Frequently Asked Questions

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What is the Professional Fellows Program?  

The Professional Fellows Program (PFP) is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’, Professional Fellows Division.  The program brings emerging leaders to the United States for intensive fellowships designed to broaden their professional expertise.  

 

When is the program competition announced? When are the application deadlines and what are the program dates for participants?

The recruitment for the PFP competition is conducted twice a year. The interested candidates may apply either for spring (April-June) or for fall (October-November) cohorts. Hence the competition for spring participants is usually announced in September. The applicants for fall program should be looking for information in late February – early March.

The application deadline is defined after announcing the competition. For the program competition in spring it is mid-November, and for the competition in spring it is end of March.  The participants travel to the U.S. for five-six weeks internships.

 

Do I need to pay for the program?  What are the costs? 

If you are selected as a finalist, American Councils and the Department of State will cover all costs associated with your international travel, visa, and basic living costs in the U.S. Program participants usually stay with US host families. There are no required costs to Fellows.

 

Am I eligible to apply?

To be eligible for PFP, applicants must:

  • Be a citizen of Armenia and currently reside in your country of citizenship. Applicants living outside of their country of citizenship will not be considered eligible to apply;
  • Be 25 to 35 years of age at the time of application;
  • Be a college graduate (equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree or higher);
  • Be proficient in English. If you are selected as a semi-finalist, we will give you an institutional TOEFL exam, unless you have a valid TOEFL score over 500 (paper test) or over 60 (iBT test) or its equivalent (for example, valid IELTS band 6 or higher);
  • Have relevant experience and commitment to a career in the public sector and/or nonprofit sector (e.g., legislative, executive, and NGOs that address policy issues);
  • Have demonstrated leadership and collaborative skills (please elaborate on your leadership and collaborative activities in essays in the end of this application, and submit/upload any certificates/materials that can prove your leadership skills).

These are firm requirements and no exceptions can be made. 

 

Who is not eligible?

Individuals in the following circumstances are NOT eligible to apply to participate as Fellows in the Professional Fellows Program:

  • U. S. citizens and permanent residents of the United States
  • Individuals currently participating in academic, training, research programs, or who are currently working in the United States
  • Individuals who have already been recipients of and participated in LEAP/LFP/PFP
  • Individuals currently residing or working outside their country of citizenship
  • Individuals who have participated in an exchange visitor program sponsored or funded by the U.S. government (e.g., Public Affairs Sections at U.S. embassies or other U.S. government agency) and who have not fulfilled their two-year home residency requirement by the time of the application
  • Individuals who have applied for U.S. permanent residency in the past three years
  • Persons arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a crime as further detailed by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

 

What if I am currently working or studying abroad? Am I eligible? 

No.  All Fellows must be current residents and citizens of the country cohort for which they are applying.

 

What are the application requirements?

In addition to online application, candidates must submit the following application materials to be considered for this program:

  • Resume or CV in English
  • Three candid photos of applicants that show their personality and interests, which may be shared with possible host families
  • A high quality digital copy of your international passport.
  • A signed copy of the Participant Terms and Conditions Agreement
  • A signed copy of the American Councils Privacy Policy Statement
  • A passport-style photo
  • Three candid photos of applicants that show their personality and interests, which may be shared with possible host families
  • Other supplemental materials if applicable (e.g. diplomas, certificates of participation in professional development programs, awards, etc.)

All the documents mentioned above shall be uploaded in relevant sections of the online application when it is open and available for completion. Please do not e-mail any documents to PFP staff in Yerevan or Washington, DC offices.

 

How are Fellows selected? 

Fellows are selected through a competitive nationwide search that involves an extensive written application and interviews with American Councils and U.S. Embassy staff.

 

What types of background do Fellows have?

Fellows come from a variety of professional backgrounds including:

  • Government offices – including local and regional (marz) government, institutions involved in development and implementation of national policy and legislation, social and economic policy, anti-corruption and/or increasing citizens in decision making
  • The business world – professionals who are active in developing corporate social responsibility.
  • Social innovation and social entrepreneurship organizations.
  • NGOs – including those involved in shaping public policy, legislation and increasing the role marginalized populations.

 

How would I get a US visa?

If you are selected for the program American Councils will assist you in applying for a J-1 visa.  All visa fees will be covered through the program as well as travel to the visa interview.  However, the granting of a U.S. J-1 visa is a requirement for the program, and if you are rejected for a visa by the Consular section at the embassy you will not be eligible to participate.  American Councils can assist fellows in the application process, but holds no sway over visa granting decisions made by the Embassy.

 

Where will I live during the program? 

Fellows on program will live with volunteer host families identified by American Councils.  This is a required part of the program.

 

Where will I work?

American Councils will match Fellows with worksites in the U.S.  While Fellows may express a preference early in the process for a particular type of site, please note that American Councils has final say over all sites and Fellows may not choose their own sites.  Not every type of office will have an exact match in the United States, so fellows will need to keep an open mind about learning how US offices work around different issues.

During past years’ programs, participants have been placed in the following venues:

  • State legislative offices
  • Executive branches (e.g., Illinois governor’s office)
  • Other sites include NGOs focused on lobbying, issue-specific themes (such as tax issues, environmental policy, education, etc.), and election offices

Click here to check the list of host organizations where PFP Armenia alumni spent their internships in the U.S.  http://americancouncils.am/professional-fellows-program-pfp/pfp-alumni/

 

What will I do at my worksite?

PFP experiences are often very fellow-driven.  This means that the fellows who are most successful often think about their goals and objectives for the program in advance of their arrival and are able to share them with their future worksites along with information about the fellows’ background and experiences at home.  While at US worksite applicants will likely engage in a wide range of activities, which can include shadowing important meetings, conducting research, presenting on relevant topics, participating in office events, and many other activities.

The program participants may be offered the opportunity to invite their U.S. supervisor to home country for two weeks and to develop a mutually beneficial project between your U.S. hosts and Armenia.