Mike Horgen

Mike Horgen, Presidential Management Fellow

Mike Horgen graduated from Capella's MPA program in early 2014, and just recently attained the Presidential Management Fellowship. Mike graciously shared his experience with us so that we could share it with all of you! Read his success story below.

Why did you decide to apply for the Presidential Management Fellows program?

I applied for the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) program because I wanted to work as a leader within the federal government and to help effect change. I felt that my personality, ambition, aspirations, and belief in public-service made me a good fit for the PMF Program.

I felt that [within the government] we could do better, so I decided to do something about it. Kind of put my money where my mouth is, if you will. So I set out to improve my education in public service leadership. I earned a master's degree and am currently in my PhD program at Capella. I've served on my local board of education and a number of local service organizations within my community in the past, and enjoyed helping others. I was determined to make a difference and to help make the lives of my fellow Americans better. But I wasn't sure how to do that until one day I saw information about the PMF Program on Capella's website. I investigated further and found a way to give back and potentially make a difference. Upon reading the information I started planning for the application phase and the rest is now history.

What was your experience while going through the PMF application?

The process is lengthy, but worth the effort if you are passionate about and truly interested in public service leadership. The online application requires a number of specific and methodical steps to upload certificates, resumes, transcripts, and veteran-preference documents (if applicable). The application is usually only open for two weeks a calendar year. You can subscribe to the listserv for online updates at www.pmf.gov to be notified when applications will be accepted.

The PMF office personnel screens qualified applicants. Those who make the first cut receive an email informing them. Last year there were more than 7,000 applicants. Approximately 15% are invited to interview in Washington DC. After the initial interviews, PMF representatives recommend finalists. In 2014 there were 609 finalists nationwide. Upon being recommended for hire as a PMF, you must search for, and apply to, the government agency of your interest. There is a special PMF-only secure website where agencies announce or list positions they have open to PMF applicants.

Being a finalist does not guarantee you a position. Additional assessments and writing samples, background checks (e.g., secret, top-secret, public-trust), and of course, an interview with the hiring committee or HR representative are made before you are offered a position.

What's it been like since becoming a Presidential Management Fellow?

Once I was hired at the Department of the US Treasury, I had senior leaders going out of their way to welcome me and make sure my family and I had everything we needed to be successful in our new DC home. The level of respect you marshal when you have an advanced degree from Capella University and have been selected as a PMF is amazing. You'll deal with extremely intelligent senior government leaders and be expected to hit the ground running. Ultimately, you'll move into a senior leadership position within your agency after completion of the two-year PMR Program.

What would you tell other alumni who might be interested in a PMF?

I've been working as a PMF for only three weeks, and I met Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on September 11 at the Observance Ceremony at the Pentagon. I've walked the Pentagon halls with some of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met a number of agency commissioners, worked on passport security issues with members of the State Department, toured the Capitol, and have lunch outside at either the Jefferson Memorial or Washington Monument two blocks from my office. It's simply an amazing place to live and work. You can and will make a difference in the lives of your fellow Americans. Plus, I feel, it's quite an honor.

Interested in applying for the PMF Program? Apply on their website between Oct. 1 and Oct. 15, 2014. According to the www.pmf.gov web site:

Bearing the Presidential moniker, the PMF Program is a flagship leadership development program at the entry level for advanced degree candidates.It was created more than three decades ago by Executive Order and has gone through many changes over the years. The Program attracts and selects the best candidates possible, but is really designed with a more narrow focus - developing a cadre of potential government leaders. It provides some sustenance during the first years of employment and encourages development of leadership capabilities. The PMF Program inculcates a lasting bond as well as a spirit of public service, ultimately encouraging and leading to a career in the government.