“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. It is possible the “start your engines” phrase for challenging tasks ahead derives from my dad’s metaphorical threats during my undergraduate years at Clemson University. Often, he threatened to drive up in the middle of the night to remove all of the spark plugs from my car because I was not getting enough sleep. I think it was due to my class schedule in combination with one too many campus activities. “If the engine doesn’t fire on all cylinders, it doesn’t work.” Turns out he was quite right. Smart man, that dad of mine. Regardless of the car metaphors, the PMF process is the premier avenue into federal service for graduate and professional level students. The process starts with the Nomination and Application process.
- Secure a nomination from your school’s nomination official (Dean, Program director, etc). As I understand it, there is only one nomination official at each institution. These nominations are competitive and the school usually holds some sort of screening process or selection process for a nomination. Such a process is based on: breadth and quality of accomplishments, capacity for leadership and a commitment to excellence in the leadership and management of public policies and programs (these three qualities are directly from www.pmf.gov, how to apply section).
- Apply to the PMF job vacancy posted on USAJobs.gov. You can complete the application without the nomination, however, it will do you no good. Applications are due no later than 11:59pm on October 15, 2010. Nominations are due no later than 11:59pm on October 31, 2010. If either of these documents are missing from your file in the Application Manager or not turned in by their respective due dates, you will not be given further consideration.
- Roughly 4 weeks after the Nomination deadline, we can expect to receive an email from OPM with instructions on taking on online assessment about life experiences. As far as I can tell this is to determine who has the experience and personality to serve within the PMF functions in the government.
- Success on the online assessment will earn an applicant an invitation to an in person, day long assessment at one of four sites around the country. They are in the cities of Atlanta, Washington (DC), San Francisco and Chicago. If history serves as a guide, this assessment will likely include a logic and reasoning component, a group observation component, and an individual presentation component.
- After the assessment the scores of all the applicants will be compared again, all preferences taken into account, and the “magic” cutoff line will be drawn. Finalists will be notified via a published list on the PMF website and via email.