Public Interest Fellowships are a great job opportunity that I did not previously know much about.  Yale’s Public Interest Fellowships booklet is a great resource to explain what the different types of fellowships are, how to find the right fellowship, and how to complete a fellowship application. 

There are several different types of fellowships that are available.  Each is based on a different type of goal, so it is important to consider what type of fellowship works for your life when researching fellowship opportunities. 

  • Organization-based fellowships are basically like having a temporary job with the organization in order to gain experience.  For these types of fellowships, the goal is to gain experience and help the organization advance goals that they have already been working on, and the employee is not necessarily guaranteed a job once the fellowship is completed.
  • Project-based fellowships are much more specific to the employee.  For these fellowships, the applicant creates a specific project that he or she will work to complete in conjunction with a sponsoring non-profit organization. 
  • Academic/clinical fellowships are offered through law schools.  These are focused on teaching, research, and writing.
  • Firm-sponsored fellowships are also available.  The structure of these can vary, but the fellow is paid by the firm for the amount of time in which he or she works in a public interest organization on behalf of the firm.

This resource also discusses some of the important factors in finding the right fellowship to fit your lifestyle.  The booklet emphasizes that it is important to consider your personal goals when applying to fellowships.  It is very important to do thorough research on opportunities that are available, because the company that you work for will reflect back on you when you search for future jobs.  The booklet also discusses the dilemma of applying to fellowships and clerkships, and how to prioritize between the two options.

Finally, this booklet discusses some helpful tips for creating a successful application packet.  When applying for fellowships, it is important to show the employer that you are actually qualified to complete the program and if you are proposing a project, that there is actually a need for the project.  This resource also explains the components of an application and how to put it all together.

In summary, Public Interest Fellowships are a great opportunity for students that are interested in doing public interest work after they graduate, or just would like to do some public interest work before or while working at a firm.