The Fellowship
Program

Our program mixes the best of both Washington and Silicon Valley, bringing together stakeholders in policy and technology to train the next generation of policy entrepreneurs.

At the Aspen Tech Policy Hub, we take tech experts, teach them the policy process through an in-person fellowship program in the Bay Area, and encourage them to develop outside-the-box solutions to society’s problems. We model ourselves after tech incubators like Y Combinator, but train new policy thinkers and focus the impact of their ideas. We’re building new ideas for policymaking — every fellow must complete one practical policy output during their time with us — and an alumni base of technologists who understand policy and want to engage with it.

Before applying, please carefully review the fellowship details, eligibility, and Frequently Asked Questions below, and/or click here to download the details and instructions. Please take your time and fill out the application thoughtfully; we recommend writing and editing drafts before transferring them to the application form. No decisions will be made about any applications before the application deadline.

Applications are due on August 15 at 11:59pm.

If you have additional questions, we have several recruitment events you can join.

We will host Q&A based webinars on the following dates & times:

August 7, 2019
at 12pm PST/3pm EST (register here)
August 14, 2019 at 10am PST/1pm EST (register here)

For Bay Area residents, we will also host a joint recruitment event with TechCongress at Manny’s from 5-7pm on August 7 in San Francisco. Please sign up here.

Fellowship Details

Incubator fellows will spend a minimum of 10 weeks with us for mandatory programming, running approximately January 2 to March 13, 2020. See the FAQ below for more details.

This is an intense, full time program, and we expect fellows’ full attention while they are participating. Fellows will be paid a stipend of $18,000 to defray their living costs in the Bay Area for the program.(We will provide office space, but fellows will need to find their own housing if they are not already local.) We also have limited funds to assist with relocation to the Bay Area if needed.

During residence, fellows will be required to create at least one practical policy output—for instance, mock legislation, toolkits for policymakers, white papers, op-eds, or an app. Fellows have to propose a possible project in their application for the fellowship, but they are not tied to working on that project once in residence. In fact, we encourage fellows to work together to identify new ideas for projects on arrival. Fellows will also be asked to participate in at least one annual public event in which we reveal the results of the fellowship; these will be held in both Washington DC and San Francisco. Programming to support the development of policy outputs during the fellowship will include:

  • An orientation introducing fellows to the fellowship, to the other fellows, and to the policymaking process;
  • Regular classes exploring what policy is, how to identify problems, defining alternatives, developing relevant outputs, and communicating to stakeholders;
  • Action-oriented practical exercises, such as ‘how to write a policy memo’ or ‘how to give an elevator pitch’, founded on real world problems provided by our partners;
  • Mandatory morning pitch meetings for sharing ideas in progress;
  • Partnerships with experienced policy mentors who can help provide project guidance;
  • Practical resources, including designers, copy editors, legal experts, and communications specialists to facilitate projects; and
  • Evening dinners with top corporate and government policy experts, sharing off the record experiences about how things get done.

To ‘exit’ the program at the conclusion of the fellowship, we will help Hub fellows share their outputs during a meeting with a relevant stakeholder, which could be a federal or state government employee, company employee, standards body, or other stakeholder relevant to the issue. (Travel will be paid if these stakeholders are outside the Bay Area.)

Eligibility

We are looking for people with three key characteristics:

1 – Applicants should have significant professional experience with technology.

For instance, applicants might work as an engineer, computer scientist, or business executive at a technology company; might be trained as a data scientist or in human-computer interaction; might work at a university or at a think tank studying cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, or the Internet of Things; or might have professional technology experience such as serving as a patent lawyer. Please note these are just illustrative examples; they are not intended to limit eligibility to these categories.

2 – Applicants should show potential to apply their technology experience to affecting policy and social change.

They should be passionate about solving the world’s problems, and should be able to clearly articulate creative, innovative ideas about the ways in which they want to make a difference and how their experience will help them do that. We are particularly interested in applicants who are passionate about problems in four priority areas:

  • Cybersecurity;
  • The effects of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, and quantum computing;
  • Protecting democracy, combating disinformation or misinformation, and election security; and
  • Using technology to help at-risk populations or encourage social justice.

3 – Applicants have not yet significantly explored their potential to enact change through policy.

This is an introductory program to the policymaking process, and applicants with significant past policy experience are likely to be too advanced for this program. While all are welcome to apply, we will prioritize applicants who do not have significant previous policy experience (e.g., a master’s in public policy; past experience working in a policy role)

Other requirements for the program include:

  • Applicant(s) must be at least 21 years of age by the start of the program.
  • Applicant(s) must be fluent in English.
  • Applicant(s) must be able to make a full-time commitment to the incubator process for a minimum of 2 months in early 2020, and be able to reside in person in the Bay Area during that time.
  • Applicant(s) must have legal status to work and reside in the United States.

Applicants must have a passion for changing the world, and an interest in learning how technology and policy can work together to achieve change.

Students are eligible to apply, but please note that, due to the requirement for significant professional experience in technology, students without work experience are unlikely to be strong candidates for acceptance. (This being said, this is a pilot program and all assumptions are just that — assumptions. So we urge you to apply and prove us wrong!)

If you are ineligible for the program but still would like to get involved with the Aspen Tech Policy Hub, please email aspentechpolicyhub@aspeninstitute.org or sign up for our listserv. We hope to diversify the types of fellows we can accept in future cohorts.

FAQ

We will update these FAQs as we receive additional questions about the fellowship. If your question is not answered here or in the materials above, please contact aspentechpolicyhub@aspeninstitute.org.

General

What is policy?

