The Fellows Initiative is an organization that unites locally run fellows programs throughout the country that are committed to teaching college graduates how to have a Biblical worldview in the marketplace. These fellows programs are nine-month opportunities that help graduates transition into professional life by providing them with internships in their fields of interest, theological coursework, Biblical study, volunteer opportunities and mentoring.
Auburn senior Elizabeth Dunklin applied to and accepted the Charlotte Fellows in North Carolina for the school year of 2013-2014.
“I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do after college, and I knew that ministry was something I was interested in,” Dunklin said. “But, being a finance major, potential employers would look at [ministry] as taking two years off from college and not really gaining the experience I would need to be competitive in the marketplace.”
Dunklin will have a part-time internship in the finance field while volunteering at the Brookstone School, a Christ-centered elementary school committed to equipping urban students for successful, service-oriented lives.
“In Charlotte, you’re giving back to the community through Brookstone School, and then you are in seminary classes later,” Dunklin said.
The program allows the fellows to get a taste of several different fields of work. Monday mornings are spent at Brookstone, and the afternoons are spent in seminary classes. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are dedicated to the internships, and Fridays are off-days set aside for traveling and networking.
“I’m looking forward to narrowing down the direction I’m going to take after the program. Through the internship, I’m hoping that I get the experience to say, ‘Ok I don’t want to do what I’m doing right now for the rest of my life,’ so I take a different direction,” Dunklin said. “Or I can say that I really like the job that I’m put in. Or the seminary classes make me want to go to seminary school.”
Dunklin applied to several fellows programs and was accepted to the Briarwood Fellows in Birmingham, Ala., the Chattanooga Fellows in Tennessee and, of course, the Charlotte Fellows.
“I chose Charlotte because it is outside of my comfort zone,” Dunklin said. “I grew up in Greenville, Ala., and I went to Auburn, which is only an hour and a half away. I’ve been within a two-hour radius my whole entire life. I visited Charlotte this past weekend and loved the whole vibe of the city.”
The fellows are placed with host families to live with during their time in the program.
“At first, I thought living with a host family would be a piece of cake and everybody would love each other,” Dunklin said. However, she said that recent interns say it is important to have realistic expectations going into the host homes because it can be so different from what she is used to.
“They all say it’s one of the most sanctifying things to live with a host family,” Dunklin said. “You learn so much about yourself that you never even recognized or realized that you were dealing with.”
Dunklin says she is excited about giving herself practical experience that will give her a foundation to make her marketable when competing for future jobs. She looks forward to growing in her spiritual life and being pushed to do things she hasn’t before.