This post summarizes why and how to apply to the Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF), a prestigious two-year program that allows recent graduate degree recipients to get jobs in the US federal government. It’s widely considered one of the best pathways into policy.

Applications are open annually in late-September. Hundreds of people go through the PMF each year, including many with STEM backgrounds, despite the historically greater numbers of fellows with traditional policy degrees.

If you are interested in applying to the PMF — including if you are still unsure or plan to apply in future years — we strongly encourage you to fill in this form. This will allow us to connect you with others who have gone through the program and potentially connect you with application support resources. 

Summary: Why you should strongly consider PMF

The Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) program is a prestigious, two-year fellowship that places graduate degree holders in US executive branch agencies. Fellows in the program are typically referred to as “PMFs”. Core features of the program include: 

  • PMFs receive good full-time salaries with civil servant-equivalent benefits and are generally promoted each year during the program.
  • PMFs can non-competitively convert to permanent civil service positions after their two years. This is a big deal, as it presents a fast track to highly competitive government jobs and an easy way for agencies to hire a pre-vetted candidate.
  • PMFs can get sponsored for a security clearance.
  • PMFs typically get to rotate to at least one other agency for 3-6 months, which allows them to gain exposure to and connections within multiple parts of the federal government.
  • PMFs receive mentorship and training from advisors outside their chain of command due to the PMF program’s prestige and deep network.
  • PMFs are respected and noticed. People in the policy community expect PMFs to be inquisitive, rising leaders and are happy to answer their emails, take calls, or get coffee.

You can do a wide range of jobs as a PMF. Roles that are regularly advertised on the PMF jobs platform include Policy Analyst, Economist, General Engineer, HR Specialist, Management and Program Analyst, IT Specialist, Operations Research Analyst, International Relations Specialist, and many more. It’s therefore a good potential pathway for people with both STEM and non-STEM degrees and with a wide range of interests, including research, operations, and tech development.

Who is eligible?

The application cycle begins each fall, recently in mid-September. You are eligible to apply if: 

  • You have completed an advanced degree (MS, MA, JD, LLM, PhD, MPA, MPH, MBA, etc.) at an accredited institution (international degrees are subject to review) within the two years prior to the application's opening date (e.g. you can apply in September 2022 so long as you graduated after September 2020); or
  • You will complete your advanced degree by August 31 of the year following the application's opening date (e.g. you can apply in September 2022 if you graduate in or before August 2023).

There is no cap on the number of times you may apply, as long as you meet the eligibility requirements. For example, if you complete an MS and later complete a PhD, you could conceivably apply six times – three for each separate graduate degree.

In recent years, there has not been a requirement to travel for any components of the application. This is expected to continue for the foreseeable future, though is subject to the recruitment planning of the PMF Office.

While you do not strictly need to be a US citizen to apply, you realistically need to be at least a US permanent resident (i.e. have a green card) to become a PMF. In order to be eligible for a PMF appointment, you must have a US work authorization and either be pursuing US citizenship or find an appointment with an agency which is able to hire non-US citizens (though “appointment opportunities…for non-U.S. citizen Finalists are very limited”).[1] Note that most agencies have a preference against hiring non-citizens and those agencies with positions requiring security clearances generally cannot hire non-US citizens. Beyond the PMF, see this post for general information on how non-US citizens may work in US policy.

Why the PMF might be a bad fit for you

There are several reasons why the PMF might not be a good fit for you.

The fellowship presents a great opportunity to enter or test your fit for a policy career, so a lack of interest in exploring or pursuing a career navigating bureaucracies and working in DC would make the PMF much less appealing. While it’s difficult to generalize about required skills since “policy” is such a large and diverse sector, you’re likely a worse fit for policy work – and particularly for work in the executive branch – if you don’t work well with other people and aren’t that socially skilled. Moreover, your relative fit for executive branch work may be lower if you have highly specialized non-policy skills that you can use well in other impactful opportunities (e.g. you are a talented researcher with highly specific domain knowledge).

