What is the structure of this program? Key components include: twelve-month full-time employment, beginning in the fall each year, alongside mentorship and professional development opportunities throughout the year. Each fellow will receive a portfolio with assigned work commitments as a Foreign Affairs Officer or Program Analyst. This differs with regards to the office that hosts the fellow, and is in addition to participating in fellowship activities.
What are the selection criteria? Criteria include: outstanding leadership and life experiences, as well as demonstrated excellence in academic, cross-cultural, and communication skills. This program is highly competitive due to the limited spaces available. Please provide the most comprehensive assessment of your skills, leadership qualities and achievements in a limited and to-the-point format when applying.
What is the minimum GPA? An applicant’s cumulative master’s degree GPA should be 3.2 or above on a 4.0 scale. If applicants went to a foreign university, they must provide a certified letter of GPA equivalent in English signed by a senior official in student records, while it is also recommended to submit official transcripts. Official transcripts may be required at a later time.
What if I am about to graduate, but it is after the submission deadline? Applicants must have graduated by the projected start date of the program. If a student is about to graduate, they must provide a certified letter of the expected graduation date, current GPA and have it signed by a senior official in student records, while it is also recommended to submit official transcripts.
Will I need a security clearance? Participants must receive a Secret or Top-Secret security clearance and pass a suitability review. The hosting agency initiates and pays for the background investigation and clearance review. However, applicants must cover fingerprinting, document preparation, and mailing costs. While having a previous security clearance can assist and expedite the review process, a new or re-validated clearance that is specific to the fellow’s position is required.
What is the duration of the fellowship? Contingent upon successful completion of a security investigation and granting of a clearance, the fellowships will last 12 months from the start date. Most fellows on board 2-6 months after receiving an offer letter.
Where is the fellowship located? All positions will be in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Please note that the cost of relocation will not be covered by the program (i.e. moving and travel costs). Once you have received a security clearance and start date, please reach out to VIPFellowship@state.gov to connect with current fellows and gain assistance for smooth transition.
Will compensation be provided? Fellows are paid as federal employees at the GS-9 level. In 2020, salary ranges from $56,233-$73,105 (dependent on previous experience) to be paid over the twelve months of VIP Fellowship employment. Relocation expenses are not covered. Fellows must provide a clear and concise description of paygrade, salary or equivalent for a higher step at time of offer.
Do I get time off or vacation pay? Fellows will acquire Annual Leave (AL) as they did in the military or prior federal employment (which transfers over), as well as Sick Leave (SL), however Military Leave (ML) does not apply to a one-year temporary appointment, therefore if fellows are Reserves or Guard members, they must use AL for required duty.
Will benefits be provided? Fellows are offered the opportunity to enroll in the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (FEHB). However, the fellowship does not provide life insurance or similar benefits. Housing is also the responsibility of the fellow to obtain. Fellows are eligible to receive Veterans Health Administration Benefits. To enroll, visit https://www.va.gov/health-care/.
What are the options for conversion to a Federal job? The VIP Fellowship is designed to provide experiential learning opportunities and skills that build on a completed Master’s degree. Fellows may pursue careers in the private, as well as public sector, upon completion of the program. This program is not designed to lead to federal employment and does not convey preference in seeking such an appointment, nor does it convey the ability to convert non-competitively to a competitive service federal position. For participants seeking a federal appointment, however, the VIP Fellowship experience may improve their ability to compete for such positions.
Is the fellowship open to all branches of the military, retirees and is there an age restriction? Yes, VIP fellows have represented all five branches of the U.S. military, including retirees and there is no age restriction.
What is the application process for the next cohort? Please refer to https://www.vipfellowship.org/application-process/.
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