On March 12, the Science Policy Group Professional Development Committee ran a Science Policy Fellowship Workshop with the Graduate College Office of External Fellowships. This workshop was primarily focused on the application process and an overview of the prestigious AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship, with two former recipients of the fellowship presenting about their personal experiences during their time in the program. The event began with Dr. Karen Ruhleder from the Office of External Fellowships providing an introduction on some of the major science policy fellowships available, and then discussing the application process, deadlines, and some tips for writing personal statements tailored to science policy instead of scientific research. Then, former AAAS Fellow and current Professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Dr. Gay Miller, gave a short presentation regarding her own personal experiences during the program. In particular, Dr. Miller was able to provide insight in to working with the USDA, as that was where she was appointed to work during her fellowship; she also provided insight in to the hurdles that you may face as a scientist first transitioning in to a role in science policy and government, as the pace and expectations are very different. Additionally, she touched on how she has adapted her teaching and career path because of her experiences as a fellow and gave high praise for the program, further encouraging those interested to apply. Following Dr. Miller’s presentation, Dr. Melissa Cragin discussed her experiences as a AAAS Fellow with a placement in the National Science Foundation Directorate for the Biological Sciences. Like Dr. Miller, Dr. Cragin had high praise for the fellowship program and was adamant that those interested should apply (and apply more than once if you are unsuccessful the first time). She also recommended that those are accepted for an interview ask plenty of questions of their potential employer in terms of the structure of the leadership in that particular office, opportunities for travel, and the number and types of projects that the fellow will be asked to work on, as those vary widely and can greatly impact the fellow’s experience. Finally, Dr. Cragin mentioned that some of the agencies hire on their fellows to stay after their term and you are able to network a great deal during the fellowship, so this can easily lead to a job opportunity.
Overall, the two presenters were very enthusiastic and motivating! They had only positive things to say about the fellowship experience, and encouraged anyone interested to reach out to them regarding specific questions. Additionally, they both were very interested in participating in future SPG events and were happy to be able to share their knowledge with us!