Education & Career

How to Choose the Right Fellowship Program For You

September 12, 2017

If you read my previous post in this series, you know why I’m a big advocate for doing a fellowship program after you finish your bachelor’s degree. Not all fellowship programs are referred to as “fellowship” programs. It just means a program typically offered to recent grads to work/volunteer in a community for a given amount of time, and they typically pay you a stipend or cover certain expenses.

When looking at the definition if fellowship programs like that, there are a plethora to choose from. It can seem daunting, but with the right preparation and mindset, choosing the right program for you can be the easy part. You just have to have a solid idea of what you want out of the program and make sure it’s a right fit for you.

Below, I lay out the top five things you should consider as your research and decide on which fellowship program to apply for – and yes, you can certainly apply to more than one.


Ask yourself these 5 questions when choosing the right fellowship program:

Answering these questions takes a lot of introspection, but if you answer them honestly, you are sure to find a few awesome programs that you’re perfect for!

1. Will it allow you to achieve your post-graduation goals?

This is where you lay out WHY you want to do a fellowship program for recent grads in the first place<link to my article>. What is your aim for taking this fellowship year? Is it because you want more work experience, you want to see more of the world? Is it to build a language skill? To avoid graduate school? To enhance a skill? Whatever it is, your fellowship program should allow you to do those things.

 2. Does the program really speak to you?

You have to be excited about what the program description is all about. Don’t apply to something just because everyone else is applying, they pay a lot or it’s a cool location. Do the program because you genuinely want to. Because if the components of the program are not in your field of interest, you’ll just be miserable for the months of the program.

If you can’t stand teaching kids, you probably shouldn’t do a program where that is the main objective, no matter how good it might look on your resume or where you’ll get to live. That said, you don’t necessarily have to want to be a teacher or have studied education to apply for such a program. As long as other aspect of it, and what you will learn, speak to you.

3. Are you a good fit for the program?

Many programs will list the qualities of their ideal candidate, or from reading the program description, you can get a good sense of the kind of person they want. You might love the program, but if they likely won’t love you, then you might be wasting your time.

Asking yourself this question isn’t about self-doubt, it’s about just being practical. Pay particular attention to their eligibility requirements: do you meet the GPA, language and other skills required? If you fall just a bit under some of their requirements, but your background and profile are a good fit, you should definitely still go for it!

4. Does it make sense financially?

None of these programs are meant to MAKE you money, but some are voluntary and some provide a stipend, so make sure you would be ok with your finances for the next year with that program. With some programs, you might not know the full package until you have been accepted, so don’t let the money be a big factor – after all, you are doing this for the experience. If want to do it for the money, you should probably just get a job. The money factor, is just something to keep in mind.

5. Does the program fit your life goals?

No matter your reasons for doing a fellowship program, it is not a chance for you to put off the “real world.” The ideal program should fit the goals you have laid out for yourself. Yes yes, you’re still figuring them out, but I’m sure you have a few things in mind and a few passions that get you excited in the morning. Make sure you pick a program that falls along those lines, that bring your closer to your long term goals. You should be able to look at the arch of your life and realize that this program fits in just right.



All these questions are not only important to answer as you choose a program, but they will also help you tremendously when preparing to apply for the programs – which happens to be the next topic in our series so stay tuned!

I hope you enjoyed this post – leave me your thoughts and comments below. Are there other things people should consider that I missed? Got questions? Leave it all below. And don’t forget to subscribe so you are notified of the next installment in the series:



Omolayo Nkem

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