CCST Science Fellows
Frequently Asked Questions
Please read the FAQ below for detailed answers to many of the questions we often receive. For more information, watch our October 2020 Science Fellows Webinar with current fellows and alumni for a firsthand account of the fellowship experience.
To be eligible for the Fellows program, candidates must possess the following minimum qualifications:
- A Ph.D. or equivalent level degree (Sc.D., M.D., DVM, DO, DDS, EdD, etc.) in a qualified field (engineering; social or behavioral sciences; medical or health sciences; biological, physical, or earth sciences; or computational sciences or mathematics). Degrees other than those noted here may also qualify on a case by case basis.
- Hold U.S. citizenship or have eligibility to work on a full-time basis for a US employer (e.g., permanent residents, refugees, asylees, holders of Employment Authorization Documents). CCST will not sponsor a Fellow for a work visa.
The following are not eligible to apply:
- Individuals who are not expected to have completed all doctoral program requirements by September 15, 2021.
- Individuals who have registered as lobbyists in the State of California or under the federal Lobbying Disclosure Act within 6 months of the application deadline.
While there is no ideal candidate for a CCST Science Fellow, there are certain traits that lead to success in the Fellowship. We are looking for candidates who have:
- A sincere interest in California current events and state policy making and political processes
- A capacity to be flexible, adaptable, and fully engaged
- A willingness to work in a fast paced, high profile work environment
- A desire to learn how policy decisions are made and to understand and appreciate the needs of decision makers
- A proficiency in translating complex scientific data into non-technical prose
- A strong interest in informing public policy decisions using scientific and technical data
- A knack for dealing with technical information outside one's own specialty
- An appreciation for the talents of individuals with differing backgrounds and credentials
- An affinity for interdisciplinary collaboration and working on diverse teams.
- Strong analytical and problem-solving skills
- Personal integrity and self-motivation
No. It is impossible to predict what specific issues and questions will come up during the course of your Fellowship year. Although you may be asked to weigh in on questions that are in your area of expertise, it is far more likely that you will research other issues and interact with experts from other disciplines. Your training in the scientific method (inquiry, analytical skills, etc.) will serve you as much, or more, than your specific training.
No. We expect some successful applicants to be at the beginning of their careers. Fellows are not expected to know how the policy world works prior to beginning the Fellowship. They are expected to be interested in learning about the process.
No. We encourage applications from professionals at all stages of their careers. Experienced technical personnel will have much to contribute to the policymaking process. What will mark success in candidates at this career stage will be an ability to thrive in an environment vastly different from what you may be used to and an understanding and acceptance of the fact that in the policy arena you will be the student and that your "teachers" may be much younger than you.
All application materials, including at least three letters of recommendation, must be received by CCST 11:59pm PST on March 1st, 2021.
To apply, you will need to submit:
- A personal statement outlining why you are applying to the CCST Science Fellows Program, what you hope to bring to the program, and what you hope to take away.
- The statement must be written in an easily read font no smaller than 12 point size, with 1 inch margins, double-spaced. It must not exceed 3 pages in length.
- Your most recent CV or resume
- At least three letters of recommendation.
You should ask your references to include the following information in their letters:
- How long they have known you and in what context.
- How this Fellowship would benefit you and what skills, training and personal attributes you would bring to the Fellowship program.
- What your particular strengths are and what challenges you might face in this setting.
You should ask them to refer to the “What are you looking for in a CCST Science Fellow?” question above to better understand what skills and characteristics are important for this Fellowship.
Absolutely. The CCST Science Fellows Selection Committee will be looking for candidates with broad experiences. Previous employment, volunteer work, and academic background that have no relationship to science or your current academic career will be considered relevant as a demonstration of your overall experience, interests, and abilities.
CCST employs a multi-step approach to the selection process to allow the Selection Committee to fairly gauge the potential of success for each candidate. First, the Selection Committee will evaluate the written applications to select semi-finalists for an online interview with CCST staff in April. Next, Finalists are invited for a final interview with the Selection Committee at the end of May. Finalists will receive a policy brief writing assignment, which will be discussed at the final interview. After the final interviews, the Selection Committee will make Fellowship offers as soon as possible. This timing provides ample opportunity for Fellows to complete their current work assignments or PhD requirements, and be ready to begin the Fellowship on November 1st, 2021.
Applicants are evaluated on more than just their academic credentials and research experience. The Fellowship work environment is in a public setting where the pace is fast and driven by legislative, budget, and regulatory deadlines. The interviews provide a valuable opportunity for the applicant to demonstrate how they would thrive in the Fellowship environment and would be effective at contributing a sound analytical perspective to the decision-making process. During the interviews, applicants will be asked to think on their feet, to solve problems, analyze options, and to effectively communicate technical information to non-expert audiences.
Questions About the Fellowship Program
The CCST Science and Technology Policy Fellowship program is modeled on a federally focused Fellowship program operated by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for more than three decades. According to AAAS, Fellows are nearly unanimous in citing the Fellowship as one of the best and most important experiences in their professional lives. CCST Fellows have also cited the impact of the CCST Fellowship program on their professional and personal development.
To read more profiles and stories from CCST Fellowship alumni, visit the CCST Fellowship blog.
