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marmal  
#1 Posted : Saturday, February 10, 2018 12:41:25 PM(UTC)
marmal

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Two years and change ago an effort was made to hire me under the Pathways authority to a Permanent Forest Service position. After several months of trying, the HR folks for FS said that because I was a Pathways NTE Intern, they would not convert me to permanent, despite the fact that my SF50 said I was eligible. They claimed there was no legal authority; when we showed them the CFR they said that there was a policy that they wouldn't authorize the conversion and basically admitted it was unwritten. Since HR is HR, we had no recourse.

I eventually found a term position and was converted into that position August 2016, but with a DOI agency. I've been warned that the budget is dire and not to expect to be converted in place where I am, so I have been applying for jobs again. What I'm trying to figure out now is how to apply properly using my Pathways conversion eligibility. Should I be able to apply to internal-only announcements that I'm eligible for, since I'm eligible for conversion despite not technically having status?

More importantly, I have been unable to determine if FS will recognize my conversion-eligibility at all. Does anyone know if they have a secret unwritten policy against converting Pathways Terms to permanents? Previously they said they would have converted me if I had only been an Intern Indefinite instead of an Intern NTE. But now I'm actually a competitive service Term, but I additionally have an SF50 saying I can be converted without competition at any time.

Would appreciate any thoughts or especially personal experience anyone can share.
ashulein  
#2 Posted : Saturday, February 17, 2018 2:09:34 PM(UTC)

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https://www.opm.gov/poli...ys-programs-handbook.pdf

I suggest you look at bottom of page 21 under the Conversions section. There is a very specific word there you should take notice of and that word is "discretion." You're trying to backdoor your way into a permanent position and considering the way hiring is done I can't say I fault you but unless there is someone willing to go out on a limb for you it doesn't really matter what your SF-50 says. There is additional information throughout the handbook (intern conversion eligibility is on 30) that might help. Good luck.
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marmal on 4/7/2018(UTC)
rb88  
#3 Posted : Tuesday, March 13, 2018 11:23:33 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: marmal Go to Quoted Post
Two years and change ago an effort was made to hire me under the Pathways authority to a Permanent Forest Service position. After several months of trying, the HR folks for FS said that because I was a Pathways NTE Intern, they would not convert me to permanent, despite the fact that my SF50 said I was eligible. They claimed there was no legal authority; when we showed them the CFR they said that there was a policy that they wouldn't authorize the conversion and basically admitted it was unwritten. Since HR is HR, we had no recourse.

I eventually found a term position and was converted into that position August 2016, but with a DOI agency. I've been warned that the budget is dire and not to expect to be converted in place where I am, so I have been applying for jobs again. What I'm trying to figure out now is how to apply properly using my Pathways conversion eligibility. Should I be able to apply to internal-only announcements that I'm eligible for, since I'm eligible for conversion despite not technically having status?

More importantly, I have been unable to determine if FS will recognize my conversion-eligibility at all. Does anyone know if they have a secret unwritten policy against converting Pathways Terms to permanents? Previously they said they would have converted me if I had only been an Intern Indefinite instead of an Intern NTE. But now I'm actually a competitive service Term, but I additionally have an SF50 saying I can be converted without competition at any time.

Would appreciate any thoughts or especially personal experience anyone can share.


So I have some experience with conversion from the standpoint of a pathways student. I was initially under the USDA as an indefinite intern for a little while. I tried to get converted while interning, but according to HR, even with or without term, you cannot be converted from pathways to permanent without having completed the degree program you enrolled in to qualify for the pathways in the first place. Although I had a degree already, I was in a Master's program, so until finished that program at the time, I couldn't convert. I could however use my SF-50 to apply to competitive positions within the agency, which I did do (didn't get hired though). Your SF-50 will give them proof of GS level and also show the length of time you've been within the federal gov't with helps if hired.

Now on to actually converting. I took another pathways internship right before my last semester of grad school with another agency that was a NTE position. When my NTE date was about to be reached, my office requested an extension to my internship because they wanted to hire me. After my short extension, one of the supervisors wanted to pick me up for a permanent position, much like your supervisor wanted to do. My "new" supervisor requested that I be converted to an indefinite intern and put in the paperwork for me to do so. However, to do that there had to be an available FTE open for me. (Don't ask me to explain FTE, I have trouble still fully grasping the concept). Still to hire me permanent I had to complete my degree in order to meet the qualifications for conversion.

Regardless of me having my other degree, if you enter while in a current degree program, unless you are in the recent grad or pmf pathways program, you have to finish that degree to get converted non-competitively. I know several people that have gone through the pathways as well especially within the usda and that rule has never changed. So this may be what's really going on. Now if you have finished your degree, then your HR is most definitely doing things much different then the rest of the agency. I'd try to speak to another HR within the FS if possible. I had to seek another HR person for help because sometimes they really don't know what they're talking about.

