Just as working in the automotive industry your trade or business role requires a unique combination of knowledge and skill sets, so does knowing how to successfully apply for a scholarship.
Scholarships are not unlike job applications - it's always a little tricky to talk about yourself without feeling awkward. If your keep your mind on your future though, the process and anticipated end result can only be of benefit.
Here are 8 very practical tips to help you write your scholarship application:
1. Give yourself time to think
Fold a piece of A4 paper into quarters and write one scholarship question on each side. Carry it with you everywhere and jot down anything that comes to mind over the next few days. Alternatively, use your phone or any other device you always carry with you to make notes. Don't be too critical – just record the ideas as you think of them. Your points will be reviewed later and usually you must work through the obvious to find the real gems. You'll know when you're ready to write your application.
2. Read the questions
This might sound basic, but it's human nature to rush and make assumptions. Read each question carefully and think about what is actually being asked. Is there a reason for this particular question, especially when asked in relation to the others? It will help you plan which content to include and what to leave out or put elsewhere.
Examine your notes, then in a new document allocate the points to the correct question.
3. Be authentic
This is probably the most important tip of all. Show your passion for the automotive industry. Show some personality. Be yourself.
4. Write the answers
The real crunch comes when you sit down to put the words together. If this process bothers you, try pretending that you're not the subject and that it's about someone who just happens to have the same experiences. If you can achieve this, you have the added advantage of seeing things from outside of yourself, which is the judge's view point.
Make some quiet time (easier said than done sometimes), and put your sentences together. Your answers should be written as paragraphs. Consider using bullets or numbers to organise random points into lists within the paragraphs. You'll look organised.
Don't expect your writing to be perfect. This is the first draft after all. If you find you're getting hung up on which words to use, push through and just get it down on paper even if there are words missing.
Ignore the per question word limit (500 words) at this stage, you'll be able to adjust this later.
Consider having a friend to ask the questions and, referring to the points you have collected previously, record your spoken answers on your phone or other device. This will make your responses sound natural.
5. Organise the rest of your application
Congratulations, you've done the hardest part. Now that you have something down on paper, it's best to take a day's break from your writing to organise the rest of your application.
Following up on the other requirements of the scholarship application is very straight forward – re-read the requirements so you don't miss anything.
Make sure that you have contacted your referees and follow up if necessary. It's important that both referees address your:
- - Commitment to the automotive industry
- - Leadership qualities and communication skills
- - Ability to successfully undertake the qualification
Let them know the date you need their letter of support by (well in advance of the actual deadline), to avoid that last minute rush to get your application in.
Bring your resume up to date. Make sure it highlights the points you have spoken about in your application. Check your resume for additional information you can use to add value to your application and make sure it's included in your answers.
Locate any relevant certificates that you already hold. You don't need to submit every certificate that you've attained. Just the main ones, such as your trade qualification if you work in a trade. The unit information is required, as well as the certificate title page. If you have multiple relevant certificates, you will need to make them into one file for upload. There's a 2MB limit per upload, and .pdf .doc .docx .txt .jpg .jpeg file types are accepted.
6. Look at your application objectively
Once everything is on track, go back to your writing. You should see it with fresh eyes now. Do the answers to the questions flow well? Are the questions actually answered? Do they meet the word count limits? Try reading your answers aloud – it's so much easier to pick up grammatical errors, repetition and find the natural words to use this way. It prevents your writing from becoming stilted and overly formal. Aim to sound as if you are speaking to another person.
Adjust your answers as necessary. It may take more than one review to meet with your satisfaction.
7. Ask someone to proof read
There are limits to how well you can proof read your own work. Find a person you trust and who has an exceptional eye for detail and ask them to read your application. There's every opportunity to make changes at this stage - and spelling mistakes and grammatical errors just detract and give the wrong impression of your abilities.
8. Get your application in on time
Don't expect your application to be accepted if you are late with submission. This is so everyone has exactly the same opportunity and length of time to apply. It creates a level playing field from the start.
Collect your resume, referee reports, certificates held and answers to questions together.
When you're ready just fill in the fields which apply, then copy and paste your answers into the text boxes. Attach your resume, referee reports and certificates, then enter the code and press the submit button. It's as simple as that. Good luck!