Any (current/prior) PMF finalists have advice for the application process?

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Any (current/prior) PMF finalists have advice for the application process?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 15, 2016 1:28 pm

Any wisdom from Presidential Management Fellows finalists about what they're looking for in the online assessment or essay would be greatly appreciated (if you have any idea). I know the process changes from year to year but hopefully something will still be applicable. Thanks!

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Re: Any (current/prior) PMF finalists have advice for the application process?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 15, 2016 8:02 pm

I was a Class of 2011 PMF. I'm sure the application process has gone through many iterations since I applied, but throughout the whole process, they seemed greatly to care about commitment to public service more than anything. Government internships? Definitely talk that up. Non-profit stuff is always good too.

Since you can't hold the title of "attorney" as a PMF, I think it is important to focus more on showing off transferable skills that you gained from law school - writing skills, knowledge of the regulation making process, etc. - then specific law school activities. While that will be on your resume, I'm not sure the people without JDs who are often part of the PMF application process care about law review or moot court like a firm, or even an office of general counsel, would. Since most (all?) of the PMF positions are policy/program positions, any pre-law school experience that can be tied into that is good to talk about in an essay.

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Re: Any (current/prior) PMF finalists have advice for the application process?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 16, 2016 10:42 am

Anonymous User wrote:I was a Class of 2011 PMF. I'm sure the application process has gone through many iterations since I applied, but throughout the whole process, they seemed greatly to care about commitment to public service more than anything. Government internships? Definitely talk that up. Non-profit stuff is always good too.

Since you can't hold the title of "attorney" as a PMF, I think it is important to focus more on showing off transferable skills that you gained from law school - writing skills, knowledge of the regulation making process, etc. - then specific law school activities. While that will be on your resume, I'm not sure the people without JDs who are often part of the PMF application process care about law review or moot court like a firm, or even an office of general counsel, would. Since most (all?) of the PMF positions are policy/program positions, any pre-law school experience that can be tied into that is good to talk about in an essay.


OP here - thanks, this is great advice. Can I ask what you did after PMF generally? i.e. Did you stay in government on the policy/program side? I understand if you don't want to answer or get too specific

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Re: Any (current/prior) PMF finalists have advice for the application process?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 16, 2016 12:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here - thanks, this is great advice. Can I ask what you did after PMF generally? i.e. Did you stay in government on the policy/program side? I understand if you don't want to answer or get too specific


Sure. After my two years, I converted into a program analyst role in my home office, then later took an attorney job in another agency in the same issue area. Of my PMF class in my office, I would say it was pretty evenly split between people who left for attorney jobs elsewhere (other agencies, non-profits, even a firm) or stayed on the policy/program side. I'm not sure if the program/policy people attempted to make a jump to the legal side, or if they chose to stay in that realm, though. I will say a lot of my PMF class used their rotations to do more straight up legal work, which can help build that part of your resume if you are interested in making a jump post-fellowship.

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Re: Any (current/prior) PMF finalists have advice for the application process?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 16, 2016 1:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP here - thanks, this is great advice. Can I ask what you did after PMF generally? i.e. Did you stay in government on the policy/program side? I understand if you don't want to answer or get too specific


Sure. After my two years, I converted into a program analyst role in my home office, then later took an attorney job in another agency in the same issue area. Of my PMF class in my office, I would say it was pretty evenly split between people who left for attorney jobs elsewhere (other agencies, non-profits, even a firm) or stayed on the policy/program side. I'm not sure if the program/policy people attempted to make a jump to the legal side, or if they chose to stay in that realm, though. I will say a lot of my PMF class used their rotations to do more straight up legal work, which can help build that part of your resume if you are interested in making a jump post-fellowship.


OP again. Thank you - I didn't realize you could do legal work during rotations so that's good to know!

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Re: Any (current/prior) PMF finalists have advice for the application process?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 16, 2016 3:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP here - thanks, this is great advice. Can I ask what you did after PMF generally? i.e. Did you stay in government on the policy/program side? I understand if you don't want to answer or get too specific


Sure. After my two years, I converted into a program analyst role in my home office, then later took an attorney job in another agency in the same issue area. Of my PMF class in my office, I would say it was pretty evenly split between people who left for attorney jobs elsewhere (other agencies, non-profits, even a firm) or stayed on the policy/program side. I'm not sure if the program/policy people attempted to make a jump to the legal side, or if they chose to stay in that realm, though. I will say a lot of my PMF class used their rotations to do more straight up legal work, which can help build that part of your resume if you are interested in making a jump post-fellowship.


OP again. Thank you - I didn't realize you could do legal work during rotations so that's good to know!


You supposedly can't anymore. Pre-class of 2013 PMF program was a lot more lax about attorney positions. Some agencies hired full on 905 attorneys through the PMF program. But that changed with the new PMF rules that started to apply to the class of 2013, although I'm not sure to what extent agencies follow that since implementation of the PMF program varies widely.

FWIW, I was a class of 2012 PMF initially hired into a program analyst role. After working with attorneys in a legal division of the agency while in my program analyst role, I was offered an opportunity to do a rotation as an attorney in that group. After the rotation ended, that group just kept me on for the rest of the fellowship (HR didn't care) and then converted me into a 905 attorney in the group once I completed the fellowship (as a GS-13--they gave me full credit for the time I was a PMF). I stayed there for a few years before moving on to an attorney role at a different agency.

I don't know if that would be possible now, but the PMF program is run so differently by each agency that in many agencies it is all about developing connections to get to where you want to be.

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Re: Any (current/prior) PMF finalists have advice for the application process?

Postby Voyager » Wed Nov 16, 2016 4:00 pm

Be flexible in the Department you would like to go to.

It is super helpful if you are former military (you get bonus points in the application process)

It is super helpful if you have done government internships in law school.

Crush the standardized test portion... it is really easy. Your competition is GRE takers and the GRE is, compared to the LSAT, simple.

I found becoming a Finalist relatively easy.

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Re: Any (current/prior) PMF finalists have advice for the application process?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Nov 17, 2016 11:45 am

OP here - thanks again to you both.

One last question: I read somewhere on the PMF site that 50-60% of finalists end up with a placement. Is it so low because people find other jobs and decide not to do PMF or is it actually that difficult to find a placement? Part 2: any sense that it's easier (or harder) for lawyers to find a placement than other grads?

Obviously this is premature, but I'm just curious. Thanks again!

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Re: Any (current/prior) PMF finalists have advice for the application process?

Postby Voyager » Thu Nov 17, 2016 5:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here - thanks again to you both.

One last question: I read somewhere on the PMF site that 50-60% of finalists end up with a placement. Is it so low because people find other jobs and decide not to do PMF or is it actually that difficult to find a placement? Part 2: any sense that it's easier (or harder) for lawyers to find a placement than other grads?

Obviously this is premature, but I'm just curious. Thanks again!


I don't think it matters much what your graduate degree was in when it comes to placement.

I concede that I opted out of the process once I got an offer to go into consulting so I did not pursue the interviews.

I don't have a clear view on what % of finalists are outright rejected even after going for interviews nor the common reasons why... but if you go to your school career office they should be able to find some school alumnus who went into PMF and can answer your questions.

I found that super helpful.

If your law school has no one (which I doubt) then ask your office to check in with other graduate programs... particularly the school of public policy.



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