Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2011 PMF In-Person Assessment: Open Thread

[Also posted here]

Now that the 2011 Presidential Management Fellows semifinalists have been chosen and the PMF Program Office has posted the list, it's time to think about the next hurdle, the in-person assessment. 1530 people (congratulations to you!) will convoke in four cities around the country between mid-January and late-February for a day-long assessment that includes an individual presentation, a group exercise, and a proctored writing exercise.

This post, and the comment thread, can be used to share assessment preparation tips as well as general tips on navigating the cities in question, so hotel recommendations, flight options, eateries, and in-city transit means are up for discussion. If you would kindly indicate at the beginning of any city-specific information comments which city you are talking about, that would be helpful for people scanning through the comments.

A note on assessment tips: Let's do our best to preserve the integrity of the assessment process, at least during the assessment window. If, after the assessment window closes, you wish to share your experience in more detail for future applicants, I heartily invite you to do so. Remember that while this assessment window is open, you are effectively competing with one another; plan your strategy accordingly, especially if people start sharing detailed experiences. This, in fact, is the one major drawback I see to conducting this style of assessment: information provided by early testers may have an impact on the results of later testers. Note that this thread can also serve as a place to discuss the merits and drawbacks of an in-person assessment.

Please share with us your plans for the assessment: time and location you've selected, preparation tips or guides you think might be helpful, and thoughts on the process so far.

Monday, December 20, 2010

2011 PMF Semifinalists

Word is that some of the nominees have begun receiving notifications of results indicating they made it to the semifinalist round. At the time of this posting, the list has not been provided, but given the volume of notices (both positive and negative), the notifications could take a while. Stay tuned.

Update 3:48 PM GMT via the PMF Program Office's Facebook page:

The PMF Program Office started sending the notice of results for all nominees in the PMF Class of 2011 on whether or not selected as semi-finalists on Monday, December 20, 2010. Due to large volume of notifications, it may take a couple days before they are delivered. Once the official list of semi-finalists is ready, a copy will be posted to the PMF website. Thank you!

So if you haven't heard anything yet, positive or negative, hang in there!

Update #2 7:38 PM GMT

The PMF Program Office has released the official list of 2011 PMF semifinalists. As usual, I will back this file up to analyze later. Anyway, congratulations to the 1530 nominees who made it through. The online assessment was the most selective of the hurdles, discarding about 80% of the nominees. The next steps will be far less selective, though potentially no less challenging. Take a breath and get ready for the next sprint.

For those that didn't make it, there's probably not much I can offer in the way of consolation. I realize the assessment seems arbitrary, and in a way it probably is. But there are other ways into federal service, so if you are passionate about serving, don't give up!

[Also on GovLoop here.]

Friday, December 17, 2010

New PMF Site

[Cross-posted to GovLoop here].

After months of waiting, the new PMF site has been released. Thematically, it's an improvement over the old site, but I haven't yet had a chance to dig into it to see if the information is better organized.

What do you all think of it? Can you find things you're looking for easier?

2011 PMF Semi-Finalists and In-Person Assessment: Open Thread

[Cross-posted to GovLoop here]

No, the semi-finalist list is not out (to my knowledge). Once it does come out, I'm sure most of you will know before I do. (Nor, as an aside, has the PMF site finally cleared what I assume is legal review for publishing). This post can serve as an open thread for anyone who wants to share the good or bad news, once it arrives.

In the mean time, however, we can discuss the in-person assessment a bit. A commenter in a previous thread pointed me to a document proposed to (but not, apparently, published by) the Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCO) Council regarding the administration of the in-person assessment (warning: PDF). Based on other information I have seen, the document appears to cover the breakdown of the in-person assessments, anticipating the number of semi-finalists that are expected at each of the assessment centers. Of particular note is the anticipated number of semi-finalists: 1500. Of the over 9100 applicants and 7400 ultimately nominated, the PMF Program Office intends to invite around 1500 semi-finalists to the in-person assessments. For those interested in graphing this, that's: 82% of applicants become nominees; and 20% of nominees (or 16% of applicants) will be chosen as semi-finalists. Further, the PMF Program Office indicates that about 750-800 semi-finalists will advance to finalist status (as a percentage of applicants, that's 8.2-8.7%; as a percentage of nominees, that's 10-10.7%; and as a percentage of semi-finalists, that's 50-53%). Historically, agencies have been able to absorb maybe half of the finalists, depending on demand. It's a useful approximation here, but given the state of the economy and the political climate toward federal employees right now, it's anyone's guess as to how this will play out in 2011. If we take the historical rate, then, an applicant has about a 1-in-25 shot at landing a position; a nominee improves to 1-in-20; and a semi-finalist improves to 1-in-4. Put another way, the program selects only about 4-5% of its applicants, which is pretty competitive (but you knew this, right?)

