FAQ's

For undergraduate summer experiences, in the year before the year in which the experience occurs. So, for example, if you seek a competitive summer internship or institute (the US-UK Fulbright Summer Institute or the DAAD Rise science-research summer internship) in the summer between your sophomore and junior year, you would begin work on your essays over *the summer between your first-year and sophomore year*, and apply in the *fall* of your sophomore year (application deadlines are mostly in November, December, and January), with interviews for semi-finalists occurring, usually, in March and April of your sophomore year.

For fellowship experiences that occur after you graduate from GVSU, you will want to begin a year and a half in advance of the start of the experience. Another way to think of this is that you will want to begin your application more than half a year before the application deadline. For example, if you seek a Rangel, Payne or Pickering award that helps to defray the cost of graduate school in fields connected with international relations, foreign policy, economics, foreign service, international development and/or international security and governance fields, you would begin your application for the fellowship in the *winter/spring* of your *junior* year, working on your application essays over the summer between your junior and senior year - the fellowship deadlines most often occur in the *fall* of your senior year, or sometimes in January/February/early March of your senior year. In the fall of your senior year, usually, you would also apply to your chosen graduate program. Interviews of semi-finalists occur most often in March and April. You don’t want to start on this process at the start of the fall semester of your senior year - this is too late. 

For a third example, if you seek a ‘gap year’ experience as a Fulbright ETA, FAO Schwarz Fellow, Scoville Peace Fellow, Humanity in Action Fellow, Coro Fellow (or another similar fellowship - there are many), you would begin your application *in the spring of your junior year* - working on your application essays in the summer between your junior and senior years and finalizing your application *in the fall* of your senior year before the fall or December or early January/February application deadline.

The most prestigious and competitive fellowship awards require nomination by the University, which in turn requires a screening process by a faculty committee. Each fellowship process is slightly different. Contact Fellowships for more information and see the Deadlines webpage.  Fellowship opportunities that have an internal application deadline include Fulbright, Goldwater, Truman, Marshall, Mitchell, Rhodes, Gaither, and Udall.

Politely. And as early as possible. Most fellowship opportunities require letters of recommendation from faculty advisors and mentors who know you well enough to comment on your academic achievements and potentials. You will want to request your letter of recommendation from a faculty member who knows you well and who is consequently well situated to respond to your request with a persuasive, detailed and authentic letter. 

Many fellowship application web portals require you to enter your recommender’s name, title and email:  be sure that you spell the name and email correctly, and confirm with your recommender that they are *willing to act as a recommender for you* before entering their name and contact information into the online system. The system will generate an automated email to your recommender with information about how they should upload their letter directly into the application system. You never want to take a potential recommender by surprise by inputting them into the application system before receiving confirmation that they are willing to be a recommender.

Your recommenders will need *timely* and *thorough* information about the fellowship opportunity (share the link to the organization’s webpage), your suitability for the opportunity, and the specific format and deadline for their letter of recommendation. Your recommender(s) will need to have all the relevant information in front of them to determine that you have appropriate qualifications for the award. You should thank your recommenders after they have submitted their letters, and you should keep them posted about the outcome of your application.

The Center for Undergraduate Scholar Engagement is the gatekeeper for requests for such letters, which then go to the Provost’s Office to get into the queue for the appropriate signature. The more time given the Administrative Assistant in the Provost’s Office to place the letter before the Provost, the better. You will want to request a letter of nomination / endorsement three months before the deadline for that letter, at minimum.

A student seeking an institutional letter of endorsement from GVSU should first work with us in CUSE, providing enough information about their academic and leadership background and their application to the fellowship in question, as well as about the specifics of the fellowship and required format for the institutional letter, to enable a letter to be drafted on behalf of the Provost or other appropriate senior administrator. 

NOTE: not all requests for institutional endorsement will be approved, as the University’s official endorsement depends on the student’s academic achievements, potential and associated qualifications in light of the purpose of the fellowship program.

The appropriate people need to have any information in front of them to determine that you have appropriate qualifications for this highly competitive award.

Each fellowship opportunity is different. There is no single answer to this question. The best, most up-to-date information about what the fellowship is, what it entails, and what kind of experience it provides will be the fellowship’s website. Some (absolutely legitimate, in fact, prestigious) fellowships even require an application fee – the Princeton Ins… are examples. 

More generally, however, here is a way to think about this question: The key thing about a fellowship is not the funding it provides or doesn’t provide, but the doors it opens, the value of the experience in itself, the value of the experience on the resume and for your future. Understanding what ‘fellowships’ are and what they provide is valuable cultural knowledge in itself:  as you explore the opportunities and the funding organizations behind those opportunities - the federal departments and agencies, the foundations, non-governmental organizations, libraries, museums, and think-tanks - you will begin to see what public and individual good they seek to achieve by using their money for fellowship programs. You will begin to understand the ladders to success these fellowship experiences provide, the doors they open.

You will find many possibilities for international internships and service, as well as for teaching abroad, by thoughtful searching online. Two key resources are the searchable databases, carefully curated for up-to-date, reputable, reviewed opportunities, www.goabroad.com and www.gooverseas.com. You can search by country, modality (internships, study abroad, teaching, interning) and by length of time/time period (summer, for example). Enjoy exploring! These are not competitive fellowships - they are opportunities to which you apply directly by going to the organization’s webpage. These opportunities provide, among other good things, the experiences that lead in turn to strong applications to competitive fellowships.

 If you explore beyond the searchable databases recommended above, be wary. There are wonderful opportunities out there, but there are also scams and organizations that do not provide ethical, safe and well-structured experiences for their volunteer participants or for the vulnerable populations (children in orphanages, people visiting clinics) they purport to serve.

CIEE is a particularly reputable provider of Teaching Abroad opportunities (Teach English Abroad | English Teaching Jobs Overseas | CIEE), but it is far from the only one.

For internships in general, particularly in connection with career placement, the GVSU Career Center is a wonderful resource. 

Always check the organization's website for the most up-to-date information.

Email the Fellowships Office to connect with Dr. Tooley for her Gmail address and then add her to your google doc draft.