Where to find information?

Information is at the heart of research. And finding legit sources of information is crucial.

As you being your research, you have three key information sources to help you understand better about the opportunity, the organisation and the experience previous winners have had.

  1. Google

  2. The News

  3. Previous Winners

When it comes to finding information about someone or something, there is one platform that really can be your best friend and that is Google.

Google is your Best Friend!

This is the 21st century and you have almost all information up on the internet. The time of pen and paper application is expiring quickly. The world is moving on to the internet and google is really your go-to platform to find all this information.

Learn to google and find information. Trust me, you will thank yourself.

How do you really google?

For starters, just type in the name of the opportunity and click search. The most relevant search results will come up on top. Read through some of these.

Let’s say Venkat Panchapakesan Scholarship

Now try typing name of the organisation offering the scholarship and hit search.

In this case, it is google. So we got to google for Google.

And now try typing in {Name of the opportunity} + Previous Winners. Most websites would have published a list of previous winners.

For instance: Venkat Panchapakesan Scholarship Previous Winners

In most cases, previous winners of these opportunities would have included the opportunity in their LinkedIn profiles. Under the Awards and Honours section.

So if the organisation has not published the list of winners, you can find out who these winners were by googling for {Name of the opportunity} + LinkedIn. In most cases, at least few results will come up.

Try this for example: Venkat Panchapakesan Scholar LinkedIn.

See? It is not so hard! Do give it a try!

You should now google to find out answers about the opportunity and the organisation. Ensure that you go through the official website for the opportunity and also the organisation.

While at it, you may also want to checkout if any information about the opportunity is available on YouTube. Video content is sure receiving a lot of attention these days and sometimes you might even find vlogs or experiences shared by previous recipients as well as videos by the host organisation itself.

Coming next, is News sources.

What does the media really have to say about the opportunity and even the organisation offering it?

Reading up a bit about any information on the media would be a good way of assessing where the opportunity stands. In some cases, the news may also help you understand genuinity of the opportunity and the organisation - to understand whether either of these is a scam or not even.

Finding negative remarks about the program/organisation can be seen as a red flags. This means that you should really really reconsider associating yourself with the opportunity.

If you do not find any information about the opportunity/organisation at all, then that may either mean that the opportunity is too young to be on media or that there’s something fishy going on. We may not be able to clearly determine which of these is true so let’s look at this as a yellow flag - meaning it might be good or bad, we aren’t deciding just yet.

Any positive information about the opportunity on the media is great. It sure sends a green signal in terms of validating whether the opportunity is NOT a scam.

A simple way to find news about the opportunity or organisation is to search for it on Google News. Here is an example of searching for the Venkat Panchapakesan Scholarship. Lots of media results on this one. So it clearly is a green signal.

Final touch for you to add would be to speak with previous winners.

Talking to people who have been there, done that will give you a lot of context about what you can really expect from the opportunity.

You can locate previous winners by googling, as discussed above.

Few previous winners share their experiences online in the form of blogs, vlogs, interview or even facebook posts. You should look to google and find out if the winners have published any content online and read through as well.

You can do this by finding out the names of few previous winners and then googling for their name. You may also add in name of the scholarship next to their name along with keywords such as: experience, learning, blog, interview and so on.

Let’s try an example.

Pheba Anna Philip is a 2017 GHCI scholar. So to find out information about her experience online, you may search for: Pheba Anna Philip GHCI Experience OR Pheba Anna Philip interview.

Once you do this, make sure you read through or listen through their experiences and look for answers to the questions we discussed earlier. In this case, this is how it might look:

  1. Who is Pheba? What is her background?

  2. What has she achieved prior to this scholarship?

  3. How does Pheba’s experiences and accomplishments fit in with the selection criteria?

  4. How was her program experience?

  5. What did she learn the most?

  6. Does she recommend the program?

As you find more information, do make a note of responses to these questions.

Interviews with Previous Winners

One of the key things that we do at Rethink is host interviews with previous winners. These interviews happen usually as YouTube Live sessions and address most questions that an applicant might have in mind. These can be easily located by googling for "Rethink Youtube ". Do note to replace <scholar's name> with the name of the scholar and with name of the opportunity.

In this case, you should be googling for “Rethink Youtube GHCI Pheba”.

What to do if you cannot find any information about a previous winner online?

If you cannot find any experiences about a winner online, but know the name of the winner, then you can try and connect with them over email or social media.

Find them on LinkedIn and drop them a message. See if you can get their email address and write in to them.

You may either request them to share their experience by way or an email or what would be even better is you interviewing them. Get on an online video call, speak with them and ask away these questions. And as you do so, it might be even more amazing for you to publish these interviews online. Not only are you making information public, but you are also adding credibility to yourself.

Case Study

Felix Josemon, a 2018 GEC Thrissur Computer Science graduate, followed this guidance while applying to the Venkat Panchapakesan Scholarship in 2017.

He first found one previous winner of the scholarship, Prince Raju. Got in touch with him and understood about his experiences. Then with help from Prince, he reached out to 5 others from the 2016 cohort and had hangout calls done with all these winners.

Finally, he consolidated all his learning and put in an application for the scholarship. He went on to become one among the 6 students who won the Google Venkat Panchapakesan scholarship in 2017.

Read more here: E-meeting 6 Venkat Panchapakesan Memorial Scholars: Felix Josemon