This week, we’re taking ProFellow’s popular university tours online! First the first time ever, we’ll be speaking with students and professionals across the U.S. via Google Hangout.
I’ll give an overview of my experience in 4 different fellowship programs and provide insider tips on how to prepare a competitive application, how to make an impression in the individual and group interview, and how to make the most of your fellowship experience. The presentation will give an overview of a wide range of fellowships for graduate school, research, career advancement and experiences abroad.
Summer is a great time to begin working on applications for competitive fellowships Fellowship deadlines generally fall between October-January. Get a head start on your fellowship search!
ProFellow’s Google HangOut Seminar Dates:
Thursday, April 25, 6-7pm PST / 9-10 pm EST
Sunday, April 28, 4-5pm PST / 7-8pm EST
Tuesday, April 30, 6-7pm PST /9-10pm EST
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I am often asked about fellowships for older adults and experienced professionals since many fellowships appear to skew towards young professionals and students. There are actually many fellowship opportunities for people over age 50, and late career can be one of the best times to pursue a competitive fellowship. You now have a wealth of experience and skills to share with others, and many organizations would benefit from your ability and willingness to serve.
What many people don’t know is that service fellowships like the Peace Corps and Americorps provide paid, short-term service opportunities in the U.S. and abroad to people of all ages, including experienced professionals and retirees. Peace Corps in particular actively recruits people age 50 and older through their 50 Plus Initiative. Judy Frey, a Peace Corps volunteer in China, applied so she could change gears from her 20-year career as a manager and training professional and do something more meaningful with her skills. Frey said her age gave her a distinct advantage compared to most of the younger Peace Corps Volunteers.
“Coming to the Peace Corps with life experience can definitely make your job assignment easier,” Frey said. “More older people should explore the possibilities of the Peace Corps for retirement or before. It will keep them alive: mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually as I believe it is doing for me.” Read more.
Many people also don’t know that Americorps has no upper age limit for its competitive, paid service opportunities in the United States. At age 71, Arlin Raedeke joined Americorps specifically to help disadvantaged people navigate the U.S. health care system. He worked at the Denver non-profit organization, Boomers Leading Change in Health, which received $300,000 from the Colorado Governor’s office to train Americorps volunteers to help people stay healthy, or to become health system navigators like Radeke. Read more.
In addition to Peace Corps and Americorps, we’ve listed several fellowships in our database that have no age limit, or are geared towards experienced professionals, including:
Encore Fellowships: Encore Fellowships are designed to deliver new sources of talent to organizations solving critical social problems. These paid, time-limited fellowships match skilled, experienced professionals at the end of their midlife careers with social-purpose organizations. During the fellowship period (typically 6-12 months, half to full time), the Fellows take on roles that bring significant, sustained impact to their host organizations. Fellows work in U.S. cities and London.
Fulbright Specialist Program: The Fulbright Specialist Program (FSP) promotes linkages between U.S. academics and professionals and their counterparts at host institutions overseas. Grants are awarded in select disciplines to engage in short-term collaborative 2 to 6 week projects at host institutions in over 100 countries worldwide. International travel costs and a stipend are funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating host institutions cover grantee in-country expenses or provide in-kind services. U.S. faculty and professionals apply to join a Roster of Specialists for a 5 year term. Rolling deadline.
NYC Civic Corps: The NYC Civic Corps, an AmeriCorps program run by NYC Service, unites a diverse group of professionals to serve full-time with partnering organizations, working to increase their organizational capacity to engage volunteers and build sustainable volunteer initiatives. Small teams of NYC Civic Corps members are assigned to partner organizations for 10 months. Corps members receive a monthly living stipend of $1,270, health benefits and an end-of-service education award of $5,350. Corps members are placed in a wide array of non-profit organizations and City agencies throughout the five boroughs of New York City. Corps Members range in age from 22-60.
© Victoria Johnson 2013, all rights reserved.
- Peace Corps Perks: Post-Service Graduate School Fellowships
- Faith-based Service Fellowships – Who Knew!
- First Esteemed Fellows Dinner Of The New Year: Networking In San Francisco
- EDF Climate Corps Summer Fellows Save Corporations Millions
- When Civic Duty Calls: 3 Questions With Global Health Corps Fellow Jared Stancombe
Next in my series on How To Fully Fund Your PhD, I provide a list below of universities that offer full funding to all students admitted to their doctoral programs in education, international education and educational leadership.
