These days, information is literally at your fingertips. When it comes to researching on a scholarship provider, all you need to do is to punch in the search terms on Google, and you’ll get a ton of resources. In addition to the official websites, you may also get to access forums, social media channels and articles centred on scholarships.
However, in order to have an actual “feel” of the scholarship provider, nothing beats interacting with the people, scholars, and key decision makers who are working in the organisation. When you are conversing face-to-face, they tend to share in a more candid and personal manner. Most definitely, you’ll get a perspective of what’s beyond the “About Us” page. Most importantly, you should be able to discover if the organisation and the work it does suit you or not.
An internship with the organisation would be ideal. But otherwise, the next best thing is to attend their networking or scholarship events.
Many scholarship providers put together these events in partnership with schools. For instance, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) participated in events such as HCI (Hwa Chong Institution) Scholarship Day, Raffles Institution Career- Scholarship Fair, as well as career fairs organised by tertiary institutions. They have officers and sometimes directors in attendance, who will talk about their career journey in IRAS so far.
Some scholarship providers have their in-house career fairs.
Ministry of Health Holdings (MOHH) puts together their annual Healthcare Scholarships Fair, where aspiring scholars can talk to healthcare practitioners from across the industry. In addition, there are panel dialogues, career talks and hands-on activities for students to learn more about a career in healthcare.
You can look out for similar events through the scholarship providers’ websites or through your school. And if you attending these events, here are some tips that will help you get the best out of your time there.
As the saying goes, “when you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail”. Firstly, nail down your reason for attending these events. Are you looking to build your contacts or is it simply a fact-finding mission on the industry? Formulate your objectives and stick to them when you are at the event. If you are stuck on that, you may want to look at the list of presenters at the event, or grab an agenda via the event website. These may help you draft your objectives and sieve out the people you want to build a connection with. This should keep you focused throughout the event, and somewhat ensure that you do not leave empty-handed.
Dress for the occasion
First impressions last. The event may be held within your campus compounds, or the weather may be particularly humid, but always make sure that you are well-groomed and dressed appropriately. A positive attitude will bring significant dividends, too. In fact, this rule applies every single time you meet new people. Nobody really enjoys talking to a listless, unshaven and unkempt person regardless of his credentials.
Memorise Your Elevator Pitch
The time that you get to spend with an officer or a presenter is probably limited. So, you will have to make the best of it. With that in mind, make sure you memorise your elevator pitch, which consists of a few key things such as your name, where you are studying at and your background. In essence, it’s a summary of yourself that can be recited in 60 seconds or less. Spend some time on your elevator pitch, as it can determine if the person you are “pitching” to wants to engage and learn more about you.
Prepare the Essentials
Don’t ever go to an event without your business cards and a pen. It is not unusual nowadays to hear of undergraduates having business cards of their own. It shows they take themselves and their future seriously, as they bothered to spend the effort and money to have these cards made.
Or, in this digital age, update your LinkedIn profile. If you are using the app, you can access someone else’s profile or share yours via a QR Code. The MY CODE tab can be accessed via the QR Code symbol on your search bar.
The pen is handy after every introduction or discussion, as you can note down each new contact’s strengths or skills you wish to tap on later. This way, you won’t forget or get confused with the many other people you may have met at the event.
Leave the food at the end
Some events offer food and drinks. You may be hungry, but try to leave the eating until the end. It may be a little awkward trying to balance your plate of food on one hand, while trying to exchange name cards on the other. In the rare event where alcohol is served, limit your intake to just two drinks. While alcohol can be a social glue, too much of it will leave you in a sticky mess.