Most of the PMF’s value comes from accelerating your career into more senior government positions. While some PMFs are fortunate to work on directly impactful projects during their fellowship, you cannot count on that. Those positions which may be directly impactful after one or two years are highly competitive (though applying is cheap!). Consequently, if you would strongly prefer your career to have a large counterfactual direct impact in the short term, the PMF (and most other policy work) may not be the best fit.

The PMF experience

This section describes which executive branch agencies host PMFs, the work PMFs might perform in their jobs, why the PMF is a fast track to a career in government, and the salary and benefits associated with the fellowship.

Which government offices host PMFs?

Government offices must have a PMF coordinator to host a PMF, so the list of PMF coordinators provides a good first answer to this question: in 2022, 44 unique agencies and 148 total sub-agencies had a PMF Coordinator. Most offices advertising PMF appointments (75+%) are in the Washington, D.C. area (including positions in nearby Virginia and Maryland).

Many of the agencies that host PMFs do work highly relevant to all EA cause areas (AI, biosecurity, animal welfare, global health, etc.). Examples include the Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce (e.g. the Bureau of Industry and Security), Department of Defense (e.g. the Defense Threat Reduction Agency), Department of Energy (e.g. the National Nuclear Security Administration), the Department of Health and Human Services (e.g. the CDC, FDA, and NIH), the Department of Labor, the State Department, the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President, NASA, the National Science Foundation, among many others.

Agency / Department

Total Fellows

(‘18, ‘20, ‘21)

          Health and Human Services[2]          

          188          

State

70

Agriculture

52

USAID

37

Treasury

32

Homeland Security

29

Commerce

23

Interior

20

Veterans Affairs

19

Labor

18

Housing and Urban Development

16

Air Force[3]

14

DOD[4]

9

In addition to agencies hosting PMFs for appointments, PMFs are required to do a 3-6 month developmental rotation.[5] This allows you to experience the culture and work of another government office. During this rotation, the appointing agency still pays the personnel costs of the loaned PMF, so fellows can use this opportunity to advertise themselves as “free labor” to the office hosting the rotation. Some PMFs are also able to leverage their experiences on rotation to “reappoint” to a new office, and therefore convert to a permanent civil service position in an office different from the one that originally hired them on as a PMF.[6]

A fellow's appointing agency is the sponsor of their security clearance process. While this means the PMF is an opportunity to obtain a security clearance, an agency visited on rotation will likely not have the time or funds to sponsor a clearance, though this does occasionally happen. If obtaining a clearance will be helpful for your career path or the skills you wish to gain, it is worth noting which agencies/positions involve security clearance sponsorship. Each job application on the Talent Management System (TMS), where finalists view and apply to appointments, explicitly lists the clearance level of the position.

What types of work do you do during your placement? 

PMFs might work in operations, budgeting, policy, data analysis, management, or communications. For instance, fellows could craft health care policy at the CDC; perform a long-term, strategic analysis of military spending for the Secretary of Defense with CAPE; lead the analysis of a particular section of the President's Budget at OMB; or oversee diplomatic relations with a foreign nation as a country desk officer at State.

Some illustrative summaries of jobs that have been posted on the PMF job portal in recent years (for examples of full PMF job postings, see this document).

  • As a Research Analyst with the Treasury Department, a PMF might use statistical models to estimate the impacts of proposed policies on the stability of the US financial system. Roles like this could combine technical research with writing and speaking for audiences such as the Financial Stability Oversight Council or Congress.
  • Working as a Program Analyst for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a PMF could collaborate with numerous interagency stakeholders to develop national cybersecurity policies. This role is an example of an opportunity at a relatively new agency in which a PMF might have greater responsibility than usual, and where you would get to observe a quickly-scaling government agency find its footing.
  • As a Social Science Analyst in the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, a PMF could support the creation of the President's Budget for public health and social services. This role would involve swift analyses and extensive written and oral communication with HHS officials, as well as occasional work with the Office of Management and Budget and Congressional staff.
  • As a Program Analyst with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Operations and Integration Directorate, a PMF could manage programs, contracts, and budgets in support of WMD threat reduction. This position would allow access to developmental opportunities in cooperative threat reduction, arms control treaty verification, or crisis management.
  • As an International Environmental Program Specialist with the Environmental Protection Agency, a PMF might develop better oversight and evaluation mechanisms for the EPA's collaboration with the Taiwan Environmental Protection Administration. This position requires a language proficiency (in this case Mandarin) and would allow you to develop both technical skills (program evaluation, environmental analysis) and foreign policy experience.