Now back to the in-person assessment. The locations (which were apparently polled preferentially) are:
  • Washington, DC
  • Chicago, IL
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Atlanta, GA

(According to the document) The assessment is a one-day, day-long assessment before a three member panel (comprised of an OPM official, an official from another agency, and a current or former PMF), and it will require semi-finalists to prepare and deliver an individual presentation, participate in a group exercise, and deliver a proctored writing assessment. The assessments will be spread out over approximately three weeks, so you will have a time window in which to schedule the assessment.

What do you think of this format? The assessment locations? When/where would you plan (or are you planning) to take the in-person assessment? And finally, is this process something in which you would expect to participate next year (or thereafter), should you become a finalist and find an appointment?

Friday, November 19, 2010

PMF Nominations

[Crossposted to GovLoop here]

The list of 2011 PMF nominations came out a couple of days ago. I've been too busy to do more than glance over the list, but figured I would point out the stats from the top. Of the over 9100 applicants, 7482 were nominated by their schools.

Next week, from what I hear, nominees will begin taking the online assessments. I am interested in what you all think of the assessment, bearing in mind you probably don't have any previous PMF assessments with which you can compare. Also, we don't want to run the risk of exposing too much information (the PMF Program Office gets really touchy about that).

Since the PMF Program Office will eventually remove the nominees list, I have placed it where you can always access it: click here.

Let me know if you have any trouble getting to it.

Friday, October 22, 2010

2011 PMF Assessment Preparation: Open Thread

The PMF application period for 2011 is closed, although schools still have until October 31 to send in nomination forms. As of 10/22/2010, over 9100 applications had been received (not all of these will turn into nominations). That's a 4.5% increase over last year's figures (8700).

Now that the application period has closed, it's open season for assessment preparation. I am intending that this article be used to gather materials and resources to help people prepare for the assessment process.

This year's program brings with it some adjustments to the assessment process. In prior years, the assessment was a one-step process consisting of a proctored exam with three sections: 1) Critical Thinking (like a logic test), 2) Life Experience, and 3) Writing (wherein the tester is given some passages to revise and some grammar questions). This year, the assessment apparently has been broken up into two phases, an online (unproctored) exam and an in-person interview phase (though I need some confirmation of this). Further, online assessment has been altered to a new format and now consists of the following parts (described more fully below): 1) Situational Judgment, 2) Life Experience, and 3) Writing Sample. The combination of these changes represents a larger shift in methodology for the PMF program, at least in my short history with it. I will leave it to my audience to speculate on the impact of these changes to the rigor and prestige of the program, as well as its ability to meet some stated goals (diversity, namely). First let's look at what the assessment restructuring looks like. Since I don't have any additional information yet, I am drawing this from the contents of the PMF Program Office's latest preparation guide.

  • Situational Judgment: These questions pose scenarios drawn from real-life situations that a PMF may encounter on the job and asks the tester to select a response from the given choices. The response is supposed to be what the tester would actually do in the given scenario, not what he/she thinks the right answer should be. The preparation guide gives some sample questions that presumably prepare one for the kinds of things that appear on the actual test. No special knowledge is needed to succeed on this portion.
  • Life Experience: This is not different from the same portion in previous years. Like the previous section, there is not really a set of right or wrong answers, so you are encouraged to be honest about your experiences here. Again the sample questions provide an indication of what to expect.
  • Writing Sample: The final section is the writing sample. This has not appeared in the last few assessment cycles, so I couldn't say whether or not it's ever been included. Instead of presenting the tester with passages in need of correction, this year testers are expected to write on a given topic. The writing sample assessment concentrates on written communication skills; consequently, testers will be judged on clarity of writing, coherence and organization of ideas, and proper use of grammar. As far as I can tell, the actual content is not graded (I could be wrong).
The second phase consists of in-person interviews, presumably for those who have achieved some minimum score. I need confirmation of this, so if you can point to any information on it, let me know. Until I have such confirmation, everything I write about the interview is highly speculative. Also, having never been through this particular interview, I could only guess at its structure. It has analogs in other programs (United Nations National Competitive Recruitment Exam and the Foreign Service Officer Test come to mind), but I simply don't know enough about the PMF version to provide meaningful advice.

