Posts Tagged ‘PMF’

The intricacies of the PMF

Monday, April 27th, 2009

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?

New investment in diplomacy = new jobs in diplomacy

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

The word on the street (like this street) has been that the Obama Administration is determined to invest substantial resources in the Foreign Service and USAID, thus leading to an increase in Foreign and Civil Service jobs (like 1,500 new jobs, according the NYTimes). This morning, at a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seconded this and remarked that the U.S. must end its underinvestment in diplomacy:

I am determined to see that the men and women of our Foreign and Civil Service get the resources they need to do their jobs safely and effectively. Even Secretary Gates has pointed out our country has underinvested in diplomacy. That must end. Just as we would never deny ammunition to American troops headed into battle, we cannot send our diplomats into the field in today’s world with all of the threats they face, 24/7, without the tools they need. We don’t invest in diplomacy and development; we end up paying a lot more for conflict and all that follows.

On the heels of this hearing, Sherry pointed me to a WashPost article from the end of March that again confirms the Foreign Service and USAID are “hiring, hiring, hiring:”

USAID, Uncle Sam’s foreign assistance agency, plans to double, to 2,200, its ranks of foreign service officers by 2012…[the] agency is looking for people in many areas, including health, finance and contracting. USAID plans to hire more than 300 people this year.

As an interesting footnote, the WashPost article also references the Presidential Management Fellows program (or PMF), a well-known and highly competitive program that is essentially a springboard into high-level government service. A worthy program, to be sure, but please note the line, “The 786 finalists, out of 5,100 who applied, are vying for about 400 jobs at about 80 agencies.” 786 people vying for 400 jobs. Clearly not every PMF is guaranteed a job.  But I have to say, during my dealings with PMF during grad school, it was presented to me in a very different way. More on my PMF experience after the jump.