Logo of PathwaysGuest blogger Carmen Andújar-Carreras of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management introduces us to employment opportunities through the federal Pathways Programs. Learn more about the 3 Pathways Programs and how they help young adults start their careers.

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Federal Pathways Programs: A Great Way to Use Your Education

Jun 22, 2017

By Carmen Andújar-Carreras

Logo of PathwaysThe Federal Government benefits from a diverse workforce that includes students and recent graduates, who lend unique perspectives to federal agencies. The Pathways Programs (Programs) are ideal for reaching out to the next generation, and connecting federal agencies with job seekers of all backgrounds who possess a broad range of talent.

The Programs offer 3 innovative paths for students and recent graduates to get direct experience with federal employers, and encourage careers in public service. They are perfect for new students and graduates; job seekers making a career change; people who temporarily left the workplace to seek new degrees; veterans who went to school on the new GI bill; and anyone else whose education prepared them for a variety of careers. Below are details about each Program.

Current students

First, there is the Internship Program. Current students from a variety of educational institutions from high school to graduate level are eligible to apply. Interns enjoy paid opportunities to work in agencies and explore federal careers while they are still in school. They may work part- or full-time and may be hired for long-term or summer work. Students receive meaningful work assignments and are often provided training, and possibly a mentor. Once they complete academic and work requirements, students may be eligible for permanent employment.

Recent graduates

The Recent Graduates Program, our "career development program," is open to anyone who completed a formal education program beyond high school. Job seekers are eligible to apply for up to 2 years after degree completion. Certain veterans have up to 6 years to apply if service obligations kept them from doing so during the 2-year period. This year-long program (in some cases 2 years) offers training and developmental opportunities, an assigned mentor, a "road map" for success called an Individual Development Plan (IDP), and career advancement opportunities. After program completion, Recent Graduates may be eligible for permanent employment.

Leaders in the making

Finally, the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program, the Federal Government's flagship "leadership development program," is open only to those holding graduate degrees such as a masters or doctorate. Applicants have up to 2 years after degree completion to apply. This highly competitive program features 2 years of outstanding training and developmental opportunities, an IDP, assignment of a senior mentor, formal interactive training, and a rotational agency assignment. PMFs that successfully complete program requirements may be eligible for permanent employment.

How to apply

Pathways jobs are filled through fair and open competition. Positions are posted on USAJOBS, where job seekers can search keywords like "Intern," "Recent Graduates," or "Pathways" to find and apply for individual Pathways job postings following instructions in the "How to Apply" section.

The PMF Program positions are available only once a year when the positions are posted on USAJOBS, typically in the late summer or early fall.


If you're ready to use your education to have a positive impact on your fellow Americans, consider the Pathways Programs. Learn more and sign up  for our complimentary monthly briefings on Pathways employment. Contact us at pathways@opm.gov if you have questions.

About the guest blogger

Ms. Carmen Andújar-Carreras is the manager of the Recruitment Policy and Outreach Office, which includes leading Government-wide student employment programs, at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

About Ticket to Work

Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) and want to work.
The Ticket program is free and voluntary. It helps people with disabilities move toward financial independence and connects them with the services and support they need to succeed in the workforce.

If you're interested in a Pathways Program position, a Ticket program service provider may be able to help. An Employment Network (EN) can help you write and edit your resume, practice interview skills and even help you find Program positions if you qualify. Many ENs also have Benefits Counselors on staff who can explain how working affects your Social Security disability benefits. Pairing the mentorship and guidance of the Pathways Programs and the support of the Ticket program could help you find your path to success.

Learn More

To learn more about the Ticket program, visit www.ssa.gov/work. You can also call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 866-968-7842 or 866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.

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