New fellows are required to attend an eight-day orientation program that AAAS operates in September at the start of the fellowship year. The aim is to provide fellows with essential facts about Congress and the executive branch, to help define their roles as fellows, and to offer information and contacts useful to fellows in their assignments throughout the year. The orientation assists in clarifying objectives and prepares fellows to be more effective in their new positions. The sessions offer context and background rather than detailed information about how to work in specific fellowship assignments.
AAAS’s reputation and extensive collaborations help attract outstanding senior-level professionals as orientation speakers and resources for new fellows. AAAS also includes many alumni fellows as speakers during orientation to serve as resources and mentors. Involving them is critical to building relationships and a sense of community across the now 45 cohorts of scientists and engineers who are alumni of the AAAS fellowships.