should I express my frustration with this interview process?

A reader writes:

I submitted an application for an early career nonprofit sector fellowship program on April. The website for the program stated that applications received by that date would have a decision by May 16. A couple weeks later, I was offered a first interview with a program alumna and was provided with her contact info.

I got in touch with her but didn’t hear back for a few days, so I sent a second email cc’ing the program manager. The alumna then replied, we set up the interview for May 2, it went well, and she told me when to expect to hear back from the program manager.

That timeframe came and went, but I was busy with other applications, and on May 23 I received a general update email on a major change to the program structure, but nothing about my application. I also noticed at this time that the final application deadline had been pushed back from June 1 to June 24. Based on those two facts, I assumed, perhaps stupidly, that they were just busy with other priorities.

I admit I also stalled because the program was not my first choice at the time, but by June 13 I decided I ought to check in. I got a swift response saying they “had a bit of a glitch in communication” with the alumna I interviewed with, thanking me for reaching out, and inviting me to a second round interview with the program manager, which took place June 22.

On June 30, I got a form email notifying me that I’ve been waitlisted for the program while they await decisions from other applicants. I also got an email from the program manager saying, “I’ve placed you on our waitlist in (different city) for now due to the fact that we are nearly full and don’t have too many available slots.” The email also suggested that the manager of the same program in a different city thought there might be a good fit for me there.

I just moved to my current city and signed a lease, so that’s no longer an option. It’s hard not to feel that I might well have been accepted to the program earlier on if there hadn’t been the long delay between my first and second interviews, which I acknowledge I could have done something about sooner, but I think it was also the program manager’s responsibility to check in with the alumna interviewer and not just let my application get forgotten.

I’m very tempted to tactfully express this sentiment to the program manager, not to try to win myself a spot in the program, but just to hold them to account, I guess. It certainly doesn’t reflect well on their professional development component when their alumna interviewer and program manager do such a poor job handling an application, either.

It’s also hard to see myself working with this program manager for a year after all this, certainly if I do express my frustration. On the other hand, if I get offered a spot in the program after being waitlisted, I’ll feel like I don’t have much leverage to push for the type of fellowship project I want, unless the program manager were to acknowledge that I was treated unfairly.

I still don’t feel totally certain about joining the program without a better idea of the options for my fellowship project, but I don’t have any other real prospects right now, and I’ve been on the job serach for three months now, so I feel like it would be a bad decision to pass it up. The program doesn’t start until September, so if it turned out that there were no good fellowship project options for me and a better offer came along, I wouldn’t feel too bad about backing out of it, especially now, even though I know it’s still wrong! Then again, I’m already so tired of job searching and I have so many other things on my plate, and it seems unlikely that anything significantly better will turn up.

What do you think? Should I express my frustration now? Wait and see and only do so if I don’t get into the program? Or just bite back my frustration (once again), hope they shape up their process, and focus on other applications?

Nooooo, do not express your frustration.

First, you don’t know that your assumptions are correct. I don’t see anything here indicating that you would have had stronger chances if you’d been interviewed earlier. It’s possible, but far from definite, based on the facts you’ve laid out.

The program alum who first interviewed you — it’s not a big deal that she didn’t respond to your initial email for a few days. A few days of delay in this kind of thing is pretty normal, or at least definitely not an outrage. (Also, it sounds like she’s an alum of the program, not an employee of it, which makes it all the more understandable that she’s not dropping everything to get you a same-day response.)

The fact that you didn’t hear back from the program manager by the time you were told that you would — very, very normal in hiring. In fact, it’s probably more normal for those timelines to be missed than for them to be adhered to. That’s not great, obviously, but it’s not damning either. This stuff just tends to take longer than people think it will.

They did acknowledge a glitch in communications with the alum interviewer, and it’s possible that that meant “we never heard back from her until we checked in with her, and meanwhile we’d already moved forward with other candidates.” But, you know, glitches happen. They’re not reason to express frustration to the hiring manager. It’s understandable to be frustrated by them, certainly, but not to unload that frustration on the employer. Doing that would make it sound like you felt they owed you a spot or a fairer shake, and they don’t. They get to run their program however they want, even with glitches and even with unfairness.

Whenever I say things like this, I’m always concerned that it will sound like “eat whatever crap an organization throws at you and never speak up about it.” But that’s very much not what I mean. There are lots of situations where it’s reasonable to speak up or push back or say “this isn’t okay with me.” But when you want the best outcome for yourself, your calculation needs to take into account your relative power in the situation (in this case, it’s low since you’re both early career and a program applicant they’re already okay with not accepting), how the complaint will likely come across to the person you make it to (in this case, it will seem unwarranted and a bit demanding), and how egregious the situation really is (in this case, not terribly).

