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’s guide to

The Presidential Management Fellows Program

Managing the Application Process


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m guide to The Presidential Management Fellows Program



Important Dates Eligibility

4 APPLY 4 4 5

Applying to the PMF Program

GovLoop Tip: Checking your Application Status

Featured PMF: Mandy Wampler

Presidential Management Fellow, Department of Housing and Urban Development


The Nomination Process Online Assessment In-Person Assessment

8 SELECTION 8 9 10 10 10

Being Named a Finalist Managing the Job Fair Receiving Your Appointment If You Don’t Make It Let’s Make Sure You Do!

11 RESOURCES 11 11 12

Great Resources for PMF Applicants GovLoop Tools and Resources Acknowledgements



“So many opportunities! As a PMF,

you have the opportunity to apply for jobs at a wide variety of agencies spread all over the country and abroad. Anything you are interested in doing for the private sector or the nonprofit sector is also available in the federal government. The government has job opportunities in such a variety of fields that it is easy for someone with any type of degree to find the right fit. Also, the PMF program allows you to move up in the government ranks quickly and provides you with trainings and developmental opportunities that will also help advance your career.”

The Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) program matches outstanding graduate students from a variety of academic disciplines with Federal agencies. President Carter originally established the PMF program as the Presidential Management Intern program in 1977 through Executive Order 12008. Since 1977, the PMF program has evolved into one of the premiere fellowship programs for advancement and leadership in the Federal Government. In 2011, the PMF became part of the Pathways Program, a hiring reform initiative designed to recruit new talent to the public sector. This guide will walk you through the rigorous application process and help you earn a spot as a Presidential Management Fellow.

* Please note that the majority of content for this guide is taken from and http://www.

Managing the Application Process

Overview of the PMF Program The PMF program is a great way to start you career track as a public servant in the Federal government. First, you should know that it’s a two-year commitment. PMF participants are paid a full salary and benefits at the GS -9, GS -11 or GS – 12 (roughly $40-60,000 a year) levels depending on your appointment. In some situations, participants may even be promoted to as high as GS -13 (up to $70,000 per year). Depending on the agency where a PMF participant is working, they may be eligible for the Federal Student Loan Repayment Program. In order to fulfill the requirements of a Presidential Management Fellow, all Fellows must complete the following requirements: • Attend a minimum of 160 hours of formal classroom training (80 hours per year) • Complete at least one developmental assignment four to six months in length • Create a performance plan and undergo an annual performance review • Create an Individual Development Plan (IDP), used to set goals for your time in the program • Receive Executive Resource Board (ERB; or equivalent) certification that you have met all program requirements prior to conversion

The PMF process is extremely competitive, and one important note to remember is that if you are selected as a PMF finalist, you are not guaranteed a job – you will only be eligible for a PMF appointment by a Federal Agency. Although you may not receive an appointment immediately, you will have one year to receive an appointment and can still apply to Federal positions outside of the PMF Program on USAJOBS.

“The PMF program is what you make of it. Different agencies treat the PMF program very differently, so there is no uniform PMF experience. Therefore, it is important to realize that you, as a PMF, can in many ways control your fellowship destiny. I learned the hard way how important it was to educate myself about the program: requirements, opportunities, and trainings. However, once I educated myself (through the PMF website, orientation, calling the PMF program office), I was well prepared to take advantage of all the opportunities that the PMF has to offer and to ensure I met the requirements of the program in order to graduate. At my agency, my PMF coordinator did not hold my hand throughout the two years, like I had expected, so it was important for me to stay on top of my goals.”




m guide to The Presidential Management Fellows Program

Important Dates



Find a job


Get Nominated

On-Line Assessment

In Person Assessment


Sept 15-25, 2011

Sept 15-30, 2011

Oct 1-10, 2011

Nov 14 - Dec 16, 2011

Jan 2012

You can apply through USAJOBS ( External Link Icon ) and search for "Presidential Management Fellows" for the 2012 job opportunity.

As you apply, you will be prompted to print a nomination form to submit to your school's Nomination Official and participate in a competitive nomination process.