Since the format is greatly altered this year, materials that were helpful in previous years may have limited utility this year. Specifically, the shift from the Critical Thinking assessment to the Situational Judgment assessment means that guides like the DHS Manual of Job Related Thinking Skills is probably no longer suitable. Does anyone know of other exams that have sections comparable to the Situational Judgment assessment? Any other materials you'd like to share? Comments are always welcome.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

PMF Info on GovLoop

Effective immediately, I will begin crossposting the PMF Info blog on GovLoop.  

What this means for those of you who follow the blog is that there will be two places to engage in conversation, but it also creates an interesting privacy situation for you to navigate.  To the extent possible, I will preserve your anonymity on the PMF Info blog, but you may have no such guarantees on GovLoop unless you have taken steps yourself to ensure your privacy there.  

What this means for PMF Info is greater exposure to audiences that are already potentially interested in issues surrounding the PMF program, as well as a larger network of people that might be able and willing to help answer some of the questions I pose (especially around analyzing nominee and finalist data).  

Please feel free to engage in conversations wherever you feel most comfortable, and with any luck, together we can build a community around useful and timely information regarding this program.

I will be looking for ways in the near future to keep tabs on active conversations spanning both sites without sacrificing anyone's expectations of privacy, so stay tuned!  

Latest Comments on GovLoop

Friday, October 1, 2010

2011 PMF Program Application: Open Thread

The PMF Program Office is now accepting applications for the 2011 Presidential Management Fellows Program.

The application and its instructions are here:

If you have applied, are applying, or are planning to apply, and you want to discuss the process or ask questions, consider this an open thread.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

PMF Community Roundup

[Updated 9/29/2010] Perhaps you've found some of them already, but a number of Presidential Management Fellows communities have emerged as different social networks reach maturity. I'm probably preaching to the choir about the power of social networks within a cadre that is, by semi-official estimates, only about 7,000 strong in its entire history, but in case you aren't sold, let me just point out that PMFs share an experience that is capable of transcending agency boundaries, and these networks can help us harness that spirit, hopefully for the improvement of the Civil Service.

This post will attempt a comprehensive listing of such communities. I am purposefully excluding mere websites that include information about the program, because the emphasis is on connecting with others. I will, however, list out all of the blogs, pages, groups, and other networking tools run by or in support of agency-specific, school-specific, or other demographically specific PMFs. If you encounter anything I've missed, or have started your own community somewhere, leave a comment and let us know!

A quick note on criteria: If I didn't already know of a group, and it was not submitted as a comment on this post, then I found it in one of two ways. Either I searched on Google (and found it somewhere on the first page of results; I don't have a great deal of time to dig for hidden treasures here), or I searched directly on likely networks. If the community has few members and/or doesn't seem to be providing value (is demographically restricted AND walled off, for instance), then I am probably excluding them here. I am open to persuasion, however, so if you want your community profiled here, and I've excluded it, make your case. In any event, you can simply include it in the comments, since I won't remove those unless you're a spambot.


Perhaps because Facebook makes it pretty easy to set up Group and Fan pages, plenty have chosen to make PMF-themed Group and Fan pages.


Quite a bit fewer results turned up on LinkedIn, probably because LinkedIn is much smaller than Facebook and more narrowly focused.


Not much to see on Twitter yet. Aside from yours truly (@pmfellow), you can do a search for PMF or Presidential Management.

Yahoo! Groups

Yahoo! Groups have been around a while, and it totally shows. My search turned up 9 usable results, but I don't doubt there are some other groups lurking out there. The frustrating thing about Yahoo! Groups, and the reason I rarely use them, is that the membership restrictions are, well, too restrictive. Oh, and there's the fact that you have to have a Yahoo! email address. Anyway, here's a certainly not comprehensive list of what I found there.


GovLoop isn't as mature as the other networks, and its subsequent lack of niche groups is either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. I was only able to find 2 groups.


These are the hardest to track down. I had to wade through numerous Google results gathered with a variety of different search terms, and even so I was left with many blogs that either mentioned the PMF only in passing or were talking about something completely unrelated. What I was looking for with blogs was information similar to what can be found here. The blogs in question do not have to be devoted to PMF, but I would like to gather as many perspectives as possible, especially from those who are in various stages of Fellowship, from finalist to graduate (or beyond). If you know if a resource I am missing, let me know.
  • Courtney Fong's PMF Assessment Blog: Courtney, if I recall, was class of 2006, and she keeps a blog similar to this one about PMF happenings.
  • Aaron Helton's PMF Postings: Aaron is a class of 2009 PMF, and although his blog seems to be dead now (and not accepting comments), there is a good deal of information out there. I hope to replicate some of it here.
  • Pete Ruscitti's PMF Papers: Pete is a 2011 PMF hopeful who is chronicling his journey through the process, so you might find some good information there as well.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Where is it?

