“There’s no other opportunity like it," OPM Director Katherine Archuleta said in calling for applications.

“There’s no other opportunity like it," OPM Director Katherine Archuleta said in calling for applications. Education Department

Wanted: The Next Crop of Presidential Management Fellows

Candidates for the class of 2015 have until mid-October to apply for the competitive program.

Uncle Sam is now seeking applications through Oct. 15 from students and recent graduates of advanced degree programs for the next crop of Presidential Management Fellows.

The prestigious program is open to those who will have received an advanced degree between Oct. 1, 2012, and Aug. 31, 2015. Candidates go through a rigorous application process, which includes in-person interviews, and finalists will be notified of their status in spring 2015.

The extremely competitive PMF program, formerly known as the Presidential Management Intern program, gives current graduate and doctoral school students and recent degree recipients the opportunity to work for two years at a federal agency, earning the full pay and benefits of a General Schedule Grade 9, 11 or 12. Fellowship finalists are not guaranteed an appointment; however, once a finalist receives an appointment, he or she is usually offered a full-time position at the end of the two years.

“PMFs are offered nearly 160 hours of classroom-based training, a Senior Executive Service mentor, at least one developmental opportunity at another office or agency, and the potential to convert to permanent employee status when they complete the program,” wrote Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta in a Sept. 29 blog post announcing the 2015 application process. “There’s no other opportunity like it.”

OPM works closely with agencies each year to get PMFs placed, but ultimately it is up to the agencies to determine their hiring and placement needs.

The fellowship program attracted 7,000 applications for the 2014 cycle. Officials selected 609 finalists for 2014 on April 10 (518 PMF finalists and 91 PMF STEM finalists). Making that cut though doesn’t guarantee a job, just an opportunity to compete with a smaller group of applicants for the coveted two-year agency appointments. The class of 2014 has until April 10, 2015, to accept and start a PMF appointment.

The class of 2013 had a tougher time landing agency appointments than did fellows in other years, because of the start of sequestration, the October 2013 government shutdown and federal employee furloughs. The Office of Personnel Management said 317 out of 663 finalists in 2013 received appointments by the deadline of April 8, 2014, or about 48 percent of the 2013 group

Candidates can apply for the traditional PMF fellowship, or the track that focuses on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. OPM is holding an online information session on Oct. 8 for 2015 applicants.