Wednesday, March 16, 2011

2011 PMF Finalists: Open Thread

[Also posted here]

I've been waiting to post this until the PMF Program Office offered up any news. The 2011 PMF finalist list is due out sometime in late March, according to the latest news on the PMF web site. While this is still vague, it's nevertheless right around the corner. Historically, the PMF Program Office has provided roughly a 2 week news lead on the results, so my prediction is that we may hear something around March 29. As I have done in the past, I am opening this thread to collect your stories of acceptance or rejection. Did you make it? If so, congratulations to you. Is this the end of the PMF road for you? I know it may be disappointing, but consider what you've learned along the way, and remember how fierce the competition was; the semifinalists were already a stellar group, so you are in good company, just unfortunately on the wrong side of a line. Why not sit among peers and share your triumphs and frustrations?

Note: I would link to the news blurb on the PMF site, but since they still don't really get how everyone else does news, there won't be a permanent link to it, and it will die as soon as some new bit of fluff comes floating by. ;)

814 comments:

  1. They posted on fb yesterday that the job fair would be April 19-21, then took it down and re-posted that it would be "mid to late April." Hmm.

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  2. Via Email:

    We are presently tabulating all the scores for those semi-finalists who participated in the in-person assessments. Our goal is to select and announce Finalists for the PMF Class of 2011 no later than March 31, 2011. Once Finalists are announced, the PMF website will be updated to reflect all 2011 Finalists and their resumes activated for agency hiring officials to search and review.

    The Job Fair webpage (http://www.pmf.gov/become-a-pmf/find-a-job/job-fair.aspx) will soon be updated to include general information and a link for Finalists to RSVP for the PMF Class of 2011 Finalist Job Fair. The Job Fair is expected to take place in Washington, DC, during the week of April 18th. As soon as the venue and dates are final, a “News” bulletin will be posted to the PMF website.

    We appreciate your patience. Please continue to monitor the “News” section on the PMF website’s homepage for any updates.

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  3. Received an email this morning that their "goal is to announce finalists no later than March 31". The email also said the job fair would be the week of April 18th, for all of you who will be looking for tickets. Good luck all!

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  4. Got an email today. Unfortunately I was rejected. good luck to everyone else.

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  5. @10:22 AM - Sorry to hear that. This is probably the worst stage of the process in which to get rejected, considering the investment so far. Best of luck in whatever you decide to do from here.

    Does this mean emails are going out? In the past they've batched them up according to last name, so if you would kindly indicate what your last name starts with, I think the rest of us would appreciate it.

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  6. @10:22- It wasn't just the notification of the job fair date?

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  7. My last name starts with B and I've only received the notification mail (I posted above at 9:24)...

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  8. Come on, no whammy, no whammy...

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  9. My last name also starts with B, and I have yet to receive either of these emails (neither the notification/update email nor the acceptance/rejection). I even double checked my spam folder, and nothing!

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  10. @10:22, you better not be lying about the rejection e-mail! I'm going to be checking my e-mail 24/7 now.

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  11. There are more scams on this board than in the Niger Delta!

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  12. These mysterious emails that came out this morning (with the updates about the job fair timeline, etc) -- who did they come from? The PMF@opm.gov address?

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  13. The email was from the PMF Program Office at PMF@opm.gov

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  14. Hopefully it was anomalous. And don't give up hope yet, because there have been some unfortunate SNAFUs in the past where people were notified of the wrong result. When the list is published, check to make sure your name is on it.

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  15. I too received the notification email sent by the PMF Program Office regarding the status update. I'm curious and I know this may be a ridiculous question but possibly @10:22 did not attend the In-person assessment and this may be a potential reason for the rejection email. Just a very open hypothesis. Otherwise, I can't figure it out

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  16. I don't think there would be any e-mails going out yet, Application Manager still shows No Results Yet for the Written Test . . .

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  17. Did anyone else *not* receive the status update email?

    I'm worried because I didn't get one. My email address hasn't changed since the semifinalist notification email & in-person testing reminders, so that can't be the problem. And my spam folder is empty, so I know it didn't go there by accident. My last name also starts with B...

    Thoughts?

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  18. I didn't receive an email with the status update either, my last name starts with 'P'. Why would some of us receive status emails and others not? PMFellow--help us out here, please!

    I feel like I'm being jerked around:
    1st: you'll hear by mid-late March, then April 1st, now late-March.
    2nd:Some receive emails and some don't--what?!
    3rd: Posting the dates of the job fair on Facebook, and then taking it down.

    Maybe I'm torturing myself by reading this blog and double checking all PMF sites, but I don't like being played with either.

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  19. For what it's worth, my last name begins with a 'W' and I got the "update" email this morning.

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  20. Hate to say it, but this is par for the course. I am not jerking anyone around; in fact I started blogging about this originally because of these very kinds of shenanigans. I doubt the PMF Program Office feels like it's jerking anyone around either. What they are doing with information is what government agencies feel like they're free to do, which is redact and revise what they control as they see fit. Personally I think the approach stinks, because it leads to situations where some people saw one thing, and some people saw other competing things. It doesn't serve any meaningful purpose. That's why I keep blogging about it. Your reports are what help to keep honest information flowing, and even though I can't substantiate most of what you say, I think together we approximate the facts.

    Make of any of this what you will.

    /rant

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  21. I got the "update" email this morning. UUUUGGGHHHH!!!!!! Excuse me everyone, I'm in the office and I had to let that out. I know I'm not the only one...

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  22. As an example of being jerked around by the PMF Office, this is what I experienced last year as I was going through the process:

    No nominees from my University received an email about their assessment date. The pmf office wouldn't 'resend' the emails because they said they already had. Our nominating official had to intervene and beg them to send us the information about our assessment.