You can find several competitive, external fellowships in the ProFellow database for graduate and doctoral study, but it is useful to seek out PhD programs that offer full funding to all admitted students. When a doctoral program indicates that they provide full funding to their PhD students, in most cases this means they provide each admitted student full tuition and a stipend for living expenses for the four to six year duration of the student’s doctoral studies. Not all universities provide full funding to their doctoral students, which is why I recommend researching the financial aid offerings of all the potential PhD programs in your academic field, including small and lesser-known schools both in the U.S. and abroad.
Boston College, Lynch School of Education (Boston, MA): The Lynch School offers competitive full funding packages for full-time Ph.D. students during their first three years of study through a combination of research and teaching assistantships. Assistantships provide both critical training and funding packages that include a monthly stipend, tuition remission, and individual health insurance coverage.
Drexel University, School of Education, PhD in Educational Leadership Development and Learning Technologies (Philadelphia, PA): This program will be limited to a cohort of full-time students for whom full funding is available and who will be fully embraced as members of the School of Education.
Harvard University, Graduate School of Education, Doctor of Education Leadership (Ed.L.D.): All students in the Ed.L.D. Program receive a full tuition funding package, which also includes stipend support in years one and two, as well as a paid residency in year three.
New York University, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development (New York, NY): The Steinhardt School offers all full-time Ph.D. students a complete funding and mentoring program. All students offered admission to our Ph.D. programs are awarded a full funding package and are assigned to a faculty mentor.
Stanford University, Graduate School of Education (Stanford, CA): Students in the Ph.D. programs are automatically funded through a combination of fellowships and assistantships for the first four years of their graduate studies. Funding is contingent upon satisfactory progress toward the degree requirements.
University of Colorado, School of Education, PhD in Education (Boulder, CO): Doctoral students admitted and attending the School will be provided with three years of funding.
University of Michigan, School of Education (Ann Arbor, MI): Nearly all School of Education doctoral students receive full funding to cover tuition, fees, books, living expenses, and health insurance.
University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education, PhD in Education, Culture & Society (Philadelphia, PA): All PhD students receive four years of tuition, a living stipend, and health insurance.
Vanderbilt Peabody College, College of Education and Human Development (Nashville, TN): Students admitted to the program typically receive full tuition support, health insurance, and graduate assistantships that cover living expenses. A significant proportion of students also receive scholarships that increase their level of financial support.
To view over 450 professional and academic fellowships, including fellowships for graduate and doctoral study and pre- and post-doctoral research, sign up to view ProFellow’s fellowships database.
© Victoria Johnson 2013, all rights reserved.
In follow-up to my article on How To Fully Fund Your PhD, we began a series on fully funded PhD programs in various disciplines. There are several competitive, external fellowships that fund doctoral study, but if funding is a concern, it is a better strategy to apply to PhD programs that offer full funding to all admitted students. When a doctoral program indicates that they provide full funding to their PhD students, in most cases this means they provide each admitted student full tuition and a stipend for living expenses for the four to six year duration of the student’s doctoral studies. Not all universities provide full funding to their doctoral students, which is why I recommend researching the financial aid offerings of all the potential PhD programs in your academic field, including small and lesser-known schools both in the U.S. and abroad.
To view over 400 professional and academic fellowships, including fellowships for graduate and doctoral study and pre- and post-doctoral research, sign up to view ProFellow’s fellowships database.
Below is a list of universities that offer full funding to all of the admitted students to their PhD programs in international relations, international affairs and international development:
American University, School of International Service, PhD in International Relations (Washington, DC): All those admitted to the SIS PhD program as full-time students and who maintain good progress toward completing the degree are granted a Dean’s Fellowship in each of the first four years of study, unless a student opts to waive financial aid.
Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs, PhD in Sustainable Development (New York, NY): Full-tuition fellowships with stipends are available for all admitted students who are not already sponsored by their governments, employers, or a foundation. The fellowships are open to all admitted students regardless of citizenship.
Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, PhD in Public Affairs (Princeton, NJ): The doctoral program offers full merit-based funding to cover the cost of each student’s tuition and living expenses for four years. In return, each Ph.D. student is expected to work as a teaching assistant following completion of the general examinations for one semester or the equivalent of a “three-hour” teaching assignment. Ph.D. students also receive a 12-month stipend for research and living expenses, and are eligible to apply for other competitive graduate fellowships awarded by the Graduate School.
