A New Pathway to Federal Careers

The word career surrounded by many different colored doors.

Students and recent graduates looking for a new route into federal careers may find their dream job through the Pathways program.

In addition to hundreds of internship offered through the College of Criminal Justice – many at the federal level -- the U.S. Office of Personnel Management recently introduced a new program to open the door to federal jobs for students and recent graduates. Called Pathways, the year-round recruiting effort offers paid internships, hiring programs for recent graduates, and fellowship opportunities for graduate students, which can be converted into full-time jobs with government agencies. The offerings can be found at https://www.usajobs.gov/StudentsAndGrads.

Pathways log“The reason it was created was because students and recent graduates couldn’t be competitive in the application process because they lacked experience,” said Rachel Dorman, program analyst in Student Programs at the federal Office of Personnel Management. “With Pathways, they are competing among their peers. It is a great way to test the waters for federal jobs.”

The program was created in 2012, and applications for all but the fellowship program are handled by the individual agency or department. While the program has been delayed by furloughs and the sequester, more positions are expected to be added across federal agencies in the near future. For example, the Department of Justice recently advertised an internship for a criminal investigator and the federal Bureau of Prison was looking for clerical assistance. Many departments, including those in the criminal justice field, may participate, although jobs in the intelligence field are not included in the program.

“It is pretty competitive,” Dorman said. “We do hear that our agencies are getting lots of interest.”

To keep on top of job openings, Dorman suggests setting up “saved searches” on usajob.gov, which will provide job postings via email. She also recommends reviewing the State of the Union address to help identify those issues that are expected to be funded in the next budget.

Under Pathways, the paid internship program replaces previous initiatives, such as cooperative programs, the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) and the Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP). The program provides opportunities for students in high schools, colleges, trade schools and other recognized educational institutions. The internship can last up to a year, and can be done on a part-time or full-time basis. The pay is based on the number of courses completed, and the position may be converted into a regular job after completion of the internship.

“Students should be open minded when seeking federal positions,” said Dr. Jim Dozier, Internship Coordinator at Sam Houston State University, College of Criminal Justice. “Getting a foot in the door of federal employment is the first of other pathways that may developed. I personally did that having been hired by The Treasury Department and later moving to the Justice Department.”

The newest element of Pathways is the Recent Graduates Program, which offer opportunities to those who graduated college in the last two years. The program allows graduates to work in federal jobs for a year and provides 40 hours of training, mentors and development plans to help them succeed. These jobs also may be converted into full-time employment at the end of the one-year period.

Illustration of a man beginning on a windy pathway up to the clouds“It comes with a lot of development opportunities,” said Dorman.
The recent graduate program also has provisions for active duty military personnel, which will allow them to enter the program up to six years after graduation if they are serving in the military.

Finally, Pathways encompasses the existing Presidential Management Fellows Program, which provides leadership development for graduate students. The two year program allows Master and Ph.D. level students to work in the federal government and receive 80 hours of training, a mentor and development plan. It also requires the fellow to work four to six months in a different area of government to broaden their experiences.

“This is a great experience,” said Dorman, who completed her internship at the Office of Personnel Management before getting hired there. “Interns have the opportunity to do some interesting work. In the end, it is nice to know you’re making a difference and providing public service to your country.”

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