    When finalists were announced, some people in my school received an email saying they were selected as a finalist, only to receive a correction 2 or 3 days later saying, nevermind, they were not finalists.

    I was selected as a finalist, and I didn't receive any emails at all until about ten days after the list was posted to the pmf website.

    Who knew emailing could be so hard?

    -First Year PMF

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  23. Hahaha the update email was a little silly. It popped up on my blackberry and I threw up a little bit. I opened it and it said exactly zero new things.

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  24. Got the status update and last name starts with S.

    PMFellow: Thanks for the blog so we can commiserate together. I agree with the above comments; this process is getting silly.

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  25. @ 1:19 p.m. I did the exact same thing. I was in a meeting with some "v.i.p.s" and had to decide whether or not to open the email...I didn't want to break down in the middle of the meeting (in joy or sorrow) but the suspense was killing me so I opened it, and, whomp whomp ...

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  26. My last name starts with a B and I got the update email only. I sympathize with everyone else that had a minor heart attack today when they saw the email in their inbox, only to open it and receive no new information at all. But to be fair, if it wasn't for this website or facebook, I likely wouldn't have known that information.

    Did @10:22 really get a rejection email? It seems odd since no one else has said anything about rejection emails yet. Perhaps no one else cares to share, or it was a troll job or a misfire by PMF.

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  27. Hey 3:18, take heart--at least you GOT an update email! Now some of us are wondering if OPM just lost our email addresses :/

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  28. The update email says they're tabulating the scores, so I'd be surprised if anyone was already rejected - maybe it was a mistake? I got my update email this morning. It's really odd that some people weren't sent emails, although I'm sure that it's not easy to get things perfect with so many of us.

    Does anyone know if we'll get our scores? Or will we just know if we're finalists or not? My best guess now (for what it's worth) is that Monday we'll start seeing acceptance/rejection emails sent out in groups like last time, and a finalist list will be posted sometime next week.

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  29. @3:26... 3:18 here. I do take heart. I really hope it is just a minor kink and doesn't mean anything too bad! That would be extremely frustrating to be in your position right now!

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  30. If you did not get an e-mail today, you should e-mail PMF@opm.gov to let them know that you did not receive one today. The source for this is the PMF moderator on the Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/PMFProgram)

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  31. @March 17, 2011 6:10 PM

    I'm not seeing it. Where on the Facebook page does it say this?

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  32. It is in the comments section of their most recent post.

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  33. Just received a change in application status notice from USAJOBS for PMF: "Application Received".

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  34. Why did I just get an application received email from USAJOBS about PMF??

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  35. I emailed the PMF people about reading their Facebook comment telling us to email them if we didn't receive their email (whew). I asked if I should tell my friends at school who also didn't receive their email if they should email as well. PMF said no. Awesome. Maybe all this confusion is just a way of frightening away finalists so they don't have to book a bigger room for the job fair.

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  36. @ 9:16 -- Did the PMF folks saying anything reassuring about why some people didn't get the update email? I noticed your "(whew)," but did not get a clear sense of what information they provided you with in their response.

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  37. The "(Whew)" was in regards to my terribly convoluted sentence. Sorry for the confusion (whoops). The email only said that the email we all didn't get simply said the same thing as what was on their Facebook page.

    I really wouldn't fret if you didn't get the email. I'm in a program where there's a few dozen semi-finalists. I spoke with 10-12 of them and no one got the email. The best we can do is wait, I suppose.

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  38. Also received a change in application status notice from USAJOBS for PMF: "Application Received".

    Maybe this means that the scores are being entered?

    However, Application Manager still says "Awaiting Results"

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  39. I have not received an "Application Received" email. Hope that isn't a bad thing!

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  40. @10:24, it may have to do with your e-mail preferences on USAJobs. My e-mail said: "Our records show that you signed up to be notified when the status of your application for a job you applied to changes. "

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  41. I haven't received the "Application Received" email either (even though my preferences are set to always alert me), but it does show up on my USAJobs account and they updated it today.

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  42. Last name starts with "K". Received "2011 PMF Program Update" March 17th at 10:01am. Received "Notification of Change in Application Status" March 18th at 2:00pm.

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  43. "Application received" status on USA Jobs. "Awaiting results - you will be notified" on App Manager

    Big bucks, no whammies!

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  44. Thanks for the info @10:27. My Application Manager appears to reflect everything okay even though I didn't get the email. How silly it is we are all flipping out over a few emails that contain no substantial information!

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  45. My application manager has not been updated. It indicates "no results yet" for the written test. Is anyone else in the same boat? My last name ends with K.

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  46. I meant to write last name starts with K in the post above. Clearly the stress of waiting for these results is getting to me ;)

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  47. @March 19, 2011 1:56 PM

    Mine is a V and it has been updated, but that might not mean anything - clearly we can't read into this crazy process. When was your assessment?

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  48. @March 19, 2011 2:52 PM

    My assessment was January 26th in DC. I hope this isn't a bad sign. Although I imagine it could take them a few days to update 1500 records, since it apparently isn't automated enought to update everyone's at once.

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  49. @ March 19, 3:06-My written test shows no results on the OPM application manager site but I did receive an update email saying my application was received. The update also showed up on USAJobs. I hope this helps.

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  50. @ March 19, 2011 3:12 PM

    Thank you for the clarification! I was only looking at the application manager. My profile on USA jobs was updated yesterday to "application received", so I can stop freaking out for the moment. Good luck everyone!!!

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  51. PMF site appears to be down.

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  52. Let's hope they took it down so they could setup the finalist announcement.

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  53. It's the Final Countdown...

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  54. Perhaps since the PMF site is down, they are currently uploading the Finalist list???

