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Five tips to win a marketing scholarship

By Andrew Dalglish -

Here are two facts.  One, the average UK student will graduate with £32,000 of debt.  Two, any services firm is only as good as their people.  So, students need money and the research industry needs to attract the best talent.  That got us thinking here at Circle.  Why not create a symbiotic relationship where agencies give a bit of cash to contribute to talent development at the ‘grass roots’ level, and then reap the benefits when the next generation enters the workplace?

Given our bias towards action over theory that thought quickly led to something.  We partnered with ESOMAR on their tour of UK universities to promote careers in research, and we set up the Circle Research Scholarship.  This annual award of £1,000 is intended to make a small but significant dent into the debt pile of a student studying for a marketing qualification and passionate about the marketing profession, but facing financial hardship. It’s open to anyone, from any country and from any background, provided that they’re planning to study in the UK.

In 2017 the scholarship was awarded to Ben Gallagher, a thoroughly deserving candidate about to embark on an Msc in Strategic Marketing at Swansea University.  The 2018 scholarship is now open for applications so let me share five tips for potential applicants.

First, remember that there are dozens of applications to most scholarships so the field is tough and you need to stand out.  Don’t bother applying if it’s just a whim; you need to take it seriously and put in the effort if you want to succeed.

Second, read the award requirements.  Sounds simple, but you’d be amazed by the number of applications we received which didn’t even meet the most basic criteria.  If the scholarship is for a particular discipline, then you need to be studying in that discipline.  And if it is for those facing financial hardship, you need to be in genuine financial hardship.  Meeting the core scholarship criteria is the first shortlisting mechanism an awarding panel will use, so you need to tick these boxes.  Don’t be tempted to exaggerate though.  If you make it through to the final stages of the selection process, you’ll need to be able to substantiate any claims made in the application.

Third, tailor your application.  Rather than simply copying and pasting a generic application statement, think about why the organisation is awarding the scholarship and tailor your response. What motivated them to set up the scholarship in the first place? Who have they awarded it to in the past and why? What is it about you that makes you an especially deserving candidate for this particular award?

Fourth, personalise your covering email or letter.  Again, those awarding the scholarship want to see evidence not only that you need the money, but really want and deserve it.  Taking time to craft a tailored covering note suggests that you do.

And fifth, be specific.  What examples can you give of why you deserve the award?  What have you done to help yourself before turning to others?  What exactly will you do with the funds?

The 2018 Circle Research scholarship is now open and we hope that you’ll submit an application.  You never know, just like Ben, it could be you!

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