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How to Stand out at the Scholarship Interview – Tips for Polytechnic Graduates

While the “typical” scholarship applicant used to be a JC graduate, that has completely changed in recent years. Many polytechnic students also apply for scholarships to further their learning and secure a good starting position.

If you hail from polytechnic and have interviews lined up, this is the article for you! We have some curated and customized advice tailored for the poly grad.

The key is to embrace the uniqueness of the poly education and what you learnt from it. What makes you a better prospect than your JC or IB counterparts? Answer that question and you will have decisively outpaced a lot of the competition for the scholarship you’re aiming for.


Tip 1: Talk up your Electives/CCAs

Unlike a JC student, you can choose your modules at a polytechnic. Those choices say a lot about you and your learning philosophy – so tell the scholarship interviewer about them! As sponsoring organisations use the interview as a chance to get to know their potential scholars better, your choice of electives showcases your individuality and where your passions lie.

Polytechnics also offer lots of modules off the beaten track that make for interesting and catchy anecdotes. Did you learn the “Art of Negotiation” to improve your people skills and make you more effective in the boardroom? Or did “AI and Machine Learning” awaken your passion for robots and data?

This goes for CCAs as well. Polytechnics typically offer lots of different CCAs and people are involved in more than one. Go through your experiences and pick out some anecdotes that will resonate with your interviewer, like a moment when you demonstrated thought leadership or a campaign that required highly collaborative management.

Don’t just blindly list the weird and wacky, though. Make sure your choices tell a story about what you learnt, why you learnt it, and why it’s relevant to the organisation.


Tip 2: The Importance of Internships

Did you take an internship with the organisation previously? You absolutely must mention it if you did.

Even if it was not that specific organisation, internships are a good indicator that you are dedicated to a field and willing to work hard. After all, you probably sacrificed a holiday or two to work with a company and experience its day-to-day firsthand. Even the mandatory internship under your Diploma involved a measure of dedication and time.

Internships also demonstrate direct work relevance. For example, if you’re applying for the SG:D Scholarship, a previous internship with a production house or animation studio would be something to mention.

As above, always keep the focus on what you learnt and how you matured from this experience. It’s also good to come up with specific examples, like how a particular task led to a deeper understanding of the industry or a person who was influential and inspiring.


Tip 3: Get Some Testimonials

As you know, you picked what you wanted to study. And so, you picked your teachers too. In fact, some students choose certain modules because they want to learn under a particular lecturer.

If that’s the case, be sure to not just bring it up in your interview, but also get a testimonial. Testimonials from polytechnic lecturers you studied under carry weight because there’s an element of your individual choice in them – why did you take this module and ask this particular person?

If it is late and you have already left school, don’t worry! Just try asking your former lecturers, it is likely they’ll be willing to help (though you may need to jog their memory a little).


Tip 4: Documents on hand

If it’s a video interview, have your testimonials, records, and certificates up in a separate browser window so you can screen-share at a moment’s notice. If it’s a phone interview, they should be on your workspace for easy referral.

Of course, all applicants should have their documents at the ready in case they need to refer to something. But it’s especially important for the polytechnic graduate because your interviewers may not be as familiar with your studies compared to your JC/IB counterparts. While most of us have a general idea of what someone studied in JC, polytechnics are a smorgasbord of courses and your interviewer probably doesn’t know the specifics of the ones you took.

We recommend pulling up the course descriptions for modules you want to emphasise as well. That way, you can provide an overview of the content before delving into what about it impressed you.


Whatever your background, it’s up to you to impress the scholarship interview panel! Make it work!

Photo by Edward Jenner from Pexels

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