Stanford University, Department of Political Science, PhD in Political Science (Focus in International Relations) (Stanford, CA): The department offers a standard package, consisting of a stipend and the payment of tuition and fees, to most incoming students. Both domestic and international students are eligible for this standard package. Although the Department cannot formally guarantee support beyond the first year, it expects to continue to provide an additional four years of support to students making satisfactory academic progress. This assistance normally covers the full cost of tuition and an additional amount for living expenses during the academic year. The latter amount is usually in the form of a stipend, teaching assistantship, or research assistantship.
University of California Berkeley, Department of Political Science, PhD in Political Science (Subfield in International Relations) (Berkeley, CA): The Political Science department supports its graduate students through a combination of department fellowships, university multiyear fellowships, and teaching and research assistantships. Most incoming students are awarded five years of funding support consisting of fees and non-resident tuition, and student health insurance. All funding packages are contingent on meeting minimum academic and residency requirements throughout the tenure of support. United States citizens and Permanent Residents are required to achieve California residency by the end of their first year in California to receive continued fee support.
University of Chicago, Department of Political Science, PhD in Political Science (Focus in International Relations) (Chicago, IL): As a general principle, we provide extensive funding for all students who matriculate in our doctoral programs. Applicants to our doctoral programs are considered for all fellowship resources at the University of Chicago for which they are eligible. We offer Divisional fellowships at two levels. Both levels provide support for up to five years, are contingent on good progress, and are renewed annually.
University of Denver, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, PhD in International Studies (Denver, CO): The Josef Korbel School provides a three year full tuition waiver and living stipend for most applicants accepted to the doctoral program. In addition, doctoral candidates can take advantage of opportunities to serve as research assistants at the Josef Korbel School.
University of Guelph, PhD in International Development Studies (Guelph, Ontario, Canada): PhD students who are accepted at the University of Guelph are guaranteed a minimum stipend of $17,500 per year over three years of full-time study. However, most departments participating in the collaborative program set a higher minimum standard.
University of Ottawa, School of International Development and Global Studies, PhD in International Development (Ottawa, Canada): The Faculty of Social Sciences has a minimum funding policy that guarantees funding of at least $19,000 for each of the four years of doctoral study to all new doctoral students meeting the requirements described below. A fifth year of funding is available under certain conditions.
University of Washington, Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, PhD in International Studies (Seattle, WA): The Jackson School aims to provide competitive financial packages for all admitted doctoral candidates. Determinations about financial awards are made at the time of admission and during the course of a student’s time at JSIS. Funding guarantees for consecutive years is contingent upon satisfactory academic progress. All accepted doctoral candidates are automatically considered for fellowships, teaching assistantships, and research assistantships.
Yale University, Department of Political Science, PhD in Political Science (Subfield in International Relations) (New Haven, CT): All admitted Ph.D. students receive five full years of funding, including tuition, health insurance, and a generous stipend.
Do you know of other PhD programs in International Relations and International Development that offer full funding to their doctoral students? We are happy to update this list, so please contact us or leave a comment below.
Also sign up to check our fellowships database to learn about other opportunities to fund graduate and doctoral study.
© Victoria Johnson 2013, all rights reserved.
People often ask us about fellowships to fund doctoral study. In general, finding and entering a PhD program that offers automatic full funding to its doctoral students is easier than winning a competitive external doctoral fellowship. When a doctoral program indicates that they provide full funding to their PhD students, in most cases this means they provide each admitted student full tuition and a stipend for living expenses for the four to six year duration of the student’s doctoral studies. Not all universities provide full funding to their doctoral students, which is why I recommend researching the financial aid offerings of all the potential PhD programs in your academic field, including small and lesser-known schools both in the U.S. and abroad.
Below is a list of universities that offer full funding to all of the admitted students to their PhD programs in public policy, public administration and public affairs:
American University, Department of Public Administration and Policy (Washington, DC): American typically provides up to four years of assistance for students entering with a master’s degree, and up to five years for students entering without a master’s degree. All funding packages include full tuition remission; a very competitive stipend for living expenses; excellent travel support for professional conferences; and a variety of internal funding opportunities for students at the dissertation stage. In addition to department-level support, many of our students receive additional travel funds and/or summer income by working with faculty who have secured external funding for their research.