I know that’s frustrating — really frustrating — but assuming you want to get the best outcome for yourself, you probably need to forego the momentary satisfaction of telling them that you take issue with how they’ve managed their own hiring process. There’s too much chance they’d just write you off as naive/demanding/off-base, and that doesn’t sound aligned with what you want for yourself here.

{ 51 comments… read them below }

  1. Leatherwings*

    This is so so so normal with fellowship programs like these too. Things like AmeriCorps, Learn and Serve, GreenCorps, etc. do a ton of hiring and it’s just impossible to make it all run completely smoothly.

    Programs like these also tend to prefer candidates who can be flexible, as running the fellowship/program for so many people ALSO comes with a lot of hiccups. I think expressing your frustration will only demonstrate that you’re not the right person for the program.

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      Great point. My friend dropped out of Teach for America because she was too organized to deal with the organization’s hectic ways. This is a key thing OP should know about fellowship programs.

  2. Student*

    It is a good idea to tell them upfront if you aren’t able to take a slot in a different city due to your current housing arrangement or other factors. It does sound like you’d be out of the running then, but if a different city is a deal-breaker it’s perfectly legitimate to tell them that in a neutral way.

    Be aware too that leases can be broken early – there’s usually a clause that details how this is done, and often local laws in addition to the lease (sometimes contradicting the lease). It usually costs 1-3 extra months of rent rather than forcing you to pay for a whole second set of housing for the entire lease.

    1. Honeybee*

      Often there is a lease cancellation clause in leases, too, that will let you pay a fee plus 1-3 months’ of rent no matter how far into the lease you are.

  3. Kristi*

    “…unless the program manager were to acknowledge that I was treated unfairly.” Oh my. I agree with Alison. I do not know what happened on their end and neither does the applicant. Demanding “acknowledgement” would lead me to believe the applicant was “naive/demanding/off-base” and I would pursue other applicants who aren’t so needy.

  4. BRR*

    I know it sucks being on the applicant end of things but there are a bazillion things that might have happened on the other end. Just from reading your letter and not trying to get too out there with possibilities, it sounds like the alumna might not be on top of things or something was going on with the program since it changed; perhaps someone who was not involved with the program decided to switch things or funding/budget reasons. Also if you’re waitlisted at the moment and might need this as a possible option, raising these things is going to tank your candidacy. I can’t really see a situation in which the timeline of things screwed you over only because deadlines are so frequently missed. Being brutally honest, if you give them feedback about this even in the most professional wording possible it will very likely not change a thing on their end and will provide no benefit for you other than venting.

    Now that I typed that out I would approach this with the “what outcome are you hoping for?” Their response isn’t going to be that they accept you to the program (like Alison said a million things might have happened and we don’t know what the situation was on their end). They will also not apologize for missing their own deadlines.

    1. BRR*

      Reading it again I think it can be summed up as a highly competitive program (I just get a feeling about this in this letter) and sometimes people don’t get jobs because there are a lot of good candidates but because a candidate is highly qualified it’s common to try and justify it in some way.

    2. Joseph*

      “Now that I typed that out I would approach this with the “what outcome are you hoping for?” ”
      This is one of my favorite ways to view things generally, as there are sadly lots of scenarios (including this one) where there is no real positive outcome:
      1.) They actually had a serious and legitimate excuse for the delays – someone was on their honeymoon or a death in the family or something of the sort. You end up feeling like a jerk for making an issue out of it.
      2.) They don’t have any real reason for the delays, except maybe a vague “deadlines dragged out”, “waiting to hear from other candidates”, “busy month”. This gets you no resolution, no satisfaction and no closer to the job.
      3.) They get irritated that you ask, since as Alison points out, this is sadly pretty common.

      Also, it’s worth thinking about the other side of the desk. As the interviewee, your demands (contact me on the day you say, follow up with your alumni rep on time, etc), but on the other side of the table, you’re just one candidate out of dozens. Particularly in this case, since the alumni rep seems like someone who is employed elsewhere and doing this in spare time.

      The only lesson I’d take from this is that if they give you a timeline and you don’t hear back, it’s generally fine to follow up (once!) shortly after they miss their stated deadline. In a polite, matter of fact way. Your message is a basically a more formal version of “Hey, just wanted to follow up on our conversation and check to see if there was anything else you needed from me”.