Great question, and one we will be exploring through much of the program. In general, policy is defined as a “course or principle of action adopted or proposed by an organization or individual.” It is a set of rules that an organization or individual agrees to follow. Both governments and companies (and many other actors) set policies, and those policies have the potential to affect all of our lives. The goal of this program will be to expose you to the value of policymaking, and to teach you how to use policy mechanisms to influence outcomes.

Application Process

I am a student/recently graduated. Am I eligible to apply?

You are eligible so long as you are 21, have a visa that enables you to work in the United States (see below), and meet all other criteria listed in the eligibility section. Please note that, due to the requirement for significant professional experience, students without significant work experience are unlikely to be strong candidates for acceptance. But internships and other experience can count, so we still urge you to give it a shot!

I am on a visa. Am I eligible to apply?

It depends. Legal Permanent Residents are definitely eligible, as are visas that have no restrictions on where the individual can work. H-1Bs and other visas tied to employers may be more complex. Please contact us to discuss your situation.

I would like to join your program to learn more about policy, but I don’t have experience in technology. Can I still apply?

Unfortunately, we are not able to accept applications from candidates without technology experience. We suggest looking at degrees and certificates from universities in public policy as an alternative to our program. In the future, we hope to expand Hub eligibility into other areas, including for projects beyond ‘tech policy.’

I did not do a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) degree. Am I still eligible to apply?

Yes; we hope to accept a diversity of applicants in this program, including those without university degrees in STEM fields. However, please make sure that you meet all the other criteria for the program, including significant experience working in technology.

I already have significant policy experience. Am I eligible to apply?

This is an introductory program to the policymaking process. In the normal case, applicants who have significant previous policy experience (e.g., a master’s in public policy; past experience working in a policy role) will be too advanced for this program. However, we would still love to hear from you; we may have opportunities to engage you as a policy mentor or on future in-house projects. Please email aspentechpolicyhub@aspeninstitute.org or sign up for our listserv.

Do I need to propose a project in one of your priority areas?

No. We also will accept applicants who propose projects related to other areas of tech policy! Please note that applications in the priority areas will be reviewed by experts with specific knowledge of those areas; as a result, applicants who stretch their application to fit it into a priority area may be disadvantaged by doing so. If you are not sure whether your project qualifies for a priority area, please either contact us or submit it without indicating a priority area.

How do I write a policy memo?

You are eligible so long as you are 21, have a visa that enables you to work in the United States (see below), and meet all other criteria listed in the eligibility section. Please note that, due to the requirement for significant professional experience, students without significant work experience are unlikely to be strong candidates for acceptance. But internships and other experience can count, so we still urge you to give it a shot!

While we will review ways to write a policy memo in our program, there is no one way to write such a memo. The appropriate structure depends on the problem you are trying to solve. In general, a few tips:

  • Your memo needs to define the problem, using evidence as appropriate to support your position, lay out your proposed solution, and identify major obstacles to the implementation of your solution.
  • To be effective, your memo also needs to be written extremely clearly. For some advice on clear writing, see this blog post from Y Combinator.
  • While not required, many strong applications will tie the applicant’s experience in technology to the problem they identified or to the solution they are attempting to apply

We will go over more tips in our Q&A sessions, so please sign up for those for more info!

What is the application timeline?

  • Applications are due by midnight PST on August 15, 2019.
  • Applicants will be notified no later than October 15 if they are finalists for the fellowship. Finalists will undergo Skype interviews in October.
  • Final decisions will be made no later than November 1, pending reference checks.

Please contact us at aspentechpolicyhub@aspeninstitute.org if you receive a competing offer that requires expedited consideration. We cannot promise to accommodate all such requests.

Fellowship

What is the fellowship timeline?

The in-residence fellowship will last approximately 10 weeks, and is tentatively scheduled for January 2, 2020 to March 13, 2020. The exact dates will be decided in conjunction with the fellows.

If you have scheduling constraints that would affect your availability during the above window, please make sure to indicate these in the appropriate place on the application. Please note that we may not be able to accommodate all such constraints.

You are eligible so long as you are 21, have a visa that enables you to work in the United States (see below), and meet all other criteria listed in the eligibility section. Please note that, due to the requirement for significant professional experience, students without significant work experience are unlikely to be strong candidates for acceptance. But internships and other experience can count, so we still urge you to give it a shot!

Can I continue to work in my job as a Hub Fellow?

The Hub incubator program is full time and intensive, and the programming is similar to that required for a full time student, with in-person classes 4 days a week in the SF/Oakland area. We expect your full attention and attendance in our facility during the residence period.

Because of the intensity of the program, accepted fellows should plan to take a leave of absence from full-time work during the length of the paid residence period. Many employers offer ‘social service’ or ‘civic service leave’ to facilitate participation in this type of program. Please contact us if you have specific questions about this process. We are also willing to help accepted applicants talk about their participation with their employers after the application process is complete.

Fellows may continue part-time activities so long as the fellowship remains their first priority, and so long as there is no conflict of interest with their fellowship project. Fellows can also continue with the Hub on a part time basis, if space and Fellow time commitments allow, after their full time residence concludes.

How much funding do accepted fellows receive?

All fellows receive $18,000 for ten weeks in residence. We also have limited funds available for travel stipends to and from the Bay Area. Please note your interest in these funds in the appropriate place on your application.

Application

Please completely fill out the application below. We encourage candidates to express themselves simply and clearly. For advice on developing a clear writing style, please see this blog post from Y Combinator.

Applications are due by 11:59pm PST on August 15, 2019. Applicants will be notified no later than October 15 if they are finalists for the fellowship. Finalists will undergo Skype interviews in October. Final decisions will be made no later than November 1, pending reference checks. Please contact us at aspentechpolicyhub@aspeninstitute.org if you receive a competing offer that requires expedited consideration.

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