Frequently Asked Questions are answered here.
1. What is the structure of the trainings?
The learning structure of the fellowship is unique, in that it tries to promote as much openness, adaptability and flexibility. A big part of that is to be comfortable with non-structure and uncertainties. We are not used to such learning patterns and understandably it may cause some anxieties – but rest assured we will keep you posted on the required aspects from time to time.
2. Can I pick the geographical region and/or thematic area I want to have my work assignment in?
The fellow cannot handpick which assignment they get to do. Very similar is the case with the host organizations where they do submit their preferences but cannot handpick which fellow they work with. The India Fellowship ecosystem thrives on the faith, which each stakeholder (fellows, host organizations, trainers and mentors, alumni and program team) brings into it by participating whole-heartedly and taking up opportunities with great openness and commitment. We will again like to say that please come into a fellowship journey, first, and know that the host role is a part of it, second.
3. What are fellows expected to do in host organizations?
The fellows will be assigned to projects after careful consideration of various factors like skillset, aspirations and experience of the fellows along with those of the requirements of the project. While the expectations may be high from a fellow, there will be some time to settle down and understand the new ecosystem that you would be in. As this is a big decision from the fellow’s point of view to invest 18 months of their time in what could be an entirely new experience, everyone will expect fellows to be proactively taking initiative in whatever they are engaged in. The projects mostly would be general in nature and wherever there is some technicality, they will be trained and equipped with skills accordingly by the host organization and the fellowship.
4. I am not sure of the stipend component? What is the amount? What will it cover and what will be my out-of-pocket expense? What about accommodation and the related costs associated? Will the fellowship or host organization provide/help with my accommodation?
The fellowship is a learning experience by working hands-on with grassroots organizations and also accessing high-quality training and expert mentorship; alongside being a part of the wider network. As you already know, there is no fee that you need to pay for it.
In terms of monetary contribution – fellows collectively fundraise, which is INR 1,25,000 per head and is mandatory. This also entails a lot of learning on how collectives work and concepts of fundraising. All the travel cost to reach the four trainings is to be borne by the fellow. All costs and arrangements during the training (accommodation, food, resource persons, material costs, etc.) is borne by the fellowship.
For the duration when the fellow works with the host organization, the organizations pay them a stipend, which is basically to cover the living expenses of the fellow. To keep parity, this amount is as follows:-
For rural areas, if the organization provides accommodation (some organizations have their field offices and/or guest house where you can stay) the stipend is INR 15,000 per month. For rural areas, if organization does not provide accommodation then the stipend is INR 18,000 per month
For metropolitan areas of Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata, the stipend is INR 17,000 and 22,000 respectively with and without accommodation
The fellow is expected to use the stipend for living expenses like accommodation, food and local transport between stay and the host organization office/field. Please remember that it is not a salary but a stipend. For long-distance travel, which is work-related, the organization reimburses the amount. Any other personal travel has to be borne by fellow. While the organizations are not mandated to provide accommodation to fellows, their team will be supportive and will help you make suitable arrangements on arrival at the assignment field areas.
5. Can I know some more about the fellow–host organization matching process?
While we arrived at your cohort (we have a sense of your interest area, competency and preferences and have recorded the same), we also arrived at a pool of assignments (again we have a sense of their work area, culture, preferences and have recorded the same) across host organizations spread over geography and thematic areas. Will like to reiterate that we wish you to walk into a fellowship not an assignment. All assignments are equally engaging and provide equal learning opportunities.
Pre-induction, we will do a thorough matching process and match fellows with host organizations’ assignment. In case of some organizations they may also wish to have a chat over a call with the fellow and we will arrange for that. In other cases it may be a perfect match and a call will not be necessary.
Once your assignments are allocated you can immediately book for your travel to the destination!
The matching process is very fluid and dynamic due to a lot of reasons like
(i) both fellows and organizations do not know each other, we do and so have a slight advantage
(ii) organizations’ work change frequently and assignments may also change
(iii) it may not be possible to find a suitable match in some cases and so we will need to add/remove organizations. Bearing all this in mind, the process is managed.
6. How will the fellows benefit from the fellowship program?
If you have opted to join the fellowship, you know part of the answer already. As this is an important choice you made in your life, mostly you are here to explore a new path that is close to your heart. By working on a social change problem, the fellows understand change leadership at the generic level, a system design thinking process that they can apply to any social problem they want to solve.
