours). practice to rank them in the
  20. 20. Managing the Application Process 20order of where you most wantto work - and don’t just think resume tells a coherent story. Even if you’ve done a lot of different Tips from former PMFsabout your appointment, but things, help recruiters find thewhere you might want to launch thread. A couple introductory Set up some interviews ahead ofand spend your career. bullets at the top can make all the time with preferred agencies. difference. Bring a condensed one3. Don’t wait for the fair to make page version of your If you are showing Stay the whole time if you can.up to the job fair and expecting 5. Ask yourself some toughto set up an interview with the questions. Review the floorState Department, or one of the plan and think about who you Get a place to sleep that’s close toother big agencies, you will be want to talk to most. What are the convention center so you don’ttoo late. Ask your career advisor the top things you’re looking have much travel time.for contact information for past for? What are you willing toPMFs from your school who have compromise on?a connection with that agency. Make sure you have internetTry to schedule your most sought 6. Print out copies of your access.after interviews ahead of time. resume. You will want toCheck the Projected Position be able to hand these out toSystem (PPS) website for PMF everyone from an agency you Have plenty of updated resumespositions that may interest you. meet. and business cards.Email and/or call the designatedpoint of contact (this is not alwaysthe PMF Agency Coordinator) The night before: A few writing samples are good butfor any PMF position for which 7. Rest up. You will have a you don’t need as many of wish to interview as spots are hectic few days and for thoselimited. coming to DC from outside the area, you’ll likely be jet-lagged Talk to everyone, you never know4. Get your professional house and in unfamiliar settings. what agency may have a niche forin order. Ask your Career Advisoror other trusted person to: review 8. Make yourself comfortable. you.your resume (make sure your Pack snacks water, coffee,resume is free of grammatical whatever you’ll need. Buy Be ready to follow up with thankand typographical errors). or bring clothing that is bothPractice interview questions with professional and comfortable you notes for all interviews (askyou. Look over supplemental (you will be on your feet all for business cards to have contactmaterials that show your skills day). Get a bag that looks info). Email is OK for these.(policy memos you’ve written for good, but can hold a lot of stuffschool, outreach materials you’ve comfortably. Figure out theprepared for a previous job). Metro system and do not relyPractice introducing yourself on cabs as they are very slow!to recruiters (how can you tell http://wmata.comyour professional story in 1-2sentences?) Make sure your
  21. 21. 21 Guide to The Presidential Management Fellows Program Tips from former PMFs At The Fair: fair. This way you can interview with those offices, and check ● Consider the size of the out other offices at the job fair, Prepare concise bullets of your agency, its mission, and all at the same time. experience that is pertinent to the the experience you hope to gain. At smaller agencies you ● Try very hard to keep positions. the first 60-90 minutes in may have the opportunity to make more immediate the morning of the second Contact agencies that haven’t impact and receive leadership interview day open. This time is the time to hit agencies that posted on the Projected Positions opportunities, but you may you definitely want to talk to, not have as many resources System (PPS). but don’t have time to get to on (training, technology, fellow PMFs) available to you. At day one (there will be a few). It’s difficult to authentically and larger agencies you may have all the resources you need but For those finalists who don’t enthusiastically explain your have a sure sense of the agencies you may not get the immediate qualifications for the eighth time leadership opportunities. they want to pursue, the Job in two days. So, schedule the Fair is a good opportunity to ● The morning of the first day see who is there and what kinds important interviews first, and do of positions are available. Some you will hand out a million everything you can to schedule resumes - bring plenty! agencies only attend the job interviews before the job fair, (There is a Kinkos if you need fair when they have a specific to print more, but the lines will role or job that they need filled. particularly if you’re local. If you are going in with an open be long). Talk to folks about the agencies and openings, etc. mind as to where you want to Bring a water bottle and snacks; Later in the day your cell phone work or what kind of work you will be doing, you may find plenty of pens, notebook pages, will start ringing with agencies opportunities at the job fair that trying to interview you that resumes, business cards, letters you won’t know about if you evening or the following day. of recommendation, and writing If you can push the interview don’t attend. “ samples. to the day after the job fair and offer to meet at their offices, it I had a short list of may be helpful (to both them agencies in my mind, but I did and you), but go ahead and keep an open mind and I ended schedule it during the job fair up at an agency I had never if you can’t. ● Look at the PMF website heard of until I walked past “ the booth at the job fair. I had never heard of it, but I really and contact offices that have liked the vibe that they had. posted jobs that may interest -Steve Morris, PMF Class of 2009, you. Many PMFs do this and Small Business Administration have interviews already set up before they walk into the job
