Application Section

Candidates must:

  • Be a U.S. or Indian citizen, or a U.S. permanent resident
  • Be between the ages of 21 and 34 on September 1, 2018
  • Have completed an undergraduate degree before the start of the program on September 1, 2018

We seek applicants from a variety of backgrounds, both professionally and personally.
Candidates should demonstrate a deep interest, passion, and commitment to social and economic development in India. Candidates must show humility and an eagerness to learn within a cross-cultural context. Ideal candidates possess strong professional skills, relevant volunteer or other practical experience, and applicable academic credentials or training. They show a potential for leadership and are entrepreneurial, innovative, and creative in finding solutions and navigating unknown environments.

Candidates must be flexible and adaptable, and possess exceptional ability to build meaningful relationships across cultures in the social development space. A sensitivity and ability to work with vulnerable communities, as well as the humility and passion to “learn by doing” is essential.

Although proficiency in an Indian language is not required to apply, it is highly desirable.

Fluency in English is required. It is not a requirement for Fellows to speak the local language, however it is considered a valuable skill in the selection process and taken into consideration when placing Fellows with AIF partner organizations. If accepted into the program, Fellows may be eligible to receive some language training in a local language.

The application is a high competitive, multi-stage process consisting of an online application; a phone conversation, an in-person interview, and a competitive matching process for short-listed candidates.
Please review this video for a step-by-step guide.

The initial online application consists of information about a candidate’s educational and professional background and a series of short essay questions. The essay questions are designed to help us understand the knowledge, skills and qualifications that you would bring to the Fellowship. We also want to get to know you better and to find out what motivates you.
When planning your answers, emphasize your experience and qualifications most relevant to the Fellowship. If you are currently working full-time, you may wish to highlight any relevant professional experience. If you are a recent graduate, you may wish to focus on any relevant academic and volunteer experience. Think broadly about your experience and how it relates to the fellowship. Use examples and avoid generalizations. For each question, be as specific as possible, drawing from your experience.

After AIF reviews all online applications, long-listed candidates will be invited for a brief phone conversation with a staff member or Alumni. After these phone conversations, select candidates will be invited to an in-person interview held in major cities in the United States and India with a mixed panel of staff, Alumni and other AIF stakeholders. They will be asked to submit two references prior to the interview. Successful candidates will be notified of their qualification to the shortlist, enabling them to apply for individual projects in the project portal. AIF and its partner organizations will then interview candidates for each position. Based on these interviews and an assessment of which candidates are best suited for individual projects, the final Fellowship class will be selected. Fellows will officially be admitted and offered a place into the program in July.

If you are identified as a short-listed candidate for the Fellowship, we will invite you to an in-person interview. Interviews are conducted in major cities in the U.S. and India. Due to the competitive nature of the Fellowship, as well as the value that AIF puts on building a diverse and cohesive cohort, you are expected to appear to the interview in person. In the case that you are outside of the U.S. or India due to a prior professional commitment and can provide documentation, AIF may explore an alternate means of conducting the interview with you.
AIF does not make travel arrangements for candidates coming to an interview, nor do we reimburse any expenses related to attending the interview. Candidates are expected to make their own arrangements and pay for all expenses incurred by attending the interview in person.

AIF requires two references. You will be asked to submit your references only if you make it to the interview round. We will contact candidates and ask them to provide your references in the online application portal. Your references will be asked to complete an online form that evaluates your ability to succeed on the Fellowship. Your references should be able to address your work ethic, your cultural adaptability, your communication skills and work style, and your career goals. We request that you provide references familiar with you in a professional or volunteer setting. References can not be family, relatives or friends.

No, we do not require recommendation letters. Instead, we will ask you to provide us with two references from a professional or volunteer setting to complete an online form evaluating your skills, abilities, and preparedness for the Fellowship.

