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What is your agency doing to successfully implement the Pathways Programs? What strategies or resources are working well at your organization? Email us to feature your promising practices on this webpage and share them with other agencies across government.

To download materials from Pathways events, please visit the agency events page.

Pathways Programs Information for Agencies

The federal government has faced challenges recruiting and hiring well-qualified candidates who are in school or who have recently received a degree. Complex and lengthy procedures, disparate programs and low intern conversion rates have contributed to many potential candidates choosing opportunities in other sectors.

Established by Executive Order 13562, “Recruiting and Hiring Students and Recent Graduates,” the Pathways Programs were designed to help agencies address these issues by streamlining processes and providing students and recent graduates with clear paths to internships and full-time employment, as well as meaningful training, mentoring and career-development opportunities.

Comprised of the Internship Program, Recent Graduates Program and Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program, the Pathways Programs, which went into effect on July 10, 2012, are now assisting agencies in attracting talent, educating and engaging employees, and filling key competency gaps. Along with the government-wide initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion, and bring talented veterans on board, the Pathways Programs are supporting agencies’ efforts to fill workforce needs, and infuse the federal space with new enthusiasm, talent and fresh perspectives.

Featured Resources

Pathways Myth Busters
After extensive discussions with many in government who are trying to hire recent graduates and use interns, and with very helpful feedback from the Office of Personnel Management, we have compiled these “myth busters” to reduce confusion and correct the most common misconceptions about the government-wide Pathways Programs regulations and implementation guidance issued in 2012.

Read the myth busters

A Guide to Using Student-Entry Programs
After the release of Executive Order 13562, the Department of Homeland Security quickly recognized the opportunity to capitalize on the Pathways Programs to recruit, hire and train the talent needed to meet its mission objectives.

To make certain that these programs would be used effectively both within and across components, the Department, with support from the Partnership, assembled an enterprise-wide working group to design a guide to help agencies use student-entry initiatives to address workforce needs.

This tool:

  • Conveys the importance of student-entry programs to closing critical competency gaps;
  • Assists offices in determining whether or not these types of programs are the appropriate mechanisms for filling jobs; and
  • Provides organizations with a strategy for building or enhancing these initiatives.

Leverage "A Guide to Using Student-Entry Programs" to develop or refine your agency’s implementation strategy for the Pathways Programs.

Quality Counts: A Guide to Strengthening Selection Strategies
Given resource constraints, hiring qualified people for critical positions is extremely important. However, creating or refining selection strategies for federal jobs and internships can be difficult, and special hiring authorities like the Pathways Programs add complexity.

"Quality Counts: A Guide to Strengthening Selection Strategies" is designed to help organizations identify top candidates by employing meaningful assessments. It provides agencies with an approach to better understand their hiring needs and processes, and offers advice on how to overcome common challenges. Use it to help develop or improve your selection strategies for participants in the Pathways Programs.

Individual Development Plan Template
Participants in both the Recent Graduates Program and PMF Program are required to create Individual Development Plans (IDPs) to guide their professional development, plan their careers and provide their supervisors with opportunities to align their growth with agencies’ workforce needs.

Use this template, developed by an interagency team of Emerging HR Leaders, to help students and recent graduates consistently identify and document the activities necessary to develop key competencies and maximize their job performance.

Relevant Reports and Articles

Federal Leaders Face Challenges Attracting Top College Graduates to Government Service
Where do today’s college students plan to work after graduation and what do they want from an employer when they enter the workforce?

The Partnership analyzed the results of the 2011 National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Student Survey of 35,401 students from 599 colleges and universities from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The results are both alarming and replete with challenges for federal hiring managers and human resources professionals who are charged with attracting a new generation of skilled employees to our government.

Most startling was a finding that just 6 percent of the college students who were surveyed plan to work in government at the local, state or federal level, the lowest number expressing an intention to join the public sector since the NACE survey first asked the question in 2008. The survey for the first time in 2011 asked specifically about federal employment aspirations, with only 2.3 percent of the respondents reporting that they plan to work for the U.S. government.

Read more

The Presidential Management Fellows Program: First Impressions from the Class of 2011
For 35 years, the PMF Program has been the government's premier initiative for recruiting and developing top talent from graduate schools across the country. How is the PMF program meeting the expectations of its participants? What changes need to be made to ensure the program remains a critical pathway to federal service for future government managers and leaders?

In the Partnership's new issue brief, we surveyed, with assistance from the Office of Personnel Management, members of the PMF class of 2011 during their first two to five months on the job to better gauge their expectations for the program and how those met the fellows' first impressions. The findings reveal some positive aspects of the program and some warning signals that deserve attention.

Read more

Is Your Internship Program a Success?
Research from NACE shows that an internship is one of the most effective ways to recruit and hire full-time employees. Following are some of the steps employers cite as key to boosting their intern-to-full-time-hire conversion rates:

  • Pay your interns. By paying your interns, you have a bigger qualified talent pool to pull from—not just those students whose parents can support them while they work for free.
  • Target schools. The basics of recruiting are the same whether you’re hiring for full-time or internship positions. Target schools where you’ve previously found good candidates.
  • Assign real work. The more time an intern spends doing real work like analytical and problem-solving tasks, the more likely the intern is to accept a full-time position. Both employer and intern use the internship experience to see how well suited the intern is for a job.

For more information on best practices for internship programs, see NACE’s 15 Best Practices for Internship Programs.

Helpful Links

OPM websites and social media

Partnership websites and social media

Additional information and resources


The Partnership is committed to helping agencies effectively implement the Pathways Programs and leverage these initiatives to attract and hire the right talent. For more information about our activities and resources, please email calltoserve@ourpublicservice.org.

The Partnership for Public Service is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works to revitalize our federal government by inspiring a new generation to serve and by transforming the way government works.