As we all know, you need more than good grades and CCA participation to have a shot at a scholarship. You will also need references, awards and certificates, and more importantly in this age of digital abundance, a positive online profile.
Surrounded by digital media as we are, many sponsoring organisations will check a potential scholar’s web presence alongside his or her academic credentials. After all, your posts, shares and tweets provide them a clearer picture of what you’re like as an individual. What you like to retweet indicates the sort of topics you’re interested in, while the photos you share paint a picture of the important moments in your life.
All this information helps an organisation make an important decision: do they want to invest in you as a scholar?
To make a good impression online, it’s advisable to…
Create a Professional Networking Profile
Should a reviewer Google your name, what would you want them to see? Your well-maintained LinkedIN page, or last week’s drunken shenanigans on Facebook?
Aside from pushing down unfortunate search results, an online business profile will help you network with friends and people in various industries to get your name out there.
Set up a LinkedIN account. Take the time to figure out your goals and future career direction and translate this information onto your profile. Said profile should include your education history, work experience, key skills, and attributes.
Be sure to use strong, descriptive words to showcase your abilities and show prospective employers what you can bring to the table. A good idea is to look at the profiles of other professionals in your field, and take note of the words and phrases they use. You can incorporate these into your own self-presentation.
Simplicity is key. Instead of presenting information in chunks, break it down into smaller paragraphs or bullet points to allow people to zero in on what’s important.
Build Your Own Brand
“You Are a Brand!” is a book by Catherine Kaputa. And without delving into the implications of that statement, it is advisable to think of yourself as a brand when developing your professional profile. How you would like to be marketed? How would you want yourself to be remembered?
Find out what defines you and come up with a personal brand statement. A personal brand statement is a one or two-sentence phrase that accurately summarises what you have done and what you stand for. Similar to the unique selling proposition of a company, it’s a good idea to think of it as “what makes me different from the competition”. Remember to keep it short and catchy.
A branding statement and brand profile are useful because they ensure there is consistency in the way you market yourself and present your information. For example, most professionals use the same photo for all their business accounts, to ensure consistency of information.
It has become common practice for undergraduates to print out business cards, to hand out during networking events. These cards are one more example of self-branding – a platform from which you can express what you’re all about and where you want to go.
Lastly, ensure you also provide appropriate information, so you leave a positive impression.
Build an Online Portfolio
Once you have your professional profile all set up, create a website that presents all the work you have done in school or in previous jobs – a portfolio. This is very effective in giving prospective employers an idea of the quality of work you can provide.
This is especially important for those aiming for sponsorships in the arts and humanities. After all, there is no way you can fit all your art pieces and 3D models in the “Other Documents” section of BrightSparks. Weebly, WordPress and Wix are some of the easiest sites to build your portfolios on – and the best part is, most of their features are free!
Be sure to add a link to your portfolio in your professional profile and vice versa. During networking events, you can hand out business cards with your portfolio accessible via QR Code.
A professional online presence will definitely help you on you scholarship journey. Start writing and uploading!
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