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Congressional Science & Engineering Fellowships: Developing a Position Description

A key to success in securing a Congressional Science & Engineering Fellow is to develop a position summary. In most cases offices have specific legislative or issue priorities to address. A brief written description of each assignment that you hope to fill helps streamline the placement process, facilitates both offices and Fellows to find the best fit, and it makes a positive impression. It is understood that circumstances may change, and a host office is not bound by the content of a position description.

Below are examples of position summaries that were provided to Fellows in recent years. When writing the position descriptions, please note that the more specific you can be about the focus and responsibilities of the fellow the better. When creating a fellowship position description include the following information:

  1. Senator/Congressman’s Name or Committee Name
  2. Member’s Committee Assignments
  3. Staff Contact Information: Name, title, email, phone number, office location. Note if a former fellow.
  4. The range of issues to be addressed, including any specific details, legislation or geographic emphasis.
  5. Anticipated interactions with staff, committees, panels, agencies, or other entities.
  6. Desired background, skills or aptitude.
Personal Office Position Description Examples
  • We are looking for a fellow to work on energy and climate change issues for a very active Member. The fellow will participate fully as a staff member and will work closely with the 2 energy LAs in the office. The portfolio will depend on the fellow’s strengths and interests, but will likely include climate science, carbon and energy markets, hydrogen and fuel cells, energy efficiency, and transportation sector (technology innovation). The fellow will also likely serve as primary person leading 2 caucuses – hydrogen and fuel cells and renewable energy and energy efficiency.
  • The fellow will have an opportunity to lead two major legislative efforts that are priorities for the Obama Administration: establishing a system to protect facilities that manufacture or use potentially dangerous chemicals from terrorist attack, and re-instating a fee on polluting industries to fund the federal Superfund program. The fellow will also be involved in other aspects of the Senator’s busy and exciting agenda for the Environment and Public Works Committee, including climate change legislation and reforming our nation’s chemical laws.
  • The office is looking for a fellow who has excellent writing and communication skills to take on a portfolio of energy, environmental and/or transportation issues. Possible specific projects include advising the Senator during the ongoing global warming debate, handling some of the Senator’s committee work on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, helping plan hearings on environmental issues for the Foreign Relations Subcommittee, and work on mass transit issues for the Banking and Transportation Subcommittee. The Senator’s priorities include: smart growth and mass transit, energy efficiency and renewable, protecting coastal resources, and international climate change adaptation. A good fit for this office is someone who is highly motivated, willing to act independently and is enthusiastic about working for a progressive Democrat.
  • Possible duties for a Fellow focusing on natural resources would include handling issues relevant to the Senator’s role on the Energy and Natural Resource Committee’s Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests. There will be a heavy focus on public land and forestry issues, including the Senator’s legislative proposal for forest restoration in Oregon forests. There may also be work on land use bills including Wilderness, Wild and Scenic and land exchanges and transfers. There may also be ongoing climate change work.
  • Possible duties for a Fellow focusing on health care would include handling issues relevant to the Aging Committee. Particular attention will be given to end-of-life care matters. Other duties will include health care policy and hearings relevant to the Senate Finance Committee. Specific work will likely include issues involving the Medicare program.
  • Ecology, Public Lands, Water Quality, Forestry, Tribal Issues. We are looking for anyone who has a passion for protecting the environment. We currently have an AAAS Fellow in our office whose primary assignment has been the drafting of a comprehensive bill regarding Colorado River water quality. We are looking for someone to take over responsibility for continuing work on this bill, which will be introduced sometime in September. Duties would include working to gain support from Committee staff, other members and outside groups; moving the bill forward in Committee and ultimately the House Floor; and, acquiring a Senate sponsor. Also, as the LA for environmental, energy and Native American Affairs will be transitioning out of the office this fall, we are possibly looking for someone to slowly take over serving as the LA on these issues for the duration of the fellowship. This fellowship offers an opportunity to work closely with a great environmental champion in Congress and with a friendly, helpful team of staff.
Committee Position Descriptions
  • Our committee handles a very broad range of health care issues, so we can welcome fellows with a variety of interests. The committee’s purview includes (but is by no means limited to): biomedical research, biotechnology, public health, drug safety, food safety, bioterrorism and pandemic preparedness, and of course, health reform. Fellows have made and will continue to make major contributions to policy in all of these areas, and more.
  • An education fellow with an interest in working on early childhood education, elementary and secondary education systems, child care, higher education, and other related issues.
  • Our subcommittee has jurisdiction over the National Science Foundation, OSTP and STEM education across the government. Accordingly, the fellow must have an interest in working on policies for federal research funding (esp. academic research), STEM education, diversity in STEM, government-industry-university partnerships, international science cooperation, competitiveness, or some combination thereof. We will begin drafting a reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act this fall and will carry that legislation through Committee and to the House floor next spring. A fellow will be assigned to some part(s) of that legislation, and will also be tasked as needed, or as interested, to cover other issues that come up during the year.
  • A fellowship working on this committee offers candidates a unique opportunity to be key participants in major legislative initiatives on health care. During the coming year, Congress will turn its attention to the unacceptable number of Americans who lack quality health care coverage and the rising cost of health care. Fellows in this health office will be central players in this effort, which has the potential to produce historic reforms. Our office has taken fellows every year, and we have several slots for the coming year. We have a strong track record on providing quality fellowship experiences, and the office director is a former fellow. We are open to fellows with a broad range of interests that include, but are not limited to: medical research issues, food and drug safety, health care quality and costs, coverage of the uninsured, health information technology, and public health. In short, the range of health issues covered by our office is broad, so qualified candidates with a range of health- and science-related interests and backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

The AAAS Fellow who served on our staff for a year benefitted our office and our district greatly. Having a health care expert with real life experience as a physician is an invaluable resource. As Congress works to reform our health care system we need to seek out input from those who have dedicated their lives to practicing medicine, and I can think of no better way to do so than by having a qualified, capable AAAS Congressional Science & Engineering Fellow® on staff.
– Congressman Wally Herger (R-CA)