FAQs

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Filling Out the Application
How can I apply to FSD's program?

Identifying Program Preferences
I don't know exactly where I want to go! What should I do?
I don't know exactly what type of work I want to do! What should I do?
I have specific questions about your programs. Can I call FSD?

Language Requirements – Latin America, East Africa, and India Programs
I'm applying to programs in Latin America. How "fluent" does my Spanish need to be?
I'm applying to intern in Latin America. Do I need to submit my application in Spanish?
How strict is FSD's Spanish language requirement?
I meet the minimum Spanish language requirement for the program, but I want to hit the ground running. What does FSD recommend I do to improve my language skills before beginning my program?
I don't speak Hindi, Swahili, or Luganda! Can I still work as an intern in India or East Africa?

Submitting Your Application
What am I required to submit along with the application?
Why do I need to submit my CV/Professional Resume along with the application?
How much is the application fee and how do I pay?
Is there a deadline to apply? I thought your application process was "rolling"?

After You Submit Your Application
Who reviews my application?
What process does my application go through in order for me to be accepted?
Once I submit my application, how long will I receive notice of my acceptance to the program?
Is the application process competitive?
What is the purpose of FSD's extensive selection and placement process?
If I am accepted, what information will I receive?
Why are the initial offers tentative? When will my program details be finalized?
By confirming my participation, am I guaranteed a position in the program?
What is the likelihood that I will be turned away after the interview?

The Interview
How should I prepare for the interview?
Who will conduct the interview?
For Latin America programs, is the interview conducted in Spanish?

Determining Your Final Placement Assignment
When will I receive my final placement and know what project I will work on?
What is the likelihood that my final host organization assignment will be different from my tentative assignment?

Program Fees
When are program fees due?
Are program fees refundable?

Insurance
What insurance does FSD provide?

Final Steps in the Application Process
Once I have completed all the steps of the application process, how do I prepare for my program?

Filling Out the Application

How can I apply to FSD's program?

You can fill out our online application here. Please follow the instructions very carefully.

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Identifying Program Preferences

I don't know exactly where I want to go! What should I do?

The FSD application allows you to specify up to three different sites where you're interested in working. It also allows you to specify up to three different start dates and lengths of internship. You should have a clear idea of your first choice, but if you can't pick just one, list all of the sites where you'd like to intern and we'll place you where we think you'll fit best.

I don't know exactly what type of work I want to do! What should I do?

The FSD application also allows you to rank our subject areas according to your interests. You don't have to choose just one! Our application process is designed to align your experience and interests with one of our community partner organizations, matching skills and potential to needs and project work.

No matter your assignment, FSD participants come away with an experiential understanding that development solutions must first recognize the delicate nature of the culture and community they are working within. Disrupting the existing system with temporary solutions or hand-outs can often do more harm than good. FSD strives to empower participants with a sustainable approach to their project work that recognizes the long-term impact and viability of their efforts. This is done through much collaboration with the local community, whereby participants listen and learn from the community before acting on its behalf.

I have specific questions about your programs. Can I call FSD?

You may contact us anytime – our San Francisco office is open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Pacific Standard Time. Our phone number is (415) 283-4873. You may also reach us via email, at info@fsdinternational.org.

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Language Requirements – Latin America, East Africa, and India Programs

I'm applying to programs in Latin America. How "fluent" does my Spanish need to be?

Our programs in Latin America require an intermediate level of Spanish speaking and comprehension. You should judge your level based on whether you can have an impromptu conversation with a native speaker. If you feel you could, you meet our basic requirements.

I'm applying to intern in Latin America. Do I need to submit my application in Spanish?

If you are applying for a Latin American program, you are required to complete some sections of FSD's application in Spanish. Directions on which sections should be completed in Spanish and which can be completed in English are provided on the application. You do not have to submit your Statement of Purpose in Spanish, but you are required submit your resume in Spanish.

How strict is FSD's Spanish language requirement?

FSD is not a language training program; it is an internship program. By the second week of the program, you will begin working with your host organization and you will be expected to converse with staff, take direction, and express your ideas. Host organization staff understand you might be a bit rusty at first, but expect you to be up to speed within the first two weeks or so.

I meet the minimum Spanish language requirement for the program, but I want to hit the ground running. What does FSD recommend I do to improve my language skills before beginning my program?

Many participants study intensive Spanish in-country before starting their work with an organization and FSD can provide a list of suggested language schools attended by past interns.

I don't speak Hindi, Swahili, or Luganda! Can I still work as an intern in India or East Africa?

Programs in India and East Africa do not require language experience. When interns arrive in-country, they receive intensive language training and have the opportunity to continue language lessons throughout their length of stay.

A word of caution: native language is used frequently in these site locations by the community members. Although your work assignments will be conducted primarily in English, foundational language skills will be very useful to your work and integrate into the community. We encourage you to start learning before you go!

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Submitting Your Application

What am I required to submit along with the application?

To apply for any of FSD's programs, you must submit the following to FSD: 1) the Application; 2) Your CV/Professional Resume (in Spanish for Latin America Programs); 3) The $50 Application Fee. There is a field in the online application where you can paste your resume, and you will submit your application fee online during the application process.

Why do I need to submit my CV/Professional Resume along with the application?

Not only is your CV an excellent way for FSD to determine your skill set and your degree of work experience, but it is also a tool for the FSD site teams to match you with the most appropriate host organization. The Program Directors and Program Coordinators will present your CV to your host organization in order to discuss your potential work and internship roles.

How much is the application fee and how do I pay?

The application fee is $50 and is nonrefundable. You can pay the application fee online during the application process. If you have difficulty submitting your application fee online, please call FSD at 415-283-4873 and we will be happy to take your payment by phone.

Is there a deadline to apply? I thought your application process was "rolling"?