Beyond the placements posted on TMS, it is also possible (though not common) to approach any given executive branch agency office and seek to have them create a posting tailored to you if your skills are a good fit for the relevant office. This can lead to excellent opportunities, but you should not count on this succeeding.

The PMF program provides opportunities for both direct impact — if you’re in the right office at the right time — and skill-building. You can also enhance your learning experience through rotations, networking, and associated professional development programs. 

What skills do you get to use and build?

As a management development program for the US government, the PMF program selects for and further develops written and oral communication skills; collaborative abilities, particularly in bureaucratic environments and interagency settings; initiative; and creativity. The program includes an optional but highly encouraged two-year Leadership Development Program, which is aimed at developing Executive Core Qualifications, used to assess candidates for the Senior Executive Service.

Some PMF placements include technical components, and a moderate number of PMFs each year have STEM backgrounds and skills. The table below lists the number of PMFs with different degree backgrounds from previous years. It indicates that STEM students made up about 10% of fellows in 2018, 2020, and 2021; of those, 55% were in biosciences/engineering. Applicants from hard science backgrounds are relatively uncommon.

Degree

Total Fellows 

(‘18, ‘20, ‘21)

          Public Policy/Administration[7]          

          124          

International Studies[8]

120

MPH

63

MBA

51

Law

48

STEM[9]

47

Economics

17

Use caution when interpreting degree counts – they do not directly reflect the likelihood of someone with a given background being accepted as a finalist or fellow. Self-selection is likely a significant factor explaining the reduced presence of fellows with non-policy backgrounds. In particular, the DC area policy schools (e.g. Georgetown, Johns Hopkins SAIS, George Washington, American University, George Mason) have many policy students and provide more support to PMF applicants.

Importantly, not all fellows work in roles related to their degrees. Most available roles are in public policy or administration, and the agencies seeking fellows with particular technical skills vary from year to year.[10] In one year, STEM fellows may see postings with NASA, in other years, the jobs most related to their degrees could be with the Department of Agriculture, the Space Force, or the IRS.

What are the salary and benefits?

PMFs are compensated like the majority of government civil service employees, using the General Schedule (GS) system. Appointments are made at the GS-9, GS-11, or GS-12 levels depending on the job advertised and an applicant's qualifications.[11] Each of these pay bands has multiple steps within it, and the bands are also adjusted for cost of living. Washington, DC, salaries are visible in this table; here are the core stats from the relevant bands:

GS Level

Base Salaries

Washington, DC, Salaries

          GS-9                    $47,097 - $61,227                    $61,947 - $80,532          
GS-11$56,983 - $74,074$74,950 - $97,430
GS-12$68,299 - $88,792 $89,834 - $116,788

Many GS-9 roles require only a master's degree as a qualification; sometimes there are subject matter or credit-hour requirements. GS-11 roles often ask for a master's and one year of experience equivalent to the GS-9 level.[12] Qualifying for many GS-12 roles requires a PhD or a year of experience equivalent to the GS-11 level. Each agency has its own rules about what salary negotiations are allowed. Some automatically appoint fellows to Step 1 within the GS level for which they qualify, while others allow fellows to be appointed at higher steps with higher pay. Most finalists, unless they have prior relevant government service or specialized skills, should expect to be appointed at the GS-9, step 1 level.