  5. B*

    This line caught my eye – I got in touch with her but didn’t hear back for a few days, so I sent a second email cc’ing the program manager.

    Not hearing back from her within your expected timeframe so you then cc the manager – does not make good bedfellows. This was you already beginning to express your frustration by telling the manager to follow-up and telling her you don’t think she is good at her job or volunteer work. Next time, follow-up directly with her as sometimes email gets caught in spam, sometimes people are very busy at work, and sometimes things happen. But give the benefit of the doubt first.

    1. Roscoe*

      I think it depends on what was said. If they said that they’d hear back by the end of the week, I think its fine to follow up and CC the person that told you that early the following week. When you are told that they plan to make a decision by a certain date, I can see why you’d want to make sure you were interviewed by then

      1. Karo*

        I strongly disagree. The only times you should really CC someone are when you’re replying all, you’re CCing someone in your chain of command, or you really desperately need something and are CCing people who may be able to help. If I had a co-worker ask me a question and progress immediately – in mere days – to CCing my boss on the request, I’d be…not livid, but really upset. It feels so much like tattling* that it raises my hackles.

        *I know that for the most part tattling isn’t a thing in the workplace, but I don’t know what else to call it. It’s not at the level of running to your boss about your co-worker being late once, but it’s also not addressing it appropriately.

      2. BRR*

        I think the cc someone else needs to be used very sparingly. In this situation I would first give it some time and second follow up with the alumna.

        1. Roscoe*

          This had a specific time limit though, so in a time sensitive case, I can accept it a bit more

          1. B*

            That’s the difference, there was no time limit on the person getting back to them to schedule this. The LW knew they were getting an interview and just got impatient. So yes, to me it feels a lot like “tattling”

          2. BRR*

            I would say this doesn’t have a time limit. There was a date mentioned but hiring timelines aren’t hard dates (which I personally hate but have to accept). Even with decision dates out there, the lw had heard that they were moving forward in the process.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      I’m sure this is just about everyone’s pet peeve, but I really hate it when people do this. It doesn’t happen to me often, but it just happened a couple weeks ago.

      I ignored someone’s email request twice, and on the third time, they cc’d my boss. If someone is ignoring my emails, I will IM them, call them, or stop by their desk. I don’t email their manager. Yes, I should have responded with a “I’ll get back to you” or something, since I couldn’t actually provide the answer yet, but try another way to reach me before going over my head, please!

      (My boss responded immediately and basically told the person to hold her horses, and that I would respond once I had an answer from the client. Which I did the following day.)

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        I feel like I spend my entire day saying, “let me look into that and get back to you with an answer” to stave off this situation (or people calling, IM’ing, coming to my office) when I have not responded immediately.

        1. Honeybee*

          Me too! Because otherwise I get people IM’ing me or coming into my office to ask me questions at random times.

      2. Edith*

        There are times when it is necessary, and in those cases it is extremely effective. But it has to be used sparingly.

        Example: In college I randomly got an incomplete in a class. I asked the prof, who said that my name wasn’t on the grade sheet, so she assumed I’d dropped the class. (When? Before or after I handed in all the homework and sat for the final? But I digress.) Turns out it was a fairly common registrar glitch and she was supposed to write my name in on the grade sheet. Now all I needed her to do was notify the registrar of my actual grade. She promised she would, then spent over a month stalling despite pleas from me and from my advisor. We finally brought in the dean, who told me to email the prof once more with her (the dean) cced. Prof handed in my grade the next day. It’s not something to be taken lightly, and absolutely shouldn’t have been done in the OP’s case, but there are times when ccing the boss is necessary.

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        Eh, if you’d ignored two of my emails, I’d probably have looped in someone who could get back with me, too. I don’t personally have time to call/visit/try a variety of other methods for nonresponders, and, if I get a response from the boss that there’s another priority ahead of my request, that’s totally fine as is, “I won’t have that information until X.”. Ignoring completely? Not so much.

        It also depends on organizational culture. My office uses CC liberally, and it’s not generally seen as tattling.

        1. JessaB*

          I would too. At least the 2nd email should have gotten an “I’m working on it will get back when I have the answer,” because well email glitches are a thing.

          Mr. B right now is dealing with a wonky email programme and he’s literally missing work critical stuff and IT is just dragging on doing anything to fix it.