I'm sure I'm not the only one wondering where the snazzy new website is. September 15 has come and gone, and there's no word of the new site, which I assumed was supposed to coincide with this year's PMF program announcement. Has anyone else heard anything?

[Update 9/27/2010 - The new PMF website is apparently stuck in legal review and will be available in time for the launch of this year's program, which is now reported to be 1 October. Eric Brown, the PMF Program Manager, posted a blog entry on the Disability blog hosted at Gov Delivery, outlining the application process for this year.]

Thursday, August 12, 2010

PMF Success Stories

This just arrived in my inbox today. In conjunction with the new site launch, the PMF program is going to highlight what it calls "PMF Success Stories," the experiences of current PMFs with remarkable stories. The full text of the email is below (with identifying details redacted, of course). The question to the community is whether this is something that would be useful for any of you who are looking to apply or who are still looking for appointments?

Dear [Redacted],

The PMF Program will soon launch a new program website ( The homepage will include a section entitled “Highlights” and will randomly show a program highlight or success story, and photo of a current/former PMF.

We would like to hear from current and former PMFs who can share a remarkable PMF experience or success story so we can prepare your postings for when the new website launches (scheduled for September 15, 2010).

All submissions will need a release form (see attached) filled out and submitted to the PMF Program Office.

Please follow these instructions for your submission:

1. Send an email to [redacted] with the subject of “Highlights”, to include the following:
a. Your first and last name
b. PMF Class Year
c. Agency/Sub-Agency
d. A couple paragraphs of your program highlight/success story
2. Attach a graphic of your photo or a graphic related to the posting
3. Attach a signed release form or fax it to [redacted]

All entries will be reviewed, and potentially edited for space, prior to posting. If you have any questions please reply to this email.

We look forward to hearing from you and showcasing your experience on the PMF website!


PMF Program Manager

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Define Presidential: A Contest

The PMF Program Office is looking for suggestions from current PMFs about the meaning of "Presidential" in Presidential Management Fellows. They are accepting 60 second videos starting August 9, and the deadline to get them in is August 31. The terms are available on a special new portion of the web site, which also has an updated URL:

Videos will be judged on clarity, content, and style, and must be uploaded to YouTube.

Putting aside the idea of a video contest, there's the whole question of what it means to be "Presidential" in the first place with respect to such a program. Since most of my visitors are prospective PMFers, you'll undoubtedly have your own concept of what this means, so I am certainly interested in what it means to you. As a current PMF, I have my own ideas about this, and amazingly (or not), it's not just about how we PMFs perceive ourselves. Tied up in all of this, though, are issues of prestige, rigor and exclusivity getting into the program, treatment of PMFs at the hands of agencies, and the expectations of PMFs with respect to the program requirements, both from the PMF Program Office and from the agencies in which PMFs serve. There are also perceptions that the PMF program has lost its way over the years, failing to reach a diverse enough audience and allowing agencies to treat PMFs as yet another expedited hiring authority (i.e., another way to avoid the burdens of Veteran's Preference, which applies in a slightly different way in the PMF program).

Simply put, I doubt I could fit in 60 seconds what presidential means, because it has so many other dependencies. What do you think?

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Rumors suggest a new PMF web site is in the works (about time). Any bets on what it will look like? What kind of functionality do you want to see on it?

[Update 8/12/2010 - Confirmation arrived in my inbox about the date of the new website launch. It is scheduled for September 15, 2010. It will also sport the new URL:]

Friday, July 9, 2010

PMF Reinvigoration Begins...

...or does it?

Today, OPM directory John Berry released a memorandum to the Chief Human Capital Officers Council (CHCOC) announcing a program to "reinvigorate the PMF Program" by forming what he calls "power packs." These are intended to be small teams of people on what looks like continuous rotation to achieve its five goals, one of which is otherwise newsworthy for those of you who are considering a 2011 bid.

The power packs will work on the following goals:
  1. Increase outreach to deepen and broaden the PMF applicant pool.
  2. Revamp future orientation sessions.
  3. Develop a job-matching process to connect Finalists to jobs.
  4. Reenergize the PMF Alumni Program.
  5. Plan and execute the assessment center interviews that are being restored for the Class of 2011.