During the selection process, we take note of the skill sets and interests of potential Fellows to match them with appropriate AIF partner organizations. Once selected, we ask finalists to apply for projects in the project application portal opening in May. The project application portal will outline each project, describe the nature of the host organization, and provide details about required skills, roles, and responsibilities. Each finalist is able to apply for up to three projects. AIF and its partner organizations will interview candidates for each position, and make a decision about the final match. Fellows are officially being admitted into the program in July at the conclusion of the matching process.

No, you can only apply for projects offered by pre-vetted AIF partner organizations. This is done to ensure that the organization aligns with AIF’s values and policies, can demonstrate the need of hosting a Fellow for an eligible project, and will be able to provide the level of support expected by AIF in hosting a Fellow.

Program Section

Fellows are expected to complete the following during their service in India:

  • Meeting or exceeding expectations of the Fellowship, including upholding your commitment to AIF and your host organization
  • Participation at Orientation, Midpoint, and Endpoint, and Thematic Conference
  • Adherence to the policies and agreements between Fellow, AIF and partner organizations
  • Full completion of the Fellowship program
  • Timely submission of monthly and quarterly reports and deliverables
  • Completion of at least regular posts on the AIF Fellowship blog
  • Prompt settlement of finances and logistical items throughout the fellowship
  • Completion of end of service documents and presentations

All Fellows are expected to complete the full program, while upholding basic values and principles of trust, honesty, and integrity. Fellows are expected to embrace and engage with multiple challenges, and take a lot of initiative in the structuring and completion of their projects.
Fellows must abide by host organization work calendars and work complete workweeks in accordance with organizational policy and procedure, which commonly involves working Saturdays.

For U.S. Fellows, AIF provides a roundtrip ticket from their point of origin to India, along with insurance coverage and a monthly living stipend. For Indian Fellows, AIF provides domestic travel from their hometowns in India, insurance coverage, and a monthly living stipend. Please note that the stipend is not a salary, but a living stipend designed to enable Fellows to volunteer in India. The stipend covers basic living expenses such as rent, meals and incidentals, and local transportation related to a Fellows’ project.

The amount of money for living expenses will vary widely upon location. The stipend is designed to allow Fellows a local lifestyle comparable to that of other local staff at their host organizations. Fellows should expect to live modestly, and may need to adjust to a different style of living and spending habits than what they are accustomed to.

The stipend does not cover personal entertainment, non-program related travel, luxury items, or alcoholic beverages. Candidates should plan on bringing additional funds to allow for personal travel and other non-essential items. The amount will depend entirely on your personal spending habits.

Travel depends entirely on the project and the AIF partner organization. Some placements require travel to villages in surrounding areas for fieldwork, while others are more administrative, requiring little to no travel within a regular office setting. Again others may require constant travel to various partner offices and/or field sites. When selecting preferences for projects, Fellows should carefully consider whether they have any restrictions to frequent travel and might need to be based in one place.

The Fellowship is a commitment to serve with AIF’s partner organizations in a full-time capacity. Many organizations in India follow a 6-day work week, or work on alternate weekends. The length of the working day may also differ depending on the host organization or current ongoing work. Fellows are expected to abide fully by their host organization’s work schedule and workplace policies.

Fellows are entitled to a certain amount of personal leave throughout the program, which is pro-rated according to whether they follow a 5- or 6-day work week. We strongly discourage Fellows from taking leave during the first six and the last six weeks of the program. Taking leave during these critical phases may jeopardize cross-cultural and workplace immersion at the beginning of the project, and disrupt the hand-over of the project at the end. Upon obtaining approval from their host organization and AIF, Fellows are able to travel within India as far and as long it does not interfere with their projects. AIF may restrict certain areas for travel due to current political or other events.
Participants are expected to remain in India for the entire duration of the program. Out of country travel is not permitted during the course of the Fellowship.

