This American Life offers two six-month production fellowships each year, one starting in January and the other in July, based in our office in New York City. This is a paid position. Our fellows earn about $6,250 a month, before taxes. We offer benefits like health insurance and a relocation reimbursement.
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 learn to structure and mix radio stories, sit in on group edits where stories are shaped, 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.
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 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 job during these months.
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 unless you’re legally able to work in the U.S at the time you apply for the fellowship and for the duration of the fellowship.
Since our entire story process is driven by the taste, observations and interests of our staff, we believe that having a diverse staff is the only way to effectively document the reality of life in this country with the proper nuance and perspective. A more diverse group of people putting together the show makes us better at every stage of the editorial process, from story selection to line editing. We strongly encourage people of all backgrounds, races, genders, and abilities to apply.
- Our fall fellow term starts the second week of July. Applications must be received by April 1; decision by May 15.
- Our spring fellow term starts the second week of January. Applications must be received by Oct. 1; decision by Nov. 15.
We are currently accepting applications for our spring 2024 fellowship.
The application has three parts: (1) cover letter, (2) resume & references, and (3) answers to our application questions. Details on what we’d like for each part are below. The application is paperless. Send answers to the questions, 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. Attach the entire application as a PDF and indicate which session you are applying for (spring or fall) in the subject line.
Cover letter: Write 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 at This American Life.
Resume: Send us a résumé and the names, phone numbers, and email addresses of two references.
Application questions: Be brief with your responses. The goal with these questions is 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.
- Briefly describe any previous radio and/or documentary journalism experience.
- Have you worked with Pro Tools? If not, have you worked with other digital editing programs?
- Suggest two documentary/reported pieces for This American Life. For each pitch: (1) Explain the story as a whole, listing specific characters and scenes. Tell the whole story - no cliffhangers. Details are helpful. (2) Tell us why these stories would work on This American Life.
This probably sounds harder than it actually is. We're not looking for award-winning war stories or anything like that, but rather stories that you find genuinely interesting, no matter how small. It may be useful for you to read our submission guidelines, as they lay out what we look for in our stories.
- Tell us a favorite personal story in no more than 500 words — shorter is better! 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. Be sure to tell us why you like this story,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.
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 or to applicants that are not moving forward in the process. You will be automatically notified by email when we receive your application, and we'll follow up with finalists in a timely fashion, shortly after the application deadline. We apologize in advance for the impersonal nature of an email notification, but, like we said, paperless. Good, right?
If you’re a finalist, we will reach out to set up a video interview to talk about your experience and get into more details about the role. (Even if you live in New York City, we’ll interview you by video.) Our process is fairly short. We make an offer to our fall fellow by May 15 and our spring fellow by Nov. 15.
Thank you for reading to the end of this long application description! We know there are a lot of guidelines, but we’ve found it helps us with the process. We hope you understand — and still apply!