FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: WHO IS ELIGIBLE?
A: The short answer is: anyone who a) identifies as a woman or another type of gender-minority, b) who is currently pursuing a bachelors or associates degree as of November 2019, and c) is interested in a career in any facet of the aerospace community is eligible to be selected for our Class of 2020.
You can be enrolled at any college, university, or community college. You can be pursuing your second bachelors degree, or you can be in a joint bachelors + masters degree program. To give yourself the best odds of succeeding your application, you should have the intention of pursuing a full-time career in the aerospace industry – but for now, you can be enrolled in any major or concentration.
If you anticipate receiving your Bachelors degree in the time period between submitting this application and the beginning of the summer, you are still eligible.
People of all ages, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds are encouraged to apply – this program is specifically designed to serve as an on-ramp into the industry for talented humans from under-represented genders, regardless of their background.
A note for applicants who are not US citizens or permanent residents: we are huge believers in the value of international perspectives and contributions. We also know that due to export control regulations, internships at many Host Institutions are restricted to US citizens or US permanent residents (green card holders). So, while we very much encourage you to apply, we also want to be up front about the fact that your odds are significantly lower than those of an applicant from the USA.
Similarly, while students who are currently enrolled in the first year of their undergraduate program are eligible to apply, the lack of a transcript will make it more difficult to compete against our extremely talented applicant pool.
In both cases, though, the situation is not impossible. In our first three Classes, we've had a total of three non-US nationals and two first-year students.
Q: I am nonbinary, agender, bigender, two-spirit, demigender, genderfluid/genderqueer, a transgender woman, or another form of gender minority. Am I eligible to apply?
A: Yes! We at the Brooke Owens Fellowship value diversity as a core tenant of our mission: modernizing the aerospace industry by providing opportunities and access to young professionals across historically underrepresented genders. While we should note that the majority of Brookies to date have been cisgender women and that we expect that will likely continue to be the case, we have had incredible nonbinary and other gender non-conforming Brookies among our classes, and we are eagerly welcoming of all gender minorities who have historically faced gender-based bias in the industry.
Q: HOW MANY FELLOWS ARE CHOSEN?
A: Our class of 2017 included 36 Brooke Owens Fellows, our Class of 2018 had 40; and our Class of 2019 had 38. We anticipate selecting as similar number for our Class of 2020.
Q: HOW DO I APPLY?
A: Once our application window re-opens (coming August 2019), check out our "Apply" page here on the website! We use an online application form, so there is nothing to mail in and no fee to be paid.
Every complete application received prior to the deadline will be thoroughly reviewed by multiple members of our Selection Committee. All applicants will be assessed based on their talent, their experience to date, their commitment to service, their creativity – and all of the other character strengths we so admired in our namesake, Brooke Owens. The most highly qualified candidates will be selected for a telephone interview with a member of our Selection Committee. These phone interviews will be conducted in mid- to late- November 2019.
When all telephone interviews are completed, we will select our finalists and make our preliminary matches between candidates and Hosts. This match process will incorporate each applicant’s input on Host preference and desired characteristics of a successful summer – but will also incorporate similar input from our Host companies as well as our Selection Committee’s expert knowledge. Each finalist will be paired with between one and four potential Hosts. Finalists will be notified that they have advanced and will be paired with their potential Host or Hosts on in early December.
In early and mid December, Hosts will conduct telephone interviews with finalists. Each Host Institution will have its own interview process – some will require one interview, some multiple interviews, and some may desire a work sample. If applicants have extraordinary requirements for salary or scheduling, these should be discussed during the interview process. Please note that not every finalist will be contacted by every Host they have been matched with, although most of our Hosts choose to interview every finalist.
After that interview window closes, each Host is asked to submit feedback and rankings for each Finalist they have been matched with; and similarly, each finalist will submit feedback and rankings for each of their matched Hosts.
Around the end of December, our Selection Committee will make our final selections for the Class of 2020. Using all of the feedback and rankings provided by finalists and Hosts, as well as our own insight, we will make final matches between members of the Class of 2020 and their Host Institutions.
Over the subsequent week or two, Fellows will complete any required paperwork with their Host company, finalizing the terms of their employment. From there, the adventure truly begins!
Selection has always been highly competitive, and we expect to receive a record number of applications for our Class of 2019.
Q. WILL I ONLY BE CONSIDERED FOR THE HOST COMPANIES I INDICATE ON MY FORM?
A. All of our applicants are considered as potential matches for all of our host institutions. Unless you've specifically called a host out as a place you'd be unwilling to work, you'll be considered for all positions.