  22. 22. Managing the Application Process 22Again, we would urge you ● Don’t be surprised if you ● Give them a time frameto figure out which agencies get job offers during the job and stick to it. Be respectful ofyou’re most interested in fair. Don’t immediately accept their desire to acquire as closewell in advance of the fair. if it isn’t your first choice. Some to their top choice as possible,Contact those agencies and agencies will take longer to and if you know immediatelytry to set up interviews before, make job offers and you don’t or sooner than agreed upon thatduring, or after the event itself. want to accept prematurely and you do not intend to accept, letIf an agency doesn’t have then have to backtrack when them know as soon as possible.information about past PMFs, something you like better comesdo some research yourself and along. ● ...but if you really wantedlook up current contacts within that one from the outset, go forthe agency and be in touch with ● Don’t feel like you have to it! If you receive an offer (askthem. accept then and there. Some for the offer in writing!) from folks feel pressure to take jobs an agency you are genuinely on the spot, before having a interested in working for, andAfter the Job Fair: Managing chance to talk to their families you are impressed by their PMFJob Offers or hear other offers from other Program and the type of work agencies. Think about it like you will be doing there as aManaging the job fair is tricky, this - if a person is asking you to fellow, accept the offer. Thenbut the real work comes in make a life-changing decision in inform all of the other agenciesmanaging the job offers. We 5 minutes, what will they be like you have accepted another offerrecommend that you not accept to work for? so that those opportunities canthe first job offer unless you be made to other finalists.have taken some time to dosome due diligence about the ● Ask for some time to consider the offer and be ● Don’t be shy, call if youjob first. Probably the biggest considerate of the agency’s want to learn the results. Ifmistake people make is to get time. If you are offered a job you haven’t heard from thereally excited about getting a on Day One but you have more organization that is your firstjob offer and then accept it right interviews scheduled on Day choice, then call the POC andaway. Two, the offering agency would ask if you have made their final understand if you requested an list.It’s pretty important to do a lotof research about the position, additional day to, etc. Many people ● Get a sense of securityaccept offers without meeting ● Offer deadlines can (clearances, that is): If you’retheir new direct supervisor - sometimes be extended, but it offered a position that requiresunsurprisingly, a lot of them are is up to the agency. Generally a security clearance that youunhappy in their positions now. speaking, most offers are don’t have yet, understand thatThis seems obvious, but a lot awarded at the job fair or soon you may have to wait a year orof PMFs get caught up in the thereafter so there is no benefit more! Definitely get anotherexcitement of the fair and getting in holding out for additional job in the meantime, so you canjob offers, and neglect to make offers if you already have afford to eat while you wait;sure what the work environment received multiple offers. however, you will have up tois really going to be like. Here one year from being selected toare some more helpful tips. secure an appointment.
  23. 23. 23 Guide to The Presidential Management Fellows Program SECTION 7: THE JOB Follow up after the career fair with all the How long does it take to find a PMF job? agencies that impressed you. Continue being diligent as long as necessary. If you are not Anywhere from a few days after an interview, called back for any interviews, get on the right up to the one year mark, with a majority phone or computer and be in touch with all of offers coming two to three months after an the agencies that are still posting positions for interview. which you are qualified. What advice do you have for those who are “This was the hardest part of the whole having trouble finding a PMF job? process. It took me five or six months to secure Be open to all different agencies, not just the a position. I was named a finalist in March most popular/famous ones. It is often better to and then it was August before I accepted my be a big fish in a small pond then a small fish position. I went to graduate school right out in a big pond. of undergrad so I was lacking full time work experience, which made me very anxious. I was having phone interviews and either What if I have trouble finding a job? wasn’t liking the positions I was offered or ● “I was not placed for ten months, during wasn’t getting the positions that I did like, so which time I turned down three offers (and it was very anxiety provoking. There was a was not chosen for many more) before sense amongst my friends and I that once we taking my final (dream!) job. Stay positive became finalists, the hard work is over, and and remember that the right job is worth the that is definitely not the case. I would say that wait!” - Jessica Cagley, PMF Class of 2010, the hard work is just beginning. U.S. Agency for International Development You have to be really patient and not start ● “My advice to new and future PMFs is: stressing until December. It’s hard to not have if you have a place or an issue area you a job for that long but federal government know you want to work on, and they don’t hiring managers are working on a different have an advertised opening, it may be timeline than the job seeker. So try to find because they don’t know about the program. some part-time work between grad school and In addition to what vacancies people put a PMF position. I know several people who post, it doesn’t hurt to also research and were offered positions in early summer, but explore and interview at other agencies and I was volunteering and asked ‘can I start in then tell them about the PMF program.” November?’ Be patient. Positions will open up!” - Bev Godwin, PMF Class 1982, GSA - Kaleigh Emerson, PMF Class of 2010, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
