There are hundreds of opportunities out there for young Cameroonians to explore their interest. Sadly, very few of us take interest in these things.
I am always so happy when I see Cameroonians on global platforms because the spaces are almost always dominated by neighboring Nigeria.
See, you can be in high school and get opportunities to attend summer school abroad at no cost.
After high school, you can literally study on fully-funded scholarship programs till you decide to stop school.
You can be in a Cameroonian university and get opportunities to do a paid internship in a multinational company.
You can be an aspiring entrepreneur and get opportunities to attend global summits or workshops at no cost.
The people you see attending programs in different countries are not ‘lucky’. The truth is, they have been actively searching and applying for these programs. They get numerous rejection emails but there will always be a few positive outcomes.
I have gathered some tips from Nsah Mala, on how to submit a strong application for any opportunity you find. Nsah Mala has read many and varied applications, submitted many kinds of successful applications: e.g., for fellowships, scholarships, etc, and has evaluated hundreds of applications for some very prestigious programmes.
1- Never write your answers or essays all in capital (upper case) letters.
I will take this again. Never ever write your application essays all in capital letters. It comes off as very disrespectful and that’s unpardonable in selection committees.
2- Get another eye on it.
Always make sure at least one person or more, with knowledge of what you are applying for, reads your application and provides you with some constructive feedback so that you can improve it.
Always make sure another person, or more, reads your application mainly for purposes of proofreading (and editing). A poorly written application, no matter its other strengths, is likely to take you nowhere.
4- Be Mindful of Your Narrative
Never capitalize on your poverty, joblessness, etc. unless you are applying for charity aid. Scholarships, fellowships & grants are not charity. They are meant for qualities like academic performance or achievements in that area. They are not given out of sympathy and pity.
In short, never demonstrate desperation and frustration in your application. Even if your situation is so bad or poor, instead show proof of resilience, show proof of having used limited resources to achieve something.
5- Do Not Pray
Never drop sentences like “by the grace of God if I get this fellowship or grant or scholarship, blablabla…” in your application. An application is not where you write your prayers. Write a strong application and pray for it. But never pray in it.
7- Tailor Your Points
Not everything you have done or achieved must be mentioned in every application, especially when you have word limits to respect. Be sure that you understand what you are applying for, what you are bringing to it, and what exactly you expect to take out of it. Otherwise, you will lose focus and start to “raconter n’importe quoi”. Above all, always make your community impact stand out, especially when applying for a leadership-based fellowship.
8- Do Not Plagiarise
NEVER EVER include information in your application that portrays plagiarism, unethical practices, or forms of assistance. Learn what plagiarism is and avoid it at all costs. When in doubt, ask for clarifications.
9 – SMART Impact
Always make sure your application has some measurable impact, backed up by verifiable & convincing statistics where necessary, and not generic terms. You have trained many people. So what? How many? You have trained 10 people in coding in six months. That is specific. At least.
10- Follow Instructions
Always make sure you respect the guidelines and instructions about what you are applying for. Going against the rules is the beginning of rejection. Mind you!
Finally, There you go! Decide to start seeking – and applying for – these opportunities and watch where you’ll be 3-5 years from now if you follow these tips.
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