          So if I sent more than one email, I’d think either I was totally being ignored (not a good thing,) or there’s a glitch, and yeh I’d run it up the flagpole because either it needs to be fixed, or the person needs to be told to “Please if you’re asked more than once let them know you got it.” But I would not presume “person got email, person is actively working on it, but didn’t think to tell me that even after I communicated twice about what I needed.”

          The default about ignored emails tends to be either “did not get,” or “isn’t paying attention,” or “is ignoring me.”

        2. LizM*

          Me too. It’s really frustrating to get radio silence, especially after attempting to follow up. It takes 30 seconds to hit reply and say “working on it.” Asking me to try multiple different ways to track someone down to get that answer is a waste of my time, especially in my organization where a lot of people work remotely and work flex schedules, meaning we’re often not all in the office at the same time. Email is the most efficient way to communication in those situations.

  6. CaliCali*

    One thing I love about Alison’s answers to these types of questions (that has had a great impact on my life, both personal and professional) is that they hone in on the important piece, which is “what outcome do you want?” I think a lot of us want to know if we’re justified in feeling one way or another, but that ends up being secondary to “even if you are justified, is voicing this thought/opinion going to effect what I want from this scenario?” It can seem satisfying to vent a frustration or tell someone they’re out of line, but I’ve successfully stopped myself (or readjusted) when I think through to the conclusion.

    1. SarcasticFringehead*

      Exactly. You have to take a look at the situation as dispassionately as possible (which can be tricky, to be sure) and ask whether, even if you’re 100% in the right, complaining will make the situation better. If all it will take to make the situation better is the moral satisfaction of having Made Your Displeasure Known, go for it! If you want something like better treatment or a faster response, and you honestly think complaining will help you get those things based on what you know about the other players in the situation, go for it! Otherwise, you may have to choose between being Right and being happy (or at least happy enough).

      1. Wheezy Weasel*

        Well said! I’ve also heard the phrase ‘what is your unfulfilled wish?’ to get a person to reflect on what they really want. I admit I’ve unloaded on a few customer service people earlier in my life just because I was upset at the way I was treated vs. my expectations of how I was supposed to be treated. My unfulfilled wish was that someone would acknowledge their customer service process was bad, but expressing my displeasure with an entry level person wasn’t going to achieve that. Taking my business elsewhere, contributing a factual online review, or even writing a letter to someone at the company are things that might have gotten me closer to that wish, but still no guarantees.

        The best way of making my displeasure known for a job-related incident was to not take the job when it was offered due to a poor salary negotiation, and to then turn them down a second time when it was re-offered a month later. I may never have the opportunity to do that again, so I’m savoring it for a long time, and replay it in my mind whenever I come up against a hiring process that seems to be disorganized.

  7. Leatherwings*

    Something else I want to add:
    OP, you say you don’t feel certain about joining the program without a better idea of your options for your fellowship, but that if you are accepted you don’t know if you’ll be able to pass it up because you don’t have other prospects. I’ve been in this exact same situation, so I hope I can help.

    It’s totally reasonable to want to more know more details of what you’d actually be doing day to day before you accept.
    However, I’d encourage you to separate both of these considerations from your frustrations with the interview process. IF they offer you a spot, ask more details about the fellowships then (It sorta sounds like they’re still figuring that out too) and let your prospects at that time inform your decision. I think you’re putting the cart before the horse a little here.

  8. INTP*

    Maybe I am off base – my experience is mostly private sector – but another thing to remember is that hiring processes are designed for the benefit of the employer, not the applicants. They are designed to get satisfactory candidates as efficiently as possible, and it’s a given that factors will happen that advantage and disadvantage various candidates in minor ways. Maybe you got uncommunicative alumni, someone else got the alumni that were the toughest to impress, someone’s interview happened right after the interviewer was informed of a personal tragedy. It happens. Expressing disappointment over it will just give the impression that you think the company should divert resources away from their primary mission, whether that’s making money for shareholders or feeding the poor, towards improving your personal chances at a job. You just can’t say that. The employer exists to serve some other mission, not its job applicants, and making the hiring process 100% fair requires them to invest resources in stuff, like an admin’s time to follow up with every single interviewer so no ones feedback comes in late, that doesn’t actually help the organization or its mission, only the candidates.

    Since I feel like comments have been harsh lately I want to emphasize that I don’t think you as a person are unreasonable! Just that there is a major difference in the importance of fairness in universities versus employers, and it’s important to be aware of that so that you don’t say something that will be taken badly.

    1. BRR*

      I’m worried my comment above might have been on the harsher side and I completely agree that the LW is not unreasonable. Sadly this is an extremely common situation and there’s not much applicants can do.