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  55. Does OPM work on the weekends? I'd be surprised if they did.

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  56. OMG!! The website is down!! They are going to put the finalist list up soon!!

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  57. no way... probably something with a job fair update. its way too early still.

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  58. I don't think they'd take the site down for a job fair update. They must be posting the list!

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  59. The site could be down due to an increasing surge of semi-finalists checking the site every other minute...

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  60. I don't think they would post the list before they notify folks. Since this discussion is based on speculation, it is my guess that they are updating the PPS system from the 20 or so jobs that have been up all winter to the full list of potential PMF placements. Good luck to everybody!

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  61. @12:12 and 12:14PM

    Stop with your logic! The list is going up soon!!!!!! Let's all celebrate (at least those who make it)!!

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  62. Dear PMF Fellow: Could you start a thread regarding finding a PMF position outside of the official PMF job posting list? You mentioned somewhere that most jobs are not posted on the PMF website. I have looked on a few agency websites and on USAJobs, but have not found a source for PMF positions. Could we start this discussion in another section of the blog?

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  63. for those of you who received an email with "Application Received" did you also receive one back in October when you originally applied? Does Application Manager show both notifications, or just a recent one? Thanks!

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  64. Help! After all this talk of people's status being changed on USA JOBS, I went to check out my account after not logging in since I first applied. Once I logged into my account, under Application Status, it said "you have no active job applications." Have I done something wrong? Is this a problem? I did receive the last PMF email about the Job Fair, so I am still active on their list.

    Any suggestions?

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  65. You probably not only got rejected, but they will publish your essay with a mocking commentary. :)


    Seriously, don't worry, I think you're set. Besides, nothing any of us can do at this point. Relax :)

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  66. People seem to be getting very anxious over nothing. If you are seriously questioning the status of your application on USAJobs or on App Manager, I'm going to venture that it's probably too late to change anything at this point.

    Relax and enjoy the end (or beginning) of what could be your last spring break!

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  67. RE: PMF site being down. My techie husband says that this particular error message indicates that PMF did not take the site down itself, but rather that visitors crashed it somehow. This makes sense given that there's no "Under Construction - check back soon" sign in its place. Sadly then, the site being down does not add weight to the list coming out soon (though it certainly does not disprove it either). Fingers crossed we get word soon!

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  68. I would actually think it ADDS weight to that, because there is no other reason for it to get that much traffic. But you'd think someone would have posted here or on FB.

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  69. Except it only ADDS to it if we all knew that the announcement was coming, but the only reason we think the announcement is coming is that the site is down.

    The techie reason sounds more probable, as the site would still be operating even if they're readying to upload a couple of documents. It does seem odd, though, that the government site would fail when at most 1400 people keep checking it. I mean, shouldn't a server fail at 1000x that number, at least?

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  70. That's what I'm saying, the only reason a lot of people would be on is if the list was up.

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  71. Except that many semi-finalists would have seen the list before the site crashed. And since people on this board comment when they don't receive an email, chances are at least one person would post after the most important aspect of the process was finally complete. Also, we would have likely received an email and seen a Facebook post.

    But maybe the announcement is coming soon.

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  72. @9:12 - That's why I said "But you'd think someone would have posted here or on FB."

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  73. But if you thought that, then why think the first part?

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  74. Pointing out the paradox ;)

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  75. HAHAHAHAHA!!! Reading these are like a daily soap opera to me. Keep it up.

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  76. Hi everyone! Wanted to note that the error message on the website has changed. It now says:

    "You're seeing the wonderful image above because your website doesn't contain any published content yet."

    ... which now indicates that content is missing from the site. [/mischievous grin]

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  77. I wonder how many PMF semi-finalists find other jobs prior to becoming finalists. If the PMF program is really that competitive, you would think a significant number of really competitive applicants would have other employment options by the end of Apri. Approximately, 60 percent of finalists become fellows, but I wonder what percentage of finalists aleady accepted other offers.

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  78. @5:02 ... great question. Has anyone here been offered another position? I haven't. But then again, I'm so psyched about PMF that I'm having trouble getting myself to apply elsewhere while I'm waiting for news.

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  79. And.... pmf.gov is back up.

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  80. Application Manager status changed again!

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  81. @March 20 1:23 PM - I would be happy to conduct a roundup of specific agency resources dealing with PMF, but that's really all I could do. Unfortunately there's not much more to say about the PPS than what I've already said. It is heavily under-utilized by agencies, for reasons that, on the surface, appear to avoid some strict language in the Executive Order regarding preference-eligible veterans. In general, though, you can scour USAJOBS for positions that match your skills and interests, then contact agencies to see if they would consider hiring a PMF for future openings (not sure if they would be willing to cancel the USAJOBS listing just to hire non-competitively, plus that would frustrate all of the position's current applicants).

    Re: Site Outage - I've only ever seen an OPM-hosted site go down due to load a couple of times, most recently during this year's snow storms, when the entirety of the DC federal workforce (and those depending on them) were hammering the site trying to find out if the government would be closed. Even then, I don't remember seeing any errors; rather, the site merely became unresponsive. Comically, these images and error messages you are seeing/have seen are the result of maintenance outages on sites that have no proper maintenance or site down pages. These are trivial additions to a site, and usually included in the type of software apparently powering the site (a content management system). [Update: and in the time I've taken to write this, the site is back up with no indications of any results]

    @March 21 5:02 AM - One could assume that a process ostensibly geared toward surfacing top talent from graduate schools might also be structured to account for attrition. I think you answered your own question. Of those that don't find placement, many will probably have lined up other jobs.

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  82. The waiting is KILLING me. Ugh! Just release the results already!

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  83. Application manager updated the status to complete from waiting for results....

