Frequently Asked Questions
General Information, Eligibility and Benefits
What is the application deadline?
Applications are due by
Friday, September 30, 2016 Sunday, October 2, 2016 at 11:59pm EST (note: we have extended the original deadline by 48 hours). The selections process begins immediately thereafter. Additional extensions to the application will not be granted.
How long is the fellowship, and what are the start and end dates?
The fellowship runs approximately twelve months, starting on January 9, 2017 and continues until December 29, 2017.
Who is eligible for the program?
Individuals with a background in technology, technical skills or currently working on technology law or tech public policy are encouraged to apply. Congressional Innovation Fellows have diverse expertise and backgrounds. The primary requirement for the program is an interest in technology policy.
What are the pay and benefits in the program?
The program pays a $70,000/year salary. TechCongress pays reimbursements for health benefits, relocation and travel or equipment costs. Other benefits include reimbursements of up to:
- $2,500 for relocation
- $1,200 for necessary travel and/or equipment costs
- $350/month for health benefits
I’m not an engineer, programmer or designer. Should I apply?
Yes! Congressional Innovations Fellows come from diverse backgrounds. The most important ingredient for success is an interest or background in technology and technology policy.
I’m haven’t studied law or public policy. Should I apply?
Yes! Same as our answer above! Congressional Innovations Fellows come from diverse backgrounds. The most important ingredient for success is an interest or background in technology and technology policy.
I'm towards the beginning of my career and don't have as long a work history as the 2016 fellows. Do I have the right qualifications for the program?
Yes, definitely. We had a wide range of applicants for the 2016 fellowship. Our first two fellows have several years of work experience, but that is not what the program will look like as it grows. In fact, we had several extremely competitive candidates last year that had just finished school, or were at very early stages of their career. We are looking for candidates with experience working with or studying the technology sector, and who can apply that experience to Congress. The length of experience is much less important than your capacity to help Members and Congress and their staffs understand how technology works and is changing society.
Where are the fellows based?
Fellows are based in Washington, D.C. and work for Members or Committees in their respective offices in the US House of Representatives or the US Senate, or Legislative Support Agencies including the Congressional Research Service, Government Accountability Office and Congressional Budget Office.
Do I need to be a U.S. Citizen to apply?
No. Citizenship is not a requirement to apply. TechCongress is unable to assist with visa applications or renewals but anyone legally authorized to work in the United States is eligible.
Selections and Placement
How are fellows selected?
Fellows are selected by an independent selections board using criteria that includes:
- Professional achievements.
- Potential for leadership in technology policy
- Commitment to building a diverse and cross-sector technology policy ecosystem.
- Potential for future growth and career advancement.
- Interpersonal, communication and “tech-translation” skills.
- Individual plans for incorporating the fellowship experience into specific career goals.
How is the placement determined?
Once accepted to the fellowship, fellows will participate in a two-week orientation program (see “What does the orientation process involve?” below). After orientation, TechCongress will facilitate meetings with Members, Committees and Legislative Support Agencies to help fellows find their placement. TechCongress will work to secure interviews with any offices that fellows have identified ahead of time that align with their policy interests. Our first two Congressional Innovation Fellows served with two of the most influential Members of Congress on issues ranging from the encryption debate to modernizing health care with technology.
What will the orientation process involve?
Fellows begin the program with an in-depth, two-part orientation.
Part one consists of small group networking with policymakers, including one-on-one conversations with Members of Congress and their staff. It also includes workshops on the following topics:
- Legislative process, including House and Senate floor procedure
- Committees and Committee process
- Federal budgeting and appropriations
- Technology policy deep-dives
- Overall leadership development
Part two consists of visits with tech policy thought leaders at academic institutions, civil society groups and technology companies to explore the range of perspectives on common tech policy challenges.
What are the expectations of Fellows?
Fellows are expected to abide by all House and Senate ethics rules and the Congressional Innovation Fellows Code of Conduct. Fellows operate much like regular Congressional Staff and are expected to abide by the rules of their placement offices. Additional information is available on the House and Senate Ethics Committee websites, at www.house.gov/ethics and www.ethics.senate.gov. The full texts of the ethics manuals are available:
What kind of work will I be doing?
Fellows work directly for a Member, Committee or Legislative Support Agency for the duration of their residency and could spend their time on technology-related issues like NSA surveillance reform, patent reform, cybersecurity, data security or network neutrality. Typical duties could include:
- Briefing Members and staff about technology issues
- Researching legislation
- Preparing for hearings or markups
- Meeting with stakeholder groups and building coalitions
What kind activities will occur during the fellowship?
Fellows will report directly to their placement office and assist office staff on relevant duties. In addition, fellows will be responsible for creating a project plan and core deliverable at the completion of the fellowship. Examples of potential projects could include producing an investigative report, legislative proposal or series of briefings on technology policy issue. The fellowship includes a mentorship and professional development program as well as regular events and convenings for fellows with tech policy thought leaders.
What happens after the fellowship?
TechCongress is committed to helping fellows transition after their fellowship. We work with fellows individually to connect with technology leaders and find a home in the technology or the policy community after the program.
How do I find health insurance?
Health Insurance is available on the Washington D.C. Health Insurance Exchange. Fellows have access to the same coverage as Members of Congress and Congressional staff, as part of the Affordable Care Act. TechCongress provides a reimbursement for health insurance premiums up to $350/month.
Other questions? We're here to help. Email Travis [at] TechCongress.io with any further inquiries.