Expectations of Fellows

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Expectations of AAAS Fellowships Staff

AAAS Fellowships staff conduct the following activities annually: review and establishment of fellowship policies and procedures; promotion of the Science & Technology Policy Fellowships and the Fellows; recruitment of candidates; management of the application, selection and placement processes; administration of fellowship grants and contracts and payments of direct fellowship support; planning and implementation of a year-long professional development program; monitoring and evaluation of fellowship assignments and activities; support and coordination of the network of current and former Fellows; and ongoing outreach and collaboration with partner agencies, federal and congressional host offices, and partner scientific and engineering societies.


  • Establish, distribute and implement fellowships guidelines and policies.
  • Provide ongoing support to Fellows and host offices throughout the year, including troubleshooting problems, providing advice, guiding creation of a Professional Development Plan, and facilitating communication between fellows, supervisors, mentors, and agency liaisons, and assisting to take advantage of opportunities.
  • Coordinate timely direct fellowship stipend payments and prompt reimbursement for approved expenses for relocation, health insurance, and fellowship-related travel/training.

Professional Development:

  • Conduct a two-week orientation in September at the start of the fellowship year that provides Fellows with essential information about legislative and executive branch operations, helps define the roles of Fellows, and offers useful contacts for fellowship assignments.
  • Facilitate the planning, logistics, and implementation of educational seminars and other events designed to expose Fellows to a range of issues related to science and policy.
  • Organize skill-building workshops to expand Fellows’ professional capacity in such areas as writing briefing memos, public speaking, negotiation and building consensus, communicating science, project management, multi-stakeholder interactions, and managing interdisciplinary teams.
  • Provide career-enhancement sessions covering a range of issues such as soliciting and applying feedback from mentors and supervisors, developing a career plan, strategies for successful professional networking, developing achievement statements, and exploring career opportunities in academic, government, non-profit, and private sectors.

Collaboration & Partnerships:

  • Conduct an annual all-cohort event to establish and build links for connection and collaboration.
  • Organize an annual outreach event in collaboration with the AAAS Committee on Science, Engineering & Public Policy to foster interactions between Fellows and national science-policy professionals.
  • Implement a year-end, day-long summit for Fellows to reconnect with the full class, reflect on the fellowship year, discuss and share resources for future career plans, and provide feedback on the fellowships.
  • Manage the listservs for current, former, and DC-area Fellows and the careers listserv to maintain ongoing communication among the network.

Monitoring & Evaluation:

  • Implement learning surveys at four points throughout the fellowship year. Summarize collective results and report to host agencies.
  • Conduct an annual site visit with the Fellow and his/her supervisor and/or mentor.
  • Provide instructions for mid-year and year-end Fellow reports; collect and collate input.
  • Submit an annual summary narrative report to hosting agencies and/or other funders.

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Expectations of AAAS Fellows

Before the Fellowship, Fellows are expected to:

  • Provide requested information and documentation to AAAS and the host agency in a timely manner.
  • Attend the full orientation program in September to learn essential information about the legislative and the executive branches and to gain useful contacts.
  • Read materials provided before arrival at orientation.
  • If moving before the start of the fellowships, update AAAS Fellowships staff and the supervisor/host office point of contact with the new address and contact info.

In their office, Fellows are expected to:

  • Honor the commitment to the full 12-month initial fellowship year, and any renewal period that has been agreed to.
  • Develop realistic and reasonable expectations; learn by observing, listening and applying knowledge and skills; maintain a flexible attitude.
  • Negotiate, write and submit a Professional Development Plan for the fellowship year within 45 days of the start of the fellowship assignment (or by October 1 for renewal Fellows).
  • Perform professionally, demonstrate integrity and good judgment, and complete projects.
  • Make the effort to meet and interact with staff in the host office and agency -- be proactive, ask questions, offer help, and demonstrate interest.
  • Articulate needs constructively, monitor progress, and address challenges.
  • Take initiative to obtain information to accomplish tasks and achieve fellowship goals.
  • Submit the mid-year and year-end reports by the stated deadlines.
  • Abide by both the AAAS and agency/host office policies on ethics and conflict of interest, and abide by the AAAS policies and procedures on annual leave and fellowship completion.

In addition to their work, Fellows are expected to:

  • Participate in the AAAS professional development activities, including seminars, career enhancement sessions, skill-building workshops, and other events.
  • Participate in gatherings for current Fellows and alumni to build contacts and resources and cultivate collaborative networks for increased effect.
  • Participate in the year-end summit to reconnect, reflect, and share resources for future career plans.
  • Provide input and feedback in the year-long evaluation of activities, and of Fellows’ knowledge, skill development, attitudes, and satisfaction.
  • Enhance leadership abilities to heighten effectiveness and impact.
  • Ensure a smooth transition of responsibilities at the end of the fellowship.