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  84. I'm complete as well.

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  85. Same! Does this mean it's coming soon?

    Also, thanks to everyone who keeps posting. I would have completely (as opposed to just slightly) lost my mind if not for this blog!

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  86. If I had to guess at this point (and I hope I'm wrong), we still won't be finding out until closer to the 31st. Just a gut feeling that they wouldn't have completed everything that quickly following the email last week.

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  87. Given that the PMF website says that notifications will go out within 3-4 weeks before the job fair, the 4 week mark starts tomorrow, and the 31st would be less than 3 weeks notice. I can't imagine that they'd give people less than 3 weeks notice.

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  88. I'm still betting on March 29. Any takers?

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  89. I didn't get any emails from Application Manager, but two things have changed on mine:

    1) Under "Details" both of my assessments are now complete. The most recent one is dated a few days after my SF assessment.

    2) Under "Checklist" all my statuses say "Ok" except "Veterans Documentation"

    I don't know what this says about when we'll be notified, but I'm pretty sure it means that my final numbers have been entered into some official database. I'm still hopeful that we will hear this week. I think they told us by the end of March to give themselves wiggle room, because technically we can't start bugging them about results until April 1. :)

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  90. @March 21, 2011 7:48 AM That is assuming the April 19-21 dates that were briefly given were correct.

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  91. I checked my application manager yesterday and it had indicated that the PMF office was still "awaiting results." I checked back this morning and my status has now been changed to "complete." Given all the recent changes on the website, FB, etc, I think these are indications that the results are forthcoming.

    @PMF fellow - I think it's reasonable to say that the 29th will be the date for receiving results since I;d imagine that the PMF office still has lots to do before emails can be sent out. I'm hoping, however, that results are posted sooner than that so that my blood-pressure stabilizes and I can actually get on with my life rather than being glued to my computer. On a side note, how many of you have seen a significant drop in your school productivity? Yeahh.....I'm with you.

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  92. I would bet March 29 for final results. OPM doesn't seem to do anything earlier than required.

    April 19-21 also seems likely as the fair was Tuesday-Thursday last year.

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  93. I am going to be optimistic and bet we will hear this week!

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  94. I've been pretty good at distracting myself with lab work, until my blackberry makes any sound whatsoever.

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  95. I'm betting their goal is to get all the emails out by the end of the week so they can post the list 3 weeks before the job fair. Remember, they said they would notify the applicants a couple of days before releasing the list.

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  96. My "written assessment" status also changed to complete in the Application Manager. I'm guessing they are entering results into the online system. I predict we will start getting e-mails later this week.

    Last name starts with R, btw.

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  97. Has anyone else still not had the status on USJOBS updated? My last name starts with an R and I tested in Atlanta in January.

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  98. mine hasn't updated. mine's a last name of "M" and in Atl in January! and i didn't get the update email... :cry:

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  99. Good to know I am not the only one. I am trying hard to avoid obsessing over this, but clearly it is not working very well. Maybe they are updating by region, like when they sent the original invitations?

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  100. @10:15 -- I tested in ATL in January and my status was updated to complete. I received the update e-mail.

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  101. I tested in ATL in Jan and my status changed this morning around 10 AM EST. Last name K. I received the update as well.

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  102. I don't think that receiving a "complete" on your application indicates anything.

    I have a "complete" on a different USAJOBs application ... I submitted my resume and then the agency canceled the position and it switched to "complete."

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  103. I am a bit confused. Have people's status changed on the actual USA Jobs site or just the application manager site. My status changed on the Application Manager site but I did not receive any email that notified me of that change.

    So, if anyone has received a status change on the actual USA Jobs site, where and how did that change occur? And did you receive an email notification apart form the one announcing the job fair?

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  104. I think I just figured out why my USAJobs has not been updated. I did not attached my resume through USA jobs. Instead, I pdf'd it and uploaded it directly to application manager. That may be the case for any other people out there whose connection between USAJobs and Application Manager wasn't perfect. Hopefully this will ease someone's mind. :)

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  105. It appears that they have updated the USAJobs website to indicate that applicants completed the written assessment. That could mean that they have completed the process and are working towards announcing the results, or that they simply updated the USAJobs website with information that should have been updated after completing the written assessment.

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  106. i have a belly button

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  107. PMF? More like PBS! You know what I mean bra?

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  108. Chlorophyll?! More like "borophyll"!

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  109. "PMF? More like PBS! You know what I mean bra?"

    No, I don't...

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  110. Check this website for the 2011 PMF finalist information (https://www.pmf.opm.gov/FFinalist.aspx).

    Good luck to everybody!

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  111. I believe that website has said the same thing for a couple of weeks now.

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  112. Good Lord, I got an e-mail saying "not referred based on self-assessment" in the subject line for some other job. Scared the hell out of me seeing "not referred" thinking it was a PMF non-finalist e-mail.

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  113. I am longing to return to the days when looking at my email was less of an emotional roller-coaster.

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  114. @ 3:08 pm - I feel your pain. This and the Foreign Service process make me make a deep breath and repeat *remember: it's not the end of the world if you didn't make it* in my head before opening my email.

    For anyone who thinks this board is wild, look at the Foreign Service exam Yahoo! Groups. This is tame in comparison.

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  115. This site still lists the April 1st date. How did you find that other site saying the list is being posted soon? https://www.pmf.opm.gov/FinalistSortByName.aspx

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  116. The other site has listed the same thing for some time now.

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  117. While we are eagerly awaiting the results we might as well continue the discussion. What are your overall thoughts on the assessment process? Everyone at my assessment was exceptional, but do you really think they will be able to select the best candidates based on an essay, 5 min. presentation, and group exercise? Also, it would be very hard for all assessors to rate equally...I wonder how much variance that will cause. My panel seemed pretty tough. Best of luck in this crazy process!!

