About Pathways

About the Pathways Program


Based on the philosophy that the federal government benefits from the enthusiasm, talents and unique perspectives that a diverse workforce brings, President Obama has established a program that provides new avenues for students and recent graduates to enter the federal workplace.


The Pathways Program kicks off on July 10, 2012 consolidating a number of government internship programs into a single system for recruiting, training and retaining students and recent graduates who are well-qualified candidates for federal employment.


Why Pathways?


The Pathways Program was created for several reasons, including:


  • providing alternate paths for recruiting recent college and trade-school graduates (including military veteran students) to the federal workforce;
  • carrying out an overall policy of creating a more diverse federal workforce;
  • allowing the federal government to compete effectively with the private industry for students and recent graduates of all ages and backgrounds;
  • helping to modernize the way the government hires in order to make it work better, smarter and more efficiently;
  • responding to the imminent retirement of a large baby boomer segment of the federal workforce;
  • providing a way to attract students and recent graduates to federal jobs while enabling agency employers to evaluate whether they are likely to have successful federal careers;
  • offering meaningful training, mentoring, and career-development opportunities for students, recent graduates, and student veterans; and
  • replacing student internship programs that were found to violate federal veterans' preference laws.


What is the Pathways Program?


The Pathways Program is composed of three parts: an Internship Program, a Recent Graduates Program and the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program.  ?The first two programs are brand new, while the PMF Program is being modified.


The Internship Program is a new program for students who are currently enrolled in high school, home school, trade school, college or other qualifying educational institutions.  It provides a path for students to explore the work of the federal government and get paid while they are still in school. The Internship Program replaces the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) and the Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP).


The Recent Graduates Program provides a new path to a potential career in the civil service for individuals who have graduated in the past two years from a qualifying educational institution with an associate's, bachelor's, master's, professional, doctorate, vocational or technical degree or certificate. Military veterans may apply up to six years after receiving their degree or certificate if they have been prevented from doing so because of a military service obligation.


For more than 30 years, the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program has been the federal government's premier leadership development program for advanced (masters? or professional) degree candidates.  Established by executive order in 1977, the PMF Program has gone through many changes over the years.


The Pathways Program is expanding the eligibility window for PMF applicants to align the program with academic calendars and to allow individuals who have received a qualifying advanced degree within the two preceding years to apply to the PMF program. Pathways Program modifications also include requiring the Office of Personnel Management to set minimum qualification standards for participation in PMF and redesigning the program to make the Fellows experience more robust.


Positions in the Pathways Programs are excepted from the competitive service.  Participants in these Programs are appointed under the newly created Schedule D of the excepted service.


Pathways Implementation


President Obama signed Executive Order 13562Recruiting and Hiring Students and Recent Graduates, on December 27, 2010. This order established new pathways for students and recent graduates to enter the federal workplace through a streamlined, transparent, and more uniform hiring process. The goal was to offer a faster path through the cumbersome federal hiring process for students and recent graduates, and to provide mentoring for them as they worked to become successful potential federal employees.


The Office of Personnel Management published the Final Pathways Program Rule in the Federal Register on May 10, 2012, after their draft version went through a lengthy public comment period. The final version incorporated numerous detailed comments made in response to the proposed draft rule. The Final Pathways Program Rule takes effect on July 10, 2012, although federal agencies have been given a six-month transition period to convert students serving under the Student Educational Employment Program to the Internship Program, and to transition current Fellows to the newly modified Presidential Management Fellows Program.


Appointments may be made under the new Recent Graduates Program after federal agencies have completed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Office of Personnel Management.