Call for Applications: Young Professional Fellows Exchange Program at University of Oklahoma

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The Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Ronnie K. Irani Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth (ICCEW) at the University of Oklahoma in partnership with the U.S. Department of State and partner organizations in Pakistan, India, Nepal and Kazakhstan are hosting a five-week professional exchange in the United States that includes a professional fellowship placement at an American small business organization.

The Professional Fellows Exchange program is scheduled for April-June, 2018.

This program, funded by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ Professional Fellows Program, will inject Pakistani, Indian, Nepali and Kazakhstani mid-level emerging leaders in small or start-up business ventures, business administration, government, NGOs, business education, incubation hubs, community training programs or social entrepreneurship into working small businesses in Oklahoma and associate them with one of America’s leading universities.

The program aims to provide professional experience and training that will nurture participants’ talent and prepare them for more responsible leadership positions in their businesses, communities and society in general as they return to their countries. In addition, the program will provide U.S.-based small business stakeholders an opportunity to collaborate with their Pakistani, Indian, Nepali and Kazakhstani counterparts as they participate in a two-week outbound exchange to the respective countries in Summer 2018.

Successful applicants will be placed in professional fellowship placements with Oklahoman small businesses. The first round of placements will be in April-June, 2018 and participants will spend four weeks with these businesses. The first week of the program will be spent at both the professional placements and on the University of Oklahoma campus where participants will participate in lectures, discussions and practical sessions focused on the role of entrepreneurship, economic empowerment and small business in society, the importance of budgeting, business plans, strategic communication, leadership and management principles, social media developments, the business/government interface and business ethics. The final week of the program will be spent in Washington, D.C. where participants will potentially visit their respective embassies and tour some of the cultural activities the city has to offer. Participants will also, before leaving for their home countries, participate in a three-day professional fellows conference with participants in professional exchanges programs from around the world.

Participants selected for the program will be mid-level emerging leaders in small or start-up business ventures, business administration, government, NGOs, business education, incubation hubs, community training programs or social entrepreneurship in Pakistan, India, Nepal and Kazakhstan with an interest in shaping the small business, entrepreneurship and economic empowerment landscapes of their countries and beyond.

Through this program, participants will specifically:

  • Be exposed to the day-to-day workings of the U.S. business workplace through quality professional experiences of four weeks;
  • Gain exposure to a variety of American business organizations and networks in Oklahoma and Washington, D.C.;
  • Get a conceptual and practical background for integrating themselves into the American business environment through conceptual lectures, discussions and exercises to expose them to concepts related to budgeting, business plans, strategic communication, leadership and management principles, social media developments, the business/government interface, intellectual property, contracts and business ethics;
  • Enhance their leadership skills to facilitate positive change in their workplaces and communities as they develop personally and professionally;
  • Participate in weekly face-to-face feedback sessions with University of Oklahoma faculty to reflect on their professional experiences for that week;
  • Be exposed to a variety of business networks in Oklahoma designed to support start-up companies and to governmental/media institutions that can influence business;
  • Be exposed to rich cultural experiences that represent Oklahoma’s unique environment especially the Native American experience, and exposure to American family life in a variety of settings;
  • Become acquainted with the Pakistani-American, Indian-American, Nepali-American and Kazakhstani-American communities in the Oklahoma City metro area;
  • Be exposed to networking opportunities with U.S. placement hosts and partner organizations in an ongoing discussion and exchange of ideas, support and resources;
  • Get connected to a network of alumni from previous professional exchanges programs, professional placement providers and university faculty to facilitate ongoing discussion and exchange through social networking; and
  • Have the opportunity to reconnect with Oklahoma stakeholders who will make reciprocal visits to Pakistan, India, Nepal and Kazakhstan.

Interested applicants must adhere to the following requirements to be eligible to apply:

  • Be emerging leaders in either government, civil society or the private sector in Pakistan/India/Nepal/Kazakhstan who have demonstrated expertise in economic empowerment and entrepreneurial/small business development in the respective countries;
  • Have relevant experience and expertise in the small business/entrepreneurship/economic empowerment profession;
  • Be either a Pakistani, Indian, Nepali or Kazakhstani citizen;
  • Be interested in experiencing hands-on the activities in a U.S. business or economic empowerment organization;
  • Be committed to the importance of a sustainable and empowering business sector in a democracy;
  • Be proficient in written and spoken English as the entire exchange program and professional placements will be conducted in English;
  • Be computer-literate;
  • Be between the ages of 25 and 40.
Are you interested in applying for this program? Fill out the online application form here.

Application Deadline: December 15, 2017

Note: The grantee organization and its partner organizations will review applications from the first week of January 2018 onward and set up in-person interviews with a shortlist of candidates in the respective countries in January 2018.

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