Congressional Fellows serve fellowship placements in Congress on either the personal staff of a Representative or Senator or on a committee staff. A limited number of fellows from some sponsor organizations may serve placements in executive branch agencies or other non-congressional host offices. Participation in a placement outside Congress is based on the specific terms set by the sponsoring organization.
To ensure the best fit between a fellow’s background and interests and the needs of a particular office, fellows select their own placements within Congress or other host offices. The Congressional Fellowship Program provides extensive guidance, resources, and support during the process.
The interview process
Fellows begin to look for a fellowship placement after the fellowship year starts in November. In accepting the fellowship, fellows agree not to search for a placement until completing the training session on finding a host office held at the start of the fellowship orientation. At this training session, fellows receive guidance on how to identify potential host offices and how to navigate the interview process. Fellows also have the opportunity during orientation to meet with congressional staffers and Congressional Fellowship Program alumni to hear their advice on the process. The orientation schedule includes ample free periods throughout the month during which time fellows can meet with potential host offices.
Securing a placement
Fellows frequently secure placements in December or early January and begin working shortly thereafter. Fellows typically assume a combination of general responsibilities and special assignments, according to the needs of the host offices and the fellows’ areas of expertise and interests.
Duties may include researching assigned policy issues; developing policy positions, legislation, or recommendations regarding possible legislative and non-legislative issues; drafting testimony, floor statements, speeches, and press pieces; preparing for floor debate on bills and tracking appropriations corresponding to assigned issue areas; periodically briefing key staff and the Member of Congress on status of bills; making recommendations on whether the Member should co-sponsor bills introduced in assigned issue areas; assisting in building coalitions to support the Member's bills in assigned issue areas; coordinating with legislative staff in the district; and assisting as needed on committee work. Fellows also may meet with constituents and advocacy groups. In addition, fellows may assist as needed in a limited amount of administrative duties.