January 20, 2017
Our Fellowship Admissions team is dedicated and talented, and wants to see each Fellow succeed. They spend hours speaking with prospective Fellows to help them through the admissions process. That’s what they’re here for, after all! If you’ve had the pleasure of speaking with them, you know that they genuinely care about each person.
We have noticed trends in the challenges people face when applying. We decided to look at the most common issues, and directly address them in a blog post. These aren’t top secret tips the Admissions team is hiding from you — no, quite the opposite. These are pieces of advice they find themselves coming back to time and time again, because they are tried and true. It can be hard, but you can achieve it. Following these four essential pieces of advice will help give yourself the best chance at being accepted as a Fellow.
Do Not Procrastinate
Do not wait until the last minute before the application deadline to start searching for a host site! Finding a host site and completing an MOU typically takes about 30 days, so start reaching out to nonprofit organizations as soon as you can.
While many nonprofits are excited to take on new volunteers, they might not be able to see you immediately. Setting up an initial meeting with an organization can take two to three weeks because nonprofits are often managing a large amount of work with few staff. Because of these time factors that are out of your control, make sure you have a realistic timeline in mind and are proactive about contacting organizations of interest to you.
Explore Your Options
Expect to do outreach to 8-10 potential host sites, knowing that some nonprofits won’t have the capacity to host you or won’t respond to your email. Casting a wide net will help you have options to choose from later.
Once you have done your initial outreach, make sure to meet with at least 2-3 organizations before settling on one. Getting a feel for these potential host sites to help you get a better sense of what kinds of opportunities exist. This will help you decide what kind of fellowship experience you want. You only get to do one fellowship – so make it great!
Sometimes host sites don’t work out, for one reason or another. Sometimes you realize the volunteer role is not the right fit for you, and sometimes the reason is completely out of your control. These things happen more often than you might think — and there’s nothing wrong with that. Just be prepared and have a backup in mind, ideally one of the 2-3 organizations you were in touch with during your outreach phase. This kind of transition is most easily done if you’ve already sat down with them during your outreach phase, so you can easily renew their interest.
Align your Goals
Where do you want to be in 2-3 years? How can you use this fellowship to help you get there?
Fellows get the most benefit from their fellowship when they chose an organization and/or a role that challenges them and gives them useful professional experience and connections. Think about the network and resume you want to build, and use the fellowship to build it.
Be candid with your host site supervisor so that your skills are fully utilized and that you are challenged to learn and grow.
If you need a jump start, take a look at our portal’s volunteer postings, and pick out organizations that interest you, even if the role does not. More often than not, organizations accept Fellows who have their own idea of what they want to do, even if it’s not the role they had advertised.
Reach Out to Us
The Admissions team is here FOR YOU! We are here to brainstorm with you and connect you with organizations in our network. We have developed strong relationships with nonprofits in nearly 40 cities. If you are struggling with finding a host site that fits, reach out to us and we will be more than happy to work with you.
Report for duty in your community with The Mission Continues. Serve with a Service Platoon at an upcoming service event near you or apply for a fellowship. You can learn more about our programs on our website and stay updated on the latest news and announcements on Facebook and twitter.