  9. Roscoe*

    I would only say something if you are fine with never working for these people. Companies hiring have all of the power here, and they don’t take too kindly to being told what their shortcomings are, even if what you say is completely accurate. So if you want to write off this company, then go ahead and tell them your frustration about how they handled it. But if you think you may want to take this waitlisted spot, just bit your tongue

    1. Joseph*

      Depending on how big the industry is and how much people move between companies, that “never working for these people” might not just apply here but down the road too.

      I really think “bite your tongue” is the response here no matter what. Let off the (justifiable!) frustration by complaining to your friends over drinks or whatever, but don’t let it out on the interviewer or alumni rep directly.

  10. g'day*

    Totally agree with Alison. I manage a fellowship program and got an email like this last year and whoa boy, I was not pleased. I even went back and checked my previous correspondence. I completely met the notification deadlines/expectations we had laid out, but the applicant read into a separate interaction and concluded that I had withheld information. Not true, not accurate, and, to be honest, it really pissed me off.

    I shouldn’t have gotten as angry as I did–I sent a really terse email back (nothing unprofessional, just not my usual effusive self)–but I take communication very seriously and to be called out on something I pride myself on was pretty upsetting.

    Beyond that, it was a terrible move on the part of the applicant. I actively help people we aren’t able to accept for the fellowship, let them know about opportunities in their area, give feedback on their application, meet for coffee to give more in depth guidance and feedback, etc. etc. Did I offer any of that support to this person? NOPE. Would I have otherwise? Absolutely. And this person would have been in a great place to benefit from it, too. But I am not going out of my way for this person because they felt the need to upbraid me.

    Guess it really comes back to–there’s people on both sides of this process. And people who approach the process well understand that these relationships don’t end with the conclusion of the hiring process.

  11. Ann O'Nemity*

    Agree with all the advice to NOT voice frustrations. Still, I wonder if there’s a way to subtly get your point across. Maybe something like,

    “Thank you for offering to place me on the waitlist for Winterfell. Unfortunately, when I didn’t hear an update after the May 16 deadline, I needed to secure a place to live and I signed a lease in Kings Landing. If a spot opens here, I would love to be considered. Thank you again.”

    1. Sadsack*

      Only if you are certain you won’t take the spot at Winterfell if offered. This makes it sound like you are bowing out entirely if you can’t get into King’s Landing.

    2. Big10Professor*

      But who cares? If the program had plenty of applicants and is happy with their group of fellows, why should they care about anyone’s living situation?

      1. Leatherwings*

        Ann is just saying that since the program said she might get a spot in another location, OP should let them know if she’s not interested in that location, only the one she originally applied to. I think giving a bit of background for that choice is fine.

        1. Big10Professor*

          Okay, I read it as though she was trying to subtly slap them on the hand for their slow response, and I just don’t think they’d pick up on that or care.

    3. stevenz*

      I don’t think any response, subtle or otherwise is needed. But if I were Ann O’Nemity I might say instead “Thank you for putting me on your waiting list for…. I just want you to know that I appreciate the opportunity to interview for the position. This kind of opportunity is still of interest to me so if something similar comes up I would like to apply again. As I have decided to stay in King’s Landing … (as Ann says).”

      Keep it totally positive as you would respond to any opportunity to interview.

  12. Interviewer*

    I’ve never had a hiring manager get an email with negative feedback about the hiring process, feel guilty and give that person the job.

    1. Anna*

      I don’t think there’s a huge problem with giving feedback if it were really a bad process. And I don’t think all people who give feedback are looking to get the job anyway. The thing is that you need to recognize when it was actually a bad process and you have to know if it will matter. Otherwise energy and frustration are spent on something that’s completely pointless.

      I have a friend who just had a bad experience with a local event. Her business was asked to do a demo of the services her business offers. When she and her husband showed up to do the demo, they were treated like doing the demo was a big favor to them to market their business. She considered writing an email to the group that puts on the event letting them know how they were treated. I absolutely think that is the correct thing to do because it was pretty tone deaf and does not engender good will. The difference is this will be heard and it will make a difference. The OP sending a message to the fellowship people about something that wasn’t that bad is not a good use of time.

      1. stevenz*

        As I alluded to in my other comment, there have been a few interview experiences that have been shockingly bad and in hindsight I should have not just given them feedback but blasted them. For instance, there was the one with a large well-respected non-profit in Chicago that left me sitting in a very small room for six hours waiting for a manager type who never got my interview on his calendar. When he showed he was unpleasant, perfunctory and just uninterested. I wouldn’t have wanted to apply for anything with them ever so I should not only have burned a bridge but burned down their building.

