FAQs for Graduate Students

Who is eligible to apply?

The CONNECT program is open to any graduate student currently enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin.

What is the difference between a CONNECT Fellow and an intern? 

CONNECT Fellows are specialized consultants for community organizations. They have expertise in data evaluation and measurement, produce specific deliverables and work tied to an agreed upon scope of work, and provide services on a limited time basis (typically 12 - 16 weeks, unless a project spans multiple semesters). CONNECT Fellows are always awarded a fellowship to recognize their participation in the program and can also receive academic credit as well, on occasion. 

Interns act as temporary staff members of an organization and are (usually) much more embedded within an organization than a CONNECT Fellow. They often perform a variety of tasks throughout their time with an organization. Typically, they receive on-the-job training that is often tied to their career goal(s) or area of study and as a result, benefit from regular guidance and/or coaching from the organization they are placed with. Interns often receive academic credit for fulfilling an internship requirement. Internships are commonly viewed as learn-first opportunities and are not always compensated. 

For a more detailed explanation about the difference between a CONNECT Fellow and an intern, click here.

When can I apply to be matched with a project?

Three project cohorts occur each year - Fall, Spring, and Summer - each concurrent (for the most part) with the academic semesters. The application window opens up a few months prior to each matching opportunity. See below for upcoming opportunities to submit your application:

- Fall 2023: August 1 - 25

- Spring 2024: November 6 - December 1

- Summer 2024: March 11 - April 5

What is the timeline for a typical project engagement?

Use the following links to view timeline details for current and upcoming project cohorts: Summer 2023Fall 2023, Spring 2024 and Summer 2024.

Can I fulfill an internship requirement through CONNECT?

The CONNECT program does not take responsibility for specifically sourcing project opportunities that will fulfill internship requirements. If you would like to utilize a CONNECT project to fulfill an internship requirement, it is your responsibility to get the project approved by your graduate advisor as your internship requirement.

Can I fulfill the individual policy analysis project requirement for the Dean’s Certificate in Data Science and Policy Analysis? 

The CONNECT program does not take responsibility for specifically sourcing project opportunities that will fulfill the DSPA certificate project requirement; however, if you indicate that you are interested in fulfilling this requirement and are matched with a project that meets all four of the DSPA criteria, the CONNECT team will work with you accordingly. It is your responsibility to secure the CONNECT director’s approval for the project and to submit a write-up summarizing the project with the final DSPA certificate application. The DSPA certificate is available to any current, UT graduate student. For more information, please visit the LBJ School Dean’s Certificate Program webpage.

Does CONNECT appear on my official academic transcript?

Yes. If matched to a project, CONNET Fellows will automatically be enrolled in EXP 080, a zero-credit hour internship and career experience course administered by Texas Career Engagement through Canvas, and required to complete a pre- and post- experience survey. Although this course will appear on your official academic transcript, it will not impact your tuition and fee bill, or affect CPT/OPT available to international students. Registering for this course makes you eligible to receive a CONNECT program fellowship from the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service. For additional information on EXP 080, please click here.

EXCEPTION: Students in an Option III program will not be enrolled into EXP 080. Students in Option III programs do not receive formula-funding and per University policy, courses in non-formula funded programs (such as EXP 080) cannot mix with formula-funded courses or courses eligible to receive formula funding.These students will still be eligible to recieve a CONNECT fellowship if matched to a project.

How does the matching process work?

Step 1: Organizations submit their project requests via an online form.

Step 2: Students tell us about themselves via a short, online form. The form generally takes between 5 - 10 minutes to complete.

Step 3: Matches are then determined based on project requirements and students’ availability, skillset, experience, and interests.

Step 4: Contingency notifications are sent out via email to all students who have matched with a project. The purpose of the contingency notification is to verify that each matched student is still interested and able to work on the project them have been matched to. Students have a short window to respond to the contingency match notification - either accepting or denying the match.

Step 5: Organization notifications are sent out via email to all matched organizations. Organizations receive information on the student they have been matched to and have the choice to accept or deny their match.

Step 6: Official match notifications are then sent out to the students who both accepted their contingency match and were accepted by their match organization. CONNECT then begins coordinating the initial project kick-off meeting at this time.

What does a typical project look like?

To view summaries for past projects, visit the project library. To date, most projects have taken 3 - 4 months (about a semester), have typically been accomplished within 5 -10 hours of per week,  and have allowed for the ability to work remotely.

Is this a funded opportunity?

Yes! CONNECT fellowships are issued to all participating students to recognize program participation. For additional information regarding CONNECT fellowships, please reach out to alyssa.studer@austin.utexas.edu. 

Please note:

Funds disbursed to students are applied to bars and outstanding cash and tuition loans (whether they are currently due or not) because these are considered demand notes.  For students with financial aid that includes cash and tuition loans, the funds from the CONNECT fellowship may be applied toward these loans, rather than received as cash. 

Please be aware that there is a mandatory 14 percent tax withholding on any scholarship/fellowship payment to a nonresident, including students.

If you have questions about how receiving your CONNECT research fellowship could affect your financial aid, please contact Texas One Stop at 512-232-6988 or onestop@utexas.edu. Remember to include your UT EID in correspondence.

If you have not received CONNECT research fellowship funds as expected, you may wish to contact Scholarship and Fellowship Services at scholarshipservices@austin.utexas.edu. Remember to include your UT EID in correspondence.

Will I be working by myself on a project or with a partner/in a group?

Most CONNECT projects are scoped to be worked on by just one individual. Occasionally, under special circumstances, two students are matched with the same project to work as a team. You will be notified if this circumstance applies to your project.

Am I eligible to participate in the CONNECT program if I am also working as a Teaching Assistant/Graduate Research Assistant?

Yes - Participation in the CONNECT program is voluntary and the project-related fellowship does not have any impact on student employment opportunities. Please be aware that the fellowship is considered taxable income and may affect your personal tax reporting situation and financial aid. For additional resources on this matter, please see Tax Considerations for Graduate Students, including the Tax Seminar presentation materials.