If you're found eligible, you will be invited to take an on-line assessment. You can take this timed assessment from anywhere.

If you pass the on-line assessment, as a semi-finalist you will be invited to the in-person assessment. This date range is tentative.

If you pass the in-person assessment and are selected as a Finalist, you will be invited to participate in the Job Fair. Finalists have one year to obtain an appointment as a PMF.


There are some eligibility requirements for the PMF Program. If you will complete your graduate studies between September 1, 2011 and August 31, 2012, you will be eligible to apply this fall for the PMF Class of 2012. PMF’s come from a variety of disciplines and graduate studies, PMF’s in the past have been master’s students, PhD recipients, and law students. As long as you are expected to complete your advanced degree from a qualified institution, you are eligible for the PMF program. You can check to see if your school is a qualifying institution by checking out the OPM qualifications website. Attorneys Understand that if you are an attorney and are appointed by an agency, it is very unlikely that you will be working on trials and litigation processes during your fellowship. More than likely, your position will include policy and legislative program development. Veterans’ Preference If you are a veteran, be sure to follow the instructions for obtaining your veterans preference. To be entitled to preference, a veteran must meet the eligibility requirements in Section 2108 of Title 5, United States Code. For more information on veterans’ preference and their application in Federal employment refer to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM’s) Vet Guide.

What Does a Successful Applicant Look Like? Someone who is willing to learn and develop throughout their career. One of the great advantages of the federal government is that there always is a new challenge, new tasks, and new positions. To be successful requires a commitment to continuing growth and willingness to change. If you like to do one thing or work on one issue, spending two, four, or six years in a federal agency then returning to state or local government, private sector, or on-governmental organization may make sense. For a longer-term career in federal government you have to keep moving and picking up new skills.


Managing the Application Process

Applying to the PMF Program “Start your engines.” The phrase is on internal repeat this week as I dive headfirst into the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) application. While I’m not a huge NASCAR fan, the phrase seems appropriate, as it is certainly a long competition with the best of the best of graduate and professional level students who share the desire and drive to engage in public service at a high level. – GovLoop Member Sean Hughes in his blog, Fellow PMF Hopefuls, Start Your Engines...

Once you have completed the application process, you have to be nominated by your school and then take an online assessment. Based on your score from the online assessment, you will be named a semifinalist and be invited to an 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 a mutual selection process (hopefully) leads you to a two-year rotational assignment.

Traditionally, the PMF program begins to accept applications in the fall. Applicants will be notified that applications will begin to be accepted through an announcement on USAJOBS. It is critical that you are familiar with the application process before you begin your application to become a PMF Fellow. We have outlined the process for you here.

But it all starts with the application! So do not take anything lightly or for granted during the application process. It would be a shame that a small error in the application prevented you from moving forward.We want you to excel and receive an appointment, so follow these steps to be sure you are on track with your application:

1. For USAJOBs and the Application Manager, be sure to have access to a computer with Internet Explorer. Although the Application Manager is compatible with other browsers, your safest bet is to use Internet Explorer to avoid any errors. Also have a reliable printer ready for various forms and documents you will need in hard copy. 2. Make sure your resume is ready to go. Check out the “Rock Your Resume” group on GovLoop for some help to make sure your resume is in good shape and tailored to the PMF program. 3. Now that you’re squared away with technology and your resume is up to date, you are ready to apply to the PMF Program. Head over to, search for “Presidential Management Fellows,” find the PMF announcement and begin the online application process. You will then be taken to, where you will be asked to create an account and login. Write this information down just incase you forget your password and login information. 4. Once you are logged into the Application Manager, follow instructions and upload your resume for the PMF Program. 5. Once your resume is uploaded, you will be asked to complete the “Assessment Questionnaire.” 6. If you are a veteran, you can claim veterans’ preference. Simply follow the instructions in the Application Manager. 7. Print out your nomination form. This is a critical step. Make sure you have taken the proper steps to submit your nomination application to the proper official. More information about the nomination process is provided below. 8. Review! The Application Manager will provide a checklist of what is needed to apply, double check that you have completed all tasks and that your application is complete. 9. Now you are ready to submit your application, congrats! Once submitted, you will receive a notification confirming your submission.

