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Qualities of a Strong Host Organization

A good host organization provides high quality services, maintains an experienced and effective staff, demonstrates fiscal stability, collaborates on your project, and is able and willing to provide meaningful supervision and institutional support. The organization must take its commitment to sponsor you seriously and be prepared to incorporate you and your project into the workings of the organization.

Sponsoring organizations can be found using Helios, our Fellowships, host organization, and entry-level jobs feed, PSJD, and many other search engines. Work with both Judy and other members of the OPIA advising staff to identify possible host organizations, and begin your outreach to those organizations.

Designing a Fellowship Project

It can seem overwhelmingly exciting, as well as daunting, to contemplate how to develop a specific “project” at this stage in your career. You will discover that many of the best proposals are, in fact, developed in concert with your sponsoring organization, and that the exploration is valuable on its own.

If you do need to generate a project and are stuck for ideas, there are many ways to generate them:

  • Review the priorities of various fellowship funders; many post brief descriptions of their past fellows’ projects.
  • Contact former fellows who are doing work that interests you.
  • Discuss with potential sponsoring or host organizations what they or community members have identified as an unmet need that a project could address, or whether there is potential for a project to create a bridge between impact and direct service organizations working on related concerns.
  • Watch OPIA’s “Developing a Fellowship Proposal” video and hear from our student and alumni panelists.

Think about how you might connect your skills and experience with an organization’s mission. And while organizations may expect you to provide the contours of a project design, you will always want to listen to and respect the sponsoring or host organization’s own priorities. Some organizations may already have specific project ideas in mind that you may be able to adopt or adapt. Finally, of course, make an appointment with an OPIA fellowship adviser to help you generate ideas, organize your thinking, and develop a concrete application plan.

Timely Tips for Fellowships

Follow these fellowship tips in addition to carefully reading the complete fellowship websites.

The Host Organization Job Search Deadline

  • Identify Potential Host Organizations
    • Sponsoring organizations invest a great deal of effort in choosing their nominees and helping applicants refine proposals, even before the fall. As a result, if you are considering applying for a portable external fellowship, your search for a sponsoring organization must take place in the spring and early summer.
    • PSJD‘s site can be navigated by using the Advanced Search option, and searching for Project Based Post-Graduate Fellowships
    • Visit the Fellowships Feed to check for upcoming deadlines
    • Attend the Public Interest Job and Fellowships Fair
    • Network with organizations where you have interned
    • Network with former and visiting Wasserstein Fellows and panelists
    •  Connect with OPIA advisers and faculty
  • Contact Potential Host Organizations
    • Reach out to non-profits for potential sponsorship whether they have advertised for a fellow or not.
    • Contact Skadden Fellows and other former Fellows at orgs (see back of Guide and check with Judy Murciano to learn more about the orgs and fellows). Skadden sends new Fellows to organizations that have provided good supervision, but they also consider the capacity of an organization to oversee the Fellow’s training in a given year.
    • Learn about different organizations from the inside, but do not rely on only one or two well-known organizations in geographically popular areas. Sponsorship is a competitive process with internal deadlines in advance of national deadlines. Submit cover letter and resume. Name and use information from former fellows in your cover letter.
  • Plan your Project
    • Review the priorities of the fellowship funders at the outset (EJW, Skadden, and Soros have nuanced and significant differences).
    • Contact former fellows who are doing similar work at the same or different locations.
    • Consider if the project will address an unmet need in the region and whether there is potential for bridges between impact and direct service organizations working on the same or similar concerns.
    • Research the project and related laws thoroughly with current data.
  • Draft and Revise Applications
    • Collaborate with the host organization on the application essays.
    • Review sample host organization cover letters.
    • Send OPIA’s Fellowship Director your application drafts in advance of your advising appointment. Judy will prepare tracked comments and discuss revisions with you.
    • You can always ask former Skadden and EJW fellows to share their materials with you (the contact information for HLS winners is listed in the back), but remember that fellowship selection committees are looking for what is distinct about you.
  • Pull Together Recommendations, Resumes, Transcripts, Writing Samples, and Handouts
    • Most fellowships expect recommendations from both faculty who have taught you (clinical or podium) and employers who have supervised your work during the summers since coming to HLS.
    • Help your recommenders by preparing a spread that includes a list of the fellowships to which you are applying, a link to the criteria, a brief description of your proposal, and a couple of bullet points recalling what accomplishments highlighted your academic or work experience under their guidance. Feel free to provide short anecdotes or description of your memos or client management.
    • Distinguish between the recommenders and the references.
    • Most public interest fellowships allow you to have 2 page resumes.
    • Remember to get permission and redact appropriately for a work-related writing sample. Your discretion and professionalism will be appreciated.
    • Some fellowships require all transcripts (the Fulbright expects undergraduate as well as graduate) and others do not want a transcript (EJW). HLS does not officially rank its students, but if you graduated with honors or received a Dean’s Award, you may note this information.
    • Interviews: OPIA’s Fellowship Director will help prepare you for an interview, review any handouts for presentation, as well as give you extensive feedback in a multiple-step process.