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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.
It’s no secret that we need more millennials in the Federal government. Currently only 7% of the workforce is under the age of 30. And this sought-after demographic is a constant topic of the national conversation – their habits, their vices, their skills. But instead of talking about them, I want to talk to them.
So millennials, here’s what I want you to know.
We have a place for you in the Federal government. You tell us you want a job that matters, that you want to work for organizations that make a difference. You want to be in a place that encourages and rewards innovative thinking. You want to be able to develop your skills. And, most of all, you care about public service and believe that government can make a difference.
We know we can’t offer all the perks that the private sector does. We don’t have endless free food, company cars to get you to work or huge signing bonuses. But we can offer you the chance to develop, to lead, and to make a difference in people’s lives.
In the Federal government, you can have the job you dreamed of as a child. You can be a firefighter, an astronaut, or a doctor. You can help the homeless, care for our veterans, or meet with foreign dignitaries. You can help a budding entrepreneur start a small business, a student be the first in her family to go to college, or an inventor get his first patent. You can do almost anything in the Federal government.
I know you want a better hiring process. We’re working hard to make our job announcements easier to understand. We’re expanding our outreach to job seekers by increasing our use of technology to recruit, especially social media. And we’re launching a new applicant website this summer that will make one-stop shopping possible. It will have resources ranging from how to tailor your resume for a job with government to how to apply to the Pathways Program, all in one place.
I know you may not want to commit for the long term. You want to try new things and grow in a variety of jobs. I admire that and I respect that. So I am asking you to give us a try, to give Federal service a few years. We need your energy. We need your knowledge. We need your innovation.
Try us out. Check out the Pathways and Recent Graduates Programs. Apply to be a Presidential Management Fellow. Join the Federal family and see if we’re a fit. We have a lot of important work we can do together.
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