About Us

This American Life is pleased to offer two six-month fellowships per year, one beginning in January and the other in July.

This American Life is a weekly, nationally-distributed public radio program that's a mix of documentaries, investigative reporting, interviews and stories. The show is part of WBEZ Chicago, but its offices and this position are located in New York City.

The fellowship program focuses on every facet of producing This American Life—from reporting and copyediting to technical production and data management to administrative duties. The fellows observe and participate in the weekly production of the show by sitting in on meetings and edits with producers, while honing their production skills. Please note: this is not an entry-level position. This American Life fellows are required to have experience with Pro Tools or similar digital editing software and are responsible for producing rerun episodes, weekly promos and show segments out of the gate. Our fellows transcribe tape, learn to structure and mix a radio story, and perform assorted menial tasks that are true signs of an apprentice program like this. By the end of the program, fellows are encouraged to produce their own pieces, including editing and mixing voice, sound and music. The diversity of tasks depends largely on initiative and self-motivation. If you have no radio and/or audio editing experience, this program is not for you.

The fellow will be provided a monthly wage of $3,750, before taxes for the duration of the fellowship. We are committed to providing payment in part because the work hours are long. We feed the show on Friday nights at 8 p.m. Eastern time, so as we get closer to the end of the week, the hours become longer. The typical work week varies between 50-60 hours. As a result, we feel strongly that this be our fellow's sole commitment during these months, i.e. no other jobs or classes. Also important to note: we do not offer college credit or assistance in obtaining work visas for international applicants.

  • The Fall 2014 term starts July 7. Applications must be received by April 1, 2014; decision by May 1.

  • The Spring 2015 term starts January 5. Applications must be received by Oct 1, 2014; decision by November 1.

The Application:

To apply for the fellowship program, send a cover letter of no more than 500 words explaining why you should be selected to take part in the program and letting us know something about yourself and why you'd like to work in public radio. You should include a resume and the names, phone numbers and email addresses of two references we may contact. We ask that you also answer the questions below. You can be brief with your responses—the point of the exercise is both to get an idea of the kind of thinking and work that go into the fellowship while also allowing us to get to know you a little better.

Application questions:

  • Briefly describe any previous radio and/or documentary journalism experiences.

  • What is your familiarity with Macintosh computers, recording equipment and digital editing? Have you worked with Pro Tools? If not, have you worked with other digital editing programs? Have you ever transcribed tape?

  • Suggest two documentary/reporter pieces for This American Life. Please explain each story as a whole, along with specific characters and scenes. This probably sounds harder than it actually is. We're not looking for award-winning war stories or anything, rather stories that you find genuinely interesting, no matter how small. Details are helpful. Don’t forget to include why these stories would work specifically work on This American Life.It may be very useful for you to read our submission guidelines, as they lay out what we're looking for in stories on our show. 

  • Last, tell us your favorite personal story. This can be anything from a something you heard at a party to a story your family loves to tell to something that happened in your life that you find particularly amusing, surprising or emotional. It doesn’t have to be a story that would work on This American Life or even on radio; this is about your personal taste. And please tell us why you like this story so much even if the real reason makes no sense to anyone but you. Again, try to be brief; we get hundreds of applications and do read them all.

The application is now paperless! Send answers to the questions above, along with your cover letter and resume, to fellowship@thislife.org by no later than 11:59pm Eastern Standard Time on the day of the deadline. Please attach the entire application as a PDF, and also paste your application in the body of the email, indicating which session you are applying for (Spring or Fall) in the subject line.

PLEASE DO NOT EMAIL OR CALL WITH QUESTIONS REGARDING YOUR APPLICATION. We are a small staff and simply don’t have the time to respond to individual inquiries. You will be automatically notified by email when we receive your application, and we'll follow-up with finalists in a timely fashion. We will notify all applicants of our decision by the dates listed above. We apologize in advance for the informality of email notification, but, like we said, paperless. Good, right?