PMFs are eligible for promotion after each year of service, with the likelihood of promotion varying by agency and team. The maximum level that PMFs can be promoted to before completing the program is GS-13 (for reference, GS-15 is the top of the GS scale, and GS-13s are typically people with significant decision-making responsibility). As a finalist, it is important to note the “promotion potential” of the target position for your appointment.[13]

Benefits are high-quality and available at government rates. Some positions are eligible for full remote work. Other positions and agencies have a variety of telework (e.g. 50% telework) and return-to-work policies.

Can you stay on in government afterward?

Yes! In fact, you can non-competitively convert to a temporary or permanent position in your agency after completing your fellowship. While not guaranteed, this is very attractive to agencies, and agencies are strongly encouraged by PMF program administrators to allocate a permanent position for fellows. Under normal circumstances, hiring in the executive branch must be competitive. Standard competitive hiring processes consume time and funds and are often a headache for agencies — but with PMFs, agencies can instead simply convert their fellows to fill a role.

This is a bigger deal than you might think. About 85-90% of PMFs are converted to permanent positions in government after completing their fellowship. Within the broader government fellowship world, only the Pathways Programs, including the PMF, Recent Graduates, and Internship programs, have this “non-competitive conversion” feature. The conversion opportunity is a major reason that the PMF is sought after by both applicants and host offices.

Most PMFs who convert do so at their initial host office.[14] But once you are a permanent employee in government, it is often easier to get other roles than when you are applying from the outside (especially if you have a security clearance). So the PMF is helpful for government careers even if you initially end up at an office that isn’t where you’d want to land long-term.

PMFs go on to serve in leadership roles across the executive branch. About 10% of the current members of the Senior Executive Service (the ~8,000 most senior civil servants) are past PMFs. Prominent examples include: 

  • Bonnie Jenkins, the Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, entered government service as a PMF in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Office of Management and Budget (listen to her on the 80,000 Hours podcast).
  • Kathleen Hicks, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, entered government service as a PMF in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
  • Kiersten Todt, Chief of Staff at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, entered government service as a PMF in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
  • Shalanda Young, director of the Office of Management and Budget, entered government service as a PMF in the National Institutes of Health.

Some offices in particular have a history of PMFs in senior leadership roles. As of 2011, "many of the career personnel entered the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy through the presidential management fellows (PMF) program" and "a high percentage of the senior career officials now in OSD Policy were once PMFs".[15]

The PMF program is an opportunity to test a variety of skills and paths; you don’t have to stay in government afterward if the experience is not positive. While some advantages of the program are contingent on completing the PMF (such as non-competitive conversion and counting PMF years of service towards pension benefits), there is no continuing service requirement, unlike Reserve Officers' Training Corps programs, which require at least four years of military service. Many PMFs go on to careers outside of government. (Though note that, as the PMF program guide says, “agencies invest a lot of time and resources” in PMFs so “not completing the 2-year fellowship is seen as unfavorable”).

Becoming a PMF

This section describes the PMF program’s selectiveness, the initial application, and the qualities sought in applicants. It also describes the finalist stage of the application in greater detail, as well as the ways in which the program is relevant for EAs.

How selective is the PMF program?

Over the last five years, roughly 10% of applicants became finalists (first stage), and roughly 60% of finalists became fellows (second stage; see sections below for details on the application process). From the PMF Applicant FAQ and historical data:

Year

Applicants

Finalists

Fellows

          2018          

          –          

          417          

          180          

2019

4000+

351

2020

4900+

402

260

2021

6800+

551

143

2022

8065

1100

297 (ongoing)[16]

After selection as a finalist, you have one year of eligibility to find an appointment, after which you are no longer able to access the Talent Management System (TMS) job board. If a finalist does not find an appointment during that year, they will need to reapply to the whole PMF program if they want to be eligible for finalist jobs the next year (you can reapply as long as you remain eligible for the program[17]).

What does the application process involve?

The current application process has two major components: (1) a brief online application and interview and (2) a finalist stage in which you find and apply for appointments (jobs) at federal agencies. This section focuses on step (1), while later sections focus on step (2).