Carnegie Mellon University, Heinz College (Pittsburgh, PA): The financial aid program for the PhD in Public Policy and Management is designed to provide students with the financial support necessary to enable them to successfully complete the program. This support also allows the student to gain classroom experience that is valued in the academic marketplace. Every Ph.D. student in good standing receives a full-tuition scholarship for their entire tenure in the program. Beginning in Fall 2012, students who remain in good standing may also receive a stipend and Teaching Assistantships of up to $18,000 per academic year.
Duke University, Sanford School of Public Policy (Durham, NC): Duke University and the Sanford School of Public Policy are committed to fully supporting Public Policy PhD students for five years through a combination of scholarships, fellowships, research or teaching assistantships and stipends, provided that students maintain satisfactory progress in the program.
Georgia State, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies (Atlanta, GA): The Andrew Young School has been able to fund virtually all full-time students for at least three years. Assistantships typically provide full tuition waivers and stipends of $18,000 per year. Three new doctoral students each year receive Andrew Young or AYSPS Dean’s Scholar Fellowships, which provide an additional $6,000 annually.
Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs (Princeton, NJ): The doctoral program in Public Affairs offers full merit-based funding to cover the cost of each student’s tuition and living expenses for four years. In return, each Ph.D. student is expected to work as a teaching assistant following completion of the general examinations for one semester or the equivalent of a “three-hour” teaching assignment. Ph.D. students also receive a 12-month stipend for research and living expenses, and are eligible to apply for other competitive graduate fellowships awarded by the Graduate School.
University of Michigan, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy (Ann Arbor, MI): PhD students are supported by a combination of fellowships, research assistantships, and teaching stipends for five years, as long as they maintain satisfactory progress in the program. Students are encouraged to seek both teaching and research experience. All students recommended for admission to the Joint PhD Program are offered a fellowship package for the first five academic years of study.
University of North Carolina (UNC) Charlotte (Charlotte, NC): The Ph.D. in Public Policy is committed to academic year funding for all full-time students. Additional support for summer sessions may be available through research grants working with Program faculty. Available options for funding include graduate assistantships, teaching assistantships for those interested in careers in academia, and scholarships.
University of Southern California (USC), Sol Price School of Public Policy (Los Angeles, CA): Incoming Ph.D. students at USC are fully supported for four years through a graduate assistantship that provides tuition remission, a stipend for fall and spring semesters, year-round health and dental insurance, and payment of the university’s health center fee for fall and spring semester. The graduate assistantship provides an opportunity for students to work on teaching and collaborative research with one of our faculty members. Students beyond their fourth year of study are often supported through teaching assistantships, research assistantships or a combination of funding sources from USC and/or outside sources.
Do you know of other PhD programs in Public Policy that offer full funding to their doctoral students? We are happy to update this list, so please contact us or leave a comment below.
Also sign up to check our fellowships database to learn about other opportunities to fund graduate and doctoral study.
© Victoria Johnson 2013, all rights reserved.
Yesterday at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting, I had the pleasure of attending a panel discussion on professional fellowship programs sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The AAAS Congressional Science and Engineering Fellows Program provides support for scientists and engineers to spend a year on Capitol Hill working in Congressional offices. The fellowship program is a cooperative effort of approximately 30 national scientific and engineering societies that has operated for more than 35 years. Some of the duties of Congressional Fellows include crafting legislation, background research, speechwriting, meeting with constituents and lobbyists, and organizing hearings. Also featured was the AAAS Mass Media Fellowship, which annually provides a graduate or undergraduate student in science or engineering the opportunity to spend 10 weeks working in a newsroom. Mass Media Fellows have worked as reporters, editors, researchers and production assistants at such media outlets as National Public Radio (NPR), the Los Angeles Times, Voice of America and Scientific American.
Two Congressional Science Fellows on the panel, Kevin Reed and Erica Bickford, discussed what inspired them to apply and transition from academic research to policy work in Washington, DC. “I started my Ph.D. knowing I wanted to work in policy when I finished. I read about this fellowship when I was an undergraduate,” said Reed, who completed his Ph.D. in Atmospheric and Space Science at the University of Michigan in January 2012. Bickford was less focused on a policy career as a student, but presented a very strong application for the fellowship. “There was a policy component to my dissertation research on the impacts of air quality on transportation,” said Bickford, who recently completed her Ph.D. in Environment and Resources at the University of Wisconsin.
