Young Leaders FAQs

Application Instructions

How can I apply to the Young Leaders Program?
Complete the online application and upload the required documents:

  • Cover Letter (no more than 1 page)
  • Resume or Academic CV (please limit resumes to 1 page and CVs to 3 pages)
  • Academic or Policy Writing sample (no more than 3 pages)
  • Letters of Recommendation or Recommender Information (letters may be directly uploaded or sent to youngleaders@pacforum.org before the application deadline)

What are the deadlines to apply to the Young Leaders Program?
The admissions committee convenes once in the Spring and once in the Fall to review applications received by the following deadlines: 11:59 pm on April 30 and 11:59 pm October 31. All listed dates and times are in Hawaii Standard Time (HST).

In the Spring: applications submitted between November 1 and April 30 will be reviewed and receive a decision no later than May 31.

In the Fall: applications submitted between May 1 and October 31 will receive a decision by November 30.

Applicants will be notified if their application has been accepted or declined via email.

What should I submit for the writing sample?
The selection committee uses the writing sample to gauge an applicant’s ability to write clearly and concisely, make cogent and logical arguments in English, and the applicant’s knowledge of Indo-Pacific international affairs. Applicants must submit an original piece of writing that is no more than 3 pages, single-spaced, with reasonably sized text and margins.

Past academic papers, memos, and policy briefs are acceptable. A condensed version of a longer paper which summarizes the main argument and draws a conclusion(s) is acceptable. A section of a longer paper which contains the main argument and draws a conclusion(s) is acceptable. Previously published articles within the page limit are acceptable. A more recently authored writing sample is better than one which is more than several years old.

Submitting a writing sample longer than 3 pages, a full-length thesis, dissertation, or monograph, legislative bills, technical manuscripts, or writing that is found to be plagiarized will result in the application being declined.

Who should I ask to write my Letter of Recommendation?
Please select a recommender who is familiar with your academic and/or professional work related to Indo-Pacific international affairs. The more thoroughly a recommender can provide details on your qualifications, the more the letter will bolster your application. Please consider selecting a recommender who can speak to your recent work, rather than reference work that is more than several years old.

If my application is declined, can I reapply?
Yes. If your application is declined, you are welcome to reapply after one year has passed.

For example, if you apply for the April 2022 intake and are declined, you are eligible to apply again for the April 2023 deadline. If your application is declined and you apply before a year has passed, your application will be automatically declined once again.

Is there an interview during the application process?
No. Due to the high volume of applications that we receive, we do not interview applicants individually.


Participating in the Program

Who would benefit most from participating in the Young Leaders Program?
Those best suited to participate in the Young Leaders Program are in the beginning stages of their career in international affairs. They have received a bachelor’s degree and have several years of relevant professional experience in Indo-Pacific security issues, or have completed / are in the process of completing a master’s or PhD degree in a relevant field of study.

The ideal age range is from 25-35, but there is flexibility on the low-end based on the applicant’s demonstrated level of experience. Additionally, those with a desire to broaden their knowledge base, expand their professional network, and strengthen relations between nations are strongly encouraged to apply.

What is the time commitment to be a Young Leader?
You can be as involved as your time permits. Conferences (including travel) are usually 3-5 days and occur as many as 20 times per year. However, while there are 20 opportunities to attend meetings, most Young Leaders do not attend more than one or two annually. There is no maximum or minimum number you can attend. We encourage you to apply to as many meetings as you feel you would benefit from and be able to contribute to.

How do Young Leaders apply to attend conferences?
Event applications normally open 1-3 months in advance and are announced on the private Young Leaders LinkedIn group and in the Young Leaders Newsletter. Depending on the type of opportunity, Young Leaders may be shortlisted and contacted directly about applying to participate in an event. Generally, if a Young Leader is interested in attending a meeting, they will need to access the event application form provided for a given opportunity and submit their application before the stated due date.

*Note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, international travel and in-person conference/event opportunities have been severely restricted. Opportunities for Young Leaders to travel and engage in-person through the program will once again become available as conditions permit and opportunities arise. (April 2022)

What criteria are considered in selecting Young Leaders to attend events?
Yong Leaders are invited to attend Pacific Forum events based on the following considerations:

  • Previous attendance at Pacific Forum events (we try to give all Young Leaders the opportunity to attend a conference)
  • Performance at previously attended events (including if you demonstrated professionalism throughout, made meaningful contributions to the dialogue, met established deadlines, and worked well with others)
  • Provision of partial or full funding from your university, organization, or yourself to cover attendance costs (airfare, accommodations, ground transportation, conference fees, meals)
  • Achieving a balanced representation of gender, nationalities, and academic/professional experience in each delegation

What is expected of Young Leaders at conferences?
Young Leaders are expected to hold themselves to the highest caliber of professionalism, founded in universal principle of respect for all individuals regardless of race, nationality, gender, age, sexual orientation, or personal history. Given the international nature of our work, we expect Young Leaders to possess heightened sensitivities to cultural and language barriers and conduct themselves in the interest of advancing international cooperation.

