Ask Anything Series: Worried Recent Graduate Applying For Erasmus Mundus Scholarships
Hi there, scholars in the making! We're starting an "Ask Anything Series" where we'll be publishing real questions from real people. We figured that this will be a good way to provide you guys with valuable scholarship-related information even in the midst of our crazy workload. ;)
Our reader CJ reached out to us with this message:
I was so inspired with your blog post regarding Erasmus Mundus and I'm planning to apply. However, I'm really nervous with my qualifications. I just graduated and although I received some international awards during my undergraduate years, I think that there are a lot of students better than me. Truthfully, I'm afraid of being rejected or being considered but without a scholarship. What are your thoughts on these?
Valid points and definitely valid feelings, CJ! So the gist of her message is:
Q: What if I don't feel confident about my qualifications and about the fact that I am a recent graduate?
A: You'll need two things:
a tailored motivation letter highlighting your strengths, a good fit between your interests and the programme's objectives, and some socially motivated goal on your end, and
references who can vouch for you personally and professionally.
Here's our more detailed reply:
Don't let the fact that you're a recent grad stop you from applying. Having some work experience helps, but it's not the end-all and be-all of your application. It also depends on how convincing your motivation letter/essay is (how you make the link between your bachelor's degree/research interests/bachelor's thesis to the programme objectives), so pay very close attention to the goals of the programme and tailor your application to show them you're exactly what they're looking for. I have some tips on my post about how to write an effective motivation letter. There's also a sample and a workbook that you can download from the resource library.
Highlight your achievements (you mentioned something about getting international awards in your undergrad.. definitely include that!) and always link it back to how that can help you in the coursework (is it related to the programme's topics? Did it motivate you to pursue an internationally-oriented career?) or in your plans after graduation.
One of the scholarship evaluators (who later became my thesis supervisor) told me that they were also looking for the social responsibility component when assessing the applications, meaning that they were particularly drawn to those who expressed their plans tocontribute to their field/country after graduation. So that's a tip for you!
It also pays to have good references. So try to ask for a reference letter from a mentor who knows you well, and can vouch for how you are as a professional and as a person overall.
There you go! And remember.. don't let the fear of being rejected stop you from applying. I know people who had to try 2, 3, 4, or 5 times to get a scholarship. In the end, every "failed" attempt can always be charged to experience and can help you get better at things.
Hope it helps, and feel free to drop us a line if you have questions!
Icy and Luana