Embedded in a post last week about the hiring surge in the Foreign Service and USAID was a sub-discussion of the Presidential Management Fellows program, or PMF, a well-known and highly competitive program that is essentially a springboard into high-level government service. Any student pursuing a Master’s, law degree, or PhD at a PMF-participating institution can apply for a fellowship. I discussed briefly my own experiences with the PMF program in grad school (applied but didn’t make the finals) and more at length the experiences of my classmates, who found there was much more than met the eye to the PMF (they were led to believe that if you got PMF status, you were guaranteed a job—this often turned out not to be the case, as there were far more PMFers than PMF-designated jobs).
I received a number of comments on the PMF discussion, so it’s worth reiterating. PMF is a very worthwhile program that I think any student pursuing a higher degree and considering government work should look into, but there are also many misconceptions about the program that seem to perpetuate themselves and are only discovered by PMF applicants after they’ve gone through the rigors of the application process. Seems to me this stuff should be aired up front. A few bits of PMF dirt in addition to the mud that I slung:
From Alanna Shaikh at Blood and Milk:
One other thing to remember about PMF is that it doesn’t pay that much. Salaries are about 45K. If you had some work experience before you went for your Master’s, you can do better elsewhere in terms of the money.
Then from Laura Freschi at Aid Watch:
To add to Alanna’s point: PMF salaries are variable and definitely not always higher than what you could find elsewhere in government or other development jobs. Just depends on the agency you end up with and what GS level you begin with. Some offer some student loan forgiveness (an excellent perk, obviously), but many others don’t.
Another important consideration: not all Federal Agencies or programs use PMF. You can’t become a State Dept foreign service officer under PMF [my bold] (although State does have other PMF positions), and the GAO (Govt Accountability Office) has no PMF program at all, for example.
Any other PMF-related comments or experiences out there?