  • Full participation. Young Leaders are expected to fully participate in all scheduled activities and conference projects as assigned. Outside of scheduled sessions, Young Leader Program agendas can include breakfast meetings, roundtable discussions with experts, and full-day cultural/educational tours.
  • Advanced preparation. A reading list will be provided to you in advance of the meeting. You are expected to complete these readings prior to your arrival.
  • Active and meaningful participation during discussions. You are invited to a conference not only because you have relevant experiences and interests, but also because you have a background that indicates you can make a valuable contribution. You are expected to contribute via questions and/or comments that serve to benefit the group’s collective learning experience, without seeking to dominate group discussions.
  • Completion of all Young Leaders assignments. Each conference will culminate in at least one project and/or publication that may be completed individually or in a group, depending on what you are assigned. You are responsible for making sure that your project is of high quality and is submitted to Pacific Forum by the given deadline.

I submitted the event application form, but no one has contacted me. What should I do?
If you have been selected to attend a conference, you will receive an invitation via email. Due to the high volume of applications, only those who are selected to attend an event will receive an email.

I have applied to the Young Leaders Program but have not been invited to a conference yet. May I still identify myself as a Young Leader?
Yes. Once you are notified of your acceptance letter into the Young Leaders Program, you may begin to identify yourself as a Young Leader. Acceptable position titles are “Pacific Forum Young Leader,” and “Young Leader, Pacific Forum.” Young Leaders who are found to have intentionally misrepresented their affiliation, such as labeling themselves as a “research fellow” when they have not been selected for a fellowship, will immediately be removed from the Young Leaders Program.

What are my financial obligations?
Pacific Forum receives limited support from various sources to subsidize the cost of Young Leader travel to and participation in our conferences and events each year. The amount of funding available for a given conference can vary widely. Young Leaders whose affiliation with universities, employers, or other organizations that wish to sponsor the cost of their attendance sometimes have an advantage over those who require full funding from Pacific Forum. Young Leaders who are able to self-fund their travel and attendance fully or partially (airfare, lodging, local transportation, conference fees, meals, etc.) should indicate this when filling out the event application form.

How many Young Leaders are selected to attend a given event or conference?
There is no regular quota for conference attendance as the topics, funding, expertise, and demographic considerations that affect the make-up of a Young Leaders delegation vary from meeting to meeting. In the past we’ve accommodated anywhere from 1 to 15 Young Leaders at a single event.


Young Leaders Community

I am a Young Leader over the age of 35. What is my designation and how can I remain involved at Pacific Forum?
Once Young Leaders reach 36 years of age, they automatically become Young Leader Alumni and are no longer eligible to apply for Young Leader conference opportunities. Alumni are encouraged to reference their Young Leaders affiliation based on their cohort year. One’s cohort is the year they were admitted into the program. A Young Leader who was inducted into the program in the Spring or Fall of 2005 retains a life-long title of, “Young Leader – 2005 Cohort.”

Young Leaders who have significant industry experience and are regarded as an expert in their field may qualify to be a senior participant in Pacific Forum’s conferences. Qualified individuals are also welcome to apply to Pacific Forum fellowships. For further information, please email youngleaders@pacforum.org and you will be connected to the relevant Pacific Forum staff member.

Furthermore, Young Leaders Alumni may be contacted to continue their involvement with Pacific Forum and the Young Leaders Program via other avenues.

How can I support the Young Leaders Program?
The Young Leaders Program relies on the generosity of philanthropic organizations and individual contributions. If you are inspired by what we do or want to get further involved, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We welcome introductions to individuals or organizations who might be interested in working with us and financial gifts of all sizes. For more information, contact youngleaders@pacforum.org.

How can I meet other Young Leaders?
Those admitted to the Young Leaders Program should request to join the private LinkedIn group where they can see updates, connect with other Young Leaders, and view event opportunities. The private LinkedIn group is best up-to-date hub of program opportunities. Young Leaders who choose not to join the group will be at a disadvantage relative to their peers who have. The program also makes general updates to the publicly viewable Young Leaders Facebook group.

In 2013 Pacific Forum launched Young Leaders Chapters in key cities around the globe. Chapter events are updated on social media. Should you wish to start a chapter in your city, please reach out to youngleaders@pacforum.org for guidelines.

*Note: the COVID-19 pandemic severely restricted the activities of Young Leaders Chapters. As conditions allow, Chapters may once again become active. Please stay tuned for further updates. (April 2022)