AIF Fellows are enrolled in a travel health insurance policy and emergency support program for the duration of the program. As health and safety issues vary by region, AIF hosts a two-week Orientation that includes extensive health and safety training for Fellows at the beginning of the program. Fellows will also be given training in how to utilize their insurance and emergency benefits in variety of medical situations and emergencies. The host organization will be responsible for helping Fellows arrange for proper care in case of ill health.

Fellows are expected to participate at four different programmatic conferences during the course of the program: Orientation, Midpoint, Thematic Conferences, and Endpoint. These conferences are an integral part of the Fellowship and offer a space for meaningful connection, engaged reflection, as well as personal and professional development.

Orientation marks the official beginning of the Fellowship and is hosted by AIF in New Delhi. Spending nearly two weeks together before Fellows depart to their host sites, Fellows are prepared for their year of service. Orientation covers everything from team building to setting expectations, explaining policies, preparing for your project, navigating cultural adaptation in your host site, and guidance on how to immerse in your host community. You will also meet your AIF and host organization mentors for the first time, and attend workshops and panels on development in India.

Midpoint is an integral part of the Fellowship, which intends to offer a space of meaningful connection, engaged reflection and exchange, and an opportunity to step back and assess personal and professional development. During Midpoint, Fellows will share each other’s experiences and observations through formal presentations, there will also be opportunity to use this energy and insight to clarify both personal intentions and professional goals for the remainder of the Fellowship.

After Midpoint, the cohort breaks into three smaller groups to proceed onwards to Thematic Conferences held across India that will broadly focus on the areas of Public Health, Livelihoods, and Education. The purpose of the Thematic Conferences is to expose Fellows to another aspect of the development field they have been working in through the half of their Fellowship, and to give additional insight and perspective on their ongoing work at their host organization.

Endpoint is the culmination conference that marks the end of the Fellowship. Fellows share their projects, reflect on their experiences, and discuss next steps as program alumni. Endpoint closes with a dynamic development conference where select Fellows will prepare presentations encapsulating their project, their observations, as well as their professional and personal growth. The conference will be attended by AIF staff, programmatic partners, host organizations, guest speakers, and other members of the wider development community in India. Upon the conclusion of the conference, the Fellowship class will be honored by a completion ceremony.

General Section

The Fellowship is a full-time commitment. Fellows are not allowed to conduct or work on their own research projects for the duration of service.

Because the Fellowship is a full-time professional commitment, Fellows cannot be pursuing academic coursework during the Fellowship. Fellowship is not eligible for course credit. However, candidates who are considering taking a sabbatical or gap year during their degree course to pursue the Fellowship, are eligible to apply.

Since AIF partners with a number of development organizations across India who differ greatly in size, thematic focus, the individual projects and the impact that they have, will vary greatly. The success of a project also depends on the skillset of the Fellow, and how they choose to navigate the work environment of their host organization. Examples of previous projects that Fellows have completed, include:

  • Develop and implement a monitoring and evaluation system to assess the social impact of education and employability programs.
  • Design an interactive and experiential bi-lingual curriculum for students to document and interpret their local history, culture, and geography.
  • Conduct a needs assessment of non-communicable diseases to understand health needs of a specific community in designing a new public health intervention.
  • Design, develop, and disseminate a health and hygiene curriculum, including the promotion of awareness around menstrual health and hygiene.
  • Conducting participatory rural appraisal processes to address and design interventions around a variety of issues including education, health, sanitation, and livelihood opportunity.
  • Conduct academic and first-hand research to design and develop an interactive website.
  • Design and facilitate a business and entrepreneurship program for rural women; fostered the immersion of several small-scale business designed and run entirely by rural women.

Fellows support AIF partner organizations at a crucial moment of scalability through project based collaboration, skills-sharing, training, and capacity-building. Responsibilities vary based on a Fellow’s skills, experience, and interests. Skills needed in projects may include but are not limited to: program design and implementation, monitoring and evaluation, graphic design, videography, data collection and visualization, digital content development, event planning, qualitative and quantitative research, creative writing, curriculum design, fundraising, teaching, training teachers, community organizing, managing information systems, and marketing and communications.

