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Our Director Director's Blog

Pathways

Green background with a picture of people walking up a staircase made of books.  And the title 'The Pathways Program: Four Years Later. A New Report,' in white and black.

As we celebrate the fourth anniversary of the Pathways Programs, I’m excited to share a study that highlights the way this program has significantly contributed to the Federal Government’s ability to recruit, develop, and retain a world-class workforce.

The Federal Government is only as successful as the people who carry its mission forward. And, with more Federal employees becoming eligible for retirement each day, students, college graduates, and advanced degree holders are a great source of talent. Pathways includes internships, positions for recent graduates, and our Presidential Management Fellows program. If you are a student or recent graduate interested in the many opportunities in the Federal Workforce, please visit: https://www.usajobs.gov/studentsandgrads

In his 2010 Executive Order that helped establish what has become today’s Pathways Programs, the President said that “the Federal Government benefits from a diverse workforce that includes students and recent graduates who infuse the workplace with their enthusiasm, talents, and unique perspectives.” I couldn’t agree more.

Research tells us that students and recent graduates about to enter the workforce believe in public service and want to make a difference. The Federal Government needs to tap into that innovative spirit and commitment to service. And that is exactly what our Pathways programs continue to do.

Recently, OPM conducted a Pathways Programs study to analyze agencies’ use of Pathways, highlight best practices, and develop recommendations for how to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the program.

One exciting finding was that 93 percent of Pathways Programs participants surveyed said they plan to remain at their current agency or continue to work in the Federal Government in the immediate future. This is good news for our nation.

To help build on our success, and working with our partners at the White House Office of Management and Budget and Presidential Personnel office, OPM this year began a Hiring Excellence Campaign (HEC) designed to improve, modernize, and transform the way we recruit and hire new talent into the Federal service. Improving the use of Pathways is one part of that effort. To find out more about HEC, or to register for an upcoming session, please visit www.OPM.gov/HiringExcellence.

At OPM we want to help agencies across government make the most of the Pathways program and do all they can to encourage students, recent graduates, and advanced degree holders to use Pathways to try out a Federal career.

OPM has developed a Pathways toolkit to help hiring managers and HR professionals make the most out of these exciting programs. The toolkit includes a handbook for HR specialists, a toolkit for hiring managers, Pathways flexibilities charts, and a webinars to help supervisors and HR staff better use Pathways. You can get more information on these sessions at HRU.gov.

Each day OPM and our partners across government are working to improve the way we attract, develop, and retain the critical talent we need to fulfill our missions and service the American people. Tools and initiatives such as the Hiring Excellence Campaign, training opportunities on HRU.gov, and the Pathways toolkit are invaluable resources that can help us meet this important challenge.


Cross-posted from the White House blog.

Ambassador Susan E. Rice, National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama, encourages Americans to consider careers in public service--particularly in national security and international affairs.

If you care about the world and want to help shape a better future for us all, there is nothing more rewarding than choosing a career in public service. You can directly contribute to keeping our country strong and safe.

As a public servant, every day brings new and different challenges. The work is hard, but nothing is more gratifying than knowing you’ve made a difference in the world--that you’ve helped make someone’s life just a little bit better.

One of the many benefits of Federal service is that there are positions in virtually every field. While many think that Federal Government jobs are all in Washington, D.C., in fact, 85 percent of Federal positions are outside of the D.C. area. More than 50,000 employees work abroad.

Having public servants from varied backgrounds and with diverse skill sets throughout government is key to developing the best workforce in service of the American people. That is why in August 2011 the President issued an Executive Order calling for a government-wide coordinated effort to promote diversity and inclusion within the Federal workforce. The President’s Management Agenda builds on that commitment.

If you are interested in joining the ranks of Federal public servants, you can begin exploring career opportunities through USAJOBS.gov. Nearly all Federal job openings are posted on this site and each job announcement includes details about responsibilities, qualifications, benefits, and application instructions. At any given time, there are approximately 20,000 positions available.

