Tennessee First to the Top

2013 First to the Top Fellowship FAQ

Application Process

When will I hear back about my candidacy?

All candidates will receive a final decision by March 1st. If you have competing timeline concerns and need an expedited decision, please let me know by what date you will need a decision, and I will note that on your application.

Can I submit additional materials?

Thank you for wanting to strengthen your candidacy by adding to your application. However, due to the volume of applications, we are unable to evaluate any items outside of the required application materials.

The Fellowship

When does the fellowship start and end?

Unofficially, the fellowship will start on Monday, June 3 and end on Friday, Aug. 9 for a total of 10 weeks. These dates will be confirmed in the coming weeks.

Am I able to start or end on a different date?

In the past, we have made start date and end date exceptions for fellows with unique circumstances (i.e. a graduate student who has to be back on campus in late July). However, our preference is that fellows remain with the program throughout its duration because we have planned specific programming and want to provide a consistent experience. If you require an exception, please let me know what dates you are available so that I can note that on your application.

Where will fellows work?

All fellows will work at the Tennessee Department of Education in the Andrew Johnson Tower (710 James Robertson Parkway) in Nashville for the duration of the program.

What will the work consist of?

We are currently in the process of finalizing fellowship projects for the summer. One potential project includes helping design the next phase of our state accountability system once we transition to PARCC assessments. All work will be essential to our strategic priorities and First to the Top goals, and placement will be based on department needs and fellows’ interests, skill sets, and experiences.

Is housing provided?

No, housing is not provided. We provide a $7,500 stipend in part to cover living expenses. We will provide some assistance in locating housing options, but fellows are responsible for securing housing.

How is the stipend distributed?

The stipend will be paid in two separate installments. Fellows will receive the first installment midway through the program and the second installment at the conclusion of the program.

Are international students eligible to apply?

International students with work authorization are encouraged to apply. We do not have the capacity to support international students in securing work authorization.

“The only thing I knew before I landed in Nashville was that I was about to be a part of something unique, cutting edge and meaningful. I wasn’t disappointed. When you have a chance to do what everyone else is just talking about, you take it.”
– Luke Kohlmoos, 2011 Fellow, current Director of TEAM Evaluation


“I was impressed and excited by how dynamic and change-oriented the department is. I felt like all the work I did was meaningful and impactful, which is not always the case with short-term commitments.”
– Courtney Seiler, 2012 Fellow, current TEAM Program Analyst


“The best part of the fellowship experience for me was working closely with strong leaders in my division while gaining a broader understanding of the overarching work of the Department and the way that all divisions work together. These insights will be particularly helpful as I move forward as a full-time employee.”
– Melissa Canney, 2012 Fellow, current Program Manager: Postsecondary Coordination and Alignment


“I saw first-hand how the department worked to mediate the competing priorities of multiple stakeholders and combat the pervasive image that government in merely a policing body and not an engine for reform.”
– Thomas Gibney, 2012 Fellow