Applying for the Work First Fellowship: FAQ's

Ally, our Washington D.C. Fellow, spent the day meeting students at the American University Career Fair

Ally, our Washington D.C. Fellow, spent the day meeting students at the American University Career Fair

Last week, Fellows in Washington, D.C. and New York City visited college career fairs to spread the word: Recruitment for the 2020-2021 Work First Fellowship cohort is now underway! To help prospective applicants and celebrate the start of recruitment season, current Fellows and Fellowship leadership compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the application process. We hope this helps to answer some of your questions. If you have any remaining questions after reading this FAQ, feel free to reach out with them to

Make sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook and be the first to receive updates on recruitment!

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of student is the Fellowship directed towards?

The Work First Fellowship is recruiting young professionals with strong academic backgrounds who are interested in working in public policy, poverty alleviation, or social services. Top candidates are driven, innovative thinkers who strive to effect change. Previous research is often beneficial, along with experience working with under-served or disadvantaged groups. While it may also be helpful for candidates to have previous experience with teaching and/or case management, it is not required; training for both will be provided to Fellows who find themselves in those roles. There is no “one perfect candidate” for the Fellowship—in fact, the Work First Foundation looks for a range of candidates who are interested in a variety of issues, come from a range of backgrounds, and can bring different perspectives to the Fellowship cohort. Ultimately, this is a service year fellowship, and the ideal fellow is someone who is committed to uplifting the lives of others.

If I apply to a certain site, are my chances of getting an offer better?

Candidates should take the time to learn about the different locations and apply to those they are most interested in living and working in. Within the NYC offices, for example, Fellows often spend more of their time teaching, while Fellows at non-NYC sites spend more time working in case management. Thus, candidates should consider the skill sets required for various sites during the application process. While we give applicants the opportunity to list their preferences in site locations and take those into account, if the recruitment team feels a candidate would be best suited for a specific site, we will let the candidate now.

When is the best time to apply?

The best time to start applying is now! The interview process will begin shortly and we will be making offers on a rolling basis until all roles are filled.

What kind of research background is helpful going into this Fellowship?

Research backgrounds vary drastically between Fellows. Thus, it is up to the candidate to demonstrate how their particular background is applicable to the Fellowship. That being said, research that involves public policy, quantitative data research, and disadvantaged populations is most easily tied to the research conducted during the Fellowship.

What is the main objective of this Fellowship?

The Work First Fellowship offers an insider’s perspective into how public policy functions on a day-to-day basis. Fellows are given the opportunity to combine policy research regarding poverty and unemployment, while also working directly with clients who are currently on public assistance. These two components encourage Fellows to think about government assistance and the relevant policies in more dynamic, practical, and innovative ways.

Why is this role important?

This service year trains future leaders and policy-makers to think about public policy and poverty alleviation on both a macro- and micro-level, in order to help address the challenges facing our nation while also keeping in mind how policies affect the people they are meant to help. Previous Fellows have described their role as, “Thinking about our clients as individuals and the systemic barriers they face. We work one-on-one with individuals living below the poverty level to help them find employment and get back on their feet, while also conducting policy research on what makes job placement programs effective.” Every day, Fellows impact lives and learn from their interactions with clients.

What skills will I gain after I complete my year with the Fellowship?

Work First Fellows gain skills in public speaking, quantitative and qualitative research, interacting with clients, interpersonal skills, and teaching or case management depending on the site location. In addition to these hard and soft skills, Fellows are always developing themselves as leaders, advocates, and professionals. Throughout the year, Fellows are given opportunities to pursue research that interests them and to network with leaders in workforce development and policymakers.

What have previous Fellows gone on to do after their Work First Fellowship?

Previous Work First Fellows have gone on to pursue a wide range of career paths. Some have chosen to go to graduate school, medical school, or law school. Others have pursued careers in the public and private sectors. This Fellowship is a great stepping stone to many long-term goals. Many previous Fellows have found that each Fellow has the power to make the most of their time with the Work First Foundation and utilize the various professional development opportunities offered to them.

What are Fellows’ living and travel arrangements like?

Fellows are not provided with pre-determined living arrangements. However, they are given a livable wage in the form of a salary competitive for a Fellowship, and travel expenses are covered for Fellowship activities such as orientation and the Work First Research Symposium. Previous Fellowship classes have arranged a weekend of professional development in Washington, D.C. Fellows are offered benefits including but not limited to health insurance and pre-tax commuter benefits in NYC.

Where can I apply?

The application can be found here!