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Progressive Pipeline Fellowship Overview


Welcome! We’re really excited that you’ll be hosting a fellow this summer through Progressive Pipeline. On this page, we’ll share everything you need to know to run a successful fellowship.
If you have any outstanding questions after reading this guide, please feel free to reach out to Dinika Marwha, Progressive Pipeline’s Partnerships Lead ( We’re looking forward to working with you!

Fellowship Overview

recruits underrepresented students and places them in paid fellowships with social change groups. Then, we offer them the training, mentorship, and connections they need to become tomorrow’s leaders. We’ve cultivated a pool of more than 12,000 applicants and deployed 300 fellows: 76% are people of color and 73% are women or non-binary. Here’s how we do it:
We find hidden gems.
We recruit underrepresented college students and recent graduates through mentors, professors, advisors, and student leaders on more than 900 campuses. We look for potential, learning ability, work ethic, and a passion for progressive causes––but not necessarily past political experience.
We train them.
We offer our fellows skill-specific training in data, professional writing, and organizing, and career readiness training that shares best practices for managing up, asking for feedback, building workplace relationships, networking, and navigating questions of purpose and belonging at work.
We pair them with a coach.
Our fellows meet with a coach weekly for their first few months on the job. During their 1:1 coaching sessions, they have the opportunity to talk through challenges and opportunities at work, role-play potentially challenging conversations, and bounce ideas around with someone who’s been in their shoes.
We train their managers.
We offer all of our fellows’ managers optional, small-group training on creating cultures of belonging, delivering feedback, developing work-plans, fostering authentic relationships, engaging with identities at work, and building equitable structures for growth.
We place them.
We place our fellows in paid internships with our hiring partners—social change groups that share a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. We’ve worked with 82 organizations to build diverse and effective teams, including the SEIU, Run for Something, and the Working Families Party.
We help launch their careers.
We stick with our fellows long-term with career support, connections to future employers, and a community of more than 300 alumni. We source job applications for our fellows, edit their resumes and cover letters, prepare for interviews, and negotiate job offers––whatever it takes to help them launch lasting social change careers.

Designing the Role

There are a few questions you should ask yourself as you build out the fellows’ role:
Who will be managing them? While seasoned managers tend to do a good job of supporting the fellows, we’ve found that this can be an incredible opportunity for rising stars on your team to try their hand at management. We offer new managers additional support and feedback, and the fellows tend to appreciate working with managers who are often younger, more relatable, and eager to learn.
As you identify managers, mentors, and others who’ll be working with the fellows, be mindful of identity: all of our fellows, but particularly fellows of color, tend to do better when they have mentors and managers at work who share some of their identities and lived experiences.
What kinds of work will they be doing? Set realistic but rigorous goals. While some admin and ad-hoc work is certainly fine, it’s important that the fellows have at least one meaningful long-term project that they can work on. The most successful managers tend to assign their fellows a balance of four types of work:
Exposure. Often meetings, readings, or trainings. The fellows learn by being there but aren't necessarily doing mission-critical work.
Admin. Usually low-to-medium skills, high-stakes work supporting their manager. Typically discrete, short-term tasks that you can't always anticipate.
Skill-Building. Medium-term work focused on developing a particular skill. Progresses in difficulty as the summer goes on.
Creative. Usually high-skill, low-stakes, long-term work. A "default mode" if they don't have other work assigned. Done over the course of a month or two, not mission-critical but with the potential to be high-impact.
What sort of onboarding do they need? To set up your fellow for success, onboarding needs to go beyond HR and compliance. We offer training to managers on designing the fellows’ roles that dives deeper into this, but, in broad strokes, you should consider:
What should the fellow know about the norms, practices, and expectations of your workplace? What are the unspoken rules of your workplace? In which ways are you all similar to other organizations and in which ways are you different? Who tends to succeed at your organization and who tends to fail? How do you all approach feedback? What really matters to people who work on your team? What might someone entering your workplace for the first time be surprised by? Which parts of your culture are you really proud of and which are you hoping to change?
What should the fellow know about their manager? How do they give feedback, assign projects, and enable growth? What are the strengths, and in what areas could they use some extra managing up? As a starting point, we love on building work-style tables.
What does success look like in the role? If the project goes really well, what will mean for the fellow and for your organization? What would it look like to really thrive in the fellow’s role, and how will they know if they’re succeeding?
While every organization has a different approach to onboarding, management, and leadership development, we’ve found that the most successful hosts have taken a deliberate, consistent, and proactive approach to integrate fellows into their workplaces. As long as you plan early and ask for help and feedback, we’re confident that you’ll be an excellent home for our fellows, and they’ll prove to be valuable resources to your team.