OPM plans to post announcements to fill these "power packs" via the PMF web site, so presumably any PMFs who are interested could have some say in how future PMFs are recruited and interviewed, and how current and former PMFs are treated. Tellingly, these are projected to be four month assignments, which means that OPM intends for them to serve as developmental assignments for purposes of the PMF program.

Some of these activities are long overdue, but there is still no mention of one of the most visible signals of change: the horribly outdated PMF web site. Perhaps I am being too picky and should just take what I can get, but it seems to me that if you want to signal change badly enough, you ought to start with your most visible asset. But enough ranting. There are other items of note in this memorandum. Let's go through these goals one by one.

Outreach: The PMF program has long been viewed as fairly homogeneous, in terms of the kinds of schools it draws from (rich, East Coast schools), the fields most commonly represented (Law and Public Policy), and even its racial makeup (mostly white). It has drawn criticism for this lack of diversity in the past, whether it is deserved or not; think, for instance, what percentage of minorities end up ever getting a graduate degree and thus qualifying for PMF, much less if they went to a Midwest school and studied Business Administration. I will be interested to see what the power packs come up with to address this. It is potentially one of the best ideas in the list.

Orientation: While I don't expect to ever see the data that motivated this goal, it strikes me as one of those easy checkmarks. Without rigorous methodology, it's project padding, something to point to as a success in case any/all of the other goals fail to meet expectations. I could be wrong, though. It is quite possible that the PMF Program Office, having developed a survey tool (which I used after the orientation I attended) and having collected quantifiable feedback, will be able to objectively define and measure success.

Job Matching: This one elicits mixed feelings. A good number of PMF appointments never involve the Projected Position System, but I don't know if that can be blamed on the PPS or something else, like regulations. In short, I am neutral on this, but leaning ever so slightly to the positive side. If it means an update to the web site, I'm sold.

Alumni: For current and former PMFs, this is welcome news. At least, if it's what it sounds like. Quite WHY the PMF Program Office has left its alumni to languish on crappy Yahoo! groups is beyond me. If this means we get an officially sanctioned community, count me in. That doesn't mean this blog will go away, of course, because sometimes anonymity is the best option.

Interviews: I have heard that in the history of the program, interviews were part of the PMF application process. They were done away with to save money, but surprisingly led to a decrease in program prestige (I don't know what that means even). It looks like they are bringing back some form of interviews, which in the least should increase the rigor of selection, though I have no idea what impact they will have on program diversity. This is actually the most newsworthy item for future PMFs, because it changes the playing field somewhat compared to the intervening non-interview years. I'll play psychologist for a moment and ask you: how does this make you feel?

Just as interesting as what's in the memorandum is what's NOT there. I already mentioned the web site (twice, now three times), so I won't go there again. There is no mention of what, if anything, happens to key parts of the application process, and how or whether the timeline will change as a result of this new interview. My guess is that we won't hear anything about these effects until September or October, when the PMF program for 2011 opens up. What else is missing that you would like to see in the memorandum? More importantly, what do you really hope these power packs accomplish with the program?

Link to the OPM director's memorandum to the CHCOC.

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

2010 Jobless PMFers: Got Stories?

It's been pretty quiet on the PMF front right now, mostly because this year's finalists should be busy moving, starting PMF appointments, or making other preparations to start. The last news out of the Program Office was in April and had to do with this year's orientation dates, which is cold comfort to approximately 550 of you who appear to still be looking.

That brings up the question of what to do in the mean time. So it's summer, you are on this roster of PMFs from the 2010 class, and you're hoping for that perfect position (are you?)... Do you work in the mean time? Take some more classes? Move and hope for the best? I'd like to hear from anyone in this situation.

I can't tell you how long to wait. Past performance indicates a significant number of you will never find that perfect fit. You'll have to weigh your willingness to discover your ideal Government job against your need (and ability) to find other work. What are your thoughts on this?

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Data Call

Does anyone out there feel like helping out with some data analysis? It might not be helpful or interesting to those who made it to finalist status this year, but those who are thinking of applying this fall should be interested in what we can find out.

I am looking at some specific questions, and I need some data that doesn't appear to be immediately forthcoming. If necessary, I will hunt it down. The questions are:

  1. Of all accredited graduate schools in the US, what percentage produced PMF nominees in 2010?
  2. What was the performance rate of all PMF-nominating schools in 2010? That is, of schools who nominated, how many became finalists?
  3. What is the overall PMF performance rate of accredited graduate schools in the US?
  4. Of all Historically Black Colleges and Universities, what is the performance rate (nominees to finalists)? How does that compare to the larger set of schools?

