As some of you may have noticed, we are accepting applications for junior fellows at First Things. Young writers and scholars who are thinking of applying might wonder what’s it like to be a junior fellow. Do you do it for the power, the popularity, or the bling? An answer to the question requires an elaboration on the job itself.
I think of the junior fellowship as having three parts. The first involves doing what needs to be done around the office: helping to format the archives, running errands, managing book reviews, managing the website, answering the magazine’s primary e-mail account, etc. These jobs are divided up among the fellows and assistant editors.
The second involves lots of reading. We all keep our eyes on articles in the news, in other magazines and journals. We also read the articles that are being considered for publication, and we participate in the editorial meetings where the content of the magazine is decided. Once the magazine is laid out, we proofread the issue before publication.
The third part of the job involves writing, primarily for First Things but also for other publications. This year, we fellows have written a few essays that appeared on the website, as well as posts for our daily blog. Now, five months into our time here, we have small book reviews in the magazine and are hoping to publish full-length reviews soon.
That is what our job in the office entails. The junior staff, Fr. Neuhaus, and a Lutheran pastor all live in single apartments in a townhouse. We have community evening prayer every night at 7 PM and community dinner on Saturday evenings. Attendance at these is expected unless you have another commitment, but there are no problems when these other commitments come up. In the community, we help keep the house clean, take out the trash, do odd jobs etc. We also do not pay rent or utilities and, as I said, have one-bedroom apartments in Manhattan, which is an excellent deal. On top of this, we receive a modest stipend.
So why be a junior fellow? Excellent accommodations, good people to live and work with, meeting interesting people at events and lectures, having the artistic and religious life of New York at your fingertips, and a life of reading and writing to make a difference in the church and the world. That’s more than enough to keep a twenty-something happy for a year or two.