Frequently Asked Questions
The following Q & A is designed to provide general information about the program. Answers may vary depending on specific circumstances.
- What type of individual is the program seeking to find?
- What is expected of a White House Fellow during the program year?
Application and Eligibility
- How do I apply?
- What is the selection process like? Do you have a Calendar?
- What are the eligibility requirements?
- I have previously worked for the Federal government, am I eligible to apply?
- What types of people are selected as Fellows?
- Can I be a White House Fellow if I have dual citizenship?
- Are there age restrictions?
- Does a candidate need to be of the same political party as the current Administration?
- If selected, can I continue to participate in organizations in which I currently serve- such as corporate and government boards, or on state or local councils?
- Are applicants required to submit financial disclosures if selected? What happens if there is a conflict of interest with my investments and my assignment?
- Are applicants required to undergo a security and background investigation?
Selection and Placement
- How is a class of Fellows selected?
- What is the best approach to prepare for interviews?
- What is Placement Week and how is placement determined?
- Will Fellows continue to serve in their placements after the Obama administration ends?
- Are Fellows provided with compensation and benefits - such as salary and health insurance during the program year?
- Does the Fellowship provide housing during the Fellowship year?
- Can Fellows receive outside income from other sources private or public during the program year?
- How are special needs such as disabilities or Fellows handled?
- How are previously scheduled commitments such as a vacation handled during the Fellowship year?
- Where can I direct additional questions?
The President's Commission on White House Fellowships is looking for individuals who are most likely to fulfill the mission of the White House Fellows Program. Selection as a White House Fellow is based on a combination of the following criteria:
A record of remarkable professional achievement early in one's career.
Evidence of leadership skills and the potential for further growth.
A demonstrated commitment to public service.
The skills to succeed at the highest levels of the Federal government, and the ability to work effectively as part of a team.
We also look for individuals with exceptional writing ability, a positive attitude, strong management skills, and the ability to work well with others.
All these qualities combined with the strength of one's character are taken into consideration when selecting a class of White House Fellows.
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.
The Education Program augments and enhances the work experience. Over the course of the year, Fellows are expected to fully participate in the Education Program, which includes semi-weekly speaker seminars and, when possible, domestic policy trips, an international policy trip, and day trips to study various policy issues.
In addition to their work placement and Education Program, the Fellows also participate in community service projects during their year in Washington, D.C.
Application and Eligibility
Applicants should apply online by visiting the "Apply" section of the White House Fellows website. Applications must be submitted online by January 11, 2017 at 5:59 PM (EST). It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that his/her application has been transmitted in its entirety.
A description of the Selection Process along with a calendar is available on the White House Fellows website http://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/about/fellows/process.
Applicants must be U.S. citizens. Applicants must have completed their undergraduate education and be working in their chosen professions. Individuals currently employed by the Federal government are not eligible to apply with the exception of career military personnel.
If you have a question about your status as a Federal employee, please call the White House Fellows Program office at (202) 395-4522.
Selection as a White House Fellow is based on a combination of the following criteria:
- A record of remarkable professional achievement early in one's career.
- Evidence of leadership skills and the potential for further growth.
- A demonstrated commitment to public service.
- The skills to succeed at the highest levels of the Federal government, and the ability to work effectively as part of a team.
Please refer to the bios of the current class of Fellows to learn about their backgrounds https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/participate/fellows/2016-2017.
In order to get the proper security clearance for the Fellowship, it is likely that individuals with dual citizenship would need to give up any non-U.S. citizenship(s).
There are no age restrictions. However, the Fellowship program was created to give selected Americans the experience of government service early in their careers.
No. The Commission awards fellowships strictly on a non-partisan basis.
White House Fellows are full-time employees of the United States government and are subject to the ethics laws and Standards of Ethical Conduct for employees of the Executive Branch. These standards prohibit Fellows from receiving any salary or any contribution to or supplementation of salary from any source other than the United States government. If outside activity that is uncompensated conflicts with your official duties, then you will not be able to continue that outside activity.
Certain placements, such as in the White House, will require that a Financial disclosure form be submitted.
Conflict of interest matters that arise will be handled on a case-by-case basis according to all applicable laws and regulations. If you have questions during the application process about potential conflicts of interest, please contact the White House Fellows Program office to inquire.
Yes. Regional Finalists are required to submit comprehensive background information, as Fellows must be qualified to pass a top secret security clearance. Once this information is submitted, background investigations will commence.
Please be assured that all of this information is carefully protected and kept confidential. Panelists and Commissioners do not have access to background investigation information. Information provided by candidates who ultimately are not selected will be destroyed.
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. To learn more in-depth information about the selection process, please visit the Selection Process and Calendar page.
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 citizens of the larger world.
- Be current on key issues in your professional field.
- Develop a clear articulation about why you should be selected.
The individuals who are appointed by the President to serve as White House Fellows will be required to come to Washington, DC in July to participate in a series of briefings and interviews to determine their fellowship work placements. The Commission pays for travel and lodging during Placement Week.
Yes, the 2016-2017 class of White House Fellows will continue to serve in their placements through the transition to a new presidential administration. We are proud that the White House Fellows program has remained constant over the course of nine administrations, four Democratic and five Republican.
Fellows are considered Federal employees, and receive a competitive salary during their one year fellowship. Military personnel, however, maintain their current salary and benefits.
Fellows are also eligible to purchase health insurance through the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plans available at their agencies. Details about the health plans available can be viewed on the Office of Personnel Management website at http://www.opm.gov.
No. Fellows are responsible for their housing arrangements. Applicants should be aware that Fellows cannot accept subsidized housing gifts from former employers or other sources.
White House Fellows are considered full-time employees of the United States government and are subject to the ethics laws and Standards of Ethical Conduct for employees of the Executive Branch. These standards prohibit Fellows from receiving salary, contributions, or supplementation of salary from any source other than the United States government.
Fellows cannot continue any outside activity that conflicts with 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 the official duties while serving as an employee of the United States government in the program.
The program staff is available to work one-on-one with individuals to properly handle any special needs.
The program year is a full-time commitment, with work, education, travel, and fellowship responsibilities. Almost all activities are mandatory. Only under special circumstances, and with approval by the Program Director, are Fellows excused from activities.
If this is a year when you have a multitude of personal commitments, vacations, or issues, we strongly encourage applicants to reconsider the timing of their application. Each Fellow and the entire class are most effective with full participation and engagement. It is unfair to others to accept the fellowship and then not fully participate.
The program staff is available to provide assistance and answer questions. The staff can be reached at (202) 395-4522. They may also be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.