When asked how to best prepare for a Congressional Science Fellowship, Reed recommended participating in opportunities like the American Meteorological Society’s (AMS) Summer Policy Colloquium, a ten-day immersion course in atmospheric policy. Bickford recommended that aspiring fellows stay abreast of current events and science-related legislation. “The fellowship requires a quick learning curve,” said Bickford. “As a fellow, you are considered as having expertise in all areas of science, and therefore you will be asked to weigh in on scientific topics you may know little about.”
The two other panelists, Jessica Morrison and Dee Rossiter, discussed their experience as AAAS Mass Media Fellows. Morrison, a Ph.D. student in Civil & Environmental Engineering at the University of Notre Dame, spent her fellowship this past summer at The Chicago Tribune, where she reported on health science and policy. “I applied for the fellowship because I found I was much more excited about communicating science than working in a lab,” said Morrison. While a student, she began writing, blogging and utilizing social media, something she recommends to other aspiring fellows interested in science journalism.
When Rossiter heard about the Mass Media Fellowship, she felt it was a perfect opportunity to pursue her two passions, science and communications, and strove to develop a competitive resume and application for the fellowship. As a 2011 Fellow, Rossiter worked for Voice Of America, a U.S. State Department media organization that provides news in 43 languages to countries outside the U.S. After earning her Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she studied cloud microphysics, Rossiter landed a job as Program Director of the AAAS Mass Media Program.
One member of the audience asked for the panelists’ honest opinions on working with a Congress in constant deadlock. Reed assured us that despite the political unknowns, policy work is very rewarding. “What you don’t see every day in the news is that there are a lot of smart people doing good work behind the scenes.” However, policy work is very different than academic research. “As a Ph.D. student, you’ve worked for five, six, maybe seven years toward a specific goal of completing one project. In policy work, while you may have a common goal, nothing is set is stone, and you have to be prepared for that,” said Reed.
© Victoria Johnson 2012, all rights reserved.
Today the International Journalists Network (IJNET) facilitated a Live Chat with Patrick Butler on “How to get accepted for fellowships and training.” Patrick is an award-winning former journalist who serves as Vice President for Programs for the International Center for Journalists. In 1999, he spent five months in Nicaragua on a Knight International Journalism Fellowship. He has reviewed thousands of fellowship applications and today answered questions from aspiring fellows on what it takes to earn a competitive journalism fellowship. Some highlights from his chat:
Question: Many fellowships ask for a proposal, and my area of coverage has gotten quite popular. What’s the best way to stand out from the crowd in your application letter?
Butler: “Biggest mistake people make in their essays/proposals: a general explanation of why they want to be in the US — it’s the focal point for freedom of the press, it’s the global leader, etc. That doesn’t make it stand out from others. You should come up with a proposal that is very specific about what you want to accomplish on the fellowship. I like proposals that show the need, explain in a detailed way how you will carry it out, make the case for why it is “doable” and then explain what will be different because of your project.”
Question: How much does being an independent journalist rather than being associated with a big brand count in getting a fellowship?
Butler: “The point is to make sure you understand what the goals of the fellowship are. Independent journalist vs. big brand – I think either can be a good candidate. If you work for a major media, you can make the case that your work reaches many people. But if you are more of an independent journalist or freelancer, you can make the case that you are free from some of the problems big media have – political or economic conflicts of interest, for example. I will say that for freelance journalists, I always look to make sure they have a media organization that is regularly using their work. You don’t want to give a fellowship to someone who is writing for an audience of no one – so show that you do have an audience if you’re a freelancer.”
Question: How big a factor is age — too young or too old?
Butler: “Good question about age. Some fellowships have specific age requirements, such as under 35. If no guidance on that is given, assume that any age is OK. For most of our fellowships, we are looking for “mid-career” people. If you’re just starting out, we may not be sure that you’re going to stick with journalism. Mid-career people have shown a commitment to the field but still have plenty of time to make a difference. But don’t get discouraged if you’re on the older side. We also look for people who have a lot of experience to share – make that case in your proposal.”
Question: For [a] fellowship, is it important to [have] studied in media or journalism? I mean for example if I studied in business administration and worked in a field of art and culture, is it a minus point in my resume?