tip: Checking your Application Status If you would like to check the status of your application, you should use the Application Manager to check the status of your application. PMF Program Office staff cannot check the status of your application. Within the Application Manager, you will be able to see the status of your uploaded documents, questionnaire responses, and the status of your PMF Nomination Form. Check often to make sure there are no errors and everything is on track.




m guide to The Presidential Management Fellows Program

Featured PMF: Mandy Wampler Presidential Management Fellow, Department of Housing and Urban Development Mandy Wampler, Presidential Management Fellow at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, sat down with GovLoop and shared her experiences about the PMF application process. Mandy is a 2011 Masters of Public Administration graduate from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. She has given you some great advice on her experiences and ways to navigate through the PMF application process.

Why did you join the PMF Program?

I honestly wasn’t that familiar with the PMF program at the time I applied, but I came to realize that it is an amazing opportunity to secure a position with the federal government and to engage in continued professional development.

What is some advice you have for people applying?

It costs nothing but a bit of your time to apply, so definitely go for it. Reach out to recent PMFs from your university since they can provide tips and additional advice that is most relevant to your graduate experience.

What is some advice for preparing for the online assessment?

Honestly, it’s difficult to prepare for this portion, but reading through this guide and the guide OPM puts out is helpful. The best advice I can offer (though don’t hold me to it; I don’t know the ‘right’ answer) is to think about the qualities and characteristics of good leadership in the everyday workplace and in your past experiences and answer the assessment questions with that in mind. Try to answer consistently and honestly; don’t get caught up in second‐guessing yourself about what ‘type’ of person they’re looking for.

What is some advice for the in-person assessment?

Stay calm and be confident! The memo writing and elevator speech assignments of your degree program will have prepared you well by this point. Your worst enemy will be your nerves; it’s an intimidating process!

What is some advice for interview prep?

Be prepared with specific examples of high quality, complex projects that you’ve completed and of your analytical capacity (be it coursework or work experience). Also, beyond your technical ability, agencies genuinely want to know about your interest in and passion for the work of their agency, so be ready to connect your experiences to the position and the agency.

Any advice for finalist seeking an appointment?

Go to the job fair! It is absolutely invaluable to have this face time with representatives of so many federal agencies. You will receive information about accessing position postings prior to the fair, so try to set up some interviews in advance. Most agencies will have interview slots available to those who approach them at their booths on the first day of the fair, so make sure you go to the booths of your highest priority agencies first. Throughout the two day fair, spend time at the booths talking with the agency representatives and current PMFs. Agencies will continue to post new PMF position openings after the fair, so don’t worry too much if you don’t secure a position right away.

Managing the Application Process

Get Nominated In addition to submitting a formal application for the PMF Program, to continue to move forward in the application process you must be nominated by your school’s Nomination Official. The PMF Program does not assist you with finding out who your nomination official is, so be sure to contact your school’s career services office. Keep an eye out for submission of your nomination letter; you can check the status in the Application Manager. Make sure you give your school’s official enough time to complete the process, and clearly communicate the deadline for submission of your nomination.

Online Assessment

There are two steps in the assessment process to become a PMF. The first step is to take an online assessment test. If your school nominates you and your application has cleared, you will be asked to take an online timed assessment. You will be provided specific instructions on how to take the exam, if you score well enough on the timed exam, you will be asked to participate in an in-person assessment. Below are some sample questions for the online assessment.

Sample Online Questions

The following sample questions are from OPM’s Assessment Prep Guide.

Online Assessment Practice Questions There are three timed sections to the PMF Online Assessment: 1. Situational Judgment: 54 Questions (40 minutes) 2. Life Experience: 120 Questions (45 minutes) 3. Writing: 1 question (10 minutes)

Part A. Situational Judgment Assessment Sample Question 1 You are a member of a project team in your office. During a project meeting a colleague gives you a task that you do not feel qualified or trained to handle. Which of the following actions are you most likely to take? A) Complete the task as best you can. B) Complain to your supervisor. C) Ask someone in the office who knows how to do the task to help you. D) Explain to the colleague that you do not feel qualified to work on the task and you would prefer that the task be given to someone else.