Q. IF I GET MATCHED WITH DIFFERENT HOSTS FROM WHAT I REQUESTED, DOES THAT MEAN YOU DIDN'T LIKE MY APPLICATION?
A. Not at all! The only thing it means is that we take lots of things into account when making matches between finalists and prospective hosts. We will absolutely consider the companies you've told us interest you the most, but we will also consider the attributes you've told us you are looking for in your summer work experience, the specific job functions our hosts have told us they are interested in filling, and insights gleaned from your telephone interview. In the past, we've had many of our top ranked candidates not pair with any of their originally requested hosts; and some of our favorite success stories have happened when we placed a Fellow with a company she'd never considered working for before.
Q. WAIT, SO... how EXACTLY does matching work?
A. Wouldn't it be more fun if we told you it was magic? But, if you insist, we can shed a bit of light on the process. Every applicant is asked to name her top choices for Host Institution. Additionally, each applicant is asked to tell us about what is most important to her about her summer experience--essentially helping define what a successful internship looks like. Both of these factors are taken into account--particularly the latter category, because not all candidates are equally familiar with all of our Host Institutions. Speaking of our Hosts, each also tells us what they are looking for in a successful intern; sometimes, this is a list of specific skills and experiences, but more often it is a list of attributes that make for a successful member of the team at that particular company or organization. This input is added to the mix. Once we have all of the data from all of our finalists, a panel of industry experts – led by our three founders – build a set of massive spreadsheets and CSI-style poster boards, then have a very long, very intense set of phone calls finalizing matches. Sometimes, candidates are matched with exactly the Hosts that they requested. In other cases, candidates are matched with a totally different set of companies from what the candidate originally requested. We've had great success with both types of cases. Making good matches is simultaneously the hardest and the most fun part of the application process
Q. Do you plan to expand the program to accept graduate students? or CIS men?
A. We've tried to keep our program open to as many people as possible. Right now, we have only three eligibility requirements: you must identify as a woman, you must be an undergraduate student at the time you submit your application, and you must be interested in a career in aerospace. To help us keep the focus necessary to continue to be successful, those requirements are all firm.
However, we are excited to report that based on the great success of our inaugural year, others have contacted us about created spin-off programs with different or broader eligibility requirements. We are proud to support the Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship Program, a program closely modeled on our own that serves rising seniors and graduate students passionate about commercial spaceflight.
Q. why isn't my favorite aerospace start-up / company / non-profit / government lab a host institution?
A. Originally, our Host Institutions were organizations where there was a direct tie to Brooke; perhaps she had worked there, or a close personal friend was an executive or a founder. As the prestige of the program grew in our early days, we began hearing from other companies committed to diversity and excellence about joining our roster of Hosts. Now, we find ourselves in the wonderful and unexpected position of having a waiting list of companies and non-profits interested in employing our Fellows.
Though we are fortunate enough to have many more applicants than we could ever possibly select, plus a wait list of more than 30 companies and non-profits interested in hiring our Fellows, we've decided to keep our class size in the 36-40 range. We are absolutely unwilling to compromise on the quality of the job matches, the mentoring, the summit, or the lifelong camaraderie between members of our Alumnae community. As such, we are not able to take onboard new Hosts in large numbers.
We are currently evaluating potential new Hosts, based on their ability to provide a meaningful, purpose-driven, paid experience to a Brooke Owens Fellow. Having a direct, personal connection to Brooke herself is no longer a requirement, though it will always remain an advantage.
Q. how can i support the program?
A. We can accept tax-deductible financial contributions, which are used primarily to bring the Brooke Owens Fellows to the our annual Summit, during which the Fellows meet with each other, with hand-picked industry mentors, and with other leaders in the many fields and disciplines that make up the global aerospace community. You can make your donation online here.
You can also help by spreading the word to undergraduate students who might benefit from applying for the program. We are eager to hear from talented students from a variety of disciplines and universities. Please direct students to our website and social media accounts!
Finally, though we currently have a waiting list for Host Institutions and mentors, we are always looking to make connection with individuals and organizations that could add value to the program in either role. To start a conversation, please contact us!
Q. who runs the program?
A. The Brooke Owens Fellowship Program was founded by Lori Garver, Cassie Kloberdanz Lee, and William Pomerantz. All three are aerospace leaders who were close personal friends of Brooke's. Lori, Cassie, and Will still run the program – with key input and contributions from our Host Institutions, mentors, and friends. Additionally, our alumnae are playing active roles in the program, helping 'pay it forward' and ensuring that the program is in a constant state of improvement and growth.
Q. DO YOU OFFER FELLOWSHIPS DURING THE ACADEMIC YEAR?
A. No. For now, at least, all of our Fellows work at their Host Institution during the summer (although some Fellows then extend their stay and continue working at their Host Institution after the summer is over). We leave the definition of 'summer' up to our Hosts and Fellows, with our only requirement being that the Fellows should be actively working at their Host during the time of our annual Summit in mid-July.