Butler: “For most US fellowships, it’s not so important whether you studied media or journalism at university. Many of the best journalists did not go to j-school, they majored in business or political science or biology or whatever. Some countries require that you study journalism to be sanctioned as a journalist, but we tend not to believe that in the US, so I would not hold it against someone at all if they studied something else at university. Your journalism work is more important. There are also some journalism fellowships that are specifically for people who did not study journalism – they are intended to give journalism skills to people who didn’t study that.”
Question: With regard to your Knight Fellowship from a while back … Did you have contact with the foundation before you applied? How important is that? I’ve won several grants over the years and every single time I was able to get advice from the granting organization, before applying, about how best to craft my specific application. Should I be trying to do that with Knight, Nieman, etc.? Or is it really a roll of the dice … send the application cold approach is best?
Butler: “Good question. In my case, I talked more to people who had already been Knight International Fellows to get their advice, rather than to people working at ICFJ. There’s no harm in contacting people at the foundation/NGO, but they may feel that it would be a conflict of interest for them to give you very specific advice. You can ask to talk to people who have been fellows before, and then get their advice. I am always happy to put applicants in touch with people who have already been through the program. When people ask me, I am willing to give the kind of general advice I’m giving now in terms of what we’re looking for in applications, but if someone is applying for something at ICFJ, I would draw the line at reading their application and critiquing it. But again, I’m happy to suggest former fellows/participants who could do that.”
Question: Can you give example of what a specific vs. broad proposal might be? In other words, how specific is specific?
Butler: “A broad proposal would be that you want to educate people about the importance of environmental journalism. A specific proposal would be that you want to create a data map showing environmental threats in your country. And then tell me how you would do that. Show me that you have the skills to accomplish it. Show me that you have a media organization that is willing to partner with you on it. Give me a quote from someone important that says how this will make a difference.”
Question: I’m one of those who studied something else, worked in another field, and am now starting a M.A. in journalism. What is the value of looking for a fellowship rather than a full-time job (or freelancing)?
Butler: “A fellowship would be great for your resume and can help lead you to a full time job. In some cases, the fellowship offerers might be looking for someone who has been working as a journalist, so if you’re just starting your journalism career you may not be eligible. But it sounds like you have other valuable experience that could make you attractive for certain kinds of fellowships (such as for a business reporting fellowship if your previous experience was in business).”
Question: I am writing from Cameroon. What major aspects should one include in the motivation letter in applying for a fellowship or training program?
Butler: “I would be specific in your essay or letter about what you plan to get out of the program and how you plan to use it when you go back. As I mentioned earlier, don’t just say that you have always wanted to go to the US because of its long history of free press (I see that a lot). Instead, tell me what skills you hope to gain from the program that will help you be a better journalist in your country – such as investigative reporting, radio production, social media, whatever. Show me that if I make an investment in you, it will be multiplied when you return to your country. Also, tell me how you’ll share what you have learned when you go home. Will you become a trainer in your newsroom? Will you speak to journalism students at the university? Will you become a “thought leader” on your journalism blog in Cameroon?”
Question: What advice would you give someone who was accepted for training or a fellowship?
Butler: “I suggest that you prepare as much ahead of time as you can. If you’re not a native English speaker and you’re going to the US, start practicing with a native speaker. If you’ve proposed a project that you’ll pursue, get as much done on it as you can ahead of time. You will probably have an opportunity to meet others who will be in your fellowship “class.” Get to know them on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Share ideas. Make sure you’ve prepared your bosses and colleagues. They may be resentful that you’ll be away and will perceive it as a “vacation.” Tell them about what you’ll be doing on the fellowship and how it will help the new organization when you return. Meet your deadlines. If there’s an online component to the course or fellowship, participate. Show everyone how serious you are even before the fellowship or training begins.”
Other key insights from Patrick Butler:
“Another thing we look for is people who haven’t had a lot of similar opportunities. If you’ve been on many fellowships before, you may get points knocked off in favor of someone who hasn’t had the chance yet.”
“Another question I get a lot from non native English speakers is whether someone should edit the essay to make the English perfect. My answer to that is that it is good to have someone read it to correct grammar and spelling, but not to change your voice so that you sound like an English professor. If your essay is absolutely perfect, and then we talk by phone/Skype and it is obvious that your English is not that good, I may think that you didn’t write it. So don’t be worried if your phrasing isn’t exactly the way a native speaker would write.”
“Another piece of advice is about the people you put as references. If you can give me someone as a reference whom I know and trust, that makes a big difference. It’s not required, of course, but I feel more confident choosing someone for a program if they get a glowing recommendation from someone I know and trust.”
