Professional Development Experiences

2022 Anael Bodwell of Seychelles visits the county sheriff during her PDE in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Professional Development Experiences (PDEs) offer enriching opportunities for U.S. organizations and communities to participate in a collaborative exchange by hosting young African professionals for substantive work experiences that explore issues and workplace culture from U.S. and African perspectives. Both Fellows and Hosts benefit from discussing shared issues and challenges in their sectors, broadening their perspectives, and positioning U.S. organizations for international engagement. From 2014 to 2022, Fellows completed 155,000 hours of professional training at nearly 400 companies, organizations, and government agencies in 33 states and the District of Columbia. 

Map of the United States; states are filled in blue if they have hosted an in-person or virtual PDE
Since 2014, companies, organizations, and government agencies in 33 states and the District of Columbia have hosted Professional Development Experiences.

PDEs provide U.S. companies, non-profits, and government agencies with a unique opportunity to gain a global perspective on their work while offering a tailored experience to an accomplished young professional looking to share their expertise, hone transferable skills, and forge lasting professional relationships with their American counterparts. Mandela Washington Fellows are motivated to take their careers to the next level and share knowledge with their American peers and other future leaders across Africa.

2019 Fellows Lemnoute El Hacen and Annie Chipeta speak at a panel discussion event on Capitol Hill during their Professional Development Experience.
2019 Fellowship Alumnae Lemnoute El Hacen and Annie Chipeta speak at an event on Capitol Hill.

PDEs are offered two times per year (approximate annual timeframes):

Summer Session: July – September (4 weeks)

After the completion of their Leadership Institutes and Summit, up to 100 Fellows are competitively selected to remain in the United States for an additional four-week substantive work experience with a private, public, or nonprofit organization. Fellows should expect to spend 35-40 hours per week supporting and collaborating with their Host Organization, learning transferable skills in the U.S. context.

Winter/Spring Session: January – March (6 weeks)

Fellowship Alumni who have not previously participated in a PDE may apply for a six-week opportunity to further hone their professional skills and connect with U.S. professionals working in their industries through a flexible, accessible, and robust virtual placement. Participants should expect to commit an average of approximately 10-15 hours per week to the PDE.

Learn more about hosting a PDE.

2023 Professional Development Experience Hosts

2019 Fellow Aboubaker Tourab poses in front of Atlanta Habitat for Humanity, where he completed his Professional Development Experience.
2019 Fellowship Alumnus Aboubaker Tourab completed his PDE at Atlanta Habitat for Humanity.