To answer these questions, I need one dataset that I don't already have: the number of US graduate schools (and preferably a full list).

If I can get this, I still need to clean up the data so it can be compared in databases.

I really don't care about anything but aggregate statistics. With any luck, this data can be collected and analyzed several years in a row (so back data is also appreciated).

Any takers?

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Monday, April 5, 2010

2010 PMF Job Fair Redux: How was it?

Well, how was it? Did you get an offer? I see on the PMF web site that 9 people have accepted offers so far, so congratulations! What other items of interest or concern did you encounter with the job fair?
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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

2010 PMF Job Fair Schedule

Included below is a full schedule of events for the 2010 PMF job fair. I have formatted each event as a separate iCal file so you can import each one into your calendar separately. For extra compatibility, I have also formatted these in the hCalendar microformat. How you actually perform the calendar import is up to you, but I can provide some very basic recommendations. The easiest way, assuming you use Google Calendar:

  • Use Google Chrome for your browser (if you don't have it, get it here).
  • Install the extension "Add to Google Calendar" (available here)
  • Reload this page and note the bold-text links. Hovering over these will open a bubble that links to a Google Calendar event add page.
If you are signed in to Google Calendar, clicking one of these links will take you straight into your calendar.

Let me know if I have missed any important events or made some mistake with the times or descriptions (quite possible). Also, if you know a way to format these doing multiple events in one iCal file, I'm all ears.

Day 1 Registration and Coat Check: March 30, 2010 12:00 PM - 6:00 PM at 801 Mt. Vernon Pl NW Washington, DC 20001: Located in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center Level 2, L Street Bridge (Coat Check is in 203 B). For admission to any part of this event, a participant must have an event identification displayed at all times. Coat Check services are available for a nominal fee. Neither the PMF Program Office nor the WCC is responsible for lost or stolen items.

Day 1 Welcoming Remarks and Training Session: March 30, 2010 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM at 801 Mt. Vernon Pl NW Washington, DC 20001: Located in the WCC, Level 2, Rooms 202 A&B.

Day 1 Meet and Greet Reception: March 30, 2010 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM at 801 Mt. Vernon Pl NW Washington, DC 20001: Located in the WCC, Level 2, Room 201

Day 2 Coat Check: March 31, 2010 7:00 AM - 6:00 PM at 801 Mt. Vernon Pl NW Washington, DC 20001: Located in the WCC, Level 2, Room 203 B. Coat Check services are available for a nominal fee. Neither the PMF Program Office nor the WCC is responsible for lost or stolen items.

Day 2 Registration: March 31, 2010 7:00 AM - 4:00 PM at 801 Mt. Vernon Pl NW Washington, DC 20001: Located in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center Level 2, L Street Bridge. For admission to any part of this event, a participant must have an event identification displayed at all times.

Day 2 Welcoming Remarks and Training Session (Makeup): March 31, 2010 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM at 801 Mt. Vernon Pl NW Washington, DC 20001: Located in the WCC, Level 2, Room 202 A. Abbreviated version of the session from the night before.

Day 2 Job Fair: March 30, 2010 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM at 801 Mt. Vernon Pl NW Washington, DC 20001: Located in the WCC, Level 2, Hall D, Exhibit Floor. Agency interviews. The PMF Help Desk is available to answer participants' questions. The job fair concludes at 4:00 PM, and the Coat Check closes at 6:00 PM.

Day 3 Registration: April 1, 2010 7:00 AM - 3:00 PM at 801 Mt. Vernon Pl NW Washington, DC 20001: Located in the WCC, Level 2, L Street Bridge. All participants are reminded to display their event badge identification at all times.

Day 3 Coat Check: April 1, 2010 7:30 AM - 4:30 PM at 801 Mt. Vernon Pl NW Washington, DC 20001: Located in the WCC, Level 2, Room 203 B. Coat Check services are available for a nominal fee. Neither the PMF Program Office nor the WCC is responsible for lost or stolen items.

Day 3 Registration: April 1, 2010 9:00 AM - 3:30 PM at 801 Mt. Vernon Pl NW Washington, DC 20001: Located in the WCC, Level 2, Hall D, Exhibit Floor. Agency interviews. The PMF Help Desk is available to answer participants' questions. The job fair concludes at 3:00 PM, and the Coat Check closes at 4:30 PM.

