Literary Programs Gap Year/Postgrad Fellowship Program 2023-24

PEN America, a nonprofit organization working at the intersection of literature and human rights, offers a unique learning opportunity for individuals who are passionate about human rights, free speech, and creative expression, and interested in how the nonprofit sector works, specifically in the area of literary and arts public programming, writing workshops and fellowships, and literary awards. This fellowship opportunity will require a commitment of nine months and will provide a stipend of $5,000 dispersed in installments, contingent on the completion of the program. It is ideal for a student seeking to take a “gap year” either post grad, between studies, or pausing undergraduate or graduate school for the 2023-24 academic year.

Our fellowship program will operate from our headquarters in New York City. The fellowship will offer the opportunity for in-person participation, dependent upon applicable health and safety considerations. Applicants needing a fully virtual arrangement are also welcome to apply and should indicate this requirement in their application. Fellows will be welcomed as members of their assigned team and participate fully in the community of PEN America, including departmental and all staff meetings, professional development offerings, and social opportunities.

This fellowship offers opportunities across the breadth of PEN America’s literary programming, including its World Voices Festival, PEN Out Loud and other public events series, the PEN America Literary Awards and the Emerging Voices Fellowship and other support programs. Fellows will have opportunities to interact with writers and the literary community as well as learn about developing and producing public events virtually and in person.

Fellows who work on our literary programs will gain exposure to the country’s vibrant cultural landscape through program development and regular communication with PEN America’s literary affiliates. They will receive hands-on administrative experience and learn the operational details of executing literary programs. Additionally, fellows are encouraged to attend and volunteer for PEN America’s public programs and events.

Candidates with diverse backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply. Additionally, candidates who would be balancing the fellowship (in place of school) along with outside employment are also encouraged to apply and should indicate this in their application for special consideration regarding schedule flexibility.


  • Assist team with providing research for the curation and production of 2024 programs
  • Devise systems for analyzing and archiving data around past ticket buyers, participant demographics, and events
  • Monitor the department’s public-facing email accounts and help respond to general queries
  • Communicate with publishers, literary agents, editors, writers, and translators about literary programs and PEN America’s work at large
  • Contribute to the department’s online presence on social media, including drafting social media text and graphics for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
  • Design marketing collateral, such as postcards, flyers, and social media assets
  • Provide essential administrative support during the literary awards submissions, judging, and ceremony production periods
  • Research target audiences and partners who can help generate audiences for year-round public programming, Literary Awards, the World Voices Festival, and fellowships and writing workshops
  • Research new opportunities for program development based on innovations, fundraising prospects, and more from related nonprofits, awards programs, and book festivals
  • Assist with administering writing programs and fellowships, including communication with students/fellows, processing stipend disbursements and finances, and assisting with special events


  • Ability to clearly identify their personal goals for the program and what they hope to gain from the fellowship
  • Ability to demonstrate skills and abilities and to provide references to support this
  • Strong attention to detail, organization, and accuracy of research
  • Efficacious communication skills across multiple platforms (email, phone, etc.)
  • Ability to multitask and organize multiple projects at once
  • A creative, open mind, eager to solve problems and discover new alternatives
  • Concrete experience in strategizing social media to promote events and outreach
  • Meaningful exposure to the G Suite, especially Docs, Sheets, and Forms, though skill-building will be part of the program
  • Although not required, lived experience as a member of one or more of the communities served by our writing workshops is a plus for supporting our writers as they build power from within their own communities
  • Passion for inspiring and building communities around a shared love of literature—and a conviction in fostering cross-cultural competence through books—are essential
  • Bilingual writing and speaking abilities in Spanish are also a plus
  • Experience in graphic design and using content management systems (e.g., Canva, WordPress, and Adobe Suite) preferred but not required
  • Experience with audio and video editing preferred but not required
  • Experience with Airtable and/or Asana preferred but not required


  • Must be able to provide proof of authorization to work in the United States
  • Must be able to provide proof of enrollment or acceptance into an academic program of study for the academic year of 2023-24 or 2024-25, or prepare a document that explains their academic history with academic plans or postgrad aspirations (if recently graduated)
  • Must commit to 24–35 hours, and four or five days per week, within normal weekday business hours for 9–10 months


  • A resume or CV, one to two pages maximum
  • A cover letter indicating your interest in the fellowship, how the fellowship will support future plans or current studies/projects, and the skills you would bring to the fellowship
  • A separate short statement explaining your academic status and why a gap year is planned
  • A work sample that demonstrates your proficiency as a writer, researcher, advocate, or communicator, preferably with applicability to PEN America’s work (five pages maximum)

The above must be sent via email to [email protected] with a subject line that includes “Gap Year Fellowship,” the department you are interested in, and your first and last name (for example, “Gap Year Fellowship – Literary Programs – Jane Doe”).

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the positions are filled. 

PEN America is an equal opportunity employer that does not discriminate in its hiring practices, and in order to build the strongest possible workforce, actively seeks a diverse applicant pool.

No phone calls, please. 

About PEN America:

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.