3L Federal Government Job Opportunity: The Presidential Management Fellows Program

Do you want to start your career as a federal government employee? The Presidential Management Fellows Program  is accepting applications until December 1 from 3Ls to work in two-year appointments with a federal government agency. Agencies that hire PMFs include the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of the Interior, and many others.

The PMF is a great way to start your career in federal government. Three years after completing the PMF program, 83-88% of PMFs remain in federal government service and 63-77% remain in federal government service after five years.

If you wish to apply for the PMF program, be sure to read The PMF Application Guide as it is an invaluable resource that will state the very specific nuances of a PMF application clearly. 

What the Fellowship is:

Created 30 years ago by Executive Order, the PMF program is a flagship leadership development program designed to get great entry-level, advanced degree candidates into the federal government. Above all, the program exists to develop a cadre of potential government leaders.

The PMF Program inculcates a lasting bond as well as a spirit of public service, ultimately encouraging and leading to a career in the government.

As a PMF , you would  work at a single federal agency and possibly have the chance to participate in a 4-6 month rotation at another agency.  PMFs receive:

  • 160 hours of formal interactive training (on leadership, management, policy and other topics)
  • Challenging work assignments
  • Feedback on your work
  • At least one 4 to 6 month developmental assignment
  • Potential for promotions and career ladders
  • Upon certification of completion, which permits immediate noncompetitive conversion to a permanent or term position and carries prestige anywhere you go thereafter

PMFs receive full salary and benefits just like any other Federal employee. In addition, fellows may be eligible for repayment of their student loans or other recruitment incentives depending on the agency. You can read more detail about PMF pay here.

Who is Eligible:

U.S. citizens earning a JD, Master’s, or PhD by August 31st of the year after the application are eligible to apply for the program. For ND Law students purposes, that means 3Ls are elgibile. You can read more about eligibility requirements here.

The PMF program does not hire for attorney positions so law students applying for the program are most qualified to apply for policy and legislative positions as well as the following specific positions:

  • Paralegal Specialist
  • Hearings and Appeals Specialist
  • Contract Specialist
  • Labor Relations Specialist
  • Estate Tax Examiner

Read more about law students and the PMF program here.

How to Apply:

The Presidential Management Fellows Program is currently taking applications from 3Ls through December 1. You can read an overview of the application process here.

To apply, search for “Presidential Management Fellows” on USA Jobs. During the online application process, you must take an online assessment, submit a resume and transcript, and complete an essay. If you want more information on what the online assessment consists of, this Path to PMF guide explains it clearly.

Keep in mind that a USA Jobs resume is quite different from the typical one page resume you are used to submitting. This Rock Your Resume Resource gives  you all the information you need on creating your federal government resume.

As an applicant, you are evaluated on the following core competencies during the online assessment: adaptability, integrity, public service motivation, problem solving, interpersonal skills, oral communication, and written communication. The application is formal so don’t use texting slang. Try to keep these competencies in mind throughout the process.

This PMF application process can be quite lengthy so if you wish to apply, get started now.

You will be notified if you have been selected as a finalist from December-February. In early spring, finalists will be invited to participate in a virtual job fair and then have one year to obtain an appointment as a PMF.

The PMF program is highly competitive. They select 550 finalists out of about 6000 applicants and about 60% of finalists are placed with federal government agencies.

But don’t despair. A JD is consistently one of the top degrees that successful PMFs have and you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, right?  If you’re really interested in working for a federal agency, be sure to look for GS-9 jobs on USA Jobs and above all, network with federal agencies. They get tons and tons of applications so it really helps if they know your name ahead of time.

I will write a blog post soon on USA Jobs and applying for other federal jobs, including attorney jobs so be on the look out for that.

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