Hi! Welcome to an installment of Extra Cheese: Actually Actionable Information. (Previous installment over here.)
Today, I want to highlight some opportunities specific to recent graduates and current students. I’ll start with the basic stuff, things which will help you in your own searches on USAJobs or agency sites, and then there will be a few more involved things.
There’s a recent graduates box you can check when doing your own USAJobs search. This will show you positions for people who have recently graduated from undergrad, as well as from graduate programs.
Departments may have their own recent grad programs. They also hold information sessions aimed at recent graduates. You can find those, and other, sessions listed on the USAJOBS events page. They may also post information on social media - GAO, for example, has an active Twitter account.
As is the case below, the qualifications for these positions are often more open-ended than for the jobs I post here. You can look at a recent posting for a Labor Investigator to see what I mean.
Internships/Trainee posts (for current students)
I don’t post internship listings here partly because qualifications for internships are a lot more open-ended (here is a recent internship with the Inspector General of the DoD) , so sorting through them requires a different kind of approach. If you’re interested and eligible for internships, I think the best course of action may be to create a saved search on USAJOBS for internships in the agencies and departments that are of interest to you. Remember that saved searches can also be filtered by location.
BUT: how do you figure out what agencies and departments are of interest? We all want to work for the Library of Congress, right? But where else? And who actually pays their interns?
One approach might be: see which agencies crop up a lot during the Friday posts.
You could also create a saved search for a particular skill: “writing” or “research” for example. If you tick the right pathways box, that should get you a manageable list of postings (right now, I get 3). Note that the “public” pathway and the “student” pathway are different. If you’re looking for student positions, you need to tick that box.
It might also be worth checking with your school’s career services office. I never took advantage of mine, but they might have been able to help. My current university has a specific program for students pursuing federal internships, and yours might, too.
Presidential Management Fellows • applications open for two weeks in Fall 2021
This program is actually aimed at people with advanced degrees. You must be a citizen and recent graduate. So, for Fall 2021 (class of 2022), you must have an advanced degree (master’s, Ph.D. or J.D. from a qualifying university - I don’t see anything about Ed.D, sorry) acquired between October 2019 and October 2022. (Some of you may be wondering about applying before you finish your degree - please remember that getting a job makes it a lot easier to finish your dissertation.)
Philosopher and PMF graduate Shane Wilkins has written about the program in a number of places.
In a post at the Blog of the APA, Shane writes:
The Presidential Management Fellowship is a two-year program to train recent graduate degree earners for management positions in the US federal government. The program offers full salary and benefits, 80 hours per year of formal training, the opportunity to work in a number of different roles . . . to gain a broad basis of experience . . ..
I applied for the program, was accepted as a finalist, and then finally offered a position in 2017—during the federal hiring freeze—as a management analyst with the US Department of Agriculture. Since that time, I’ve had excellent opportunities to acquire new skills and to develop as a manager and leader. The combination of pay, benefits, and work/life balance are fantastic. Finally, the job provides a great opportunity to make a difference. For instance, in my current role, I have the opportunity to help customers in four different federal agencies understand how to use their data to make their daily jobs more efficient and more effective, which ultimately leads to improved services for the public.
If this program interests you, check out the podcast Wisdom at Work, where David Storey (Boston College) interviews philosophers who work outside the academy. A number of them also participated in the PMF and, this may encourage some of us, they didn’t necessarily stick in government.1
I asked Shane Wilkins if he used anything “extra” in the application process, and he said the documents OPM provides were/are sufficient. Thanks to Shane for his insights and time! I plan to discuss the PMF more in future editions of Extra Cheese.
Zintelellect is an “opportunity catalog” (lol but here we are).
I’m linking to the Zintellect page first, rather than the ORISE postdoc page, because the search functions seem better if you know what you’re looking for: you can filter by discipline, location, academic level, and date. The discipline search is very coarse-grained: checking “Other Non S&E” (nice to feel valued) gets you everything, even if the only specific field is “Risk Analysis” or “Decision Making.” If you want to look at all postdocs, you can check out ORISE’s page. I think the search box only looks at position titles - I did not find it helpful as a sorting mechanism.
There are a number of recurring positions listed on Zintellect, such as the Department of Energy Scholars Program. The eligibility windows for these postings are broader than for the PMF: you can often be eligible with a degree received in the last five years. As with PMF, you need to meet other eligibility requirements depending on the position. These positions often list contacts (mentors), and you might be able to reach out to them with questions.
I do find these websites buggy on Safari - you may wish to try with another browser.
That’s it for Extra Cheese - see you Friday!
Some of the links on Storey’s website are broken, but it looks like you can get the episodes just fine on the podcast hosts - so you might want to try that. I plan to talk a bit more about this podcast and what I’ve noticed in another edition of Extra Cheese. I will say: the episodes with PMFs are all about people who have degrees in something interdisciplinary, usually with a STEM-adjacent name and they have STEM training. So, if that's not you, you’ll have to sift through the episodes to find stuff you can work with. And the episodes are . . . long, and, tbh, not always edited very tightly, so this task may be tedious.