We have four options for how to handle payroll. You can either:
Pay your fellow at least $15/hr directly as W2 employee,
Pay your fellow at least $16.15/hr as a 1099 contractor (to account for the additional tax burden)
Pay your fellow a weekly or monthly stipend at an equivalent hourly rate as a 1099 contractor (e.g. $2800/mo for a full-time role), or
Ask us to handle payroll for you and add the total costs to your invoice. This usually requires some advanced planning, so please reach out as soon as possible to explore options.
Feel free to choose whichever option makes the most sense for you and your team. If you opt to pay the fellows at 1099 contractors, make sure to confirm with your legal counsel or HR team that they would be properly classified. Some organizations elect to pay their fellows more or to offer additional benefits, which is perfectly fine!
You will be your fellows’ employer, and you’re responsible for hiring them, paying them directly, setting the terms and conditions of their work with you, supervising projects, and making all other employment decisions. We’ll identify potential candidates for your consideration, but you’ll ultimately decide who to hire. We encourage you to work with your HR staff and counsel to ensure that you’re in compliance with applicable federal, state, and local law.


We expect that all the fellows will have a personal computer and internet access. You’re not required to provide your fellows with a laptop or a work-from-home stipend unless you’re expecting them to do work that they wouldn’t reasonably be able to perform with the tech setup they already have or your security/IT policies require it.
If you choose to loan your fellows equipment, discuss a protocol for returning it. If you’d like your fellows to sign a contract before you send them equipment and don’t have one handy, from the Society for Human Resource Management.

Time Off

Paid time off and sick leave policies are up to you! For simplicity’s sake, we recommend that you adopt the same ones for the fellows as you have for other staff or interns. In case you don’t have policies in place or are hoping to tweak them, here’s what we’ve seen work at other organizations:
If your organization has a staff-wide day off (e.g. July 4, a wellness day, Friday half-days, etc.) you should give the fellows a paid day off.
We generally recommend that you give the fellows paid sick days, whether that’s through a formal sick day policy or a general culture of folks taking days off when they are sick. Make sure to communicate this clearly with the fellows –– many of them are coming from workplaces where folks who call out sick are penalized or fired!
While some organizations offer paid vacation days, they’re definitely not a requirement. If the fellows do need to take a day or two off during the summer, one other option is to ask them to make up the time later.

Discipline and Termination

Because the fellow will be an employee of your organization, you’re allowed to discipline or terminate them as appropriate, with or without cause. That said, our expectation is that—barring extraordinary circumstances—you’ll employ them for the duration of their fellowship.
If conflicts arise, we encourage you to work with us and your fellow as soon as possible to address them. We’ve run into just about every challenge that can arise during an internship, and we would be happy to connect anytime to talk through the problems you and your fellow are facing. Gentle but firm early intervention can work wonders!

Extending the Fellowship

If your fellow is a fit for your organization and you’d like to continue working with them—either by extending their internship for a few weeks, hiring them on full-time, or offering them part-time/contract work while they’re still in school—you should do it! If it’s useful, we’re happy to continue to provide them and their managers with support. Nearly all of the fellows are looking for some form of post-fellowship work.
We love good news, and always appreciate it when you let us know that you’re extending a job offer to a fellow, but, of course, you don’t need permission from us and we don’t charge an additional fee.

Legal and Compliance

You’re welcome to ask your fellow to sign agreements or complete paperwork necessary for their onboarding, including confidentiality agreements and indemnifications. You don’t need to clear these with us, although you might want to offer some context to your fellow, since they likely haven’t run into anything similar before.
Because the fellow will ultimately be employed by your organization, and every organization has a different set of requirements around payroll, location, and work authorization, it’s your responsibility to ask candidates any HR or compliance questions that could be dealbreakers before you make an offer. (For instance, some organizations employ fellows as independent contractors and aren’t required to determine citizenship or work authorization, while others employ fellows as W2 employees and need to confirm that they’re authorized to work in the US). We don’t check work authorizations as part of our application process.
While we’re happy to advise you on strategies to support your fellows, we aren’t experts on employment regulations and can’t offer legal advice. We recommend that you consult counsel to ensure compliance with applicable federal, state, and/or local law.

