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Fellowships: Tips for Finding a Host Organization
As mentioned, several Fellowships provide an opportunity for you to design your own "project," which will then be hosted by a public interest or government entity, known as a host organization.
Finding a host organization is not something to be taken lightly - not only will you be working with the organization for one or two years, but the reputation and status of the organization may be a factor in whether you are awarded a fellowship. Some foundations and selection committees prefer host organizations that have supported a fellow previously, and have a tradition of success.
Further, finding a host organization is not as simple as placing a phone call; not all organizations are in a position to take on a fellow or have the desire to do so. Most foundations require the host organization to commit both financially and administratively to back a portion of the fellow's salary, benefits and even loan repayment. Some fellowship application processes require that the fellow's direct supervisor fill out a piece of the initial application. This makes getting to know your organization and your supervisor in advance particularly useful, and explains why organizations that have had past fellows are favored and more likely to be funded by the foundations.
Below are several suggestions for identifying potential host organizations:
Call Upon a Past Relationship
One of the easiest ways to identify a potential host organization is to consider past organizations for which you have worked and volunteered. Having already worked with individuals within the office, you will know their personalities and work styles, and they will know yours. You will also be aware of the organization's practice areas and the ways in which they can assist your project. You can tailor your proposal to meet an unmet client need, or help a very busy area and be able to craft your own legal project and become an expert in your field.
Similar to the above, an organization where you have had a clinical experience is a known entity and they know you. Consider such organizations, what they have to offer, and the synergy between your project and their mission when seeking to identify potential host organizations.
Oftentimes organizations will advertise that they are seeking to host potential fellows; some may already have specific projects in mind. Organizations also post on the PSJD website, a fabulous resource for all things public interest, as well as on Idealist. But don't rely on postings exclusively. If you are passionate about an area of law, seek out organizations that do that sort of representation by contacting alumni.
Do not hesitate to contact current fellows at organizations of interest. Each year Skadden, EJW, and Soros provide information on current and former fellows. Such individuals are valuable resources regarding developing projects, identifying host organizations, and detailing the overall experience. Further, there may be an opportunity to work with them in developing a continuation project building upon their current work.
Moritz grads who have been fellows are generally more than happy to give you advice, input and coaching on what to expect in the application, interview and final selection processes for the various fellowships.
Professors & Career Services Office
Do not forget to connect with your professors, Cybele Smith, the Director of Public Service and Public Interest Programs, in the Career Services Office along with other members of our staff who can help brainstorm ideas, identify potential host organizations, and draw upon our respective network of contacts and alumni.