Applications for all programs are accepted on a rolling basis up until the application deadline. Early applicants receive priority; therefore we advise that you submit your application prior to the application deadline. Please refer to the Program Start Dates for information on application deadlines.

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After You Submit Your Application

Who reviews my application?

FSD's San Francisco staff will now review your application to ensure you meet the minimum requirements for participation. Once met, the FSD San Francisco Staff will send all qualified applications to our International Site Teams, with each application going to the Site Team that corresponds to the applicant's region of interest.

What process does my application go through in order for me to be accepted?

Upon receipt of your application (along with others for your program location), the Site Teams will begin the process of selecting interns. Your acceptance to the program is based on whether or not there is an organization that expresses a need for your skill set and experience. The Site Teams will take into consideration your interests, expectations, language level, and time commitment when selecting a host organization.

Once I submit my application, how long will I receive notice of my acceptance to the program?

FSD San Francisco Staff will typically notify you of the status of your application within 14-30 days, and may be in touch sooner if we require additional information. When you receive notice, you can expect one of three updates:

  1. You are accepted – Congratulations!
  2. The Site Team requires a bit more time to review your application – no issues, just time.
  3. The Site Team could not make a good match and we will send your application to one of your other listed preferred sites.

Is the application process competitive?

Yes. We receive numerous applications for a limited number of slots. We attempt to place as many applicants as possible, but acceptance is determined by the community needs we support.

What is the purpose of FSD's extensive selection and placement process?

FSD strives to make the best match of participant with organization. The reason is two-fold. As our partner organizations work to meet their current goals, they benefit from participants who have skills and experience that match their needs. Additionally, we feel that our participants will be more effective if they are working to meet their personal goals. Through our extensive application process, we aim to create a mutually beneficial relationship.

If I am accepted, what information will I receive?

If you are accepted to the program, you will be sent six documents: an official offer letter; a description of your host organization; an invoice; a confirmation packet with a contract; an internship guide; and a pre-departure brochure filled with information about the site where you have been placed.

Why are the initial offers tentative? When will my program details be finalized?

We do not feel that a final placement can be determined on a preliminary review of the written application – we believe it is necessary to get to know you better before finalizing the placement. After receiving a tentative host organization assignment, the Site Team will conduct an interview to further clarify your goals for the program, ensure that you understand our expectations, address any questions or concerns that you have, and assess your language skills if applicable. Based on the interview, the placement will be finalized.

By confirming my participation, am I guaranteed a position in the program?

No. This is a tentative offer for participation based on a preliminary review of your application. The FSD Site Team will make the final acceptance and placement determination based on the interview. If the site team feels you do not meet the minimum requirements for language or your expectations are not in accordance with the structure of our program, alternate options to our program will be suggested and your deposit will be refunded.

What is the likelihood that I will be turned away after the interview?

Very slim. If you have been accepted to the program, your application has already gone through a process of review and approval.

This said, there have been instances when the site team has conducted the interview and felt the applicant did not demonstrate the level of cultural competency, emotional sophistication, or applicable experience to meet the demands of the program.

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The Interview

How should I prepare for the interview?

To prepare for the interview, you should thoroughly read all informational packets provided to you up to that point of time. This includes the Participant Contract and Professional Standards Commitment, informational packet on the host country, and recommended host organization description. You are responsible for knowing this information before and during the program. Any questions or concerns you have about the information provided can be addressed during the interview.

Who will conduct the interview?

In most cases, the international Site Team will conduct the interview. Due to difficulties making long-duration, long-distance phone calls from our East Africa programs sites, applicants to these programs will interview with the San Francisco staff. Applicants for India and Latin America programs will interview directly with the in-country site team.

For Latin America programs, is the interview conducted in Spanish?

A portion of the interview will be conducted in Spanish. Questions that require more in-depth responses will be asked in English, followed by a series of short answer questions or dialogue to test your language abilities. Intermediate language ability, judged as conversational in a professional setting, is the minimum requirement for our programs.

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Determining Your Final Placement Assignment

When will I receive my final placement and know what project I will work on?

Following the interview, the site team will determine the final placement. In your final offer you will receive information on activities you might contribute to during the internship, but these activities are not definite.

During the first week working with your host organization, you will meet with your host organization supervisor to develop a work plan to guide your work. You will consider the current needs of the organization and how you can best support the current objectives. You and your supervisor will formulate a formal Work Plan that fits your skills and experience in order to best maximize your efforts.

What is the likelihood that my final host organization assignment will be different from my tentative assignment?

Given the dynamics of the developing world, there is a possibility that your host organization assignment will change closer to your arrival. We would like to underscore that this is a slim possibility and will only occur if conditions in your current host organization change substantially, or a more appropriate opportunity arises for your interests, time frame, language level, and skill set. If this does happen, please rest assured that the change is in your best interest and that you will receive full information about your new host organization as soon as possible.

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Program Fees

When are program fees due?

Program fees are due 45 days before the start of the program. If you cannot make the payment by this date, you are required to arrange a payment schedule with your Program Coordinator before you receive your Final Offer.

Are program fees refundable?

Your application fee and confirmation deposit are non-refundable. A portion of your balance payment is refundable up until the start of the program. Program fees are not refundable after the start of the program.

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Insurance

What insurance does FSD provide?

Limited medical and medical evacuation insurance is provided for you and is included in the program fee. This insurance is secured with the intention of ensuring that adequate support is available to you in the case of a major emergency.

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Final Steps in the application process

Once I have completed all the steps of the application process, how do I prepare for my program?

Throughout the application process, FSD will provide you will materials to help you prepare for your program. In addition to these materials, we encourage you to read the FSD Blog, updated weekly with stories from our program participants currently working in the field, and to join FSD online communities to connect with likeminded people and worthy causes.

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