- Take a breath
As someone who has casted a wide net on fellowships, and internships just applying I believe is the biggest hurdle one can overcome. You’ve probably heard this saying but for every 10/20/100 applications there will be a few callbacks and hopefully one that pans to your intended goal of receiving an award. Depending on what you’re applying for, the application cycle can be as simple as turning in a well written response to a prompt, or the complete opposite where you are being interviewed round by round. Trust me both are equally terrifying. The journey of the application cycle has multiple steps, so get ready and be prepared.
- Understand the requirements
Before you start writing, understand the requirements to the full extent. More specifically, check if a recommendation is required as requesting a recommendation should be done with an ample amount of time. Some applications require proof of citizenship, or even simply transcripts. Depending on the month of when you request a transcript, you may have other students who may have also had the same idea. Or, your institution may outsource the transcript process lengthening the time it takes. It’s better to read the requirement through its entirety, then to have spent so much time drafting and curating a narrative to find out you do not qualify.
- Have conversations with people in your network or have similarly mutual interests
At the end of the day, you want to set realistic expectations about what you hope to achieve. A way in which you can become acclimated to the expectations is to speak with individuals who have received or are in the similar boat you are in. Without a doubt, LinkedIn is a platform in which individuals can find each other with common interests. Additionally, reaching out to your university to see whether there was a list of past awardees, could be beneficial as members of your alma mater love to speak with current students.
- Write without thinking
Your first draft is not your final draft. Craft a narrative about your lived experiences and sell yourself. Make revisions, and if you’re comfortable share your writing samples to those who you trust. Depending on your writing style, block off an hour when you’re free. Or, if you’re like me, sit in one spot until you finish it all.
- Check in with recommenders
By now hopefully the letters of recommendation that you have requested are from individuals who know you well. It is best practice to let your recommenders know months ahead of the application deadline to give them apple amounts time. Your application is not the only thing on the list for your recommender. It is also not the recommenders responsibility to submit your application on time. As an applicant, you need to be proactive and communicate consistently to keep your recommender on track to submit on time. Be courteous and be respectively of there time, and it will all work out in the end.
If you get to a point where all you have done is reread your essays, take a break, Put away your laptop, application materials and take some time away. You may have spent so much time oversaturating your application, that what is best is to take some time away. Once a nice break is had, going back and reading a final copy is all that you need to do. When you have done it all, submit.
- Pray and Forgot
Once you submit your application, you have done all that you could and now it’s a waiting game. I would start drafting and thanking all individuals who have helped the journey. At the end of the day, a scholarship/fellowship does not stop you from pursuing your goals and aspirations. There are so many factors that play into a competitive cycle, that at the end of the day once you submit it is up to others.
Good luck and happy writing! You got this!