7. My folks are concerned about my safety during the 18-month journey…
It is very crucial that we all get into the fellowship with the clear understanding that the main motive is to completely immerse into the 18-month experiential journey – into ourselves and the heartland of India – allowing all the learning and work experience to seep in. The fellowship consciously wants to distance itself from creating a very per-informed setup since that hinders with the kind of learning we wish to promote. While we have been interacting with you during the assessment process; a better understanding can be arrived at only after the first few days into the induction training.
Having said that, we also wish to re-assure that all host organizations have been selected after a thorough credibility assessment and the values of the fellowship being acceptable to them. Your security may not be a legal commitment of ours but we have a far bigger moral obligation and at all points, both the fellowship and host organizations take care of this. However, like in all adult relationships, each one of us is responsible for our personal safety. We will request you take this opportunity and have a very candid dialogue with your folks explaining all this and the true purpose of both the fellowship and your commitment to undergoing it.
8.What about my accommodation during training?
The fellows and fellowship team members stay at the said training venue. All costs of training and boarding are borne by the fellowship. The trainings are full-time residential program and it is mandatory for the fellows to stay at the said venue. The same applies to future trainings as well. The venue will be different though and will be communicated to the fellows timely.
9. What do fellows do after the fellowship?
Fellows are supported to define their private dream and are equipped with the skills to pursue them, but fellows are expected to be independent and find their own way in pursuing their dream – which is the very idea of the fellowship. Almost 70% of our alumni have stayed back in the development sector by
-Continuing to work in their fellowship host organizations.
-Working with other grassroots organizations.
-Working with social incubators, funding agencies, fellowships and CSRs.
-Starting a social venture of their own to solve a problem.
-Quite a few have also gone ahead and pursued their masters in development and advocacy spaces and/or management streams.
10. What happens after the induction training? Do I get time between that and joining the host organization?
Once the last day of the induction training concludes you head straight to your field areas / respective host organizations. There is no break in between. Hence pack accordingly. While you will have access to most things there (all host organizations at least have headquarters in block levels with good access to the nearby big city), it will be advisable to carry things which are urgent for you – like prescribed medication, documents especially photo ID proof, PIO card if applicable, passport photographs, suitable clothes – accessories – footwear – toiletries, etc. Don’t worry! In our experience, all of India can be travelled practically with very little preparation if you are good at ‘jugaad’ and adapting! Also, try and travel light to enjoy the journey.
11. Do fellows get holidays?
Fellows will get holidays or leaves as per organizational guidelines. However, they are discouraged from taking breaks apart from those, which are scheduled, for the fellowship training. All organization’s rules and regulations like leaves, timing, payment system, reimbursements, daily allowance during travel etc. apply to the fellow. A good idea is to proactively talk to the HR and Account teams in respective host organizations and clarify these.
12. Can I arrive before/after the said date of induction training?
Please plan to reach the training residence venue on the day before the training commences throughout the day. If you are reaching before that, request you to make alternate accommodation arrangements for yourself independently. Udaipur has some really low-cost but clean accommodation options. You cannot reach after the given time – every minute of the induction experience counts! Please plan your travel accordingly. The fellowship team will be available on the phone and will meet you all at the venue.
13. What kind of clothes should I carry?
Modest clothing to suit the set-ups you will be heading to bearing in mind the extreme weather (heat – rains – cold) and the travels involved. There are no moral policing or dress codes involved. Please use your judgment and pack accordingly. A sturdy pair of shoes, an umbrella, quick-dry pajamas/salwars/shirts/kurtas will be really handy.
14. Is carrying a laptop mandatory? What are the other bare essentials we should pack since we will head from induction training directly to the field area?
It will be a great bonus to have your laptop. Most organizations work at the grassroots and they really look forward to having a fellow who will not just do his/her assignment but will help them with overall aspects of organization which includes planning, reporting, making presentations, writing proposals, etc. Assignments also will need working on the computer. Besides the fellowship virtual learning, regular blogging also can be done more conveniently if a laptop is available. In case you do not have it, do not worry. Host organizations do have computers/desktops, which they can arrange for, and you can access the internet from the nearest cyber cafes at block levels–you will have to adapt!
As mentioned, trying and traveling light and carrying things that you need urgently and important documents. Most of the household items like utensils, toiletries, clothes and accessories you can buy from nearby towns to your field areas.