U.S. Customs and Border Protection Presidential Management Fellows Program

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If you have an advanced degree and are seriously considering a career in law enforcement, especially in border security, then you can try to apply for the prestigious Presidential Management Fellows Program of the Federal government. As an agency of the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection also participates in the program that is aimed at attracting and selecting the best. From this flagship program that was created more than three decades ago, the PMF Program hopes to develop a cadre of potential leaders.

To qualify, you will need to have completed within the past two years a qualifying advanced degree. This can either be a masters or professional degree from a qualifying college or university. For the PMF Class of 2013 application, you are eligible to apply if you will meet all the graduate degree requirements (even though you have not necessarily graduated), including the completion or successful defense of any required thesis or dissertation (as required) by August 31, 2013.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) centrally administers the PMF Program. The opportunity announcements are usually given in the late summer or early fall. If you apply, expect to undergo a rigorous assessment process to determine if your qualifications are enough to make you a Finalist. Your experience and accomplishments as well as the results of the assessments will ultimately determine if you are fit to be a Presidential Management Fellow.

After the OPM has selected the Finalists, they will then give this list of Finalists to the various Federal agencies, including the Customs and Border Protection. The CBP (and other agencies, for that matter) will in turn give the OPM with information about their PMF opportunities and post these appointment opportunities for Finalists in the PMF website year-round. There is also a job fair for Finalists each year.

Now once you obtain an appointment as a PMF with the CBP, you are expected to serve for two years in an excepted service position. You can be appointed in the GS-09, GS-11, or GS-12 grade levels depending on your qualifications.

When you are a PMF appointee, you get the training you need to become a future leader. You will be mentored by a managerial employee throughout the duration of the Program. An Individual Development Plan (IDP) will be created to track your career planning, professional development, and training as a PMF. You will also be given one developmental assignment consistent with the IDP and two rotational assignments—the first is a 4-6 month development assignment and the other is in a different component of the Department of Homeland Security (period of 1 to 6 months), the department of the CBP. You also get at least 80 hours of formal, interactive training each year of the Program so for two years, you have a total 160 hours of training.

Of course, you must obtain a successful rating in your PMF performance plan each year to continue on with the program. Getting a successful rating is also necessary if you want to have a shot at being converted to a permanent or term position with the Customs and Border Patrol.