Part B. Life Experience Assessment Sample Question 1 In the past when I have given a speech or presentation, I was likely to have prepared ahead of time: A) Much less than others did B) Less than others did C) About the same as others did D) More than others did E) Much more than others did

Part C. Writing Sample Practice Question Sample Question 1 The PMF Program provides many potential opportunities and challenges for individuals interested in working for the Federal Government. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a career in public service.




m guide to The Presidential Management Fellows Program

In-Person Assessment

During the in-person assessment, you will be asked to participate in an interview at an assessment center. Assessment centers are subject to change, but to give you an idea of where you might be asked to interview for the 2012 application cycle, there may be centers in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco or Washington. The interviews would take place from mid-November through mid-December. Below are a few examples of the type of questions you might encounter.

tip: Show Off Your Skills During the In–Person Assessment The key for the in-person assessment is to stay calm and collected during the interview. The interview should take you about one hour. The interview panel will be composed of two Federal Agency representatives. Be prepared to answer questions that will show your abilities to solve complex problems, your flexibility in the workplace, motivations why you applied for the PMF program, interpersonal and oral communication skills. This is your time to shine as a potential PMF candidate, you have already made it this far, and you are getting closer to receiving your PMF appointment.

Here is a Sample Question from the 2012 OPM PMF Assessment Guide: Describe a situation in which you dealt with individuals who were difficult, hostile, or distressed. Who was involved? What specific actions did you take and what was the result?

Managing the Application Process

Selection Being Named a Finalist

The PMF program administrators strongly encourage finalists to view the Projected Positions System (PPS) for available positions for PMF finalists. The PPS is a way for agencies to advertise available PMF appointments and is only for current PMF finalists. Check frequently, as new positions are posted and change often throughout the year. The PMF Job Fair is an annual event held for all current PMF Finalist to attend. You will be asked to cover all your expenses for the PMF Job Fair; many participants find their appointments during the Job Fair. This is a great way to meet agency representatives and work towards receiving your appointment. Below are two graphics that reveal the location of both semi-finalists and finalists for 2011. For more information, please see the blog post entitled “2011 PMF Visualization: Semi-Finalists vs. Finalists�.

To see more stats about the 2011 Program, please go to




m guide to The Presidential Management Fellows Program

Managing the Job Fair

The PMF Job Fair is a critical step to receiving your appointment. You have already made it through the application process, online assessment and interview, so now it’s your turn to show off your skills and network to find your future employer. We have put together some tips on how to manage the job fair. Make sure you have plenty of resumes with you. It is not uncommon for participants at the job fair to have 30 copies of their resume and run out.

tip: Community Tips: PMF Job Fair GovLoop has put together a guide specifically for the PMF Job Fair. Take a look at the guide and make sure you are ready to roll at the Job Fair and have taken all the necessary steps to prepare. An excerpt of a blog post written by a PMF Fellow, PMF Job Fair: To Go or Not to Go. Plus Planning Tips: “So, should you attend or not? I always say it depends on where you are, what your background is, and what you’re interested in. I think I speak for most current and former PMFs when I say that the value of the job fair isn’t exactly measurable, but almost everyone I’ve talked to about it thought it was a good idea to have gone; many of us got our jobs at the PMF job fair, and many more of us got our jobs as a result of having made connections there. Plus you will get to meet people from all over the federal government, including current and former PMFs who are excited to be welcoming in the next class (if we weren’t, we wouldn’t be working at the job fair; I plan to work it this year myself). In short, this is an excellent opportunity that, while it may not result in an onthespot job offer, nevertheless provides access to many agencies. And one other thing: just because you talk with the agency of your dreams and they don’t hire you, that doesn’t mean you can’t eventually work with them, perhaps on your developmental assignment or a short rotation. These things are immeasurably valuable. Now, will every agency be there? No, certainly not. There are agencies who, for whatever reason, either don’t know about PMF or the fair, or don’t participate in the fair. Also, if you are looking for something outside the DC area, the opportunities are not quite as broad (but they do exist; some agencies headquarter themselves away from DC). “

