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5 Pieces of Advice for Fellowship Applicants

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All You Need To Know to Write a Winning Fellowship Application


1. Knowing your audience goes a long way.

It’s crucial to know who your audience is. It may sound simple, but not many people understand just how important it can be to alter your voice to who may be reading your application. Is your application going to be read by a panel of professors well-versed in their areas of expertise, or a board of governors of a charity organization wanting to maximize the social impact of their cause?


2. How does it relate to the funding agency and their mission?

Knowing how your application reads is important, because it relates to the even bigger issue of how your application serves to further the mission of the funding agency. As an applicant, the hardest part of your application should lie in connecting the dots between your personal professional goals and the goals of the award that you are applying for.


3. Often being clear, no-frills does the trick – why should they forego the other 500 applicants for your application?

Paint a quick and easy picture for your reviewer. By the time your reviewer has gotten to your application, it’s quite likely he or she would have read upwards of 15 or 20 applications – or even more! From the reviewer’s perspective, nothing puts them more to sleep than an applicant droning on and on aimlessly if they have not made it clear why they are applying to that specific fellowship. By making it clear to the reviewers why you came to apply to their organization or agency for their pot of money, you’ll find that you’re doing yourself a massive favor by making your application stand out amongst the rest.


4. Do some Networking!

Stay on the radar for regional and national conferences where you might be able to meet up with grant administrators and other leaders in the field of interest that you’re applying in. You’ll find that having met in person and exchanged conversation will boost your chances of making your application stand out amongst the rest. Getting in touch with former fellows both inside and outside of your professional network is also a good way to learn more about what you could be doing to increase your chances of getting chosen.


5. Impress on your Interview.

If you get far enough to the interview stage, know that the best advice you can get is to remain true to yourself. With enough practice, you’ll be able to get to a stage where you can freely talk about the details of the project you’re trying to do and why the fellowship committee should consider you for the prize – but all rehearsals should end there. Make sure that the review committee gets to see your personality and get to know you as a person before a candidate.


Annika is a Content Marketing Associate at OpenWater, where she helps our clients better navigate the challenges they may encounter in the associations world. She has a passion in helping organizations and nonprofits share their stories with the growing technology sector. When she's not typing away on her keyboard in our Arlington HQ, she's steering boats on the Potomac River or running the streets of DC.

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