Starting early on your international affairs fellowship application is one of the best things you can do. It gives you time to research, ask for a recommendation, and draft a well-thought-out essay. Also, you won’t be stressed. Because let’s face it, life gets busy. Life already puts enough on your plate.
Your school is a great resource when applying for fellowships. Talk to knowledgable professors at your school. They can offer you tips and advice that can help you when applying. Also, if your school has a scholarship office see if they can provide any advice.
Fellowships are different from scholarships because they usually require an internship or service component. Also, fellowships can range from months to years. They don’t just offer money. Weigh the pros and cons before applying. Will this help you with your career? Will there be personal growth involved? Will this fit in with your life’s overall picture?
Researching the organization can help you know if you’re a good candidate for the fellowship. By researching the organization you should also check the eligibility requirements. It might seem like a no brainer, but you don’t want to waste time applying for something you’re not qualified for.
There’s only one you. And because there’s only one you, you have certain skills and ideas that only you can bring to the table. Your story is what sets you apart from the other candidates. Your story tells the panelist your personal trajectory of how you got to where you are today…it shares your strengths, weaknesses, challenges…who you are as a person. Your story is powerful and uniquely tailored to you. Read more about how to tell your story/write a personal statement here.
In most cases, your first draft is usually not your best version. The process of writing and rewriting your study abroad application will allow you to put out your best essay.
For many fellowships, it’s more than just grades. Yes, your grades are super important, but it’s not the only thing panelist look at. Your statement of interest, extracurricular activities, and letters of recommendation can be fair game. So it’s important to do your best in each area of your application.
Getting in contact with past fellowship winners can help you gain insight into their application process. This can help you as you prepare for your own journey. If you don’t know anyone, see if you can find them on LinkedIn. Also, ask the organization if it’s possible to receive a list with the contact information of previous recipients.
Getting great recommendations will help your application stand out. Read more about getting glowing recommendations here.
If your fellowship requires that you come for an interview, remember one thing: they want to meet you. They know you’ve done amazing things. However, they want to make sure the person they meet, matches what they see on paper. When you get to the interview, obviously be prepared. But show up, and glow. Of course, you may be nervous, but don’t let nerves take your shine away.
Know that your story might not be anything like previous recipients. And that is okay. Each person is unique. But it’s up to you to show the fellowship organization that you deserve to be a recipient. One of the biggest mistakes that I made was almost not applying. I read the previous winners’ backgrounds and I felt inadequate because they were all so amazing. But I failed to see what made me amazing. And although my story didn’t exactly look like theirs, it was still important. Apply anyways, you never will know what will happen.
From the moment I started applying for my fellowship, it was a long stressful process, from the essay to the interview. But you have to take your time and do what you can. Make sure you are also exercising, sleeping, and taking care of yourself.
Don’t put all of your eggs in one fellowship. If you get it, great. If you don’t, make sure you have other options. Research other similar fellowships and opportunities.
And if you don’t get the fellowship, try again for the next cycle. It never hurts to re-apply. But when you do, figure out how to improve your application. Also, find a mentor in international affairs. Specifically, in the area, you want to apply. They can help you strengthen your application and cheer you on during the next round.
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