© Victoria Johnson 2012, all rights reserved.
One of the most common questions I received from students on our recent university tour was “Should I pursue a short-term fellowship in this bad economy? Shouldn’t I just pursue a permanent job?” I advise that pursuing a competitive fellowship is one of the best things you can do for your career during a down-turned economy. The reason jobs are hard to find is because there are fewer open positions and more people competing for them. So to get a great job, your resume needs to stand out among your peers. A competitive fellowship – particularly fellowships that provide international experience, language training or hard skills in research, analysis or field work – can give your resume that edge. If you are concerned about your student loans, the good news is that most students loans can be deferred while you are on a fellowship. Also, some fellowships like the Presidential Management Fellowship or the Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellowship are designed to give you a foot-in-the-door to a more permanent job in Washington, DC, working in the federal government or think tank industry.
Emily Glazer of the Wall Street Journal wrote in January:
Sometimes a fellowship can lead to a new job altogether. Lauren Parnell Marino, 27, worked at a Chicago nonprofit and then at a fair-trade crafts business in Uganda for the first two years after college. While in Uganda, she decided to apply to the George J. Mitchell Scholarship Program since it would sponsor a master’s degree in Ireland. The fellowship covered the cost of the master’s program in addition to a living stipend. When the program ended, Ms. Parnell Marino was able to use her degree, international experience and network to land a job at Ashoka, a nonprofit based in Washington that supports social entrepreneurship. She now works on a global project for the nonprofit, often tapping the network she cultivated during the fellowship.
This is just one example of how fellowships can help you discover and carve an exciting career path, even in a slow economy.
© Victoria Johnson 2012, all rights reserved.
- From Texas to DC: 3 Questions with Scoville Fellow Sarah Williams
- From Finance to a Fellowship: 3 Questions with Katrina Noyes
- Fellowships for Education Entrepreneurs: 3 Questions With ProFellow Chike Aguh
- Fellowships For International Students: 3 Questions With AAUW Fellow Monica Stancu
- Tech Fellowships Are All the Rage
If you’re planning to apply for a fellowship that begins in 2013, then it’s likely the fellowship deadline is coming quickly. This morning I took a glance at our fellowships database and noticed that more than 50 fellowship deadlines occur between now and mid November. It’s not time to panic, but it is time to get serious about your application.
To get your application in tip top shape between now and the application deadline it’s important to employ a sound strategy. To help with this we’ve put together a step-by-step guide for crafting a winning fellowship application. Depending on what fellowships you’re applying for, you may need to do some or all or all of the following:
- Create a fellowship application plan
- Fellowship project proposal ideas
- Reach out to former Fellows
- Prepare an effective resumé
- Find a host institution
- Prepare a compelling personal statement
- Prepare a strong project proposal
- Get a great recommendation letter – Part 1
- Get a great recommendation letter – Part 2
- Nail the individual and group interviews
In addition to these articles, our interviews with former and current fellows include tips specific to the fellowships they’ve won. For example, here are some fellow interviews for fellowships with upcoming deadlines: AAUW International Fellowship, GEM Fellowships, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP) and Henry Luce Foundation’s Luce Scholars Program.
To check out more of our interviews with fellowship alumni, click on the 3 Questions With Former Fellows category in the right sidebar. We publish new interviews and tips articles each week for fellowships of all disciplines, including application tips for Fulbright grants. To view our full list of fellowship tips articles, click on the Fellowship Tips category in the right sidebar.
Good luck with your fellowship application. We hope you find our tips useful. If you’re applying to or have recently applied to a fellowship and found our website helpful, please let us know. Leave us a comment below or drop us a note. We’d love to hear from you!
© Victoria Johnson 2012, all rights reserved.
By Kimberley Kearns
Last year, in my senior year of college, I applied to the New York City Urban Fellows program. Urban Fellows is a yearlong fellowship program that provides an opportunity to work full-time with a New York City government agency for nine months. I heard about the program from an Urban Fellow alumnus who shared his experiences at a fellowships event held at my college. I knew immediately that I wanted to apply; as someone pursuing a career in public service in New York City, I could not envision a more perfect way to spend my first year out of college.
