The AJI Experience,
According to Current Fellows

Tara Kavaler, Reporter & AJI Fellow (Photo: Tracey Salazar @tsalazar)

Tara Kavaler
2023-2025 AJI Fellow

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity I have been given at AJI. I have been able to take master classes with star reporters. Prior to starting the fellowship, I had been a journalist for five years, but I never went to journalism school. AJI has given me the space to work backwards, to take my experience as reporter and apply what I have been taught here, in order to become an even better reporter. AJI has editors and faculty who have invested so much time in me individually, something that editors in big newsrooms simply do not have the capacity to do. AJI has done everything it can possibly do to help me succeed.

Claire Heddles, Reporter & AJI Fellow (Photo: Tracey Salazar @tsalazar)

Claire Heddles
2023-2025 AJI Fellow

I’ve really appreciated that the AJI fellowship is truly reporting-focused. The fellows are not at the bottom of a huge newsroom doing background work and hoping to get a byline; instead we’re building our own beats, sourcing and doing the actual work of reporting — but with a lot of intentional support. There is always either an editor, mentor or staffer checking in on how I’m feeling, and they’re genuinely invested in both my personal and professional success.

There have also been so many lovely, successful reporters who have taken us behind the curtain of how they work: explaining how to get scoops, how to navigate newsrooms and ethical dilemmas, how to build trust with sources, etc. — which has helped me sharpen my work. The AJI fellowship has been a kind of career reset, giving me time and space to think through what kind of reporter I want to be in the world, and linking me to mentors and editors that can help me reach that goal.

Ben Mause, Reporter & AJI Fellow (Photo: Tracey Salazar @tsalazar)

Ben T.N. Mause
2023-2025 AJI Fellow

After college, formal learning disappears. And that makes AJI special. It is a chance to be sharpened by journalists at the top of the game — an open door to excellence for any who get accepted. The staff sincerely care, and each carry a wealth of experience. To sit down with Tim Alberta and discuss covering Capitol Hill is pretty sweet. Ultimately, it’s an incredible opportunity for anyone — and you get paid to be part of it.

Calen Razor, Reporter & AJI Fellow (Photo: Tracey Salazar @tsalazar)

Calen Razor
2023-2025 AJI Fellow

I recommend this program to those early career journalists who are balancing their reporting aspirations with the reality of the job market and development opportunities. I know, for myself, there wasn’t a clear path forward in entering the field even after getting a bachelor’s. More than anything, AJI offered me the comfort of being able to focus solely on the craft of reporting without the uncertainties of other reporting jobs.

That’s mainly due to the structure of the fellowship. It kicks off with a bootcamp made up of a series of classes meant to prepare you for reporting on the Hill. My overall knowledge of Congress and the way reporting works in Washington has increased more than I can say. Come to the fellowship if you’re serious about wanting to get better and finding a “way in,” but also be comforted by the fact that there are great journalists on staff who are willing to (and want to) teach you the ins and outs before you jump into it.

Katherine Swartz, Reporter & AJI Fellow (Photo: Tracey Salazar @tsalazar)

John T. Seward
2023-2025 AJI Fellow

I don’t know of another opportunity like this to meet and learn from so many prominent and amazing journalists. We’ve had multiple Pulitzer winners, White House press and some of the most capable journalists in Washington come to teach and talk with the fellows.

As someone who joined the journalism field and community later in life, this is such an awesome opportunity. It isn’t purely academic either. These journalists are spending hours at a time, digging at some of the core tenets and skills of journalism with us while actively participating in the craft as professionals. Truly unique.