If you are interested in the national security and international affairs fields, here are some exciting current opportunities:

  • The FBI is looking for talented individuals in a variety of career fields including Special Agents, Computer Engineers, and Cyber Security Specialists.
  • There are many civilian internship opportunities in the Army Materiel Command, which provides worldwide logistics for our troops.
  • Gain insights into diplomacy as a U.S. Department of State intern.
  • The Presidential Innovation Fellows is a highly-competitive opportunity for private sector innovators and technologists to work with high-level public servants to solve Federal government’s biggest challenges.
  • The Pathways Program offers students and recent graduates a chance to explore possible careers in the Federal Government. One part of Pathways is the Presidential Management Fellows Program for recent graduates with master’s or advanced degrees (within two years) who are interested in a career in leadership and policy.
  • The Attorney General’s Honors Program recruits entry-level attorneys at the Department of Justice.

I hope you will consider joining me in serving the American people here and around the world.

Follow Ambassador Rice on Twitter:  @AmbassadorRice


By Maureen Clark, MPH, Public Health Analyst, National Cancer Institute, PMF Class of 2015

This is the time of year that I recall with chagrin how I got my start in the Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) program. The applications were due, and I applied at the last minute, the day of the deadline. While I do not recommend that strategy, I do, without reservation, recommend the PMF program.

The application period for this prestigious, competitive program for recent graduates of post-graduate programs is open now through October 13, 2015. If you’re just learning about the program or are on the fence about whether to apply, let me tell you more about my experience.

After being selected as a PMF-STEM finalist -- a track focused on science, technology, engineering, and math -- I was selected by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NCI has been a perfect fit because of my educational background in public health, English, and pre-medical studies, as well as my passion for NCI’s mission: to conduct and support research, training, and programs aimed at reducing the cancer rate.

The PMF program looks a little bit different at each agency. At NCI, PMFs typically complete four to six rotations across the organization. My first rotation was in one of NCI’s program offices, where I worked on strategic planning and the identification of scientific trends related to health communications research. And right now I am in NCI’s Office of Government and Congressional Relations, which serves as the liaison between Congress and NCI’s scientific staff. Each experience presents unique challenges, but all of the offices have treated me as a vital member of the team.

PMFs are also required to complete 80 training hours per year over the course of the two-year program. I have participated in training specific to my current work, as well as a special session on leadership in the style of George Washington at his historic estate in Mount Vernon. I also had the chance to attend sessions on innovation, held at the White House, and on Congress, held on Capitol Hill. There are also extremely helpful informational interviews. During a typical session, I sit down with a colleague at NIH and ask as many questions as I can to learn about his or her career.

The fellowship has provided me with an insider’s view of how the Federal Government operates. I’ve watched the budgeting process and have come to understand the priorities that shape NIH’s mission. And my external rotation -- one of the key features of the PMF program -- in the Office of Personnel Management’s Office of Communications gave me a broad perspective on opportunities across government agencies.

I still have another year left in the fellowship, but because of the experiences I’ve had, I have some ideas about what’s next for me. I’d like to continue to address health disparities, particularly as they relate to health literacy and health care access. I am going to use the health communications skills I have been able to develop. And I do hope that my next job will be in the Federal Government.

I’m very glad that I made that last-minute decision to apply to the PMF program nearly two years ago. And I’m grateful for the training, networking, and career opportunities that I’ve had since then. I am most thankful for the chance to have a positive impact on the lives of people across the country.

Visit www.pmf.gov for more information about the PMF program.

- Photo of Maureen Clark a participant of the Presidential Management Fellowship Program.

One of the many ways that the Office of Personnel Management helps agencies find the top talent they need to serve the American people is through the Presidential Management Fellows, our flagship leadership development program. Last week, we held our annual job fair that gives PMF finalists a chance to connect face-to-face with agency officials.

The PMF Class of 2015 is 600 strong – with 91 of the finalists taking part in our new Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) track. More than 65 agencies sent representatives to the event, held at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Kicking off the fair on Thursday, I congratulated these impressive finalists for taking the first step in their journey to becoming leaders in the Federal Government.

