Fellowships

This American Life offers two six-month production fellowships each year, one starting in January and the other in July.

Our hope with the fellowship is to train people in what we do. The fellows observe and participate in all aspects of the radio show’s weekly production. They transcribe interviews, sit in on group edits where stories are shaped, learn to structure and mix radio stories, pitch stories, participate in the program’s weekly story meetings and yes, perform assorted menial tasks that are the true signs of any apprentice program. Fellows are encouraged to produce their own pieces, including reporting, interviewing, structuring, editing and mixing. How much they do depends mostly on their own initiative and self-motivation. 

Please note: This is not an entry-level position. Production fellows are required to have experience with Pro Tools or similar digital editing software and they’re responsible for producing on-air promos and rerun episodes – and helping with show segments – from the week they arrive. If you have no radio or audio editing experience, this program isn’t for you.  

We believe that even trainees should be paid, and our fellows earn $4,000 a month, before taxes. We feed the show on Friday nights at 8 p.m. Eastern time, and as we get closer to the end of the week, the hours become longer. The typical work week varies between 50 to 60 hours. As a result, we feel strongly that this should 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 and cannot accept college students. We have no other internship or fellowship programs, so if you're in school you'll have to wait to apply until you're done. Also, we cannot accept international applicants who are not residents of the U.S. 

Since our entire story process is driven by the taste, observations and interests of our staff, we’re strongly committed to hiring as diverse a group of people as possible, including for the fellowship. This makes us a better show. It helps us do a better job documenting the reality of life in this country.

  • The fall term starts the first week of July. Applications must be received by April 1; decision by May 1.

  • The spring term starts the first week of January. Applications must be received by Oct. 1; decision by Nov. 1.


The Application

To apply for the production fellowship, send a cover letter of no more than 500 words explaining why you should be selected to take part in the program. Let us know something about yourself and why you'd like to work in public radio or podcasting. You should include a résumé and the names, phone numbers, and email addresses of two references. We ask that you also answer the questions below. You can be brief with your responses — the point of the exercise is both to give you 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, but just stories that you find genuinely interesting, no matter how small. Details are helpful. Don’t forget to include why these stories would work on This American Life. It may be useful for you to read our submission guidelines, as they lay out what we're looking for our in our stories. 

  • Last, tell us a favorite personal story. This can be anything from 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 paperless! Send answers to the questions above, along with your cover letter and résumé, to [email protected] by no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern 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’re 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’ll 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?