    For the record, I am predicting results on the 28th :)

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  118. The assessors are given specific criteria on which to base their ratings, so it would not be that hard for them to be fairly consistent.

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  119. I must admit I'm not a fan of the in-person-assessments. I thought the way they did things last year was much more objective. In particular, the presentation topics forced us to reveal our politics by asking us to debate bills. Perhaps a rulemaking would have been more appropriate, where we would be given the relevant statute and some data to deal with. Either way, just a written test would have been better. There's already an in-person component in terms of actually finding a job, and I think that's the better stage to consider so called soft skills in light of the particular jobs we would be seeking.

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  120. You were not forced to reveal your politics. You simply had to choose one side or the other and support your reasoning. Honestly, you should be able to choose either side and still provide a good response regardless of how you actually feel about any particular topic.

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  121. I agree...a written test would have been more objective at this stage. I understand that they wanted to make sure we could give a coherent presentation, etc., but don't feel that the assessment was an accurate predictor of workplace performance. I think it just measured one's ability to work under pressure with the assumption that if you can excel under stress, you will be prone to high performance.

    Out of curiosity, how many of you opposed the proposed legislation? I always find it easier to argue in opposition. Were there any groups that didn't come to consensus?

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  122. I was in opposition to proposed legislation and stood alone.

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  123. After discussing with people, there were a few different prompts--- just for warning about saying whether you opposed or not.

    I guess there were policy prompts about obesity, recycling, and a few others.

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  124. We were 2 in favor and 3 opposed. Even though I was in the majority I found myself making the strongest arguments in opposition and at times it felt it was 2-1. I guess it's good that I participated and was outspoken, at least if the graders were objective. We were running out of time and I didn't want to seem too stubborn, so I didn't push for a vote on a full "no" recommendation. Instead, we agreed to unspecified "further study". Death by committee was good enough for me!

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  125. @ 8:41
    Agreed. Opposition is always easier. The devil is in the details, and it's easy to argue "right goal, wrong strategy." The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

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  126. Some during our day also got a labor union argument. Our group came up with a hybrid proposal, which seemed somewhat silly given that our job was to pick one or the other, but fair enough!

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  127. I had a problem with the instructions at the beginning. I know not saying our school name was meant to prevent bias, but our panel added that it would be better not to reveal your area of study/work over the course of the day (Ex - whether you are a law or MBA or MPP student).

    This had varying interpretations among my group. At least one applicant tried to write the essay without revealing their area of study and work. I gave up on it and discussed my area of study, although I didn't give too many specifics within it. I was still confused on whether I could name employers, including federal government agencies - or not.

    Did anyone else have this problem? I'm wondering if the part about avoiding your area of study was in their script or if it was just something they added on my day or at my site (DC).

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  128. I don't see how you could avoid naming area of study, at least for law students. I also named all of the government places I worked for

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  129. @ 4:32 -
    I had the same problem of being unclear about whether we were supposed to reveal our area of study in the essay, but either fortunately or unfortunately only after I had written it.

    Later in the day I began thinking about the instructions and started wondering if I had blown it b/c I mentioned my area of study in my essay. I then frantically tried to remember the exact wording of the instructions and whether I violated them, but could only remember the general reference during the introduction phase of the day. I didn't remember any instructions right before the essay that mentioned not revealing your major.

    Rightly or wrongly, I convinced myself that not revealing your major only applied during the course of the day in appearing before the judges and other staff.

    In retrospect, I'm glad I didn't think about it until later because I would have had a hard time trying to figure out how to dance around it while writing...

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  130. We received explicit instructions from the woman who proctored our written portion that we were not to mention our school name or our area of study in the essay.

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  131. We were not told to omit our area of study from the essay. The only instructions we had were to not mention out school in the introduction.

    I was one of two people opposed to the policy as stated. We all agreed to a compromise in order to have something to present. The "further study" option was discussed, but I relented on some of my proposals so that we could come up with something definite. I also thought that tactic would look good because it showed that I was able to compromise and work with differing opinions.

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  132. I was in Chicago and we were told not to reveal our school or program of study to the judges or in our written portion of the exam.

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  133. Did anyone else have a conversation dominator in their group? One girl went on for so long that I didn't have a chance to say my portion of the final "proposal." I don't know if that hurts her or me more. I tested in DC.

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  134. I can't remember whether i may have accidentally mention the name of my degree program. I wonder if this would be an automatic disqualification?

    On the evaluation in general, I appreciate the difficulty in assessing and comparing students from so many different academic backgrounds, but I am not sure communication skills is the best indicator. It seems that presentation skills in particular are most easily taught at part of the leadership development whereas analytical skills need to developed separately.

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  135. The only instructions we received were to not mention our school in the introduction to the panel (although other than New York, DC, Chicago, etc. it's pretty obvious where you go, ie Palo Alto, Charlottesville, or Ann Arbor, the latter of whom surely commutes to the University of Texas).

    The only written instruction for the essay was to not mention your school, nothing about program. I think it would be silly to not mention it to be honest, since that's a big tie in to public service (ie, law to help the powerless, public administration to administer the public, etc.)

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  136. @7:07AM. Thank you for the clarification. This matches my memories as well, but the possibility that I could have missed something so obvious was eating at me!

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  137. The only instruction that I received in DC was to exclude the name of my school. This was stressed numerous times throughout the day, and mentioned both verbally to us and also in the written instructions of the essay.

    In the essay, I definitely mentioned my area of study (MBA) and explained why I decided to pursue an MBA and how it has prepared me for a career in public service. I also mentioned employer names and specific government agencies where I had worked or consulted.