After the fellowship, former S&T Policy Fellows are expected to:

  • Provide updated contact information for the Fellowship alumni directory.
  • Respond to requests for input and feedback in the long-term evaluation of the fellowships.
  • Serve as a resource for finalists and new Fellows and provide advice on placements, tips for success in the fellowship year, and input on challenges as well as opportunities.
  • Participate, if possible, in fellowship events and affinity groups.
  • Help distribute the annual call for applications to individuals, organizations, and networks.
  • Participate, when able, as a reviewer of fellowship applications.
  • Participate, when able, as a recruitment presenter, or on fellowships advisory panels and/or Selection Committees.

NOTE: If relocating, it is necessary that activities related to establishing residency be completed outside of fellowship hours.

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Expectations of Supervisors and Mentors

The success of the AAAS S&T Policy Fellowships is due in large part to the dedication and support of the supervisors and mentors in the executive branch and congressional host offices, who have provided meaningful learning opportunities for the S&T Policy Fellows for forty years. By facilitating valuable professional development experiences host offices gain the scientific and analytical skills, fresh perspectives, networks, energy and initiative that Fellows contribute in public service to the U.S. government.
Following is an outline of responsibilities that supervisors and mentors undertake to ensure a successful placement both for AAAS Fellows and for the host offices. Depending upon the arrangement with AAAS and staffing of the office, the Fellow may have one person serving as both supervisor and mentor, or these responsibilities may be divided between different individuals. It is important to clarify these roles so that that the Fellow receives the direction, feedback, and support that he/she needs to be efficient and effective both in learning from the fellowship experience and contributing to the mission of the host office.

Before Placement Week (mid-late March):

  • Provide a signed hosting agreement and a fellowship position description.
  • Review the placement process guidelines.
  • Review candidate materials and schedule interviews via the AAAS Fellowships online placement portal.

Placement Week (early-mid April):

  • Participate in placement interviews throughout the week; include other appropriate staff to ensure a thorough interview process.
  • Within four business days of the completion of interviews provide a ranked list of AAAS Fellowship finalists that the office would be willing to host.

Before the start of the fellowship year (June-August):

  • Meet with the AAAS Fellowship program manager to discuss fellowship goals, parameters and benchmarks for success (a phone discussion is acceptable).

Coordinate with appropriate agency/office staff to:

  • Assure timely processing of a funding mechanism to cover the costs of the fellowship.
  • Locate and outfit a work space, including a computer, phone, and office supplies.
  • Set up e-mail and voice mail accounts, and arrange for the Fellow to be listed in office directories.
  • Schedule any mandatory training or security briefings.
  • Notify coworkers of the Fellow’s impending arrival.
  • Obtain necessary identification cards and building passes.
  • Clarify/arrange any necessary support/resources: clerical, budget access or authorization, etc.

Contact the Fellow in the month before they report to the office to discuss:

  • Useful reading material and web-based resources about office programs and projects.
  • Updates on the fellowship assignment, changes in personnel, etc.
  • Accommodations for the Fellow: cubicle or office?
  • Office culture: work schedule, communication, dress code, etc.
  • When and where to report following orientation, and how to get into the building.

Upon the Fellow’s arrival in the office:

  • Greet the Fellow on the first day and introduce to coworkers, including the office director.
  • Provide an organizational chart of the unit/office and a directory of coworkers and conduct an orientation to the organization/unit/office or arrange for other staff to do so.
  • Discuss resources for projects: funding, clerical support, equipment, staff and interagency experts, consultants, etc.
  • Review any restrictions or limitations on the Fellow’s ability to represent the office or agency.
  • Set up a formal meeting schedule for the first month.
  • Provide input on the Fellow’s Professional Development Plan, which must be created in collaboration with the supervisor/mentor and submitted within 45 days of the start of the assignment.

During the fellowship year (September through August):

  • Maintain support for the Fellow for the full 12-month fellowship period.
  • Create opportunities for engaging work that takes appropriate advantage of the doctoral-level experience, career-stage, and skills of the Fellow.
  • Meet with the Fellow regularly (ideally for at least ½ hour every other week) to provide direction, guidance and input on projects and performance, and to provide resources and contacts to enrich the fellowship educational and career development experience.
  • Brainstorm solutions to problems and explore opportunities in projects and assignments.
  • Introduce or direct the Fellow to key people in the office, agency, and their area of work.
  • Encourage and provide time to attend meetings within and outside the department/agency.
  • Provide constructive feedback on performance and products.
  • Support the Fellow to take advantage of professional development opportunities.
  • Guide the Fellow in determining realistic, reasonable expectations and serve as a sounding board.
  • Help the Fellow to find a balance between work and learning time.
  • Meet with the AAAS Fellowship staff during the annual site visit.

At the end of the fellowship (August-September):

  • Serve as a reference for the Fellow and/or write letters of recommendation.
  • Respond to the online supervisor/mentor survey of the fellowship year.

Please click to download a PDF version of Expectations of AAAS Staff, Fellows & Supervisors.

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