››› hCalendar

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

PMF Job Fair: Attend or Skip? Plus Planning Tips

So you're one of the 869 finalists for this year's Presidential Management Fellows Program (congrats on that, by the way), and you're wondering what the value of the job fair is.  Should you go, or should you skip it?

This is a tricky question, and like many such questions, it really does depend.  It depends on what your background is, it depends on what your career goals are, and it even depends on whether you can afford to make the trip on such short notice!

In general, I would advise attending.  If you are new to Federal Government, this will be a kind of first taste.  You may think you have it figured out, but outside information and one assessment tell only part of the story.  To get a better understanding of how the Federal Government and its multitude of agencies operate, you need to talk with them one on one, face to face.  You'll learn that, not only is each agency's mission different, but also that each agency views and approaches the PMF program from sometimes vastly different perspectives.  While you might get a sense of that over the phone, it's much more evident in person, and it's well worth the trip to find out some of these things.  With any luck, you'll get an offer you can take home and think about, and if you're even luckier, the offering agency will take you back to their bat cave for a quick tour.

If you don't get an offer at the job fair, however, don't fret.  The networking opportunities are also worthwhile.  You'll get to talk with lots of different agency personnel, and they sometimes have surprising opportunities open up after the job fair.  If you make a connection with some of them, they'll probably think of you, and even if they don't reach out to you, you'll probably have their business cards.

One final note before I talk about minimizing costs for the budget-minded: don't rely on the Projected Positions System (PPS) for your job leads.  It's, shall we say, extremely sub par for a job listing system (it hasn't been updated as a system since circa 2003 from what I hear), and I'm not sure I can name anyone who actually got their PMF appointment by applying to a PPS listing.  That's not to say it doesn't happen, but the reality is that many agencies work outside the PPS whenever they can (cynically, many believe this is a way to avoid running afoul of underqualified veterans who made it into the PMF program).  Networking and contacting agencies whose work interests you are still the best ways to find that appointment, and that's bolstered by the job fair.

On Minimizing Costs

Now, if your primary concern with attending the job fair is the cost of travel and lodging, I have some tips to help you minimize those, although they may be of varying palatability.

  • Plan Ahead: Most of your last minute and underplanned decisions come with extra cost.  Learn everything you can about the airport you're flying into, the hotel you're staying at, the Convention Center, and how to move between them effectively and cheaply.  Also, this may or may not apply, but if you're arriving from a warmer part of the country, bring a jacket!  It was cold (45 degrees) last year and raining half the time.
  • Fly Southwest: Most of the time (but not always), their fares are the lowest you'll find.  Consider flying into BWI instead of Reagan.  Southwest had some great direct flights into BWI, which saved me time and money. Also, it's not very difficult to get back to DC by train: the MARC train, when I took it last year, was $6 each way, and the Amtrak was $12 each way.  It takes planning to pull it off, but it beats catching cabs everywhere
  • Walk Everywhere: If you managed to snag decent accommodations close enough to the Convention Center, try walking.  It's free.  Of course, if it's raining, this may be less desirable unless you're only going a few blocks.
  • ...Or Learn the Bus Routes: Sure, the subway is fast, and sometimes it's convenient too.  But not always.  The buses cover large areas that are not well served by the metro trains, and in many cases you can plan door to door, minimizing your walk time.  Learn to use the WMATA Trip Planner to find good bus routes, and supplement that with the Next Bus tool (also mobile formatted so you can check it from your web-enabled phone).  If you need another reason to consider buses: they are $0.40 cheaper per ride than the trains, and you can transfer for free within 3 hours if you...
  • ...Get a SmarTrip Card: Paying cash costs more (ten cents, which I know isn't much) per ride than paying with a SmarTrip Card.  It's a $10 minimum investment ($5 for the card and a $5 initial balance), but you can easily rack up more than that in transit costs over the course of the job fair.  Also, if you are going to eventually move to DC, you'll want one anyway.  The other benefit of the SmarTrip Card is that it enables the free bus transfers mentioned above, since Metro no longer issues the paper kind.  This can save you money.
  • Consider Hosteling: Hotels are nice, but that comes with a pretty steep markup.  I don't know of any hotels in the DC area that are both nice and cost less than $75 a night (as listed on Kayak; this rate was for a room in College Park, Maryland).  Most will be significantly higher.  Consider this alternative: Hosteling International runs a hostel within walking distance of the Convention Center.  Their rates run well below hotel rates: $25-$45 a night for dorm style rooms.  Admittedly, it can be tough to get good quality sleep, but you're only going to be there for like three nights.  One other note: if you aren't a member of Hosteling International, you'll have to pay an extra $3 per night as a temporary membership fee.  It's still worth it, in my opinion, since the location is so good.  Also, it's a great way to meet other people from all over the world.