The challenges that Fellows may face range include, but are not limited to: under-resourced work environments; linguistic and cultural barriers; remote, isolated or modest living conditions; and living independently in India.

Many Alumni have expressed that the Fellowship was one of the most challenging and transformative experiences that they have had. Recently returned AIF Clinton Fellow Avital Datskovsky (2016-17) for example, expressed that what she appreciated most about the Fellowship is that “nothing about it is easy and that’s amazing. It really pushes you and it’s hard – and that’s worth it!” The reasons for this differs from person to person, but a common denominator is the challenge of development work itself. Many organizations in the Indian development space are under-resourced and operating in difficult environments that Fellows must navigate.

Depending on the language required to complete a project, AIF will provide some language training in a local language for Fellows before the start of their project. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. The aim of language training is to allow a Fellow to gain basic language skills to immerse themselves in the project and in their host community. Candidates may also choose to use their own funds to work with a local language tutor if they desire to expand their expertise in the local language.

Between 2001 and 2016, no less than 422 individuals have served as AIF Clinton Fellows in India. Due to the diversity of backgrounds and interests, our Alumni have followed a plethora of career and life paths after the Fellowship. Some have started their own social ventures or chosen to join the development sector in India and the United States, including several alumni who have founded their own enterprises that now host incoming Fellows. Others have continued on to pursue graduate studies including Masters and Doctoral work in areas such as urban planning, public health, and international development, or they have gone on to professional schools including diplomacy, law, education and medicine. Others have used the experience of working in the Indian development sector to refocus their careers. Then again others have returned to jobs they held before the Fellowship period, or embarked on work in the public or private sector domestically or abroad.

AIF and its host partners have high expectations of Fellows. Being in this role carries a lot of responsibility. During the course of the Fellowship, Fellows are expected to prioritize their work at the host organization above all else. In addition, there are a variety of deliverables to be completed during the Fellowship including blogs, proposals, monthly reports, and a culmination document.

As a Fellow, you are considered an official ambassador for AIF and the AIF Clinton Fellowship Program at all times. You are expected to act as such with dignity, responsibility, and respect. You are expected to upload our values and honor our mission. Anything you say and do while a Fellow will not only reflect on you individually, but also on the Fellowship and AIF as a whole.

If you seek challenge, thrive in unstructured environments, and enjoy independent problem-solving, this is the program for you. If you’re a person looking to gain hands-on experience and a unique glimpse of what working in the Indian development sector looks like, then this is the program for you. If you’re looking to learn about a very different aspect of development work and India, and you’re willing to let this guide you beyond your time of service, then you should consider applying. If you are eager to stretch beyond your current professional strengths and skills, and apply them in different projects and fields, then this is the program for you. If you are committed to service and believe in the value of supporting others to achieve their goals, and if you’re willing to be challenged beyond what you can conceive of, you are in the right place.

If you’re looking to travel and experience India, then you should consider pursuing other opportunities. If you are looking for a structured, guided, and tailor-made professional development program, this is not the program for you. If you are looking to only work in your area of expertise, and are looking to refine your skills in a very specific field, this program is not the right fit. If you’re looking to pursue your own research agenda and advance your own projects or harness your own connections to find employment, this is not the program for you.

Fellows are expected to stay in India for the duration of the Fellowship and are not allowed to leave India. This includes any travel for graduate school or job interviews, family reunions, holidays etc.

We are happy to provide you with assistance during the application process. If you would like to speak with a staff member in the U.S. or India, please contact us and specify your questions and areas on which you need clarification or support. Due to the volume of application, we ask that you email us your questions first and provide your phone number for follow-up. We aim to respond to your query within 48 hours. Please not that our business hours in the U.S. and India offices are Monday through Friday from 9am-6pm.

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