But continue to use your SF-50 to apply for other positions rather competitively or non-competitively. If you don't get referred, email the HR over the announcement to ask for clarification on the reason for non-referral. That should fill in the gaps on your concerns. Good luck! Sorry for the lengthy response
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marmal on 4/7/2018(UTC)
marmal  
#4 Posted : Saturday, April 07, 2018 7:03:56 AM(UTC)
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Thank you for this reply! I didn't get an email about it from Federal Soup and missed it. I appreciate you taking the time and certainly don't mind the link. What you say is very interesting as it directly contradicts what I was told by USFS HR while I was still an intern (they said they could only convert from Indefinite, and only NTEs could apply to Indefinite positions). Be that as it may, I actually ended up doing what you have advised here. I maybe wasn't clear but I finished the MS in May 2016 and was converted to a Term Pathways position, which is a special Term variant where you retain the non-competitive appointment eligibililty. I have been applying to internal announcements, figuring it's kind of a roll of the dice with HR to see if they accept the Pathways thing or not. I have been getting referred and going on interviews. A week ago I actually got a Tentative offer with USFS, which I accepted. I'm inclined to believe your supposition that HR decisions can vary person-to-person so at this point I'm just praying that I actually get a final offer letter. I'm feeling anxious about it because USFS and my supervisor in DOI think that it's a done deal, but people on this forums seem to indicate that may not be the case. If nothing else I've learned not to ask too many questions, although if ruled ineligible it seems worth it to follow up.

My biggest regret at this moment is that I canceled a schedule interview this week because I'd accepted the tentative offer letter, thinking that was the ethically appropriate thing to do. Getting back on the forums today it seems that was an unwise decision, but I suspect it's too late to change that. My future supervisor also sent out a bio of me to the Forest I would be going to, so it seems they are confident things will work out. I also had to choose a start date. So the world is crazy; there are no rules; I'm pretty stressed out but don't have much ability to control what actually happens.

Originally Posted by: rb88 Go to Quoted Post

So I have some experience with conversion from the standpoint of a pathways student. I was initially under the USDA as an indefinite intern for a little while. I tried to get converted while interning, but according to HR, even with or without term, you cannot be converted from pathways to permanent without having completed the degree program you enrolled in to qualify for the pathways in the first place. Although I had a degree already, I was in a Master's program, so until finished that program at the time, I couldn't convert. I could however use my SF-50 to apply to competitive positions within the agency, which I did do (didn't get hired though). Your SF-50 will give them proof of GS level and also show the length of time you've been within the federal gov't with helps if hired.

Now on to actually converting. I took another pathways internship right before my last semester of grad school with another agency that was a NTE position. When my NTE date was about to be reached, my office requested an extension to my internship because they wanted to hire me. After my short extension, one of the supervisors wanted to pick me up for a permanent position, much like your supervisor wanted to do. My "new" supervisor requested that I be converted to an indefinite intern and put in the paperwork for me to do so. However, to do that there had to be an available FTE open for me. (Don't ask me to explain FTE, I have trouble still fully grasping the concept). Still to hire me permanent I had to complete my degree in order to meet the qualifications for conversion.

Regardless of me having my other degree, if you enter while in a current degree program, unless you are in the recent grad or pmf pathways program, you have to finish that degree to get converted non-competitively. I know several people that have gone through the pathways as well especially within the usda and that rule has never changed. So this may be what's really going on. Now if you have finished your degree, then your HR is most definitely doing things much different then the rest of the agency. I'd try to speak to another HR within the FS if possible. I had to seek another HR person for help because sometimes they really don't know what they're talking about.

But continue to use your SF-50 to apply for other positions rather competitively or non-competitively. If you don't get referred, email the HR over the announcement to ask for clarification on the reason for non-referral. That should fill in the gaps on your concerns. Good luck! Sorry for the lengthy response


ds3829  
#5 Posted : Saturday, April 07, 2018 4:00:03 PM(UTC)
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I'm in my third season with the FS. In my experience, when you're given a tentative offer its pretty much 99% sure you're getting the job pending the OF306 and any background/fingerprint investigation or other circumstances like sudden lack of funding for the position.

I just applied for a pathways position with the FS this week which led me here after some googling looking for other peoples experience with pathways.
zenryo  
#6 Posted : Tuesday, April 10, 2018 8:54:48 AM(UTC)
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Thank God I saw this. I just applied for that Forest Service intern/pathways announcement but am just Starting my Master's. God forbid I start and can't get converted until my degree is done. I won't hold my breath with this one.
marmal  
#7 Posted : Tuesday, April 10, 2018 9:04:33 AM(UTC)
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Well, I got a call today letting me know the offer is being rescinded and that the Forest Service won't convert any Pathways students who were not Pathways students with the Forest Service. This is a change in their policy from the past (and Pathways has only existed for a few years). Too bad for me since I took a Pathways in a much smaller organization. I wish a Forest Service Pathways opportunity had been available to me, but there wasn't anything near where I had to live.

To the others on this forum...yes you have to complete your degree to get a noncompetitive conversion to a permanent position. This fact is actually clearly stated in the job announcements, OPM policy, pathways paperwork you sign when being onboarded, etc. The purpose of the program is to recruit students and there are only a few conditions of noncompetitive conversion (unless you run into agency-specific add-ons): 640 hours of work in the internship, satisfactory job performance, and completion of the degree program you are in.
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