The basic components of the Urban Fellows application are a 750-word personal statement, a 1000-word policy recommendation, 3 academic/professional letters of recommendation, unofficial transcripts, and a 1-page resume. I began the application early, in August (the deadline is in early January). One of the most important pieces of advice I can share is to begin your application as early as you can. This is especially important if you’re a student! For Urban Fellows, I found that having started the application over the summer—especially a draft of the personal statement and policy recommendation—made the process much less overwhelming once the semester began and my schedule got hectic with coursework.
Throughout the months I worked on the Urban Fellows application, I was guided by my mentor. She revised drafts of my personal statement and policy recommendation, advised me on whom to ask for recommendation letters, and gave me the support I needed when I became overwhelmed. Without my mentor’s guidance, I don’t believe my application would have moved to the interview stage. So, my second piece of advice to you is: find a mentor! This can be a professor you’re close with, an academic advisor in your program/department, a staffer from your college’s career services program—somebody who wants you to succeed, and is able to devote time to helping you throughout the application process.
It is also helpful to seek out Urban Fellow alumni who can give you firsthand advice on the application, interview, and the program itself. If you don’t have a direct connection to an Urban Fellows alumnus, contact the program to ask if they can connect you with former fellows.
For letters of recommendation, at least one of your three references must be a former supervisor. When I was considering whom to ask for my recommendation letters, I chose people with whom I have worked closely, who know my work ethic, and who know the career path I’m pursuing. Be sure to ask your recommenders for the letters as early as possible and offer to provide them with materials that may help them write your letter, such as your personal statement, resume, and points that you’d like them to highlight.
For the personal statement and policy recommendation, I recommend writing several drafts of each and asking your mentor to edit them and make suggestions for improvement. The personal statement prompt is relatively broad, but make sure to discuss why you are interested in public service; how you will relate to the Urban Fellows community; what you can contribute to and gain from the program; and experiences that impacted your decision to pursue a public service career. For the policy recommendation, choose an issue you know well, that you are passionate about, and that has potential for change. It’s a good idea to bounce your recommendation ideas off somebody who works on your issue directly. For example, I wrote my policy recommendation on rent regulations in New York City, and debated my ideas with my professor, a former community organizer around homelessness and housing issues in NYC.
Having submitted my application in early January, I received an email from the Urban Fellows program in late February informing me that I made it to the interview stage. The interview itself was a little less than a month later, in mid-March. Interview day is comprised of two parts: 1) two individual interviews, in which former Urban Fellows and/or members of city agencies ask you about yourself, your experiences, and your interest in the program, and 2) one group interview, in which you and 5-6 other candidates must discuss an issue impacting New York City, discuss a strategy for handling it, and present your approach to a panel of former Urban Fellows and/or members of city agencies. In the weeks leading up to my interview, I contacted all of the Urban Fellow alum I knew for advice on the interview process, and did two mock interviews. I HIGHLY recommend doing mock interviews! You can ask your mentor to help find faculty who would be willing to “grill” you. It’s best to have your mock interviewers ask you tough questions, so that you won’t encounter any questions you haven’t thought of before on interview day!
On the day of the interview, make sure you are well-rested, smile a lot, wear something you are comfortable in (and that has a bit of color!), and try to enjoy the interactions you have, with both fellow candidates and the people who will be interviewing you. It’s always wonderful to meet people who are interested in or are doing the same kind of work you want to do!
In late March, I received an email from the program informing me that I was an Alternate. This means that, while I was not accepted into Urban Fellows, my application would be considered if any of the accepted applicants turned their spots down. I was quite disappointed initially, but, with the support of my friends, family, and colleagues, learned to be proud that I had gotten as far as I did in such a competitive program. While I ultimately was not an Urban Fellow, I do not regret applying—in fact, the personal statement and policy recommendations I wrote and the interviewing skills I gained from both the mock and actual interviews have been enormously helpful to me in applying for other opportunities, such as the one I am doing now. I am currently part of AmeriCorps Public Allies, a national leadership development program that provides participants with a ten-month placement at a nonprofit community organization in their city of choice. Check it out at www.publicallies.org!
Best of luck!
Join the crowd
Our step-by-step guide for a competitive fellowship application
1. Create a plan
2. Project proposal ideas
3. Talk to current / former fellows
4. Prepare an effective resumé
5. Find a host institution
6. Write a compelling personal statement
7. Prepare a strong project proposal
8. Get great recommendation letters (P1)
9. Get great recommendation letters (P2)
10. Nail the individual and group interviews