In-Person and Remote Work

During the intake process, we’ll ask whether the fellows’ roles will be in-person, remote, or hybrid. Regardless, we’ll aim to recruit candidates with roots in your community if your work has a geographic focus.
We’ve found that, with the right support, fellows can succeed in a broad set of work environments. You’re welcome to offer the fellows whatever kind of working setup makes the most sense for you.


Identifying and Recruiting Fellows

Before we kick recruitment off, we’ll want to figure out what you’re looking for from your fellows, and we’ll ask that you complete to give us a sense of who would be a fit and to equip us to tell your story to candidates. There’s certainly no pressure to have strong preferences, but we’re always interested in learning more about what sorts of candidates would thrive at your organization and how this program could click into your organizational goals.
For most of our fellows, the fellowship is a first step into a career in social good, so we typically can’t accommodate requests for past experience in policy, advocacy, politics, data, or organizing, but we can find folks who are especially interested in the issues you’re working on and eager to build new skills.
We look for students who come from the diverse communities that make up the progressive movement––students who often don't have the resources or connections to launch careers in politics. We find them through jobs boards, mentors, teachers, friends, and campus leaders, and we prioritize channels that reach students who aren’t already tapped into political networks. We’ve already received 12,000+ fellowship applications from more than 900 schools.
76% of our fellows are people of color and 73% are women or non-binary. We don’t discriminate in the application process on the basis of race, gender, or sexual orientation, and aren’t able to match fellows to organizations based on those identities or any other protected class. A commitment to racial justice and equity is a baseline expectation of all of our fellows, and we’re confident that they can all thrive on diverse teams.
While we’ll handle the bulk of the recruitment process, there are a few things you can do to help:
Share the summer fellowship application on your website and social media pages. Here’s some sample language (feel free to adjust/expand as needed):
We’re partnering with ––a non-profit that recruits underrepresented students and places them in paid fellowships with progressive groups––to host summer/fall/winter/spring fellows. The fellowship is a first step to a career in politics: no past experience is expected or required. Apply at !
Refer students who might be interested. If you know of students who could be a fit for the fellowship, or if ones reach out asking about internship opportunities, feel free to send them our way. They can find our application at .
Share our application with anyone you know who might be connected to students who could be a fit for the program.
If you know students who apply to the fellowship, feel free to flag them with us!


Before we send finalists your way, we bring them through an extensive vetting process that measures ability to learn, passion for progressive causes, and lived experience. Here’s what an applicant’s journey looks like:


We collect contact information, gauge their interest in a range of internship and job opportunities, and ask them to respond to a few prompts in 3-5 sentences. Optionally, candidates can submit a resume as well. We look for candidates who have lived experience in issues affecting their communities, who are clearly committed to advocating for progressive causes, and who are open to new experiences and opportunities.

Asynchronous Video Interview

Next, candidates submit asynchronous video interviews. Our goal is to break folks of “interview-mode” and get a sense of who they are, what drives them, and where they’ll take the fellowship. We’re not looking for perfect answers, and we expect most candidates to be a little awkward. Instead, our goal is to get a sense of their personality, passion for progressive causes, and emotional intelligence.

Reference Checks

Each applicant submits two references. We encourage applicants to share names of folks who’ve worked with them closely or in a supervisory capacity and who can speak to their strengths, work ethic, and potential.
Reference checks can be super useful tools, but a bland or otherwise unremarkable reference check isn’t always a red flag. Often, the fellows use supervisors in retail and food service as references, who (given the high turnover rates for those roles) sometimes manage hundreds of employees a year and tend not to develop particularly warm relationships with any of them.

Hiring Task

In order to assess a candidate’s learning ability and the sorts of roles that would make sense for them, we ask each applicant to complete a general-purpose hiring task. We’ve never seen a candidate ace this test, but we have seen plenty of candidates demonstrate capacities and abilities that they might not have identified themselves. You’ll receive a scored version of the assessment, and you’ll have an opportunity to review the candidate’s responses as well.

