The fellowship begins in November with a month-long orientation seminar conducted on the nearby campus of the John Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).
Drawing on an experienced faculty, the objective of the seminar is to provide all Fellows with a common-ground understanding of Congress and the political process. Each hour-and-a-half panel provides Fellows an opportunity to hear and question experts from a variety of fields:
- current and former members of Congress,
- congressional staff,
- political scientists,
- former Congressional Fellows,
- and policy experts/subject specialists.
The orientation is supplemented by a two-day introduction to research resources and online databases, and a two-day Advanced Legislative Institute focus on legislative procedure. Both seminars are organized by the Library of Congress Congressional Research Service (CRS) and are taught by staff specialists.
Toward the end of the orientation, Fellows interview for work as an unpaid legislative assistant on either the personal or committee staff in the House or Senate. Fellows are given ample time to interview so as not to conflict with orientation events. To assist them in their search, Fellows receive free copies of Politics in America and yearlong subscriptions to CQ Weekly, courtesy of Congressional Quarterly, Inc.