  24. 24. Managing the Application Process 24● “If you are 3-6 months into really want to work with people, within your agency or even tothe process and not finding a being in the field is more another agency as a PMF.”position, it may be important rewarding than just being in the - PMF Class of 2011,to look at whether you are office and talking about policy.”you being too narrow in your -Robert ● “Location and agency weresearch. Are you ruling out We i s b e r g , a big concern. I ended up injobs that would develop solid PMF Class DC even though I was tryingtransferrable skills but not in of 2001, to find placements elsewhere. “your preferred agency? Are Department - PMF Class of 2011you thinking you need the of Housingperfect job from your first and Urban ● “For those who do notPMF appointment? Budget, Development particularly want to live inhuman resources, and project DC, I still highly recommendmanagement skills are portable ● “After having been through spending the 2 years of thefrom agency to agency and my PMF experience, I would PMF in Washington. Infoundational skills for leaders. recommend that people try to agencies with numerous PMFs,Most PMFs will tell you that the be in DC. That’s where the the rotation process, promotionprogram is about access. Get most networking opportunities process, and networking gointo an agency, focus on skill are, where the training and all more smoothly. Also, the PMFdevelopment, and maximize the mentoring takes place. If community is much morethe rotation and leadership you want to go to a regional active in DC. These benefitsdevelopment opportunities office after your two years in are invaluable, and can helpto network, explore, and PMF, you can do it, but I would you transition out of DC into aposition yourself for work in recommend spending those job/location you are interesteda preferred agency or office.” two years in DC or at least in long-term. Rotations out - Jennifer Niggemeier, Director at a headquarters office. For of DC can also help with thatof Graduate Career Services instance, CDC is in Atlanta... transition.” - PMF Class of 2008Alumni Relations, Gerald R. so DC or headquarters.”Ford School of Public Policy - Kaleigh Emerson, PMF Class 2010, Centers for Medicare After You’ve Nailed Down YourHow do I determine what and Medicaid Services Appointment Once you have receivedlocation is right for me? ● “The agency’s location wasn’t your appointment, the PMF● “The only aspect that people as important as the opportunity Coordinator for your agencyhave to appreciate is that in to travel was. I asked about this will update your status onlinegovernment the headquarters in my interviews.” and provide a start date forand the field are two different - PMF Class of 1998 your Fellowship. You will stillatmospheres and they have to need to clear a backgroundappreciate that if they are not ● “I hoped to be in DC but I check and complete yourat headquarters, they are in a was willing to take almost any graduate studies to begin yourdifferent realm. Sometimes at agency. It is better to get in as a position as a PMF Fellow.headquarters, they have higher PMF and learn from your initialpay or higher grade levels than position even if it is not a perfect Other than that, it looks likein the field. Ultimately, if you fit. You can often transfer either you made it. Well done!
  25. 25. 25 Guide to The Presidential Management Fellows Program SECTION 8: WHAT’S NEXT? After you land the placement and find yourself working as a PMF, be sure to make the most of the experience. Get to know your colleagues - both your fellow PMFs and the agency employees you meet throughout your fellowship. Take advantage of the opportunities for training and mentorship, and strive to understand the strategic plans and goals of the agencies where you gain exposure. One advisor also cautioned PMFs to “stay humble.” When you are named to such a prestigious position, it’s easy to fall into a sense of self-importance that, if not handled appropriately, can alienate your new colleagues. Remain ambitious, but be respectful of people who have likely spent a significant amount of their career doing their best to make a difference in a spirit of service to their country. Seek to learn from everyone and strive to contribute in ways that add value. So that’s it! That’s all that you need to know about the PMF application process in 25 pages or less. We hope this guide and the accompanying web-based resources at were helpful to you. In fact, would you do us a favor? If you used this guide and it helped you to become a Finalist, would you let us know? Send an email to and tell your story. Who knows? Maybe you will be passing along your own hard-won advice to the next generation of PMFs. We wish you the best in the application process - and sincerely hope that you’re one of them. “Now in the later years of my career, [being a PMF is] almost like a badge of honor. Many times I’ll be in a meeting and somebody’s talking about someone they’re going to hire and say “and they’re a PMF” and I’ll say “well, I was one” and they’ll be like “oh, that’s cool!” So it’s sort of like you’ve been in an Ivy League school and it tells people something about you that helps you throughout your career.” - Bev Godwin, PMF Class 1982, General Services Administration
  26. 26. Managing the Application Process 26SECTION 9:ADDITIONAL RESOURCESPATH TO PMF WEBSITE www.pathtopmf.comRobertson Foundation for Government www.rffg.orgGovLoop - Knowledge Network for Government www.govloop.comOfficial Presidential Management Fellows Program www.pmf.govPMF Listserv Pathways for Students and Recent Graduates Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) Jobs Fellows Blog Management Alumni Group Labiner, Brookings Institution: “Looking for the Future Leaders of Government? Don’t Count on PMI’s” Drake, University of Kentucky: “Evaluating the Presidential Management Fellows Program” McFarland, NASPAA: “Blazing Graduate Pathways into Federal Service”
  27. 27. October 2012