Pathways Myth Busters

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.

Individual agencies may have complementary policies for the Internship and Recent Graduates Programs. If you have any questions about these initiatives, please contact your Pathways Programs Officer.

We thank OPM for reviewing and providing input into this resource.

For additional information, please email us at pathways@ourpublicservice.org.

These myth busters were created in collaboration with:


MYTH #1

Agencies cannot target their outreach to specific academic institutions, associations or other talent sources. Agencies cannot target their outreach by geographic area.

FACT

Agencies can decide how they will recruit and accept applications for positions, provided that they comply with applicable law and the regulatory procedures outlined in 5 CFR, Part 302. Agencies can:

  • Engage in local recruiting efforts;
  • Use familiar recruiting networks; and
  • Establish guidelines regarding geographic areas of consideration, minimum announcement periods and other recruitment sources.
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MYTH #2

Agencies must post every job and internship that they are hiring for on USAJOBS.

FACT

Agencies do not need to post job opportunity announcements (JOAs) for every job and internship that they are hiring for on USAJOBS. One JOA or notice can be used to advertise all of the Internship or Recent Graduates Programs opportunities that an agency is hiring for at a given time, so long as it includes information about the position titles, series and grade, geographic locations, and how to apply or express interest in them.

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MYTH #3

Agencies cannot accept applications for Recent Graduates positions from students who are still in school and have yet to complete their degrees.

FACT

Agencies can accept applications for Recent Graduates positions from these students, provided that they are scheduled to complete their degrees prior to the start dates for the jobs being advertised.

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MYTH #4

Agencies must use OPM qualification standards to fill Internship positions.

FACT

Agencies can use OPM qualification standards or develop and use their own to fill Internship positions, provided that these selective factors are outlined in their MOUs. The OPM qualification standards are intended to serve as minimum requirements for Internship positions, and agencies can and should add other criteria to help them attract well-qualified candidates and winnow down their applicant pools.

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MYTH #5

Agencies must apply veterans’ preference as part of each screen in the hiring process for Internship and Recent Graduates positions, when they hire students and recent graduates for these roles, and before noncompetitively converting them to full-time jobs.

FACT

Agencies must only apply veterans’ preference once during the process when hiring students and recent graduates into the Internship and Recent Graduates Programs. They do not need to apply it again before noncompetitively converting them to full-time positions. Agencies should refer to their internal excepted service policies when determining how to apply preference during rating and ranking, in accordance with 5 CFR, Part 302 procedures.

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MYTH #6

Students must accumulate 640 hours of continuous, onsite service at the same office location and agency, or 320 hours if they demonstrate outstanding academic achievement or exceptional job performance, in order to meet the requirements of the Internship Program and be eligible for noncompetitive conversion.

FACT

Students are able to carry over the hours accumulated towards their overall program requirements when they have breaks in service, work remotely or switch office locations or agencies.

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MYTH #7

Students who participated in volunteer or third-party internship programs cannot apply any of their hours of experience towards the 640-hour minimum service requirement for noncompetitive conversion once they apply and are accepted into the Internship Program.

FACT

Agencies may grant credit for up to half of the 640-hour minimum service requirement, or 320 hours, to students who participated in certain volunteer or third-party internship programs once they apply and are accepted into the Internship Program.

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MYTH #8

Participants in the Internship and Recent Graduates Programs who meet all Program requirements may only be noncompetitively converted at the agency where they completed these requirements.

FACT

Agencies can noncompetitively convert any participant in the Internship Program who meets all Program requirements, even if that individual has never worked for their agency in the past. Participants in the Recent Graduates Program do not have the same conversion eligibility. These individuals must be converted within the agency to which they were initially appointed.

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