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This is a great question! Thank you so much!

At Rethink Priorities we take an employee-focused approach. We do our best to ensure that our staff have relevant tools and resources to do their best work, while also having enough flexibility to maintain their work-life balance. Staff happiness is a high priority for us and one of our strategic goals. 

Some aspects of our employee-centered approach include:

  • Competitive benefits and perks – we offer unlimited time off, flexible work schedule, professional development opportunities, stipends etc., which are available to full- and part-time staff, as well as our fellows/interns.
  • Opportunities to socialize, make decisions, and take on new projects – for example, we have monthly social meetings, we run random polls to solicit opinions/ideas from staff, and create opportunities for employees to participate in various initiatives, like leading a workshop.
  • Biannual all staff surveys – we collect feedback from our staff twice a year. The survey asks a series of questions about leadership, management, organizational culture, benefits and compensation, psychological safety, amongst others. The results are thoroughly analyzed and guide our decisions about how to improve our culture, moving forward.
  • Positive environment – we foster an inclusive and welcoming environment in which we encourage individuals to pose their questions, provide feedback, share thoughts, and raise concerns; additionally, we practice transparency at RP with regards to all aspects of our operations (e.g., decision-making, salary).
  • Internal processes – we continuously revise and/or develop internal processes and practices to ensure equity across the entire organization (e.g. we have recently audited our hiring procedures to increase equity and reduce bias when selecting candidates). 
  • Reflection – we reflect on how we do our work, how we interact with one another, what culture we aspire to develop, and implement necessary changes.

Thanks so much for this question!

We have learned a lot during our Fellowship/Internship Program. Several main considerations come to mind when thinking about running a fellowship/internship program.

  • Managers’ capacity and preparedness – hosting a fellow/intern may be a rewarding experience. However, working with fellows/interns is also time-consuming. It seems to be important to keep in mind that managers may need to have a dedicated portion of time to:
    • Prepare for their fellows/interns’ arrival, which may include drafting a work plan, thinking about goals for their supervisees, and establishing a plan B, in case something unexpected comes up (for example, data is delayed, and the analysis cannot take place)
    • Explain tasks/projects, help set goals, and brainstorm ideas on how to achieve these goals
    • Regularly meet with their fellows/interns to check in, monitor progress, as well as provide feedback and overall support/guidance throughout the program
    • Help fellows/interns socialize and interact with others to make them feel included, welcomed, and a part of the team/organization.
  • Operations team capacity and preparedness – there are many different tasks associated with each stage of the fellowship/internship program. It’s crucial to ensure that the Operations Team has enough capacity and time to hire, onboard, support, and offboard fellows/interns, especially when the program is open to candidates worldwide. For example, we work with an international employment organization that acts as a proxy employer in each of the countries our staff and fellows/interns are based. Taking into account the amount of coordination needed between international employment organization – staff internally – fellows/interns is important (the amount will vary significantly between adding 2-3 vs. 10 fellows/interns to the team).
  • Internal processes – capacity is one thing, but having strong, internal processes developed beforehand appears to be equally vital. This refers to hiring and candidate selection procedures, establishing reasonable timelines, setting up check-in structures with both fellows/interns and managers, as well as organizing relevant professional development and social opportunities.
  • Hiring internationally and remotely – it may be worth considering where most of the team members are located. If most of the staff are in the US time zones, then it may make sense to think how that could affect candidates from completely different time zones (e.g., Australia and Oceania). Will they be able to communicate with their managers easily? Will they have enough opportunities to interact with other fellows/interns and colleagues?

In summary, any fellowship and internship program may be truly beneficial to the organization running it. Most importantly, however, the questions are how to make the program beneficial to fellows/interns, and how will it impact their future education paths and careers.