Rachel Dhaliwal


By Kass Williams
Career Services Coordinator, APUS

and Rachel Dhaliwal, GCDF, CCSP, EQ-i 2.0
Senior Career Coach, APUS

Do you dream of working for a federal agency? Many people do. But the competition is fierce, and landing a job at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or the Agency for International Development (AID) requires determination and diligence.

Start a management degree at American Public University.

Becoming a Presidential Management Fellow (PMF), however, can boost your chances of landing a federal job. The PMF Program, administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is a two-year fellowship that trains graduate students and professional-level degree seekers to become skilled, knowledgeable industry leaders. As a Presidential Management Fellow, you’ll have the opportunity to work for a federal agency, learn from industry professionals and develop professionally.

Why Should You Apply to the Presidential Management Fellows Program?

If you’re interested in working for a federal agency, applying to the Presidential Management Fellows Program is an excellent way to get your foot through the door. During your two-year fellowship, you’ll work with a senior-level mentor to grow your knowledgebase and skillset with on-the-job training.

PMF finalists apply to jobs with federal agencies by using the PMF Talent Management System. You’ll have one year to find a job. Once you apply to and land a job, you’ll be given a paid fellowship with the agency at the GS-9, GS-11 or GS-12 level.

Over the course of your two-year fellowship, you’ll receive:

  • 160 hours of formal, interactive training
  • At least one four- to six-month developmental assignment
  • Optional rotational job opportunities
  • Potential appointment benefits (such as student loan repayment)
  • The potential for a permanent position upon fellowship completion

With an individual development plan in place, you’ll not only get the chance to work for a federal agency, but also to cultivate the required skills to become a successful industry leader. If you’re an ambitious student with a passion for public service, the Presidential Management Fellows Program could be right for you.

Note: To date, we have had over 51 AMU and APU students receive the honor of becoming finalists!

PMF Application Steps

To apply to the Presidential Management Fellows Program, you’ll need to submit a variety of documents, fill out an application and take an online assessment. First, you’ll need to gather these documents:

  • A resume (any format is acceptable; federal resumes are not required)
  • Unofficial academic transcripts
  • DD-214 and SF 15 (for those using Veteran’s Preference)
  • A pending graduation letter (for those who haven’t completed their master’s degree yet).

Once you have acquired these documents, you can begin the application process. The application window begins on September 30, 2020 at noon E.T. and ends on October 14, 2020 at noon E.T. When the application window opens, will post a link for applicants to create an account with PMF and apply for jobs with their Talent Management System.

Because the application window is only open for two weeks, it is critical that applicants get a head start on gathering documents and preparing for the assessment. To ensure you perform well on the assessment, review the Office of Personnel Management’s Assessment Preparation Guide.

How Long Does the Application Process Take?

Obtaining the required documentation could take time, so be sure to get in touch with the appropriate points of contact immediately. To obtain a pending graduation letter, email Career Services. You can obtain a blank copy of an SF 15 at the OPM website.

The application process itself is lengthy and can take up to four hours to complete. The online assessment is divided into four timed portions. Once you begin one of the four portions, you cannot pause to take a break until you finish that portion.

Once you’ve applied and completed the assessment, your application will be reviewed. If you’re selected as a finalist, you will receive an email from a PMF representative. You can also check on your application status by searching the Talent Management System, where candidate selections are made.

Preparation Techniques

To qualify as an excellent candidate for the Presidential Management Fellows Program, you should employ a few preparation techniques. For instance, ensure your resume is up to date and adheres to professional standards before you apply to PMF. For assistance, contact Career Services for a resume review.

PMF finalists will also need to find and apply to a federal job. For interview preparation and other career-related advice, contact a Career Coach through your ecampus.

Learning More About the Presidential Management Fellows Program

If you’d like to learn more about the PMF Program, you can attend our webinar on  September 3, 2020 at 1 p.m. ET.

The PMF Program will also host five informational webinars for prospective applicants during the month of September. You can register in advance for these webinars to learn more about the program and the application cycle.

The PMF Program is an exciting opportunity for graduate students interested in dipping their toes into federal work. If you’re interested, check out the eligibility requirements and begin preparing. It’s never too early to think about your future!

About the Authors

Kass Williams serves as the Career Services Coordinator for APUS, employing her communication, editing, and project management skills to support the Career Services Department with content creation. She holds a B.A. in English with a Writing Concentration from Davis & Elkins College.

Rachel Dhaliwal is a Senior Career Coach for APUS and serves as the point of contact for those interested in applying for the PMF program. In addition to supporting students and alumni throughout their career journey, she trains and mentors coaching staff. She holds a B.S. in Psychology from Troy University, as well as the Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF), Certified Career Services Professional (CCSP) and the EQ-I 2.0/EQ 360 Certification credentials.