We’re so excited that you’re interested in taking on Progressive Pipeline fellows! In this guide, we’ll share everything you need to know to run a successful fellowship. If you have any outstanding questions, please feel free to reach out to Michael Michaelson, Progressive Pipeline’s Executive Director (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This isn’t legal advice, and some suggestions here could conflict with your organization’s HR protocols. You should consult your own lawyers and HR professionals if any questions arise. Needless to say, Progressive Pipeline does not assume any responsibility for any consequence of using the resources below.
Feel free to reach out anytime with questions, ideas, or challenges!
For anything related to training, costs, onboarding or future partnerships:
For questions about recruitment, matching, selection, or fellows:
Feel free to reach out to both of us if you’re not sure who the right point of contact is.
Designing the Role
There are a few questions you should ask yourself as you build out the fellow’s 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:
. Often meetings, readings, or trainings. The fellows learn by being there, but aren't necessarily doing mission-critical work.
Usually low-to-medium skills, high-stakes work supporting their manager. Typically discrete, short-term tasks that you can't always anticipate.
Medium-term work focused on developing a particular skill. Progresses in difficulty as the summer goes on.
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?
Adding PP to an Existing Internship Program
You’re welcome to run your entire internship program through Progressive Pipeline or to accept a handful of Progressive Pipeline fellows alongside your other interns. If you choose to integrate Progressive Pipeline fellows into a larger internship program, we ask that:
You pay your Progressive Pipeline fellows as much as your other undergraduate interns
The Progressive Pipeline fellows’ supervisors are at a similar level of seniority to the other interns’ managers. (PP fellows should never report to other interns or students).
You commit to accepting a fixed number of Progressive Pipeline fellows, rather than having them apply through your ATS and compete against non-PP candidates. This ensures that we can align the timing of your interview and selection process with the rest of the program. If, after interviewing the PP candidates, you’d like to accept additional fellows, we’re happy to accommodate.
We are sometimes—but not always—able to offer manager training and coaching to folks who are supervising non-PP interns. We run weekly lunch-and-learns during the summer that your other interns are more than welcome to attend
Onboarding, Payroll, and Logistics
You’ll pay your fellow at least $15/hr directly, either as W2 employees or 1099 contractors. If that’s not feasible, you can also pay them a set weekly or monthly stipend at an equivalent hourly rate (e.g. $2600/mo for a full-time role). If you have other undergraduate interns who are getting paid more than $15/hr, it’s best practice to pay the fellows whatever you’re paying the other interns.
If your organization is based in DC, you may be required to pay the fellows $15.20/hr, even if they’re working remotely. Check with your legal counsel or HR professionals before extending offers.
If, for whatever reason, paying the fellows directly would be impractical or arduous, feel free to reach out to us, and we might be able to put them on our payroll. Some organizations elect to pay their fellows more than $15/hr or to offer additional benefits, which is perfectly fine!
We expect that all of 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 do choose to loan your fellows equipment, make sure to 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,
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.
For fellows in part-time roles, sick days and PTO generally aren’t necessary as long as they’ll have the flexibility to make work up.
Discipline and Termination
Because the fellows are employed by your organization, and typically are at-will employees, 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 the fellows for the duration of their fellowships.
If conflicts do arise, we’d encourage you to work with us and your fellows as soon as possible to address them. We’ve run into just about every challenge that can arise during an internship, and would be happy to connect anytime to talk through 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 support. Nearly all of the fellows are looking for some form of post-fellowship work.
We love good news, and always appreciate 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 fellows 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 fellows, since they likely haven’t run into anything similar before.
Because the fellows 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
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
check work authorizations as part of our application process.
Some HR teams at larger organizations require fellows to apply through your ATS after you’ve extended them an informal offer. That’s perfectly fine as long as you communicate to the fellows that the application is a formality.
If your HR or compliance teams have any questions, you’re more than welcome to share our contact information with them (email@example.com).
Payment to Progressive Pipeline
We’ll send you an invoice for agreed-upon programmatic costs, due on the fellows’ first day of work. We prefer payments via check or wire transfer, but can accept credit and debit cards as well. We usually can extend the payment deadline if needed.
and we’d be happy to provide a statement of work upon request.
Progressive Pipeline is a 501(c)(4). We can accept payment from any legal entity, including 501(c)(3)s and go through the expenditure responsibility process if needed. Electoral campaigns, PACs, and party committees should
report our services as in-kind contributions; the fees we charge political groups reflect the full, unsubsidized cost of the fellowship program. You should consult your own legal counsel if questions arise.
Recruitment and Selection
Before we kick recruitment off, we’ll want to learn more about what you’re looking for from your fellows. 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 politics, 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.
able to accommodate requests for fellows who:
are proficient in certain languages
have experience working in and mobilizing particular communities, especially communities of color
are passionate about or who have lived experience in the issues you’re focused on
have roots in the area here you’re located
are especially excited about certain types of projects or work
are strong writers or speakers, or have an aptitude for analytical thinking
71% 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.
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 received more than 4600 applications for our summer 2021 fellowship.
While we’ll handle the bulk of the recruitment process, there are a couple 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 campaigns and organizations––to host
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, but, for equity reasons, we aren’t able to offer special consideration to applicants referred by our partners.
Our Selection Process
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. This typically looks like:
A skills-based hiring task (either focused on writing, analytics, or organizing)
An asynchronous video interview (fellows record answers to questions)
Once we’ve completed our selection process and made tentative matches, we’ll confirm with the fellows that they’re interested in working at your organization. Then, we’ll share profiles with you that contain all of the materials they’ve submitted, notes from our team, and even video responses from their 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.
Use 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?
In reviewing thousands of fellowship applications, we’ve noticed a few common threads:
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.
Fellows who can connect the reason why they’re interested in doing this work back to their lived experience tend to do especially well. Pay particular attention to the “why” in the profiles: that’ll give you a great sense of how they’ll use this opportunity.
The fellows are all still at a pretty malleable stage in their lives—and, candidly, don’t have much exposure to the wide range of careers in politics, advocacy, and social good—so don’t be too worried if it doesn’t seem like they know what they want to do yet. As long as they seem passionate about doing good and excited about the role after discussing it with you, they’ll dive into the work.
We typically aim to find organizations two 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 we’ve sent fellow profiles your way, we’ll connect you to the finalists via email and encourage them to offer up a few windows when they could connect. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Support for Managers
Training and Coaching
After the Fellowship
Template agreements and guidance from the Society for Human Resource Management, in case you don’t have ones in place already (we recommend that you consult your own attorneys or HR professionals before asking fellows to sign contracts):