Not only were our finalists able to meet with agency representatives, they attended informational sessions that gave them a good grounding in the agencies’ missions and goals for the future. The finalists networked and developed contacts at the agencies.

OPM’s talented PMF staff will support these finalists as they continue their search for a fellowship. It’s very rewarding for us at OPM to help agencies recruit talented individuals who share a purpose-driven mission to serve this great country over the course of their professional careers.

The President today issued an executive order designed to further help the Federal Government attract the brightest minds in technology or innovation to work on some of the nation’s most pressing challenges. The order makes permanent the Presidential Innovation Fellows Program, which brings executives, entrepreneurs, technologists, and other innovators into government, and teams them up with Federal employees to improve programs that serve more than 150 million Americans. I’m proud to say that OPM had a role in developing this novel program, and I’m happy to see it thrive with our colleagues at the General Services Administration at the helm.

Photo of a conference with multiple agencies tables, and participants checking out different tables.  

Feds Feed Families in Full Swing

Federal employees not only serve Americans every day on the job, they display their generosity throughout the year, especially through programs like Feds Feed Families. The 2015 campaign is underway this month, with the theme “Feds Fighting Hunger.” In 2014, Federal employees across government donated nearly 15 million pounds of food, paper goods, and toiletries to help food banks and pantries stay stocked during the summer months, when they traditionally see a decrease in donations.

Each year, employees are asked to bring items they want to donate to their workplaces or to take them directly to a local food bank. I’m confident that the continued generosity of our Federal workforce will ensure that we top last year’s total.

Cybersecurity Update

Working with our partners at the General Services Administration, the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Defense, and other agencies, the government on Aug. 4, 2015 issued a request for quotations (RFQ) for a contractor to handle credit monitoring and identity theft services for people affected by the intrusion of our network. We’ve added information about the RFQ to our online cybersecurity resource center

We are continually updating our website as we get requests for more information and as we make progress on the cybersecurity front. I encourage the Federal community to keep checking the site and to continue giving us feedback. We are listening, and are working hard to provide the latest resources, information, and support for the Federal workforce.


During my visit to the West Coast this week, I had the pleasure of speaking with the attendees of OPM’s Federal Internships and Career Expo in Seattle. This event was the first of its kind. I’m thrilled that OPM was able to co-host the expo with the Federal Executive Board and the University of Washington. 

This day-long workshop was designed to showcase our Pathways program, which actually includes three programs: internships, jobs for recent graduates, and the Presidential Management Fellows. These employment tracks give young people an opportunity to try out Federal service. For many, Pathways leads to a permanent place in our workforce.

The expo included panels, presentations, and roundtable discussions as well as instructional sessions, such as how to write a Federal resume. We brought together Federal officials from 20 agencies and staff from more than a dozen colleges and universities. More than 100 students attended. We hope to partner with other Federal Executive Boards around the country to host similar events.

The Federal hiring process can seem complex. One of my priorities is to make sure that everyone who is interested in working for the Federal Government knows what their options are and gets the help they need to successfully apply for Federal positions.

Agencies are always looking for top talent, and Pathways is one way that we can bring passionate students and recent graduates, with fresh ideas and perspectives, into government.

And we’ve heard a great deal of positive feedback from our agencies about these programs. Every agency has a Pathways success story to share. Here at OPM, one of our recruiters for Pathways began as a Pathways intern.

A key aspect of my Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity and Inclusion – or REDI – Roadmap is building a world-class Federal workforce. Programs like Pathways help our hiring managers identify the best and brightest in our nation – and they show our newest hires what being a member of the Federal civil service is all about.  

Being a Federal employee is about being a part of something bigger than you. It’s about working on behalf of our nation, and everyone in it. For me, as Director of OPM, this means striving to build a workforce that looks like the America we serve. Pathways can help us achieve that goal.

Back of the head of girl reading pathways flier.


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