How to get selected for fellowships

June 21, 2022

There are a host of opportunities for fellowships, many less competitive than you might think! But like most opportunities, what matters most is differentiating yourself from the crowd of candidates. Tell me about yourself. What makes you a good fit? How will you take what you learn here beyond the fellowship program?

Before we get into how you can get selected, let’s rewind for a moment.

What exactly is a fellowship? 

“A funding award given to subsidize the cost of education.” –U.S. News & World Report.

Fellowships can be focused on STEM, creative arts, and trades. There’s really no limit. If you can imagine a career, then there’s probably a type of fellowship program to help students like you cover the costs. Here are a few examples:

What do experts recommend to win a fellowship?

The dummies publishers have some candid advice:

Winning free college money is rather like earning money for writing. You have to work at it, and you only get paid if you do it right. But, unlike being a professional writer, pretty much anyone can win free money for college as long as that person educates himself about the process, completes the applications properly, and follows up on a timely basis. 

Free $ For College For Dummies

If you don’t ask for free money, you won’t receive free money. Student advisors and counselors have a lot to say about how to position yourself for major financial aid programs like an academic fellowship. 

Make sure it’s the right fit

  • Can you demonstrate that you’re working towards a career in this field?
  • What percentage of applicants are accepted each year, and what set them apart?
  • If accepted, will they automatically consider you for a teaching assistant (or similar) role?
  • How much emphasis is placed on academic references versus professional and character references?

Approach the right advocates

  • Some programs want to see mostly academic recommendation letters, while others look for a variety.
  • Just like you need to be a good fit for a fellowship, your letters of recommendation need to come from experts that will impress the reviewers. 
  • Share your personal statement with professors, advisors, and mentors who might advocate for you to make it easier for them to write a recommendation. 
  • Remind the potential advocates why you are asking for their recommendation!

Pitch yourself as the perfect fit

It might sound like we’re repeating ourselves, but once you know you’re a good fit, you’ve got to present yourself that way! This is where your spikeview portfolio comes in. Your entire learning journey, tracked in one easy spot.

We’ll leave you with this excellent recap by Victoria Johnson, founder of ProFellow. She talks about five important things you need to explain in an application to demonstrate your potential.

  1. Your specific career goal
  2. How the program helps you achieve your goal
  3. Why this program is special
  4. Why you’ll be successful in and beyond this program
  5. What you’ll contribute as a student

Now get back to work and win a fellowship!