One REALLY final note, in case none of this really convinces you: this can be counted as a job search activity, and as long as it's related to your field of work (it may not be applicable to everyone), you can deduct the travel and lodging expenses on your next tax return.  Consult with your tax preparer for applicability, but do keep it in mind.

So, are you planning to go?  Share your thoughts!

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

2010 PMF Finalists Selected

According to the PMF web site, the 2010 PMF finalist list has been selected.  Of the over 8700 applicants, there were 869 finalists selected.  As a comparison, there were around 4,200 nominees (with slightly more applicants than that) and 786 finalists in 2009.

The PMF web site states that emails will start going out within 24 hours, and since this was posted yesterday afternoon (March 1, 2010), I am guessing at least a few of you have started receiving notification.  If you have results to share and are so inclined, why not share the good or bad news on the open thread?

If last year's notification issues are any indication, we could be in for a rough ride given the increase in this year's nominee pool.

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Friday, February 26, 2010

2010 PMF Job Fair Announced

According to the PMF Web Site, this year's job fair has been scheduled for March 30-April 1, 2010.  While the finalist list for 2010 has yet to be released, the Program Office has offered assurance that this will be done within the next couple of weeks.

Details for this year's job fair are posted below.  If something changes (since only the Program News page has this information and it could change), I will make sure and update this page and include a note to that effect. Also, when the schedule is published, I will post a new blog entry including the full calendar-readable event details. Stay tuned!
2010 Presidential Management Fellows Job Fair: March 30, 2010 - April 1, 2010 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington, DC

››› hCalendar

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

2010 PMF Finalists: Open Thread

According to the PMF web site, the finalist results for 2010 will be out in late February or early March.  Given that there are only 10 days left in February, we could be within, say, 20 days of an announcement (for perspective, last year's announcement was on March 5-6).  If you receive your Notice of Results, why not share the good (or bad) news here?

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About This Site

Simply put, this is a resource for anyone interested in the Presidential Management Fellows program.  I am a current PMF, so I have some information that others have found valuable in the past.  I would like to continue providing help to those who are interested.  Another blog post will deal with what the PMF program IS, for those who don't know, and I will provide a link in the Resources section below.

Here are the kinds of things you will find on this blog:

  • Timely information: Whenever some important PMF date draws near, I will provide relevant and accurate information to help you make sense of it.
  • Data and analysis: Using a variety of tools at my disposal and drawing from publicly available sources, I will provide interesting data visualizations and my opinion on any trends I can see.
  • Source information: Since I am using publicly available information, I will disclose and link to all such data sources.
  • Discussion: I want this blog to be a place where we can all feel free to discuss any aspect of the PMF program, free of outside influence.  To that end, I will seek to preserve reasonable levels of anonymity, both for myself and for my readers.  See below for my expectations for my readers.
What you are allowed (and/or expected to do):
  • Read: You are free to read and explore all of the information on this site. 
  • Share: You are free to share any information on this site, subject to the copyright license indicated in the site footer.  Most, if not all, of the information on this site represents my own original work or work derived from the Public Domain, where Government data resides.  
  • Comment: You are allowed to submit comments for any article that includes a comment box.  While I reserve the right to delete comments that contain derogatory or inflammatory statements, especially toward myself and other readers, or are generally spammy, I will not change the text of comments that otherwise meet my acceptability threshold, regardless of the language they contain.  By submitting comments in the first place, you implicitly agree to these rules.
What you may not do:
  • Harass other readers or instigate flame wars of any kind (unless I happen to find them interesting or they are somehow germane to the conversation at hand; there are limits, however).
  • Attempt to "out" anyone who chooses to be anonymous or pseudonymous on this site (including the site's author).  At times there will be criticisms: of agencies, of the PMF program, or just general observations that the commenter does not want traced back to him or her personally.  I will not divulge any private information (email addresses, namely) to anyone for any reason short of a warrant or other court order.  Attempts to out people in the comments will be considered harassment, and I will deal with the comments (and commenter, if possible) accordingly.
With all that in mind, I sincerely hope this site is helpful.  It represents a good deal of what I was looking for when I discovered the program.  It turns out there are a few places now that have good information, but they aren't always updated.  If there's any kind of information you want to see, do let me know in the comments.


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