The online application requires applicants to submit a resume and transcript (both of which are used to verify one's advanced degree status; there is little pressure to submit a high-quality resume at this stage), and to complete an online assessment. The online assessment has three components, all of which are timed. For the 2022 application cycle, these were:

  • a Situational Judgment assessment of 54 multiple-choice questions lasting 60 minutes
  • a Life Experience assessment of 40 multiple-choice questions lasting 30 minutes
  • a Writing Assessment lasting 25 minutes.

There are sample questions available in the 2022 PMF applicant handbook, available here (note that the questions asked in the situational judgment assessment are not necessarily reflective of the workplace situations you will encounter as a PMF). The pace of the online assessments is similar to that of the GRE, particularly for the writing section. Unlike the GRE, the questions are much more personal and situational in nature and require less time to prepare; being familiar with the type of questions, reflecting on past work experiences, and understanding the qualities sought (see next section) will improve your application.

Applications are due around mid-late September every year, after which they are scored, and finalists are announced near the end of November. The scoring process remains opaque and has changed over time; the current initial application is fast and simple compared to prior iterations.

For the 2023 application cycle, the online application will no longer contain a writing element and will be used to select semifinalists rather than finalists. Applicants reaching the semifinalist stage will participate in 30-minute, structured audio interviews, the results of which will be used to select finalists. It’s unclear if this new feature will be retained going forward.

What qualities does the PMF program look for?

The online assessment is designed to find evidence of flexibility, integrity, interpersonal skills, public service motivation, problem-solving, and written communication competencies. What the PMF program means by these skills is described in more detail in the PMF applicant handbook

It’s notable that PMFs disproportionately tend to come from DC schools (see table below). To some extent, this is because people interested in government tend to study in DC. However, coaching also likely plays a role; the career service offices of DC-based graduate schools are very active in promoting the PMF program and have experience with guiding students and alums through the process.

University (including law schools)[18]

Total Fellows

(‘18, ‘20, ‘21)     

Georgetown University (DC-based)

39

          Johns Hopkins University, SAIS (DC-based)          

          39          

George Washington University (DC-based)

32

Emory University 

24

Columbia University 

24

American University (DC-based)

23

University of Michigan

19

Harvard University 

19

Tufts University 

18

Princeton University 

17

University of Maryland

15

UC Berkeley

12

Yale University 

12

George Mason University (DC-based)

10

Whether or not you went to graduate school in DC, we recommend checking with your university’s career office to see if they can offer support for your PMF application. We also encourage you to fill out this form if you would like us to connect you with people who went through the PMF application previously.

After reaching the finalist stage, you will have to apply to specific agency jobs that each in turn have their own requirements, most of which will be much more specific than the general PMF requirements.

How does the “finalist” stage work?

Once selected as a finalist, you receive access to a job board through the Talent Management System (TMS). This access will last for one year; after you lose access, you can no longer apply for PMF appointments. Jobs are often posted for two weeks, but there is no minimum time they are required to be visible (anecdotally, some posts may be active for as little as one day). There is also a hiring fair in the spring during which finalists meet with hiring managers from varying agencies.[19]

Applications are sometimes just a resume (though this might be a more detailed resume than you would submit to industry[20]). Sometimes a cover letter is requested. Additional forms for veterans’ preference and disability accommodation are required if applicable. But generally, applications are not too cumbersome.

Following application submission, finalists are contacted for interview(s) in a manner chosen by each agency. This process can be slow. In 2022, finalists were told to expect a one-month turnaround between applications closing and interviews starting. Anecdotally, this process stretched out for as long as two months (due to a combination of 100-200 applications for each position, veterans’ preference, and other factors).

