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One finalist, a graduate of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, spent six months unemployed before giving up his search for a placement and accepting a job with an international development organization. “When I went into the PMF interview process, it was one of those moments that verified how much I wanted to be in public service. I put all of my eggs into the [PMF] basket,” he said. In searching for a position, he met with almost 100 people, including 35 people at the State Department, his preferred agency. Despite enjoying the meetings, he was disheartened by the process. “I invested so much time and energy, much of it was a wasted effort.”
More than one finalist told CQ Roll Call about the poor organization of the job-seeking process. PMF finalists have access to a job-posting website called the Talent Acquisition System. But only a few jobs are listed, and some of those were missing links, lacked closing dates and had no contact info.
Those seeking assistance are left to their own devices. One finalist, a Marine Corps veteran and law school graduate, said he tried to contact the PMF support office and no one had gotten back to him — ever. “We don’t even have a phone number to call at PMF, just an email address. And there is no response from email,” he said.
OPM, in a belated effort to help the hundreds of stranded finalists find placements, will be conducting an in-person job fair for Class of 2013 finalists in early March. In an email obtained by CQ Roll Call, an agency asks all bureaus to participate in the job fair: “due to the recent sequestration and government shut-down there are several 2013 finalists who have not been placed.”
While this job fair may help some, for others it comes far too late. And finalists who live outside the metro area are responsible for their own transportation and lodging to attend the job fair. CQ Roll Call repeatedly reached out to OPM for comment. After declining to comment for several days, OPM referred to a letter announcing a job fair dated Feb. 19, several days after CQ Roll Call’s initial inquiry.
“Ultimately, I thought that having gone through the process with OPM, and having gotten into this widely acknowledged and prestigious program, that there would be more support,” said the veteran finalist. “Even if they want to extend the deadline, I certainly don’t want to count on it. I don’t want to be hitting refresh on the Talent Acquisition System for another year.”Taking Action
Members of PMF’s Class of 2013 have only several more weeks to find positions. Those who do will enter between the GS-9 and GS-13 levels and in two years will complete the program to earn the designation of Presidential Management Fellow.
But for the more than 400 PMF finalists — 200 of whom are veterans — their PMF experience and subsequent unemployment could be for naught if they’re not hired by the deadline.