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Fellowship Program {Pilot}


The fellowship program is a career-development opportunity designed to attract individuals interested in a pursuing a career in local government. Upon successful completion of the program, fellows will be optimally positioned to be considered for placement in a full-time role consistent with the priorities needs and openings in the organization at the time. This initiative supports the County Manager’s commitment to enhancing Gaston County’s succession planning efforts and the continuous improvement work to support a culture of innovation and performance.  The program is modeled after the ICMA local government fellowship program.

Candidates are selected based on initiative, motivation, academic performance, demonstrated leadership potential, and customer service mindset, commitment to public service, communication skills, and positive attitude. Fellowship appointments are for up to 12 months, consisting of 6 month appointments with a renewable option for an additional 6 months. Assignments are determined based on county priorities and needs, workload demands, and project opportunities within departments where the utilization of a fellow can be most advantageous for both the county and the fellow. During the fellowship period, fellows will receive direct mentorship from a senior leader in the Gaston County organization.

Program Content and Design

  • Program Orientation
  • Education and on the job training
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Networking
  • Check-ins and performance evaluation

Optional Tracks

Each applicant will be asked to choose an education track on their application to help assure they gain the skills and experience they desire during their fellowship. Applicants will have the option to select a generalized Administrative track or a technical Operations track. Descriptions of each track are below.

Administrative Track

The Administrative track is designed to provide Fellows with an opportunity to learn, experience, and practice skills associated with the administration of local government functions. Under the mentorship and guidance of department directors and managers, the Fellows will be provided the following.

  1. The ability to work and assume administrative leadership experience while working under the mentorship of departmental leadership.
  2. Education on local government functions, authority, policies and processes.
  3. Proficiencies in leading an organization, leading self and leading others.
  4. Knowledge of organizational dynamics from working with managers in various levels of the organization.

Operations Track

The Operations track is designed to provide Fellows with hands on training in a variety of job functions within a certain department to develop technical skills associated with department operations.  Skills can be developed through a variety of pathways including but not limited to job shadowing, on the job training, mentorship, and classroom training. The operations track will provide Fellows with:

  1. Hands on experience working in a variety of areas in a department to gain valuable skills and prepare the fellow for a successful career in their chosen career field.
  2. Opportunities to work collaboratively with departmental leadership to identify and develop projects to address the operational needs of the department.
  3. Knowledge of organizational dynamics from working with managers in various levels of the organization.
  4. Opportunities to develop team work and leadership skills.

Selection Criteria

Gaston County intends to recruit individuals who are passionate about working in local government, dedicated to improving their communities, and who are intrinsically motivated to serve. In order to create competitive talent pools, Gaston County will be offering 2 external and 2 internal Fellowship opportunities per Fellowship cycle (6 months).

Essential Skills

  • Highly motivated with a desire to learn
  • Strong communication skills
  • Ability to work well in teams
  • Problem-solving skills

Minimum Qualifications

Education: An undergraduate degree is required. Master’s degree is preferred and fellows are encouraged to seek academic credit for the program if desired.


  • Be legally able to work in the United States.
  • Undergo a criminal background check and drug screening prior to participation in the program.
  • External candidates must be able to devote 20-40/hrs. a week for the duration of the program.
  • Internal applicants will need to be able to devote up to 40 hours a week for the duration of the program. They will have to work with their director in regards to their schedule to assure their normal job duties are able to be completed.

Application Process 

Anyone interested in participating in the Gaston County Fellowship Program will be required to submit an application, along with supporting documents (see application). Applications will be accepted twice a year. Fellowships will be granted based on department availability and capacity to manage the fellow.

Gaston County Fellowship Application

Applications must be submitted to Gaston County Human Resources. You can submit applications via email at or mail applications attention Joseph Shepherd 128 West Main Ave. PO Box 1578 Gastonia, NC 28053

Program Expectations

Fellows will commit to at least one 6 month cycle, with a renewable appointment option for a second 6 month cycle. At the end of the first cycle, a decision will be made to either renew the Fellowship for an additional 6 months, or seek out another Fellow. Decisions will be discussed between the Department Director, Fellow, Managers and Human Resources.

Fellows will be responsible for performing the duties of the position, as outlined by their supervisor, at a satisfactory level throughout the course of the Fellowship. At the conclusion of the Fellowship, each Fellow will be responsible for making a presentation summarizing their Fellowship experience, describing what was learned, accomplishments made, and how their Fellowship has touched the community, contributed to the County’s strategic objectives or impacted our citizens.

Contact Information

If you have questions or need assistance with the fellowship application please contact Joseph Shepherd at 704-866-3093 or