Amal Fellowship, A Life Changing Experience

Amal Career Prep Fellowship is an intense 3 months program to develop professional skills based on blended learning. I’m PA (Program Associate) at Amal. PA at Amal is a very crucial post and responsible works in different roles. Duties include managing the logistics for in person sessions, following up with fellows, posting PWs (project works), giving feedback on PWs, Updating the progress reports, motivating the fellows and building strong relationship with them.

Besides this, a PA(Program Associate) does work in different committees like University Outreach, Online Marketing, Curriculum Review, PM/PA Recruitment and On-boarding and Fellowship Selection Committee etc.

So far I’ve completed one fellowship as PA and it was the best learning experience. I built strong relationship with fellows and have a very positive impact on their life. First of all I’d love to share that 34 fellows were graduated from my batch(batch 22nd) and some of them got the jobs instantly. Others are also looking for jobs but the job is not the only success after the fellowship, They have got the purpose of their life, they are more positive since before, they are now life long learner and learn from their daily life, they ask for the online courses websites to learn themselves and they will not stop trying. This is the real success of an Amal Fellow.

If we talk about the challenges, I faced during the fellowship, these include, getting the timely submissions of PWs, making sure the 100% attendance in In-Person sessions, timely collaborating with PM(Program Manager) if there is something important to share with him/her, understanding the different activities and arranging the logistics for that activities(If its your first fellowship). A hectic day at Amal can be the mock interviews day, It requires a lot of effort from PA because from the start of week we start inviting Alumni, motivating the fellows to prepare for the mock interviews and not missing the session, getting the cover letters & resume from fellows and print it out, scheduling the interviews in 3 groups for 3 times, Ahhhhh! Another one was to collect the monthly registration fee, It also required a lots of follow ups and reminders, Once I forgot to deposit the collection to Admin and finance team and did some expenses from that amount, it caused some problems because I had to pay from my savings, but after that I started depositing on time.

It was challenging as well as a pretty learning experience, because each better step we take has some simple or good steps behind. The challenges I mentioned above gave me some important observations and chance to learn new ways of doing the same things to hypothesis which one is the best.

  1. I found that if you are going to motivate the fellows who seems not fulfilling the requirements of the fellowship or they seems not energetic and enthusiastic towards the fellowship, first try to tell them the importance of this program and how its going to be important for them in the future. It might work and they get the right track again but, if still you think it didn’t work, try to convince them personally, show them your love and care and share some stories how you managed to complete some tasks for them, how do you believe in them and how important they are for you. This will definitely work because I experienced it and got acceded.
  2. If you’re following up with fellows for collection, sending the sms and email on the first week of the month is good option, but this didn’t work enough and asking everyone personally and secretly on the second week was the best option to get collection.
  3. Sometimes fellows coordinate with one team member(Fellowship Team) and that team member forgets to communicate with other members about the status of fellows. And if that time Ma’am Sarah(PM and looking and responsible for the Operations) comes and asks the status of that fellows from a team member who was not communicated, It gives an impression that he/she might not follow up or not coordinating well with fellows. For this purpose making a whats app group of fellowship team (if there are 3 members) and sending the updates in the group is the best option to keep everyone in loop.
  4. For mock interviews week we should try to comment on online courses and give feedback on last week’s PW as soon as possible and complete this process by Wednesday. After that just arranging the logistics and inviting and confirming the arrival of Alumni, asking the fellows to send their resume and cover letter by 9am Friday gives us the chance to print out the material and making the groups on the time.
  5. After the first 2 module of fellowship, the motivation level of fellows not remains the same as it was in the start. They start missing the sessions and PWs. This time careful follow ups are required because some fellows start entering in danger zone. In the very first session, we should clearly communicate the dropout policy & the importance of all the 3 module and ask them to note down these things . Furthermore, in first 2 module when their motivation level is high, keep motivating them not to miss any session and PW will give them the chance to survive at the end may work really good.
  6. Time management is very crucial, making the desktop sticky notes for everyday tasks gives us the chance to work on proper time and not missing any single task.
  7. If there is something difficult to understand like any activity in the lesson plan, it is good to ask for help from senior PAs instead of wasting time and reading again and again.
  8. For the final trip on 24th session, giving the fellows limited option to choose one and not asking for other suggestion works really good. Otherwise they come up with a lots of ideas and everyone wants their suggestion or idea to be implemented.
  9. We should try to manage the class in a way so that the fellows do not divide themselves in different groups. I really want some suggestions and ideas from you (readers) for this regard, please feel free to comment because this is really important for Amal fellows to live like a family.
  10. Last and Important, although a PA gets so close to fellows because he/she is the immediate person who is responsible for the following up with fellows and maintaining their progress and score. Getting close & personal in a friendly manner is not bad but we make sure that we are not becoming casual with fellows, because in this way they will not give importance to you and their work also.

Thank you so much for reading the blog, I really want you to apply these things in upcoming fellowships if you think these are in your best interest.