The last semester of my senior year at college, I was staring down the barrel of what seemed like years upon years of graduate school. At the time, with my senior thesis dragging on, and given the fact that I’d been in school continuously since kindergarten, the prospect didn’t seem all that appealing. Hence one fine January morning found me procrastinating at my desk, trolling around the Internet for things to do after graduation, until I happened upon the application for the First Things junior fellowship.
I applied , not thinking that I had much of a chance at it. I’d been an avid reader of First Things since high school, and the prospect of spending a year writing and working in Manhattan with the editors and writers I’d long admired seemed like the perfect post-college job. Somewhat miraculously, I got a call from Jody Bottum not long afterward, offering me the spot. I took it, and it turned out to be just the job I’d been hoping for.
For one thing, it’s the chance to learn from and work with the folks you read each monthFather Neuhaus, Jody Bottum, R.R. Reno, and regular contributors such as Cardinal Dulles, George Weigel, Robert Louis Wilken, Father Edward Oakes, Robert George, David B. Hart, and Mary Ann Glendon. Lots of those folks will show up now and again for Saturday dinners with Father Neuhaus, as well as for conferences such as Evangelicals and Catholics Together, the Dulles Colloquium, and the
Erasmus Lecture. I can’t overstate how much I’ve learned from conversations with these people.
You’ll also get the chance to become a regular contributor to the magazine and website. I’ve written quite a few pieces for the website and a couple for the magazine , and I definitely plan to continue as long as they’ll let me. In the process, your writing will be shaped and improved by the First Things editors. It’s an invaluable opportunityand believe me, it beats the heck out of writing term papers.
In short, I now look back on my year at First Things as a tremendous privilege. The education I received there was just as valuable as anything I’ve gotten from college or grad school (probably more valuable, in fact), and what’s more, it was a lot of fun. If you’re anything like mea young prospective writer and wannabe academicyou ought to jump at the chance, like I did. So what are you waiting for? Apply to be a First Things junior fellow today .