Applying for If/When/How’s Repro Justice Fellowship Program: Just Do It!

By Mashayla Hays, Esq., If/When/How Repro Justice Fellow at New Voices/Women’s Law Project

Mashayla Hays

One of the many challenges third-year law students face during their last year of law school (as if the bar exam isn’t enough) is job hunting. It’s stressful, but this is the moment when everything comes together – you’re choosing how to start your official journey as a lawyer. However, like most students, I wasn’t quite sure what that was; not to mention most law schools stress that grades are the predictor of how good of a job you’re going to get after graduation. Like I said – stressful.

During my law school career, I took on every job opportunity I could, but once it came time to apply for jobs, I realized I had a lot of different experiences that did not necessarily help me narrow down my job search. Finally, I stumbled across the If/When/How Fellowship job posting online, and although I felt I had no policy experience, there were three main reasons that I forged ahead to apply anyway.

First, the Fellowship gave me a chance to use both my law degree and bachelor’s degree in Pan-African Studies at the same time, which is hard to find. Second, submitting my transcripts was optional, because If/When/How understands that grades are not a predictor of how great of a lawyer you are and are going to be. And, third, the Fellowship would give me the opportunity to learn skills and attend advocacy trainings to help me bring change to the communities I serve, and which I’m a part of.

You have the compassion to make a difference in the world.

Already, the If/When/How Reproductive Justice Fellowship has given me the space and support to explore both litigation and J.D.-preferred job options. Although it’s only been a month since I started my fellowship in Pittsburgh, splitting time between the Women’s Law Project and New Voices for Reproductive Justice, I’ve helped teach girls about sexual harassment in schools and helped build a student campaign addressing sexual harassment in schools, completed legislative visits in D.C. to advocate for progressive legislation around black women and girls’ reproductive health, attended the In Our Own Voice conference to learn about the Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda and strength in voting, and have helped submit five conference proposals all around the United States to help teach others of the importance of intersectionality and applying the reproductive justice lens to movement work, centering women and girls of color. While I already had experience doing some of these things, every day I have the opportunity to learn something new and strengthen skills I’m building along the way.

If you’re looking at the If/When/How Fellowship application and wondering if you should apply, the answer is yes! Yes, because you have enough experience to do this work no matter how great you were at law school, yes because you have the compassion to make a difference in the world, and yes because you deserve to put your name in the bucket to experience this amazing opportunity just like me!

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