    Since we were not instructed to omit any of these item, I figure all of this was fair ground, and remain convinced that the only thing that should be omitted, and grounds for forfeiture, is the name of your school.

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  138. A girl in my laptop room raised her hand and asked before the written portion began whether we could mention our field of study. We were warned that mentioning that we were law students for example would disqualify us from consideration.

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  139. We were not told to omit our area of study. That would make no sense. You cannot adequately describe why you are seeking a career in public service without integrating your interests and experiences, which directly tie into your area of study.

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  140. Yah, I don't know how you would write that essay, ESPECIALLY as a law student, without mentioning law.

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  141. There was no instruction on my day to omit field of study. In fact, when our proctor was asked whether or not it was ok if we mention our school in the written portion they seemed confused. At first they said that we could mention our school in the written portion. They later corrected themselves, but definitely didn't say anything about not mentioning field of study. I also don't remember there being anything about field of study in the directions.

    I feel like mentioning your field of study was almost necessary to respond to the essay question. As the MBA poster above did, I used my rationale for pursuing my specific degree as evidence of my commitment to public service.

    It seems to me like this confusion was generated by the different proctors. That is too bad because if we were allowed to mention field of study and proctors told you not to it might put you at a disadvantage to those who did. On the other hand, if we were in fact not supposed to mention field of study, then mis-information from some proctors may have lead to a mark-down or even disqualification for a good handful of semi-finalists.

    Hmmm, it will be interesting when the results are released to see if this did indeed have any bearing...

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  142. In my group of 10 or so in DC, we were only told to omit the name of our school.

    Agreed @March 22, 2011 7:39 AM, how could you talk about any recent work experience as a law student without it being a give-away that you're in law school?

    It seems unfair to prevent a candidate from talking about their work in immigration, criminal defense, etc. when it demonstrates a commitment to public service.

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  143. My friends and I took it in DC where the accessors only told us to omit our school name. Everything else was considered appropriate.

    Remember, the main criteria of PMF is that we're graduating from law, business or a master's program and we want to go into public service. It would be very difficult to present ourselves if we were not allowed to connect the two.

    If others heard differently, perhaps the accessors made a mistake. It wouldn't be the only confusion in the process. Good luck everyone.

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  144. I was in DC. I specifically asked our handler if I could reveal my area of study (law) in the written portion. She said yes, as long as I didn't reference my school name.

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  145. I was also in DC... no mention of area of study was made all day and quite honestly I would not have been able to write an effective essay without talking about it.

    We were told not to mention our specific schools though.

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  146. At the initial small group meeting in ATL they were very clear that we were not to indicate our area of study in the essay portion. We were again reminded to not reveal this information before the timed essay began. According to the assessors we would be disqualified for indicating that we were in a particular field of study.

    I did my best to be as specific as possible in my past experiences without revealing that I'm a masters in polysci, public admin, public policy, law, urban planning, etc.

    I think those that identified themselves as law students will be easy to eliminate as the selection process seems arbitrary as it is. Violating this express rule is an easy way to eliminate a large chunk of people who didn't listen clearly to the instructions.

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  147. I was a DCer too, Jan. 18. They definitely told us NOT to identify ourselves as students in a particular field. It was in the standard form instructions that they read aloud from and distributed to each person. I assume that this was the same form given to all candidates?

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  148. In chicago, someone asked the proctor specifically if we could talk about our area of study and he was very clear that we could.

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  149. It makes no sense whatsoever to not be able to discuss your area of study. I am not sure what you were told in Atlanta, but as others have clearly noted, there was no instruction to not mention our area of study at other sites. The only instruction was to not mention our specific school at any point throughout the day, including in the written exercise.

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  150. @9:20 I think that form was in regards to identifying ourselves to the proctors/3 person panel that was there? That is why people were unclear if we could do it in the essay portion since it was graded off site. When people asked, they said we could talk about field of study in the written portion.

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  151. I tested in D.C. in February and remember reading the same thing. I tried to keep my essay free of identifying anecdotes but I think it would be pretty clear to anyone grading mine that I was a teacher.

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  152. Yes, they told us the same in Atlanta- don't identify your field of study.

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  153. We were specifically tasked with discussing our previous experiences as part of the writing exercise. It is quite difficult to discuss your previous experiences without indicating your area of study and interest.

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  154. I was in DC in February and we were told not to mention our school, but no one told us to avoid talking about our areas of study. As others have posted, I can't imagine talking about service motivation without talking about areas of study, especially considering many applicants have limited professional experience. Backgrounds might be obvious anyway if previous jobs were discussed (Peace Corps, teaching, legal professions, etc.). Maybe they initially asked people to avoid majors but then realized the difficulty that created in completing the essay.

    I am eager to find out the results and hope they email us sometime this week. I'm betting on Thursday or Friday.

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  155. One of the major criticisms of the PMF program is that it has come to be dominated by lawyers to the detriment of other candidates. We were told in Chicago to not discuss our specific field. I think that the rule was designed to prevent bias toward law majors. We were reminded again before the written portion began.

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  156. Reading these comments it seems quite clear that candidates were given if not conflicting than at least misleading information.

    Assuming a fairly high level of capability among the participants on this board, the mistake seems, yet again, to be a lack of clarity in OPM instructions. Hopefully this is an area which they can improve upon in future years, for example by posting instructions online ahead of the exams.

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  157. Did anyone have a late person to the first small group meeting. One of the girls in my group showed up 15 minutes late as the proctor was halfway through reading the day's agenda. Do you think those people are immediately eliminated?

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  158. @9:33 - No

    It would literally be impossible to not mention that you're a teacher, or a law student. I hope putting it down isn't looked upon as a violation, but we distinctly weren't told that, and it's silly that it would be a rule anyways.