Matching (March or April)

After we’ve completed our screening process, we’ll share a slate of profiles of finalist candidates who are excited about joining your team and aligned with the preferences you identified in the onboarding form. These profiles will contain all of the materials they’ve submitted, notes from our team, and even video responses from their asynchronous interviews.
Our goal is to pair you with fellows who are going to thrive at your organization, not just to sell you on every candidate. That means that the profiles will include both strengths and areas for growth and that you’ll leave with a picture of the candidate as a whole person.
You review the profiles to identify areas that you might want to dig deeper into during an interview. Do they have past experience that seems intriguing? Are there potential flags that you’d want to examine in more depth? Do they have a compelling personal story that you’d appreciate hearing from them directly?
We typically aim to find organizations between three and five finalist candidates per role. If the finalists don’t quite seem like a fit, or if you’d simply like to interview more candidates, feel free to reach out to us and we’ll send more folks your way!


Once you’ve reviewed the fellow profiles, you can identify which candidates you’d like to call in for interviews. We’ll connect you to the finalists via email and encourage them to offer up a few windows when they can speak with you. While you and the fellows are responsible for finding a time to connect, we’re happy to assist with scheduling and logistics if needed. Please reach out to if you have trouble connecting with your fellow.
To keep the process as quick as possible, we encourage organizations to conduct only one interview with the candidates, typically 30 - 45 mins. If you have multiple team members who’d like to connect with the candidates before you make offers, you should consider running a panel interview.
You’re welcome to ask any questions you’d like during your interviews, but we’re happy to help you brainstorm.


Once you’ve interviewed candidates and decided who you’d like to accept, you should reach out to them directly to share the good news, and make sure to reiterate expected hours and the pay rate. If possible, it’d be great if you could copy on the email. Once your offer is accepted, we’ll start our own onboarding process, and welcome your fellow into the Progressive Pipeline community!
We expect host organizations to send rejection notes to all of the candidates they’ve interviewed but ultimately didn’t select. To avoid an uncomfortable conversation, make sure that you wait to send them out until all of your first-choice candidates have confirmed!

Manager Training

Whether you’re a first-time manager or a seasoned expert, we’re here to support you in working with our fellows. Thinking back to your first job, you’ll probably remember that your relationship with your manager defined your experience, so we want to do everything we can to ensure that you’re set up for success and that your fellow is adding real value to your team.
Anyone on your team is welcome to attend a series of optional manager trainings. We generally offer three sessions:
Honing Your Management Skills. This training will offer a crash course in feedback, delegation, and growth. Together, we'll share lessons learned and identify areas for growth in our management practice.
Building Work-Plans. We'll dive deep into potential projects and assignments for fellows, and you'll have the opportunity to bounce ideas around with other managers.
Managing for Inclusion and Belonging. We'll share tactical strategies to build relationships with your fellow and create a workspace where everyone knows they belong.
Additionally, if you’d like one-on-one support in onboarding, managing, coaching, or supporting your fellow, we’re always available to chat! In the past, managers have used these sessions to:
Brainstorm and develop fellow work-plans
Talk through onboarding strategies
Gut check which kinds of work projects could be a fit for a fellow
Navigate challenging conversations with their fellows
Think through “anchor projects” and opportunities for professional growth
We’ll reach out with more information on scheduling and logistics as we approach the summer. Feel free to drop us a note in the meantime if you have any questions about supporting your fellows or if you want to talk through project ideas!


Finally, the fellows will join your team full-time and receive intensive support so that they’re equipped to succeed. There are five core ways that we’ll work with your fellows:
Pre-fellowship training. Before they start, we’ll offer your fellows small-group training on building relationships at work, navigating professional challenges, managing up, soliciting and receiving feedback, and engaging with questions of purpose and belonging. While these trainings aren’t a huge time commitment, they’re designed to give the fellows foundational skills that’ll enable them to succeed on your team. Optionally, we can also offer some data and analytics training to fellows in technical roles. To be clear, these trainings will not focus on teaching fellows how to do their specific job, that is the employer’s obligation. We only provide guidance and support for fellows.
Weekly coaching. We pair all of our fellows with a coach who meets with them weekly throughout the course of the fellowship. These coaching sessions aren’t replacement managerial check-ins or one-on-ones and are instead an opportunity for fellows to build professional skills and tackle any challenges they might be facing.
Progressive Pipeline community. Your fellows will join our Slack community, where they’ll connect with current fellows and alums of the program, and we’ll occasionally host happy hours and other informal events to give the fellows the opportunity to get to know each other.
Career support. We’ll stick with the fellows long-term with connections to employers, help sourcing jobs, edits to resumes and cover letters, and career coaching — whatever they need to turn their time with your organization into a lasting, sustainable career!
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