Workforce

Management fellowship program strives to demystify application process

For 35 years, the Presidential Management Fellowship Program has been the federal government’s flagship program to cultivate a cadre of young, public-sector leaders. For equally as long, the application process has been somewhat of a mystery, but a newly launched website attempts to change that.

Created in 1977 by an executive order, the PMF has served as a stepping stone for students of advanced graduate degree programs to embark on a public-service career. Although the program attracts and selects the best candidates possible, its focus is on cultivating a core of potential government leaders

The application process has “traditionally been one of those things out there no one knew about -- a black box,” said Bo Kemper, executive director of the Robertson Foundation for Government, a nonprofit that focuses on identifying, educating, and motivating top U.S. graduate students to pursue federal government careers.

Presidential Management Fellows logoThe foundation set out to shed some light on the nuts and bolts of the application process and create an online resource for candidates. After teaming up with social networking site GovLoop and working for a few months, the organizations launched PathtoPMF.com as an interactive go-to guide for those in the various stages of the PMF process.

The website offers various resources for applicants, and considers the many ways media can be consumed, whether it’s a PDF guide, a video or a blog. The Managing the Application Process Guide provides advice based on video and podcast interviews with more than 60 current and past PMFs, nearly a dozen career advisers, and several federal agency program coordinators.

Prospects can also use discussion forums to ask questions and support others throughout the application process or peruse analysis from historical data on popular graduate degrees, top universities, and top hiring agencies.

“We’ve helped a lot of people navigate the process, and the goal is to reach out to more of the best and brightest so they can join government,” said Steve Ressler, founder and president of GovLoop. Since its Sept. 24 launch, the website has had more than 1,000 visitors and 100 downloads of the application process guide, he said.

Previous years each attracted around 10,000 applicants, but thanks to changes in eligibility requirements this year “we could see close to 30,000 applicants,” Ressler said.

Those interested in PMF will soon get a chance to apply to the Class of 2013: The application period opens Nov. 5 and closes Nov. 19. Need a hand in getting started with the application process? Check out the Top 4 Tips for Completing Your Application.

About the Author

Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.

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