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).
While we’re happy to share steps to partner with Progressive Pipeline and best practices for managing fellows, this isn’t legal advice. You should consult your own lawyers and HR professionals if any questions arise.
Overview and Mechanics
Why take on fellows?
The organizations that build the most successful fellowship programs have clear visions of why they want fellows and how they hope the fellowship can serve their organizational goals. Often, groups take interns on because it’s relatively cheap, fairly easy, and feels like something that everyone else is doing, which usually leads to a pretty poor experience for the fellows and a low ROI for the organization.
Instead, when you recognize that onboarding and managing fellows will take a fair bit of work and identify the ways in which the program can further goals that you care about, you’ll be able to make the time and energy required to pull this off worthwhile.
We’ve seen organizations take on fellows for a few reasons:
You want extra hands.
If you have meaningful, short-term projects that could use extra support, you’ll want to come up with a clear work-plan and staggered deliverables, and pay particular attention to selecting fellows who have the skill-sets they’d need to complete the project successfully.
You want to build a stronger talent pipeline into full-time roles.
If your organization is quickly scaling or is already large, and you want to develop interns who could stick around full-time, you’ll want to project your hiring strategy out and develop and internship program around it. Try to match the fellows’ scope of work to the roles you’re hoping to hire for, to time the fellows’ graduation years with their start dates (e.g., if you’re hoping to hire someone in May 2022, you might want your fall 2021 or spring 2022 fellow to be a graduating senior), and to be explicit with the fellows about the potential of staying on full-time.
You want to help develop your team.
Interns can be awesome “training wheels” for new and future managers, and our manager training and coaching programs can help develop them even more.
You want to help diversify the progressive talent pool.
Many organizations invest in internship programs as a way of contributing to the progressive community and furthering their DEI goals. If that’s your primary motivation for su
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
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.
Recruitment and Selection
We received more than 4600 applications for the summer 2021 cycle.
If you know of students who might be a fit for the fellowship, feel free to send them our way. They can find our application at
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.
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.
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 found that 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 always appreciate when you let us know that you’ll be hiring a fellow on after the summer, 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 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).
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. We are happy to provide a W9 or 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. You should consult your own legal counsel if questions arise.