Whether you are applying for a scholarship, training, fellowship program etc, you may find yourself in the position of needing to write and present effective responses or essays to application questions. Here are few common questions: TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF? If you answer this question correctly you can really set yourself apart from other applicants. Talk about how your passion or career experience relates to the opportunity you are applying for. This is one of the reasons why you should study about the company or organization calling for the application. Do not tell them your life story. Pick the ones that connect to what they are looking for. I once mentored and reviewed an application for a mentee, while describing herself, she kept mentioning she came from a fabulous and excellent family, I edited the part and guided her. She came from a vulnerable community and poor family background, and from the call for application, such gives her the chances to be shortlisted.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU? Tie your motivation around the work or program you are applying for. You could mention things like the opportunity to learn (what?; be specific) and grow (how?), meeting or working with smart people who are passionate about the sector, contributing to the success of an organization or betterment of your community etc. Even if you are driven by money, it’s important to incorporate other factors into your response. Show them that you truly get satisfaction out of the work you do every day and that you don’t work solely for a pay. A fellow from another African country approached me for a project partnership and requested I send in a response to this question; What’s the major challenge women face in starting up a business in Nigeria? ‘Lack of entrepreneurship skill’, I answered. She came back to ask, what about finance?. This is a project to be funded by a Development Bank. Funding must have been a chorus answer from most of the applicants, hence your response to what motivates you should distinguish yours. Focusing on getting the funds, when I know they don’t have the capacity or structure won’t build a sustainable enterprise. Personally, what motivates me in the work is not to get funding but to first build capacities and structures.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST STRENGTH? Go back and have a second good read of the program description and find key skills required for successful applicants and state one of those skills as your greatest strength. Answer with the strength you feel best fits the program you are applying for. Provide the anecdote that goes with it if the word-count limits permit i.e. tying your chosen strength to a professional accomplishment.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN FIVE YEARS? Organizations want to select someone who plans to stick with and grow in the discipline of the organization for the long haul, so this question should be answered with the vision of the organization in mind. Instead of speaking in generalities, give specifics about how you imagine yourself growing and developing with the capacity (scholarship) the organization has to offer you. The VVLead image in the picture was my response five years ago while I was undergoing the Fellowship Program. It is still in line with what I am doing today, hence Vital Voices should be proud of investing in me.
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST WEAKNESS? Trying to claim you have no weakness makes you seem conceited, but admitting a character flaw makes you human. In answering this, try to select something that once was a weakness that you have since worked on or overcame. For e.g I used to be bad with communication. I initiate thoughts/ideas, analyze them and execute without carrying my team along. However, after I learnt about communications and started applying it to my work, I see a lot of progress, unity and fulfilment among the team members. Leave an issue that actually gives room for improvement.
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST FAILURE? Failures are a normal part of life, so don’t claim you haven’t experienced any. Think of something you were later able to correct. Your answer shouldn’t just be about a failure, but also about a learning experience, indicating what you did to overcome them. An answer like this communicates your value and conveys positive feelings about your progress. WHY DO YOU WANT TO BE SELECTED FOR THIS OPPORTUNITY? Your answer should be based on their reputation for the sector they are seeking application for. That’s why you should research and understand the organization or institution very well. Know their products, policies, and potential for growth etc. Understand their requirements and match them with your accomplishments or eligibility. Understanding well what the opportunity is all about, the organization or the institution will help you answer this question. For example, you would be proud to associate with an organization that supports your passion. Mention what it is and how it relates to what the program offers. Prove that you are a great fit.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE WEEK: There are many national and global opportunities currently open which I can only list a few here. You can check our Facebook page www.facebook.com/WHAIafrica for more and start crafting your answers before the deadlines. 1. Kickstart Application – Opportunity powered by International Breweries Foundation for business startups is open now. Apply here https://reg.smetoolkit.ng/program-apply/kickstart-nigeria-2021 2. Volunteer Opportunity – 60% of skills I have today, I got through volunteering. HoBeei is a social business using tech to reduce inequality and waste. You can explore about them and apply if interested https://www.notion.so/hobeei/HoBeei-Volunteer-Positions-819829e61172426ab2cd4b4a86325017 3. Startup for Development Incubation Program – Have you got an idea/solution for challenges in the Agriculture, Finance, Commerce or Government sectors? Check other eligibility and apply https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScjmsyvQURecyHPQpM_g7cnAtNNGVyr4CVzyuSQIbeALNbY_Q/viewform?ts=60803a32&gxids=7628
I would be available to give you more insights and walk you through. Trust, you will go places. Recognize what God has called you to be, accept the gifts He has given you and start building on them! - Ada Africa
©Udegboka Nkechi Tessie