An increasing number of fellowships are available to aspiring public service professionals — beyond those providing financial aid for graduate studies.
Often funded by foundations or private donors, fellowships are designed to provide incentives and support to the new generation of nonprofit leaders.
These fellowships are formal programs lasting anywhere from three months to two years. They often include:
In addition to well-established programs, universities and privately-funded nonprofits like Greenpeace are now setting up fellowships to attract emerging leaders, so opportunities are expanding.
Although this section describes public policy-oriented fellowships, there are many other fellowships available in the arts, education, and other areas of the nonprofit community.
Fellowships are structured to provide significant experience working in the field and fellows are expected to take on a great deal of responsibility quickly. They are provided with unique experiences that are not typically available to someone just starting out with only a bachelor's degree.
This experiential learning component varies depending upon the fellowship program. It could be:
Although much can be learned from jumping into an entry-level nonprofit job, fellowship programs are known for their commitment to the professional development of individual fellows and have designed accelerated training programs as part of this commitment. Key elements of the training might include:
Fellowships are designed to provide access to well-established nonprofit professionals who have a real interest in the fellow's professional growth and development. Mentors often are the "movers and shakers" of the field who are typically very busy and normally very difficult to meet, especially for those who are just starting out.
This is often considered the biggest drawback of a fellowship. Although fellowship programs do provide a living allowance or stipend it is not usually comparable to the salary of a full-time job. The financial commitment varies greatly. Stipends range from $10,000 up to $25,000 for a 9-12 month program. Most post-doctorate fellowships would surpass this salary range.
Other incentives are often provided to fellows such as:
The fellowship selection process is very competitive and deadlines are often over a year before the fellowship begins. The application can be quite extensive and includes a resume, academic transcript and letters of recommendation from faculty. Most programs will also require some kind of writing sample, essay or written proposal. There may be additional application materials required if the fellowship includes a university nomination process, such as the Junior Fellow Program of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
In whatever form, applications need to show evidence of:
The interview process may be a panel interview or series of oral interviews and could also include situational group interviews where candidates work together to devise solutions to a public policy issue.