"Science and technology policy" or science policy refers to the laws and regulations that are put into place by lawmakers and the executive branch of government that have a scientific or technological impact or component in their subject matter. In the past, CCST Science Fellows have worked on a range of issues related to science and technology, including renewable energy, genetic testing, air quality, toxic materials, electric vehicles, water quality, regulatory boards, governance issues and health care. The work of a Science Fellow also often reaches beyond science and technology related issues to regulatory, social and economic concerns of the state.
Yes. Physical location in Sacramento is a key feature of the Fellowship. Fellows serve as legislative or executive branch staff and are expected to be present throughout the Fellowship year. The environment of the policy making process is fast paced and relies on relationship and trust as much as it does data. Fellows will also be expected to attend regularly scheduled seminars and other activities in Sacramento which will provide ongoing training and technical background. The valuable social network that will develop amongst the fellows and with their colleagues in the Legislature and Executive Branch can only be achieved by consistent interactions in a close working environment. Fellows are embedded in their Fellowship Host Offices and learn by doing.
Fellows are responsible for securing their own housing. However, CCST makes every effort to point Fellows to the most popular and effective sources of information about housing in the Sacramento region. This information will be included in the offer letter to Fellows.
No. Fellows must commit to serving the full 12-month Fellowship year (November 1, 2021 to October 31, 2022). At present time, there is no provision for extending or renewing the Fellowship.
Compared to some other state capitals, such as Austin, TX, or Richmond, VA, Sacramento is between about 20-25% more expensive. However, compared to other major U.S. cities, it is quite reasonable. For example, living in Sacramento is 40% less expensive than in San Francisco, 20% less than in Los Angeles, 20% less than Boston, 50% less than New York City, and 30% lower than Washington D.C.
CCST will provide training to help Fellows transition to this new environment. At the start of the Fellowship in November, Fellows will participate in a three to four-week orientation. During this “policy bootcamp”, Fellows get an intensive, interactive (and fun) introduction to the California policy making process, culture, and history. The program consists of lectures, panel discussions, and seminars on various relevant topics, as well as opportunities for experiential learning, including role playing, mock legislative sessions, group writing and research assignments, and more. Fellows also meet with CA legislative and executive branch staff, tour the Capitol, and enjoy an in-depth introduction to Sacramento. The training curriculum covers an introduction to California politics and the policymaking process, networking and career development, effective writing and presentation styles for the policy arena and more.
During the Fellowship, you will be under the supervision of your Host Office. CCST will also provide ongoing professional development training, help you build your professional network, and provide mentorship throughout the Fellowship year.
After the initial policy bootcamp, Fellows will be scheduled for interviews with interested Host Offices in the California State Legislature and Executive Branch. At the end of the interviews, Fellows and Host Offices will have the chance to rank their preferred placements. Using these rankings, CCST along with leadership staff from the California Legislature and Governor’s Office will make the placement assignments. The Fellows will then begin their placement assignments in December or January.
The culture and protocols for working in government offices do require dressing more formally than you may be used to if you are coming from an academic environment. In general, business attire is expected most weekdays, with occasionally more casual attire suitable on days designated by your assigned office. For men, a suit or slacks and sport jacket with a shirt and tie is appropriate; women should wear business dresses, suits, or skirts.
No. You will not be an employee of the State. You will be an employee of CCST; however, your daily work activities will be supervised by your placement office mentor and complement the activities of state employees in your placement office. Therefore, you will be bound by the same codes of conduct, financial disclosure requirements, and ethics guidelines of your Host Office.
Because Fellows will be housed in state government offices, they occupy positions of public trust. Anyone privileged to work in such an environment is held to high standards of personal and professional behavior.
All designated employees of the California state government are required to submit annual financial disclosure forms that elucidate any financial relationships that might cause a conflict of interest. Given the nature of the Fellowship, participants will be required to sign standard forms certifying that they will abide by rules of ethical conduct established by the state legislature. Fellows will also be required to attend ethics training courses, as required by their Host Office.
These provisions are guided by the California Political Reform Act, the State Constitution and other government codes that regulate the conduct of California state government staff. You will be provided more detailed information regarding these requirements if you are selected to be a Fellow.
CCST is monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic situation closely. Currently, all CCST staff and Fellows are working remotely until it is safe to report to the office and Host Offices. Fellows-related programming and events, such as interviews, training, and professional development, are being done virtually.
QUESTIONS ABOUT COMPENSATION
The base salary is $54,080 (as of 2020-2021), which is comparable to the salaries provided to experienced postdoctoral scholars at the University of California. CCST offers paid-time off, reimbursements for health, dental, and vision benefit payments, and reimbursements for approved professional development and travel expenditures. In addition, CCST will reimburse up to $4,000 in relocation costs for moves over 50 miles.
Fellows will be paid directly by CCST for their Fellowship experience with the State. Fellows will be paid bi-weekly starting on November 15th of the Fellowship year. CCST will withhold taxes and issue the Fellow a W-2.
Yes. Although most fellows will be paid the base salary, we have limited flexibility to provide a larger salary for fellows who meet certain criteria of experience and current salary.
At the time you are offered a Fellowship, if you feel you need to seek a higher salary, you will be asked to complete a salary increase request. Your request will be reviewed and you will be notified immediately of the level of salary available to you. You will then have one week to determine your interest and ability to accept the offer as proffered.