Human capital is the biggest asset of each and every think tank. In securing reliable and high-quality researchers, think tanks compete with much more powerful competitors, i.e. governments, state agencies, private companies, banks, and consulting companies. The region’s think tanks, therefore, have to devise special motivation strategies to retain existing staff and attract new talented individuals to opt for this career. Despite being present in the public life, think tanks constitute a small part of civil society and are often not the first choice to fresh graduates who are interested in embarking on research/policy careers.
With this initiative the Think Tank Fund aims at supporting up to 15 “returnees” per year to assume posts in think tanks interested in attracting young staff. With these activities, we hope to help young and talented people enter the region’s think tanks, provide additional capacity building with talented returnees getting engaged in policy-relevant research, analysis, and advocacy under the guidance of experienced staff, and assist think tanks in recruiting new talent into their ranks.
The Think Tank Young Professional Development Program intends to attract recent graduates of MA and PhD programs in the social sciences and humanities to selected think tanks in Central and Eastern Europe, South Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, giving them an opportunity to gain first-hand policy research and advocacy experience at a renowned think tank in the region. The program is designed to benefit both young returning professionals and their host organizations. It enables participating think tanks to recruit young researchers originally from the region who recently graduated from universities in the OECD countries, including the Central European University in Hungary. Depending on a research topic, individual programs at hosting organizations will last up to six months and start from December 2013.
Eligible candidates must fulfill ALL of the following four requirements:
- Have graduated in the past three years with a PhD, LLM, or MA degree in the social sciences and humanities from universities in the OECD countries.
- Be a citizen or permanent resident of the countries in Central and Eastern Europe, the Western Balkans, South Caucasus, and Central Asia listed in the call.
- Applicants should be between 23 and 35 years of age at the time of application.
- Applicants must be fluent in written and spoken English and the working language of the host organization.
After the selection process, the Think Tank Fund expects accepted young professionals to assume a full-time position in one of the region’s think tanks (most likely in their home country, or a country where they would like to resume their career and are able to justify this decision) for a period of up to six months. These individuals will reside in the hosting organization’s country for the entire duration of the program, work full-time at the hosting think tank’s offices, and will become a part of the organization (this commitment resembles a full-time paid internship). Throughout this period, the young professionals are expected to engage in ongoing policy research projects and develop concrete policy products in agreement with the hosting organization. The policy product(s) can be one or more of the following:
- A full research or baseline study (young researchers are expected to formulate clear tangible outcomes at the end of the study/survey);
- Policy papers, briefs, or newsletters;
- An organized event or conference (young researchers should contribute to thematic development of an event organized within the program term);
- Any other policy-related product or activity that benefits both the individual and the hosting organization (e.g. designing and hosting policy blogs).
Given that the young professionals would be part of the think tank for an extended period, we would expect them to be engaged in more than one project and, if feasible, in preparation of several policy products.
Their work will be guided by senior policy staff or the hosting think tank director who will be considered the mentor. The Think Tank Fund would encourage both the young professional and the hosting organization to use these six months to fundraise for other funds and, if possible, make the position permanent. All young professionals engaged in this program should produce the outputs stipulated in the position’s description. A fully successful engagement of young returning professionals would ideally result in retaining the person on staff. Upon completion of the six months, the Think Tank Fund expects a final report from both the young professional and the hosting think tank.
For further information and guidance, please download the full call for proposals and the host organization application template attached to this page.