The success of the AAAS S&T Policy Fellowships are due in large part to the dedication and support of the supervisors and mentors in the congressional and executive branch host offices. 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.
These guidelines and expectations outline steps and responsibilities that congressional fellowship host office supervisors and mentors undertake to ensure a successful placement both for 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 Process (early September):
- Provide a fellowship position description.
- Review the placement process guidelines.
During Placement (mid-September to early-October):
- Attend or assign staff to attend the congressional fellowship placement reception.
- Review Fellows’ materials and schedule interviews. Remain open to direct contact from fellows interested in interviewing in your office.
- Conduct interviews with a number of Fellows to ensure finding the best fit of skills and interests to office needs. Include other appropriate staff to ensure a thorough interview process.
- Make an offer(s) directly to the fellow(s) you would like to host.
- When an offer is accepted provide information on when and where to report and how to get into the building.
Upon Placement, Coordinate with appropriate office staff to:
- 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.
Upon the Fellow’s arrival in the office:
- Greet the fellow on the first day and introduce to coworkers, including the legislative director and chief of staff.
- Provide an organizational chart of the office/committee and a directory of coworkers and conduct an orientation to the organization/unit/office or arrange for other staff to do so. This should include information on office culture: work schedule, communication, dress code, etc.
- Discuss resources: administrative support, equipment, staff, consultants, etc.
- Review any restrictions or limitations on the fellow’s ability to represent the office/committee.
- Set up a formal meeting schedule for the first month.
- Provide input on the fellow’s Fellowship Impact Plan, which must be created in collaboration with the supervisor/mentor.
During the fellowship year (September through August):
- 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 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 and their area of work.
- Encourage and provide time to attend meetings within and outside the office/committee.
- 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.