I started my journey as a Humphrey fellow in the United States of America three months back. Many people had reached out to me asking how did I get this fellowship which is considered as a lifetime opportunity for any mid-career professional.
First of all, for any opportunity like this, one thing is necessary: enthusiasm for the profession you belong to, faith in your knowledge, and curiosity to discover new worlds.
Along with 10 colleagues (from Croatia, Myanmar, Montenegro, Haiti, Uganda, China, Philippine, Vietnam, Egypt and Cuba), I was selected from Pakistan to spend a year at Walter Cronkite School of Journalism of Arizona State University, situated in Phoenix, AZ, which is one of the most prestigious journalism schools in the United States.
But how did I make it till here and what are the key points to win such a prestigious award?
Here’s what you need to know about acing the application process.
I am awarded a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship for 2019-2020 programme year, by the U.S. Department of State. Following half a year procedure comprised of filling out the application, taking the TOEFL test, and going for an interview at the United States Educational Foundation (USEFP) in Islamabad. I was informed that I had been selected as one of the participants of the Humphrey Programme, part of a group of 151 participants from 95 countries around the world.
1. Your application should make an impact. If your application is not memorable you are not going to win interview either.
2. Personal statements is the most important requirement for this and most of the fellowships as they carry significant weight among administrators and review committees. Write multiple drafts, revise and tune, introduce yourself to the committee, explain what you intend to accomplish and present your case for why you are the right candidate.
3. Talk to the past fellows, reach out to them on social media. Ask about their experiences, because they have been through the same process. However, do not ask for their application.
4. Think of a great idea and research project. One of the most important parts of your application is your project proposal. Be realistic about your goals.
5. How does your country benefit? It is very important to define how would you contribute to the development of your country if you receive this fellowship. The US government spends approximately $70 000 to $80 000 on each Humphrey fellow. The investment is not just for individual’s upgradation alone but for the development of their country.
6. Get great recommendations. Choose someone who can be essential to your application. Make sure your referees are people who have known you for at least a year, and can truly attest to who you are and what your strengths and successes are.
7. Interview: Be exactly as you describe yourself in application. You have landed yourself this interview, consider it a small win. You got the opportunity where many failed. Be true to yourself and honest about what you want to accomplish. Even if you don’t have all the right answers, if you can convey your passion for the goals, you’ve got a good chance at winning a slot.
That all being said, there’s no secret recipe for winning a fellowship it really comes down to a mix of a few factors, meeting what the committee is looking for and how you fit in with their goals and the strength of your application. So clearly define your goals, put your heart into the application, and you might just find yourself in next year cohort.