11 tips to help you win the Humphrey Fellowship
The Hubert H Humphrey Fellowship is a lifetime opportunity for any mid-career professional looking to hone their skills. It also prepares them for leadership roles in their respective fields. The fellowship is tailor-made for professionals as it provides them with great exposure to professional development activities, such as field trips, workshops, seminars and one-on-one appointments with the experts in the field.
Besides professional enhancement, accomplished fellows from diverse fields are brought and placed in 16 American universities.
With every passing year, the number of fellows from Pakistan keeps growing. Ten to 20 fellows from all walks of life are sent to the US each year to enrich their professional experience. Even colleagues from India envy Pakistani fellows, since there are only four to six Indians who are given this rare chance.
To work for renowned news organisations such as Al-Jazeera TV, Associated Press, The Christian Science Monitor, CNN, International Centre for Journalists, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Voice of America etc. are dream jobs for many journalists across the world. As a Humphrey fellow, I’m also excited to work for one of the news outlets listed above.
However, the million dollar question is, how do you get yourself selected for a prestigious program such as Humphrey?
To tell you the truth, it is no rocket science and there is no hard and fast rule to be considered for the fellowship. The following tips could be useful for potential fellows.
1. Read the instructions
First of all, you need to read the instructions carefully, especially the criteria laid out for the Humphrey Fellowship. It clearly states that the fellowship departs from discipline-oriented programs and is tailored for professional enhancement. But many apply without understanding the nature of the program.
2. Never give up
You have to keep trying till you succeed in getting yourself shortlisted for the interview. Given the long application process, it can be exhausting and time-consuming, but that is how it works. I was shortlisted for Humphrey in 2011, but could not make it amongst the finalists and it took me a wait of another four years to be selected.
3. Be clear
Clarity will help you in a big way. You have to be clear in your vision and goals as well as state them accurately. This will only be possible if you are sure about what you want to achieve by securing the fellowship.
4. Talk to a former fellow
It is extremely useful to talk to a former fellow(s), because they have been through the same process. They understand the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ regarding the selection panel. Their insight could assist you in the right direction which can make the improbable happen.
5. Exchange aspect
The exchange aspect should also be kept in mind while filling out the application. You will be given a lifetime opportunity to experience the culture and lifestyle of American people. It helps to shatter myths and misconceptions, such as the Americans love for fast food.
6. Keep it simple
Do not focus on the quantity of writing; rather keep the substance and quality in mind. Write to the point instead of writing a novel.
7. Networking opportunity
The Humphrey Fellowship is all about networking with your counterparts in the US and gain insight from their best practices. Besides acquiring the latest skills in your field, you also hold the opportunity to network with your counterparts. They can be of great source for collaboration in the future as well.
8. Leadership promise
Like any other fellowship, it is the leadership promise you should strive to demonstrate in your application form. If you have a clear plan of action for the next five years, you are all set to steal the attention of the selection panel.
9. How does your country benefit?
It is imperative to define how this fellowship is going to contribute to the development of your country. The US government spends approximately $60 000 to $70 000 on each fellow selected for Humphrey. This investment is not meant for advancing the individuals career alone, but playing their role in the development of their country, specifically when they return home from the fellowship.
10. Reference Letters
Anyone familiar with the US education system understands the value of reference letters for admission to any US university. Therefore, choose someone who has the exposure and experience of writing recommendation letters. It is also important to note that your referee should be someone who is willing to spare time to write your letter.
11. Community work
Community work is part of the American culture. Americans highly encourage and appreciate if you engage in community work. It also helps you contribute to the wellbeing of your own community.
By contributing in terms of community service to the US society, culture and professional activities, the Humphrey program provides the basis for a lasting relationship between Americans and their overseas counterparts.
I wish you best of luck for the upcoming year.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.