Frequently Asked Questions
What is the experience of a White House Fellow during the Program year?
Being a White House Fellow is an honor, a privilege, and a full-time commitment. Fellows are expected to fully engage in their work placement, which lies at the heart of a White House Fellowship. Work placements can offer unparalleled experience working with Cabinet and White House officials on challenging issues. The work often requires long hours and, at times, may also require travel on behalf of the agency.
What is the best approach to prepare for interviews?
The interviews are competitive. We recommend that Regional and National Finalists carefully prepare as they would for any other type of interview. We also recommend that Finalists:
- Know their application well, as each application is carefully studied.
- Study current events. One of the essential qualities of a White House Fellows is that they are good citizens, aware of the larger world.
- Be current on key issues in your professional field.
- Develop a clear articulation about why you should be selected.
How is a class of Fellows selected?
The selection process is very competitive. The White House Fellows Program office processes the applications and former Fellows screen the applications to identify the most promising candidates. The most qualified applicants are selected to be interviewed by eight to ten Regional Panels, which are comprised of prominent local citizens. Based on the results of the interviews, approximately thirty candidates proceed as National Finalists. The President’s Commission on White House Fellowships then interviews the thirty candidates and recommends 11-19 outstanding candidates to the President for a one-year appointment as Fellows. Those who are appointed as White House Fellows must return to Washington, DC to participate in Placement Week.
Do you have to be of the same political party as the current presidential administration to serve as a White House Fellow?
The White House Fellowship is a non-partisan program. It has strictly maintained this tradition during both Republican and Democratic administrations and, through the cross-fertilization of ideas and experience, has enriched the practice of public policy for more than five decades. The Commission awards Fellowships on a strict non-partisan basis, and encourages balance and diversity in all aspects of the program.
Is this a paid position?
Yes. Fellows are paid at the rate of GS-14 Step 3; with the exception of active duty military, who are paid according to their current rank and grade.
Is there an age restriction to apply?
There are no formal age restrictions to becoming a White House Fellow. However, the Fellowship program was created to give selected Americans the experience of government service early in their careers.
Can an employee of a company who is selected to serve as a White House fellow maintain his/her private sector affiliation and a commitment to return to the company after their Fellowship year is complete?
If selected, candidates are treated as full-time employees of the United States government and subject to the ethics laws and Standards of Ethical Conduct for employees of the Executive Branch. These standards prohibit White House Fellows from receiving any salary or any contribution to or supplementation of salary from any source other than the United States government.
Fellows cannot continue any outside activity that conflicts with their official duties. Service on advisory boards and other types of committees are evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine if a Fellow can continue the activity based on the precise nature of the activity and their official duties while servicing as an employee of the US government in the program.
There are no employment stipulations on what Fellows do after they complete their Fellowship year.
Do I have to reside in the Washington, D.C. area if I am selected?
Yes. Those selected as White House Fellows spend a year serving as special assistants to senior government officials in Washington, D.C.