The Differences Between Fellowships and Internships

While both internships and fellowships are great ways to meet people, make connections, strengthen your abilities, and gain experience, there are characteristics specific to each of them.
It is important to know the difference in order to appropriately place yourself in your professional field.

College Student Evaluating Career Options Image

An internship can be described as a trial period at a company that helps students gain insight into a field they are considering as a career. The length of the internship as well as responsibilities that come along with the position varies from company to company. Internships are designed to expose the participants to the dynamics of working in a specific field by using real-life applications. Some internships may be paid, while others are stipend (they may pay for your housing, or cost of travel), or simply unpaid. Not only is it a great experience to put on your resume, but you will also meet important contacts you may use to discover and obtain future positions.

Often, people may use the term "internship" and "fellowship" synonymously, when the two are quite different. Fellowships can have various definitions attached to them, depending on the extent of the fellowship (what it offers and what it requires).

Featured Fellowship Programs

Unlike many internship positions, fellowships are offered mostly to those at the graduate and post-graduate level. Many people at this level consider fellowships in their field in order to complete the training necessary for their area of interest without having to take a job outside of their field or take out additional loans. This is a very useful tool, especially with the cost of institutions and training. Also, it gives the individual more time to work in their specialty, gain experience, and strengthen their abilities. While these graduate and post-graduate students are completing their fellowship, they may receive a stipend usually slightly above living-wage, from either a public or private institution, not necessarily the company the fellowship is located in. These stipends may be used for many different causes, such as rent, travel, and other expenses.

Fellowships can be specific to different fields and even required. For example, in the medical field, an individual completing training in a specialty field (such as pediatrics) will be given a fellowship and work in a hospital while receiving a stipend. In this period of time the individual will work hard. Although these individuals may be called "fellows," they may also be referred to as doctors because they have already completed their medical training and are only continuing their education/training. Fellowships are very popular in fields such as medicine, due to the fact that it is a field that seriously requires constant furthering of education.

In Focus: Fellowships for Outstanding Individuals

Qualifications for these fellowships will vary. While some are dependent on the individual’s income, many more depend on applications or academic success (to a specified degree) in the past. For example, the Disney Writing Fellowship is a two-year long program that involves training and mentoring in screen and television writing. It requires previous academic success and a great screen play. Like most fellowships, it is a very competitive program to get into, and many of its participants become working professionals in the field. While competitive fellowships maybe stressful, they are great to work hard for due to the success stories of many individuals who have completed the program. Fellowships can help you become an active employee of the particular company in which you were placed, as well as make connections with people in the greater field. Both of these opportunities leave the door wide open for the greater field of interest.

However, not all fellowships are as hard to obtain.

There are different qualifications and requirements specific to various fields. You will need to fill out applications for your fellowship. It is important to have a good track record and personal development. You must also have a well-written proposal in order to have what is considered a good application. Make sure to stress your strengths, past successes, and future goals. There are many intricate details that may cause you to receive the position, for example, don’t forget to apply by the deadline, follow instructions as to what to include with the application, and make sure your resume is up to date and spell checked. Above all, make it known that you are sincerely interested in the fellowship. Make sure your words show that you are willing, able, and excited to become a part of their company. It won’t hurt to follow up with the fellowship by either calling or e-mailing a few weeks after sending the application. What companies want most is a dynamic and engrossed individual to become an asset to their business. One of the best places to start is by searching the internet for fellowships in your field.

You will learn about several great fellowship programs on the following pages.


Rotary Club Fellowships