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  159. Two people were late to my meeting in DC. I would think it would be a high burden to overcome.

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  160. I don't think it would be a big deal to be honest, since the people in the lobby (aka holding area) aren't doing the main evaluations.

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  161. Either a few OPM representatives mistakenly told people they could not mention their area of study, and/or a few people misunderstood what they were told they could not talk about. It is not even remotely reasonable to ask people to talk about their experiences and why they want a career in public service while telling them they cannot mention their area of study.

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  162. I was in Chicago and we were only told not to identify our school. The instructions for the written portion specifically stated for us to talk about our past experiences to demonstrate our desire and dedication to work for the public service. I am also pretty sure it said something to include various work, volunteer, and educational experiences. Outside of my volunteer work, my public service work was all law related, so it would make no sense to not state your field of study. My work for a state's attorney's office is a dead give away that I am a law student, so it would be seemingly impossible to talk about a pretty important demonstration of a commitment to public service without giving away my field of study.

    I honestly think the proctors who said otherwise were incorrect. I think the whole point of the written essay was to persuade the proctors of your dedication to public service by talking about the totality of all of your experiences in life.

    That being said, I can really see how the people who were told not to include their area of study would be negatively impacted. Perhaps those proctors didn't account for it because they were under the impression that you weren't to include it. But, it would be hard for people who went to law school or went to school for public administration to talk about why they are interested in public service without a paragraph of why they pursued an advanced degree. That may result in a lesser quality essay, which seems unfair if you were told not to include that information.

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  163. I don't think being late was disqualifying. Maybe it should have been, but it wasn't. Once they let you take the assessment, it's not like a regular job interview. They have very specific criteria and they grade you on that. The handlers, not the assessors, might be the only ones aware you were late anyway.

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  164. As competitive as this is, I kind of feel sorry for the people who were told not to say their field of study. It made their essays harder to write, yet there's no way OPM can disqualify those who wrote their field, since not everyone was told not to.

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  165. I for one (DC, February) mentioned my field, engineering. I thought it would make me stand out. I talked about how my particular sub-discipline lent itself to public service, and how it was important for government to have good technical managers who also had leadership skills.

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  166. The panel of assessors was present in the room when 2 of the candidates in my group walked in 15-25 minutes late. I think that would definitely count against them.

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  167. I feel bad for those who mentioned their field of study in the essay- especially law students. They specifically told us not to mention this information in Chicago.

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  168. Hmm,

    There's a lot of confusion here. Our group was told to keep that information out of the written statement. I hope PMF wouldn't count it against those who misunderstood given that a lot of posters here seemed to have included it.

    Good luck! My prediction is by this Friday.

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  169. I agree with those who say it doesn't make any sense. We were told only to not mention our school. There was nothing said about our program of study.

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  170. Chicago here, we were told that we could mention our field of study. Seems like a tough essay to write if you could not

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  171. I was in Atlanta (first assessment date) and we were only told not to mention what school we attended, nothing was said about field of study.

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  172. DC here, we were definitely told by our handlers that we could not mention School or area of study when in the room with the assessors, but only had to keep out the name of our school during the written portion.

    I also can't see how the essay could have been written to avoid this information for certain disciplines - at least in any persuasive manner.

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  173. I think that is where the confusion is coming in. We were not permitted to mention our school or bring up our background personal preferences during the individual presentation and group discussion, but we were without a doubt permitted to discuss our background and experience in the written assessment. Otherwise that would make for a lot of bland "I want to make a difference" essays.

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  174. I did the assessment in DC, and I am 100% positive that we were told not to include our area of study in the essay. If that was not accurate, I'm pretty annoyed. I did not include my area of study, and I'm sure it made my essay much less persuasive.

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  175. I agree with @12:02. In Atlanta we were told the same thing- do NOT mention your field of study. We're not confusing it with the instruction to not mention your university. Both admissions were explicitly barred, at least twice. I'm sorry to say it but those who mentioned their specific background outright will likely be disqualified.

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  176. The San Fran bunch I was with were also told at the first meeting (and right before the laptop essay) that we were not to mention that we were a specific type of student. I think its because the assessors, PMFs themselves, would naturally gravitate toward candidates with the same degree. I also think the comment about law students is correct- they want to give others a chance to be represented with fellowships equally.

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  177. DC here. All I remember was the instruction not to mention the name of the school you attended. I don't even remember them saying anything about refraining from mentioning your area of study in front of the proctors. I included a fair amount about my area of study in my essay. So, looks like I'm either in good shape or I'm screwed.

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  178. Keep thinking that...
    If anything it's you guys at a disadvantage, but not disqualified. We were not told to omit field, so we can't be disqualified. This isn't just one person claiming they weren't told, where maybe they forgot the instructions. A lot of us are saying this. We were not instructed to omit!

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  179. Ugh, but if they were looking to add non-law students, that can't help if we mentioned that we were.

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  180. March 22, 2011 12:09 PM, you can be as sorry as you want, but we were permitted to discuss our backgrounds in the written assessment. Those who did will not be in any way "disqualified".

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  181. pmfellow, any thoughts on the confusion?

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  182. Remember, the essay is graded on written communication skills and service motivation. Grammar, writing Style, organization, structure, and probably even spelling (who crazy was it that there wasn't a spell check function?!) count just as much as your persuasiveness, the breadth and scope of your accomplishments that you describe, and your desire to serve.

    So while the inconsistency between applicants who were told not to include field of study and those who were permitted to include this info certainly makes me question the standardization of the process (I agree it would have been a lot harder to write about service motivation if I was trying to describe my academic accomplishments without mentioning the degree!) - keep in mind, that the assessment of written communication skills should not have been affected by those who included field of study and those who did not.

