Pathways For Students & Recent Graduates To Federal Careers

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Competitive Advantage

As part of the Hiring Reform Initiative and to address the federal government’s competitive disadvantage compared to other sectors in recruiting and hiring students and recent graduates, President Obama signed Executive Order 13562, entitled "Recruiting and Hiring Students and Recent Graduates," on December 27, 2010. This Executive Order established the Pathways Programs and directed the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to implement the programs throughout the federal government.  The federal regulation for the Pathways Programs became effective July 10, 2012, 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. The regulation provides a 180-day transition period following the effective date of the final rule. The 180-day transition period will end on January 6, 2013.  The transition period provides federal agencies time to convert their current Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP), Student Career Experience Program (SCEP), and Presidential Management Intern (PMI) employees into the corresponding Pathways Programs under the provisions of their existing appointment.  The Department of Justice is in the process of finalizing policies and procedures; and completing its memorandum of understanding with OPM to fully implement the Pathways Programs throughout the Department.  ENRD is in the process of creating its memorandum of understanding with the Department to fully implement the Programs and has already initiated the first stages of hiring students under the Pathways Internship Program as authorized by the new regulation.  Note:  The Recent Graduates Program will become available to ENRD applicants after the Department of Justice’s memorandum of understanding with OPM as been approved by OPM.

Likely Recruitment Base

OPM has emphasized the Pathways Programs are designed to reach not only the current college-age generation but also, to include a diverse range, anyone who has returned to school, e.g. recent veterans using the new GI bill, mothers returning to school after raising children, people with disabilities, employees who went to night school, and long-term unemployed workers who sought a new trade or degree. 

External and Internal Oversight of DOJ Pathways Programs

OPM, responsible for oversight, will monitor federal agency to ensure compliance with the regulations governing the Pathways Programs, in particular, veterans receive priority consideration.  Agencies are required to report to OPM on the implementation of their student and recent graduate programs.  The Department’s Justice Management Division, Human Resources Staff will also include the Pathways Programs as part of its audit review of human resources offices in the Department. 

ENRD’s Commitment to the Pathways Programs

The goal of the Pathways Programs for a new generation of employees is to improve recruiting efforts, offer clear paths to federal internships for students from high school through post-graduate school and to careers for recent graduates, and to provide meaningful training and career development opportunities for individuals who are at the beginning of their federal service.  As a federal leader recognized by our employees who consistently rank ENRD as a top federal Agency Subcomponent in the “Best Place to Work in the Federal Government” survey, ENRD is committed to capitalizing on this opportunity for our current and future students and graduates by utilizing these three programs to attract talent, educate and engage employees, and fill key competency gaps.  The ENRD is committed to attracting, developing, and retaining a top-quality diverse workforce. 

Pathways for Students and Recent Graduates

The Pathways Programs include three programs – (1) current students, (2) recent graduates and (3) Presidential Management Fellows.  Instead of Schedule A or B appointments, participants will now be appointed under a new Schedule D within the excepted service, and each program will honor veterans' preference.   Excepted service positions are designed to streamline the hiring process and have different evaluation criteria from the competitive service, in which applicants compete for jobs under the merit system.  The Pathways Programs consist of three excepted-service programs (two new and one modified):

1. Internship Program is new for current students; and replaces the Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) and the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP). The Internship Program is designed to provide students enrolled in a wide variety of educational institutions, including vocational and technical schools, high school, and undergraduate to graduate college and university levels, with opportunities to work in federal agencies; explore federal careers while still in school; while getting paid for the work performed.  Students who successfully complete the program may be eligible for conversion to a permanent job in the federal civil service.  For successful interns to be converted into the federal civil service they have to complete 640 hours on the job.  Interns demonstrating exceptional performance or academic excellence can receive up to 320 credit hours under the program toward the 640-hour requirement.  Interns cannot be converted to the Recent Graduates Program.

2. Recent Graduates Program is new for people who have recently graduated from post-high schools or other qualifying educational institutions or programs and places them in a one-year career development program with additional time for mandatory training that must be completed before the job start date. To be eligible, applicants must apply within two years of degree or certificate completion, except for veterans (as defined in 5 U.S.C. 2108).  Veterans, who are precluded from doing so due to their military service obligation, will have up to 6 years after degree or certificate completion to apply under this Program.  Those who graduated after the date of the executive order -- December 27, 2010 -- will have a full two years from July 10, 2012, to apply.  The Graduates Program was developed to replace the now-defunct Federal Career Intern Program (FCIP), which some agencies used to circumvent the traditional federal hiring process.   Under FCIP, agencies could appoint individuals to two-year internships, after which they were eligible for permanent positions.  In November 2010, the Merit Systems Protection Board ruled that FCIP violated federal veterans' preference laws.  Recent Graduates may have a two-year/vocational degree up through Masters/Ph.D.  Requirements include all Recent Graduates participants must have a mentor, 40 hours of training, an Individual Development Plan (IDP).  The Program encourages the conversion of Recent Graduates to permanent positions after two years.
3. Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program is the former Presidential Management Intern Program.  The enhanced and renamed PMF Program offers a prestigious two-year paid detail in the federal government working on various assignments at different agencies.   The PMF Program is for individuals who obtained an advanced degree (e.g., graduate or professional degree) within the preceding two years. This OPM-run program is designed to provide highly educated candidates to managers for further development.  OPM thru its updated regulations has enhanced its candidate assessment tools to ensure it picks top fellows and has increased training and orientation for this group.   The updated regulation include expansion of the eligibility window for applicants, making it more "student friendly" by aligning it with academic calendars and allowing those who have received a qualifying advanced degree within the preceding 2 years to participate; created greater flexibility for managers to use alternate forms of training to meet the 80 hour requirement; and also gives managers additional flexibility for conversion. 

These are streamlined developmental programs tailored to promote employment opportunities for students and recent graduates in the federal workforce.  Additional specific information regarding the Pathways Programs can be found on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) website here.

Application Process

The regulation for the Pathways Programs require job notifications to be posted on

Current Career Fields

All career fields of federal job series will be eligible for the Pathways Programs.  Individuals selected for the Pathways Recent Graduates Program may be appointed to positions up to the GS-9 level (or equivalent) and placed in a 2-year career development program, though certain career fields in science and technology may be eligible for appointment to the GS-11 or 12 level (or equivalent).

To Apply

The regulation for the Pathways Programs require public notification for job openings; and job recruitment fairs may also be posted.  Please visit this page for additional information on future jobs and job recruitment fairs under the Pathways Program. Postings are also available on USAJobs

For More Information

Contact Nardia Bennett in ENRD’s Office of Human Resources.

Student Volunteer Service

This program offers unpaid training opportunities to students in high school and college. These opportunities provide work experience related to a student’s academic program. The program allows students to explore options as well as develop personal and professional skills. Their sponsoring academic institution determines how much academic credit the student will earn. In addition, the student gains work experience which will enhance their ability to obtain paying jobs in the future. Student volunteers must be in accordance with appropriate federal, state, and local laws covering the employment of minors. The minimum age is normally 18 years; however, when all of the conditions for voluntary service are met, the minimum age is 16 years. Any employment certificates or work permits required by state or local authority must be obtained. Students must be in good standing academically and eligible to continue as an enrolled student in their educational institutions.  For consideration, use this form to submit to Nardia Bennett or contact her at (202) 514-0106.


There are currently no positions available

Updated April 25, 2022

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