Thinking through what you will be writing

Now you have your copy of the application, checklist ready. All you probably need to do is write away.

But what do you write about? Thinking through and figuring this out is what we’ll discuss in this section.

Most applications have one or more of the following questions:

  1. Your statement of purpose

  2. What are your goals/passion?

  3. Why do you wish to apply to this opportunity?

  4. How would you use this opportunity to advance towards your goals?

  5. What have you already done towards your goals?

  6. Describe an adversity you have faced and how you overcame it.

  7. Why should you be selected? OR What makes you an eligible candidate to be selected?

Essentially, to answer these questions well, you need clarity on:

What your goals are. Both short and long term.

What have you already done about your goals.

Why this opportunity.

And How this opportunity connects with your goals.

What is needed here are answers to these questions along with valid, legit experiences to substantiate your statements.

Sometimes, it might feel like a daunting task to figure out all these in our head and decide what to write about. You might either feel blank. Or you might even feel that you have multiple goals or interests.

What’s needed here though is thinking through and trying to find that one goal or one area of interest that you wish to focus on.

Truth is that we cannot really get to this out of the blue. So to help us get there, we can use few guideposts. This is where we go back to your research.

Guidepost #1

What are the reviewers looking for? What does the selection criteria say?

Let’s be honest. Unless and until there is a substantial connection between who you are, what you do and what they are looking for in a candidate, your chances of getting selected are slim.

So this should be your first filter. Decide to focus on areas that really matter to the opportunity.

For instance: If the opportunity is for computer science enthusiasts, then it is obvious that you need to emphasize on your skills in computer science. What could also work is demonstrating how you use computer science for the benefit of humanity.

So in this case, you should be thinking around your technical skills and how you use these to your benefit as well as that of others.

Let’s take another example.

Guidepost #2

Now that you have narrowed down to a theme of focus, you need to start thinking about the various experiences you have had.

Going by the same example,

  • What has your experience with technology been like?

  • Why do you like it?

  • What have you already done using technology?

  • What is the impact that you have created using technology?

  • Have you created direct impact by building tech or have you leveraged tech to solve problems?

Write them all down as you think through. And be specific with your experiences.

Guidepost #3

Talk to people who know you well. This may be your friends, teachers or someone you have worked with. Ask them about their experiences with you and what they feel are your strengths in your focus area.

And finally,

Ask yourself.

  • Why this opportunity?

  • What about it interests you? Why did you want to apply for it in the first place?

  • What are your goals?

  • Does the opportunity really fit in with your goals?

  • If you get selected, what about the opportunity will really take you closer to your goal?

Try to get yourself to find specific answers to these questions. I’m not saying that it is easy, but it definitely is worth it.