The U.S. Department of State and IREX are excited to announce that the application for the Spring 2022 Virtual Professional Development Experience (PDE), a unique opportunity only open to 2021 Alumni of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, is now open. 

The Virtual PDE is designed to provide Fellows with practical training and the opportunity to learn transferable skills, expand their professional networks, and apply concepts learned at their Institutes to real-world situations in the U.S. context through a six-week professional placement with a U.S. NGO, business, or government agency.  The 2022 Virtual PDEs will maintain the Fellowship’s goals and high standards through a flexible, accessible, and robust virtual model.  Virtual PDEs will include a combination of synchronous (live) and asynchronous (on Fellows’ own time) work, along with virtual networking and other professional development opportunities.  

Virtual PDEs will take place in a six-week timeframe from January 31 to March 11, 2022.  Fellows must plan their schedules to accommodate synchronous (live) activities agreed upon with their PDE Host, but will not need to take a leave of absence from work in order to fully participate.  Fellows should expect to commit an average of approximately 10-15 hours per week to the PDE.  Fellows will receive a $600 participation stipend to offset costs for technology and other needs that support Fellows’ ability to fully participate in the PDE. 

While Fellows will participate in the PDEs from their home communities, they will be able to engage with their peers across the continent.  Structured programming elements will allow Fellows to develop strong ties within their PDE cohort and engage with Fellows and Hosts with similar sector interests.  Applicants must belong to the 2021 cohort of the Mandela Washington Fellowship and cannot be a participant in the 2021 round of Virtual PDEs taking place from August 9 to September 17, 2021.  Eligible 2021 Fellows must also have successfully completed their 2021 Leadership Institute by September 30, 2021. Up to 30 2021 Fellows will be selected for the Spring 2022 Virtual PDE.

Eligibility Information

Eligible applicants will be reviewed using the following selection criteria:

  • Potential for growth through the PDE, with some prior work experience but room to grow and learn.
  • Clear focus on specific goals for the PDE and demonstrated vision of how your career will progress through participation in the PDE.
  • Identification of transferable skills to be gained through the PDE and openness to a variety of learning experiences, rather than a focus on a specific type of host institution. 
  • Demonstrated English fluency.
  • Strong sense of expertise, experience, and networks you can contribute to a U.S. Host Organization.

Taking these criteria into account, the Fellowship Team will also strive for balance across countries, genders, tracks, and industries within the selected PDE cohort.

Application Timeline

  • Application Deadline | September 12, 2021 
  • Notification of PDE Selection | Early October 2021
  • PDE Period | January 31 – March 11, 2022

Application Requirements

To apply, 2021 Fellows are required to:

  1. Complete and submit the online application.
  2. Submit a video interview through VidCruiter.  Fellows should allow 10-30 minutes to complete the interview.  Instructions and a link to record the interview will be emailed to you after you submit the online application.

Both the online application and video interview must be submitted by 11:59 PM Eastern (Washington, D.C.) time on September 12, 2021 (3:59 AM GMT on September 13, 2021) for an application to be considered complete.  All completed applications will be evaluated competitively against the eligibility requirements and selection criteria noted above.

For More Information:

Visit the Official Webpage