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Recruitment Policy Studio

Federal Section
Planning for Recruiting - Pathways
Pathways for students and recent graduates to federal careers

Conversion to the Competitive Service



Under the Pathways Internship Program, when does the 120-day clock for non-competitive conversion to the competitive service begin? Does it start when the student completes his/her academic requirements, or upon graduation (i.e., when the academic institution confers the degree, which could be several weeks or months later)? (READ MORE)
The 120-day clock for non-competitive conversion starts when the student completes his or her academic requirements (as determined by the educational institution). 5 CFR 362.204(b) (2) states Interns are eligible for non-competitive conversion within 120 days upon completion of the course of academic study at a qualifying educational institution that confers a diploma, certificate, or degree. Therefore, the 120-day clock starts upon completion of the last course requirements for the degree the Intern is pursuing. Agencies should defer to the educational institution for a determination of when degree requirements have been met.


Can an agency non-competitively convert a Pathways Intern to the Pathways Recent Graduates Program, upon successful completion of the intern’s academic requirements? (READ MORE)
No, individuals on Pathways Internship appointments are eligible only for consideration for non-competitive conversion to positions in the competitive service, and only if all applicable program requirements are met. The intent of the Pathways Internship Program is to develop individuals for potential placement into the permanent workforce, or to provide them with an opportunity to explore Federal careers while still in school, but not to effectuate placement into yet another developmental program. As a reminder, per 5 CFR 362.303(a), public notification is required prior to filling positions in the Pathways Recent Graduates Program.


Are employees on Internship and Recent Graduate appointments eligible for conversion to excepted service positions or only to competitive service positions? (READ MORE)
By definition, and as provided in Executive Order 13562, the Pathways authorities are to be used as an exception to filling positions that would normally be filled through a competitive process. Accordingly, non-competitive conversion means assignment to a position in the competitive service. The Pathways Programs Executive Order and implementing regulations do not provide for conversion to an excepted service position for Intern or Recent Graduate positions.


May an Intern NTE be converted to a position in the competitive service? (READ MORE)
Yes, an Intern NTE may be non-competitively converted to the competitive service provided the job opportunity announcement used to fill the Intern NTE position stated the conversion potential and all other requirements for conversion have been met. However, the conversion of an Intern NTE should be rare as an Intern NTE positions are to be used to complete temporary projects, perform labor-intensive tasks not requiring subject-matter expertise, or fill traditional summer jobs.


When an Intern NTE completes his or her academic requirements and is eligible to graduate, does the agency have an obligation to convert the Intern to a position in the competitive service within the agency? (READ MORE)
No. An agency is not required to convert any individual in a Pathways position to a position in the competitive service, whether upon completion of degree requirements or otherwise. Conversion to a competitive service positions is not an entitlement. An agency does, however, have the discretion to convert an Intern NTE if the job opportunity announcement used to fill the Intern NTE position stated the conversion potential and all other requirements for conversion have been met. Intern NTE positions are to be used to complete temporary projects, perform labor-intensive tasks not requiring subject-matter expertise, or fill traditional summer jobs.


Do Intern NTEs have a 120-day grace period following graduation from college to remain in program? (READ MORE)
No. In accordance with 5 CFR 362.205 the appointment of Intern NTE ends when the temporary appointment expires. However, the agency may convert the Intern NTE before expiration of the original appointment if that date is within 120 days of the completion of degree requirements provided the job opportunity announcement used to fill the Intern NTE position described this conversion potential and all other requirements for conversion have been met.


May an agency retain (without providing Public Notification or competition) a participant in the Internship Program after graduation if the Intern is accepted into another qualifying educational program during the 120-day administrative period allowed for conversion to the competitive service. (READ MORE)
Yes. In accordance with 5 CFR 362.203(b) an agency may retain an Intern or Intern NTE following graduation if the Intern also has been accepted into another qualifying degree program at the time of graduation. It is not uncommon, for example, for students who graduate from college to immediately begin a master’s or professional degree program. In such situations, the acceptance into another qualifying educational program means the student maintains eligibility for employment as an Intern. In these situations, public notification and competition are not required for the participant to continue in the agency’s Internship program.


Can agencies convert Interns, Recent Graduates, or PMFs to either term or permanent appointments? (READ MORE)
Yes. Interns, Recent Graduates, or PMFs who have completed all requirements for conversion may be non-competitively converted to term or permanent positions. When non-competitively converted to a term appointment, the agency may subsequently noncompetitively convert the individual to a permanent competitive service position at any time before the term appointment expires. The option to convert the individual to a term appointment is provided in accordance with the Executive Order 13562 to allow flexibility when budgetary or other resource constraints would prevent an agency from converting an employee to a permanent position at the time the employee successfully completes the program.


May individuals participating in the Recent Graduates Program be appointed to a position that has an established career ladder? (READ MORE)
Yes. An individual participating in the Recent Graduates Program may be appointed to a position that has an established career ladder provided the job opportunity announcement for the position stated the career ladder.


May individuals participating in the Internship Program be noncompetitively converted to a position that has an established career ladder? (READ MORE)
Yes. An individual participating in the Internship who otherwise meets the program requirements for conversion (i.e., work hours, satisfactory performance, educational requirements, training completed, etc.) may be converted to a position with an established career ladder provided the job opportunity announcement for the position stated the career ladder. For instance, an Intern GS-0299-04 Human Resources Trainee may be noncompetitively converted to a GS-0201-05/7/9/11 Human Resources Specialist career ladder position.


Will the time spent on a Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) appointment, prior to appointment as a Pathways Intern under Schedule D, be considered creditable for career tenure when the Intern is converted to the competitive service? (READ MORE)
Yes. Time spent on a SCEP appointment will be creditable towards career tenure when the Intern is converted to a position in the competitive service.


Will the time spent on a Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) appointment, prior to appointment as a Pathways Intern under Schedule D, be considered creditable for career tenure if the Intern is converted to the competitive service? (READ MORE)
No, time spent on a STEP appointment will not be creditable towards career tenure if the Intern is converted to a position in the competitive service. However, the time spent as an Intern or an Intern NTE under Schedule D will be will be creditable towards career tenure.


Is an Intern required to serve a trial period? (READ MORE)
An Intern is not required to serve a trial period unless an agency has a policy that requires employees in the excepted service to serve a trial period.


May an agency convert an employee who successfully completes the Internship, Recent Graduates or PMF Program to an Attorney (GS-0905) position? (READ MORE)
No. Under the Pathways Programs participants may be converted only to term or permanent positions in the competitive service. Attorney (GS-0905) positions are in the excepted service, so an agency may not use the Pathways Programs to fill such positions.