Following interviews, agencies make a conditional offer to selected finalists. At this time, finalists can negotiate a suite of (agency-dependent) questions: GS grade and step, start date, relocation expenses, telework / remote work, and other items. After a finalist accepts a conditional offer, the background check/security clearance process can begin, and after the background/clearance process is complete, a finalist will onboard at the appointing agency.[21]

Looming over the finalist stage is the risk of “expiration”: getting to the end of your 12 months as a PMF finalist without having secured an appointment. As noted above, about 60% of finalists secure positions (though not all finalists apply to a wide range of positions, so your odds of matching may in reality be somewhat higher[22]). This means you have to navigate the finalist process strategically. Many finalists choose to be selective in the first few months and gradually cast a wider net as time goes on. Other considerations, such as when during the cycle specific agencies usually post most of their jobs[23], also come into play depending on your target role and office. If you become a finalist, you’ll want to get in touch with previous PMFs to make sure you can navigate this process as efficiently as possible. 

Can I match at an office that does EA-relevant work?

Quite possibly! Available opportunities may be useful both for direct work and skill-building on EA-related causes. Not all offices hire every year, and each applicant may bring different priorities for direct work. These factors, along with general uncertainties in hiring processes, make it uncertain to what degree one can expect to do high-leverage direct work in a cause area of choice. 

However, in most roles, there will be ample opportunities for skill-building or testing fit in one or more aptitudes. Additionally, one can often move laterally within or between agencies towards more relevant direct work — either during the PMF via a rotation or reappointment, or after program completion via taking a different government job.

You can do direct work in a number of areas, including global development, biosecurity, animal welfare, and AI policy. For example: 

These examples are by no means exhaustive; they are simply meant to illustrate the variety of EA-relevant offices that you can work at as a PMF (and a civil servant more broadly). If you apply for and are accepted into the PMF program, get in touch with other EAs who work in policy to discuss your options in more detail. 

It is worth emphasizing again that the PMF program is an excellent entry point into government. Once established as a civil servant, it is not uncommon to move departments/agencies as your career advances, allowing you many future EA-relevant opportunities for impact.[24]

Conclusion

The Presidential Management Fellowship is a well-respected opportunity for graduate degree-holders interested in testing their policy fit and building relevant skills. It is an excellent entry to working in the US government and can lead to senior leadership roles in a variety of executive branch agencies. The application process is simple, and repeat applications are possible; upon reaching the finalist stage, applicants enter a fairly standard job application process in which they have a good chance of finding an appointment. The roles available are varied, and rotations to different agencies allow fellows to gain multiple perspectives and skill sets relevant to a career as a civil servant or outside government. If you are interested but unsure about whether to apply, go for it!

If you are interested in applying and want to talk to program alums or receive other kinds of application support or policy careers advice, you can fill out this brief form.

Appendix: Other US policy fellowships

Are you looking for opportunities to pivot into or accelerate your policy career? If so, check out this database of EA-relevant US policy fellowships. It includes opportunities for people from various backgrounds (STEM, social sciences, etc.) and career levels (undergrad to mid-career). The database allows you to filter by cause area, degree requirements, location, and more. 

If you are eligible for the PMF, please also consider these fellowships:

  1. ^

    Also, non-citizen PMFs are not eligible for all the PMF’s benefits: For instance, "If a non-U.S. citizen Finalist is appointed as a PMF by a Federal agency and does not possess full U.S. citizenship or status as a U.S. national by the conclusion of the two-year PMF fellowship, that Fellow cannot be converted to permanent career or career-conditional employment, including conversion to a term appointment (5 CFR Part 7, §7.3)."

  2. ^

    Breakdown by major sub-agencies:
    1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): 83 fellows
    2. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS): 47 fellows
    3. National Institutes of Health (NIH): 30
    4. Office of the Secretary: 16

  3. ^

    This is the “Department of the Air Force”, which includes the US Space Force, an active user of the PMF program.

  4. ^

    All but two with the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD).

