Frequently Asked Questions are answered here
1. What is the schedule and agenda of the trainings?
The learning structure of the fellowship is unique, it tries to promote as much openness, adaptability and flexibility. A big part of that also requires us to constantly evolve based on the cohort and India’s ever changing social fabric. We are not used to such learning patterns and understandably it may cause some anxieties. But we will keep fellows posted on the required aspects, adequately ahead of 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. Similarly, host organizations can submit their preferences but cannot handpick which fellow they work with. Since the fellowship ecosystem thrives on faith, each stakeholder (fellows, host organizations, mentors, alumni and team) brings into it by participating whole-heartedly and taking up opportunities with great openness and commitment. 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. Because 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. Wherever there is some technicality, they will be trained and equipped with skills accordingly by the host organization and the fellowship. Community immersion, development program management and communication, engaging in team capacity building are some key ingredients of all our projects.
4. I am not sure of the stipend component? 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. This is alongside being a part of the wider network. Above all, you need not pay any fee for it.
In terms of monetary contribution – fellows collectively fundraise, which is INR 1,25,000 per head. This also entails a lot of learning on how collectives work and skills of fundraising. All the travel cost to reach the four in-person 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. If the organization does not provide accommodation then the stipend is INR 18,000 per month
– For metropolitan areas of Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Hyderabad, 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. 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. In case of some organizations, they may 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.
The matching process is 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
6. My folks are concerned about my safety during the 18-month journey…
It is 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 an extremely pre-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 we select all host organizations after a thorough credibility assessment and only when the values of the fellowship are acceptable to them. We have a moral obligation around your safety. So, 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 candid dialogue with your folks explaining all this and the true purpose of both the fellowship and your commitment to undergoing it.
7. What about my accommodation during training?
The fellows and fellowship team members stay at the said training venue. We have training infrastructure partners for all our in-person training programs. 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. We will timely communicate venue to the fellows.
8. 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 basic 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 higher education, work with corporates, government and bureaucracy.
9. 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. Additionally, 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, one can practically travel all of India with little preparation if one is good at ‘jugaad’ and adapting! Also, try and travel light to enjoy the journey.
10. 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.
11. 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. 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.
12. 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/raincoat, quick-dry pajamas/salwars/shirts/kurtas will be really handy.
13. Is carrying a laptop mandatory? What are the other bare essentials we should pack?
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 the organization. This 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. You can buy most of the household items like utensils, toiletries, clothes and accessories from towns nearby to your field areas. To know more, read about the fellowship design.