    If this board is any representation, it seems that more people included field of study than those who did not. Certainly, they are not going to disqualify the majority of semi-finalists because of an inconsistency in their instructions. And for those who did purposely omit it, know that this omission can't have a significant impact on how they grade the written portion given the grading criteria established.

    In any event, at least this this mini-controversary gives us a distraction as we count down the final days until the list of finalists comes out, which I'm sure will include a good mix of candidates who either included or excluded their field of study in their essay.

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  183. If they wanted us to omit our background, they wouldn't have given a prompt that required reference to the background. They could have easily made us write an analytical essay on another topic..

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  184. I think we're all a little bit on edge here these last few days. We should stop pretending to feel sorry for each other and saying that those who got different instructions are either disqualified or at a severe disadvantage. We'll all find out soon enough.

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  185. Exactly. What sense does it make to ask us to talk about our background, but not discuss our program of study? The two are inextricably linked.

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  186. My only question is: should the PMF administrators be made aware that applicants were given differing instructions? Is it even possible to contact the right person at OPM?

    And by the way: I was in Chicago and there was no mention either way of field of study.

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  187. I was in SF and they definitely did not say anything about omitting our area of study in the written portion. In addition, the written instructions for that portion of the assessment only stated that the name of our school be omitted and did not mention our area of study.

    As others have said, it would not make any sense to disallow any refe2to our area of study in an essay about one's background and how it has helped prepare one for public service.

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  188. 12:37 was written on my laggy phone, sorry for the typo!

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  189. Informing them now (if they don't know already) would only cause delays. Everything has been graded already, they're just tabulating. I guess if push comes to shove, semifinalists who don't get selected could always file a class-action lawsuit...

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  190. It's hard to say. The conflicting instructions could mean that different semifinalists wrote and/or performed to conflicting standards. How this affects the aggregate score remains to be seen. In any event, if you are rejected, I doubt you would find out whether it was a disqualification or simply not making the cut.

    As far as the writing assessment, it sounds like one of the things they are measuring, in addition to written communication skills, is service motivation. Personally I find it exceptionally difficult to believe that one could write a compelling essay on this topic without mentioning academic and/or work background. My suspicion is that some of the assessors and handlers misunderstood some portion of the instructions, which caused this confusion. Since I have no way to confirm this, it is of course mere speculation.

    What is certain is that the analysis of the written essays was handled differently from the in-person portion: different assessors and analysis at a different location. The prohibitions on mentioning academic background and school in the individual and group presentation portions were clearly intended to minimize bias on the part of the assessors, who were drawn from the ranks of existing federal employees and included a number of current and former PMFs. A face-to-face interview or assessment probably invokes numerous known and unknown biases anyway, and this was an attempt to limit these in some way. I am guessing that those same biases would not be apparent, at least not in the same numbers, on the writing exercise, and with a different kind of analysis for the essays, it is possible that mention of schools and backgrounds would not provide any real advantage over those who did not mention either.

    This is all just my opinion, of course. My ramblings could be contradicted by fact, if it were available. In the mean time, I'd say just relax as best you can, because one thing is for sure: you can't affect the outcome now.

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  191. I think it is surprising given the amount of people who received contradictory instructions that we are assuming that the semifinalists are the ones who screwed up.

    Sounds to me like OPM didn't have their instructions straight...my proctor for the written test originally said that we COULD include our school information in the written section (which clearly wasn't correct since it was stated plain and clear on our instructions for the written portion that we could not), and had to be corrected by one of the test-takers. I'm chalking any confusion as to field of study up to OPM and the people running the test, not the inability of half of the semi-finalist pool to understand and follow directions.

    Has anyone posed this problem to the facebook administrator of the pmf page? They seem to be pretty good at getting back to people.

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  192. @Anon 12:41 PM - Why not start with a FOIA request?

    I actually wish they published scores, but as far as I can tell they never have. I'm not even sure they keep them once they've created the list. So much about this process is clear as mud.

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  193. I took the assessment in Atlanta and specifically remember the written instructions only prohibited mentioning the school. Don't panic. For all we know, there could be one person pulling our chain continuously posting anonymously on this site just to get people freaked out. It is probably the same person who posted he or she received a rejection letter. Someone is just playing with you. In any case, the truth will be revealed shortly when at least some people who mentioned their field of study become finalist. Good luck to everyone.

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  194. A class action lawsuit? Really? Does someone actually believe that would be a realistic option?

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  195. It wouldn't be the first time a lawsuit targeted a program like this. The Federal Career Intern Program was shuttered due to a lawsuit: http://blogs.govexec.com/fedblog/2008/12/federal_career_intern_program.php

    Granted, that lawsuit was about application of Veterans Preference, but it's possible that the perceived mishandling of an assessment process could call the entire assessment into question.

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  196. I guess any lawyers who don't get in this year can turn around and file a lawsuit.

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  197. The proctors in SF were really good about reading the directions directly from the paper, which was provided to avoid the conversation we are having now.

    It would seem odd for someone to say that I couldn't mention the type of training I have during the essay, especially since I was supposed to talk about my experiences in school... It sucks for the DC people who seem to have been told not to mention their specialization. We definitely did not get that directive in SF - only not to mention our schools.

    The only odd thing to me is that there should have been amazing consistency considering all the proctors were OPM employees.

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  198. Wasn't mentioned to everyone in DC. Just some guy trying to make people feel bad.

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  199. I think this is some person trying to pull our chains. The proctors read the instructions from a script and I doubt they sent out different versions (though that is entirely possible).

    This whole debate is becoming a joke..."I feel sorry for anyone who mentioned your area of study as you will be DQ'd." Really? Do you know how dumb you sound?

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