  5. ^

    Rotations can be internal to the agency appointing a PMF (e.g. with another office in that agency), or external to the appointing agency/department. Policies differ by agency, but most agencies allow PMFs to rotate externally for the minimum duration of three months. Some agencies require PMFs to rotate internally, and some offer PMFs a mix of internal and external rotations. Rotations may be set up at nearly any federal agency (This includes all executive branch agencies, regardless of their having a PMF Coordinator. Legislative or judicial agency rotations, such as with Congressional committees, are also possible). Some agencies allow additional rotations of 1-6 months; the State department requires two rotations.

  6. ^

    This is a reason to put serious thought into rotations early on. A PMF who appoints with one agency in a less-than-ideal role may be able to move laterally into a much better role.

  7. ^

    Including Public Policy, Public Affairs, and MPAs.

  8. ^

    Including International Development, Global Affairs, Area Studies, and Security Studies.

  9. ^

    Biosciences/engineering and epidemiology accounted for 26 fellows in the ‘18, ‘20, and ‘21 cohorts; Sciences (not biology-related), CS, Math, Engineering (excluding bioengineering) accounted for the remaining 21 fellows.

  10. ^

    Some agencies participate most years, while others hire every other year, or even less frequently.

  11. ^

    Why is GS-10 missing? In mid-level positions, employees often advance two grades at a time, skipping from GS-7 to GS-9 to GS-11, before resuming single-step grade increases.

  12. ^

    Usually, more than one year of relevant experience is necessary to qualify for a GS-11 role, as having one year of experience at the GS-9 level for a particular position is difficult to demonstrate without having held that specific role.

  13. ^

    It is worth asking explicitly about promotion potential when interviewing for a role; some fellows can miss promotions due to mis- or uncommunicated promotion potential information.

  14. ^

    PMFs can “reappoint” (or transfer) from their initial appointing agency to another agency, including the one at which they do a rotation. Most PMFs converting outside their home office do so at their rotation office; this can make rotation offices quite important for finding permanent positions if one is not available (or desired) at a PMF's home office.

  15. ^

    The National Security Enterprise: Navigating the Labyrinth (p.109). Edited by Harvey Rishikof, Roger Z. George. United States, Georgetown University Press, 2017.

  16. ^

    As of 8/8/2022. Note that eligibility for the Class of 2022 is extended through February 3, 2023.

  17. ^

    Though note that if, for example, a Class of 2022 finalist reapplies in September 2022 for the Class of 2023, they are immediately removed from the pool of 2022 finalists.

  18. ^

    Schools with at least 10 finalists over the years 2018, 2020, and 2021. 

  19. ^

    During 2021, this occurred in late March; in 2022, the Hiring Fair occurred in early May. Both of these hiring fairs were virtual.

  20. ^

    A "federal resume", which looks more like a CV with additional facts, exposition, and formatting (see this sample), is sometimes required or recommended. However, a standard two-page resume is often acceptable. When in doubt, you can check with the PMF Coordinator at any agency regarding the type of resume they desire.

  21. ^

    Usually this process needs to be complete before the year of finalist eligibility expires, but if you are in-process with an agency, the agency can request extensions to your eligibility in 120-day increments until either you are onboarded or you exit the PMF program without securing a position.

  22. ^

    Some PMF finalists only want to work at a specific agency. For example, many foreign policy graduates in DC only want to work at State or Defense (two of the most competitive departments), and they will not apply to other positions. If you cast a wider net as a finalist, your odds of success are likely higher than 60%.

  23. ^

    For example, the CDC and OMB have historically preferred to hire in one large push early in this process, usually calling for applications in December, while other agencies such as the State Department post jobs as they become available.

  24. ^

    Civil servants desiring to work on a specific problem and/or to gain increasing responsibility may move jobs as frequently as every two years.

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1 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 3:12 PM

Having helped several through their PMF process and as someone who studied and worked in the International Affairs field, I really appreciate this post. Thank you for all of the thought and time that went into the post, and for your support and encouragement for those who might apply!  

Relatedly, as one of the EA DC organizers: If anyone is contemplating a move to DC -- I am always happy to talk about life in DC and/or EA policy work more generally. Feel free to send me an email, add me, connect, or schedule a time to chat.