Follow up after the career fair with all the agencies that impressed you. Continue being diligent as long as necessary. If you are not called back for any interviews, get on the phone or computer and be in touch with all the agencies that are still posting positions for which you are qualified.
“This was the hardest part of the whole process. It took me five or six months to secure a position. I was named a finalist in March and then it was August before I accepted my position. I went to graduate school right out of undergrad so I was lacking full time work experience, which made me very anxious. I was having phone interviews and either wasn’t liking the positions I was offered or wasn’t getting the positions that I did like, so it was very anxiety provoking. There was a sense amongst my friends and I that once we became finalists, the hard work is over, and that is definitely not the case. I would say that the hard work is just beginning.
You have to be really patient and not start stressing until December. It’s hard to not have a job for that long but federal government hiring managers are working on a different timeline than the job seeker. So try to find some part-time work between grad school and a PMF position. I know several people who were offered positions in early summer, but I was volunteering and asked ‘can I start in November?’ Be patient. Positions will open up!”
- Kaleigh Emerson, PMF Class of 2010, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
How long does it take to find a PMF job?
Anywhere from a few days after an interview, right up to the one year mark, with a majority of offers coming two to three months after an interview.
What advice do you have for those who are having trouble finding a PMF job?
Be open to all different agencies, not just the most popular/famous ones. It is often better to be a big fish in a small pond then a small fish in a big pond.
What if I have trouble finding a job?
“I was not placed for ten months, during which time I turned down three offers (and was not chosen for many more) before taking my final (dream!) job. Stay positive and remember that the right job is worth the wait!”
- Jessica Cagley, PMF Class of 2010, U.S. Agency for International Development
“My advice to new and future PMFs is: if you have a place or an issue area you know you want to work on, and they don’t have an advertised opening, it may be because they don’t know about the program. In addition to what vacancies people put post, it doesn’t hurt to also research and explore and interview at other agencies and then tell them about the PMF program.”
- Bev Godwin, PMF Class 1982, GSA
“If you are 3-6 months into the process and not finding a position, it may be important to look at whether you are you being too narrow in your search. Are you ruling out jobs that would develop solid transferrable skills but not in your preferred agency? Are you thinking you need the perfect job from your first PMF appointment? Budget, human resources, and project management skills are portable from agency to agency and foundational skills for leaders. Most PMFs will tell you that the program is about access. Get into an agency, focus on skill development, and maximize the rotation and leadership development opportunities to network, explore, and position yourself for work in a preferred agency or office.”
- Jennifer Niggemeier, Director of Graduate Career Services & Alumni Relations, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
How do I determine what location is right for me?
“The only aspect that people have to appreciate is that in government the headquarters and the field are two different atmospheres and they have to appreciate that if they are not at headquarters, they are in a different realm. Sometimes at headquarters, they have higher pay or higher grade levels than in the field. Ultimately, if you really want to work with people, being in the field is more rewarding than just being in the office and talking about policy.”
-Robert Weisberg, PMF Class of 2001, Department of Housing and Urban Development
“After having been through my PMF experience, I would recommend that people try to be in DC. That’s where the most networking opportunities are, where the training and all the mentoring takes place. If you want to go to a regional office after your two years in PMF, you can do it, but I would recommend spending those two years in DC or at least at a headquarters office. For instance, CDC is in Atlanta…so DC or headquarters.”
- Kaleigh Emerson, PMF Class 2010, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
“The agency’s location wasn’t as important as the opportunity to travel was. I asked about this in my interviews.”
- PMF Class of 1998
“I hoped to be in DC but I was willing to take almost any agency. It is better to get in as a PMF and learn from your initial position even if it is not a perfect fit. You can often transfer either within your agency or even to another agency as a PMF.”
- PMF Class of 2011
“Location and agency were a big concern. I ended up in DC even though I was trying to find placements elsewhere.”
- PMF Class of 2011
“For those who do not particularly want to live in DC, I still highly recommend spending the 2 years of the PMF in Washington. In agencies with numerous PMFs, the rotation process, promotion process, and networking go more smoothly. Also, the PMF community is much more active in DC. These benefits are invaluable, and can help you transition out of DC into a job/location you are interested in long-term. Rotations out of DC can also help with that transition.”
- PMF Class of 2008
After You’ve Nailed Down Your Appointment
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.
Other than that, it looks like you made it. Well done!
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