        Then there was another one that was nine months from application to offer, with traveling at my expense along the way. But I took that job. However, the interview process really did reflect the efficiency of the department. Everything took much longer than it needed to.

      2. JLK*

        I’ve worked in non-profit for 15 years. I had a phone interview, a coffee shop interview with the hiring person (not someone in HR) and a coworker. Then I had a 3rd interview with the Finance and hiring person, but the 3rd person failed to show or someone didn’t coordinated schedules well. I was to be contacted about a 4th interview with the 3rd person. I then received an email stating they were holding off hiring until after their annual fundraiser. 3 weeks later and still no contact. I emailed and inquired 1) how their fundraiser turned out and 2) when we’d be re-visiting the hiring process. I never heard back and finally 2 weeks after that, I received a phone call stating they hired someone else. Unbeknownst to them, I saw they re-published the position with some different content/phrasing. During that call I said, ‘I know you re-published the position and that perhaps you’re not being truthful in your hiring processes. Although considering how this process has gone, should you have offered me the position, I would have declined.” She was stunned and I felt good. I wanted to light them up about their hiring processes, but that’s not my place.

  13. Big10Professor*

    I think it’s a huge leap from “my second interview was delayed” to “That’s the reason I wasn’t accepted.”

    Looking at the timeline, OP was interviewed on June 22, and they were taking applications until June 24. The decision was made a week later. It sounds to me like there were stronger candidates, and an earlier interview wouldn’t have changed that.

  14. GreenTeaPot*

    Meh, let it go. I was once a finalist for a job that I ultimately accepted and the process stretched out for almost two months. I knew one of the other finalists, and we compared notes throughout the process. She ultimately bowed out. As it tuned out, it wasn’t my favorite job and I didn’t stay long. Just let it go.

  15. stevenz*

    Alison is right on the money as usual. Hiring processes are rife with uncertainties. I have been through some that make yours sound like German precision engineering.

    Fact is, hiring processes easily drop to the bottom of their priority list of things to do. Look at it this way, they have lived without you just fine until now so a few more days or weeks aren’t going to make or break the company, though other things might.

    We are at their mercy. It’s not a happy situation to be in but we have to maintain our decorum and professionalism throughout, as frustrating as that may be. And I’m definitely the type to speak his mind, so it isn’t easy for me either!

  16. mazzy*

    Can someone explain what OP is even applying to? It sounds like an internship, but how do you get to pick a “project,” but if it’s a job, how can they keep meaningful work sitting around waiting for OP to start. I’ve seen the word “fellowship” but never knew what it meant, and this letter is confusing me! Is it a job or not? Thanks.

    1. Chaordic One*

      Its one of those words that can have different meanings depending on the situation. In my experience, a fellowship is usually like an internship, but it is going to be at an academic setting, such as a college or university, instead of a business.

      There are different kinds of fellowships and, in my experience, they tend to be funded by grants that were donated by philanthropists. They usually only last for a specific period of time, usually a year. They are commonly given to graduate students and come with a stipend that is usually used to pay for grad school tuition and living expenses. There are “research fellows” and “teaching fellows” who do different jobs under the direction of full-fledged college professors in different college departments. Typically the Teaching Assistants (T.A.s) who are grad students are also fellows.

      Occasionally, a visiting professor will be brought in on a fellowship and be considered a Fellow, although they are really more like an adjunct professor. It’s just that they are paid from the money set up for the specific Fellowship.

      There are probably other situations where they use the word, “fellow” and “fellowship” also.

    2. LizM*

      In my experience, a fellowship is a defined project. It’s usually more independent than a typical job, at least in the non profit world, and the expectation is that it also serves as a learning or professional development opportunity for the individual.

      I had a classmate from law school take a fellowship overseas where an NGO paid her salary for 2 years while she advised a foreign government writing a new constitution. Another friend has a fellowship through a university and is doing his own research in a lab.

  17. Chaordic One*

    I hope the OP has some other irons in the fire. Other internships or fellowships? Other job possibilities?

    I’ve been in situations in the past where I would hear back from someplace I had applied to, two or three months after I had done so. It was sort of satisfying to tell them that (while they were diddling around doing who knows what) I had accepted another position and was committed to the company that had responded to and hired me after a reasonable and not excessively long period of time for the near future. (Although I would say it a bit more politely.)

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