tip: Prepare a Portfolio for the Job Fair In one of our discussions on GovLoop, a member advised to create a portfolio to bring with you to the job fair. This is a great suggestion, and one you should strongly consider. To prepare yourself, I would recommend asking your advisor or a staff member to help you network with current PMFs and alums of the program that do things in the area you are most interested or tangentially related ones. If you can arrange for informational interviews with them, they can steer you in the right direction. Not only will it help you figure out some does and don’ts but it will give you contacts into agencies that you can use during the job fair stage. The most valuable tip I received was to make a portfolio of my projects/papers/work, resume, transcripts, etc. to bring with me for the job fair. It helped people put abstract concepts with a tangible, finished result of my work. If you start making it as you complete things it takes less effort than it will as you get closer to the fair. Be sure to check out our more extensive Guide to the PMF Job Fair Guide.

Managing the Application Process


Receiving Your Appointment

Congrats! You are now officially a PMF Fellow! Once you have received your appointment, the PMF Coordinator for your agency will update your status online and provide a start date for your fellowship. You will still need to clear a background check and complete your graduate studies to begin your position as a PMF Fellow.

“What should I do before coming to work at my agency? Talk to some people who currently work there. You should target people in the office you might work in, but they might be hesitant to be forthright because their boss is looking to hire you. Also, contact people within the agency in other offices, who might be more honest with you. Among other things, ask about agency culture, inter-office dynamics within the agency, opportunities to collaborate with external Federal agencies.”

If You Don’t Make It

We’d be as disappointed as you! But we’re still committed to helping you break into government. Be sure to check out our list of other government hiring programs: And don’t hesitate to use GovLoop as a place to connect with other potential people who are looking for someone like you to enhance their team.

Let’s Make Sure You Do!

We’re committed to helping you achieve success every step of the way toward becoming a PMF. In order to offer a real-time place to ask your questions, we’ve opened up a forum where you can be in touch with current and former PMFs:

Click Here to Ask Questions Along the Way.



m guide to The Presidential Management Fellows Program

Resources Great Resources for PMF Applicants

OPM’s Assessment Prep Guide PMF Fellow Blog Presidential Management Fellows Program PMF Facebook Page National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) Presidential Management Alumni Group

GovLoop Tools and Resources Be sure to check out all the great resources that GovLoop offers to help you manage PMF the application process: • Connect with former PMF members through our PMF and Alums Group. • Make sure your resume is in top shape by participating in our Rock Your Resume Program • Complete a profile for the GovLoop Mentors Program • Review our Guide to the PMF Job Fair, a critical step to locking in your PMF appointment.

Managing the Application Process


Acknowledgements This guide was compiled by GovLoop Fellow Pat Fiorenza. Another GovLoop Fellow, Tarryn Reddy, also contributed to its creation.. GovLoop would like to extend a special thank you to all those who helped develop this guide. In particular, GovLoop would like to thank Kevin Carter, current PMF at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, for organizing numerous interviews and providing quotes from current and former PMF’s. Thank you to all who participated in Kevin’s interviews. - Hide quoted text Another special thank you too Mandy Wampler for providing GovLoop with a great case study about her experience applying to the PMF program. GovLoop wishes Mandy the best of luck as she starts her PMF appointment at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Finally, GovLoop would like to thank our designer for this guide, Elise Ribeira. Great work, Elise! We couldn’t have done this without you.

GovLoop's Guide to the PMF Program: Managing the Application Process  

Are you thinking about applying for the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) program? Make sure you check out this guide from GovLoop befor...

GovLoop's Guide to the PMF Program: Managing the Application Process  

Are you thinking about applying for the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) program? Make sure you check out this guide from GovLoop befor...