Outline: Real testimonial from Emília de Abreu, an Economics student at ISCTE Business School who wishes to share her amazing international experience in the US with the Uduni community after being awarded a Fulbright Foundation $12,000 Scholarship! After the huge success of her first article, our amazing contributor Emília de Abreu continues to describe her experience, sharing her learnings with the Uduni community once again!
AFTER YOUR APPLICATION
I believe that at this instant you have already got your application ready and you might be wondering what the next step is! Or, in case that you have submitted an outstanding application where you have presented nothing but the prominent candidate that you are, Fulbright is going to invite you for an interview.
Don’t be nervous! You have already gone so far and this is your ultimate chance to show how much better you are in person than you were described in that document.
BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
To conclude my candidature I was invited to an interview at the Fulbright Commission in Portugal. Instantly, I felt like starting to practise for it, although it was only on the 23rd of March! I always like to be ready even though I don’t know what is waiting for me.
While trying to anticipate what the interview would be like, I noticed that there is nothing on the internet about SUSI candidates’ interviews. Then I eagerly anticipated my meeting, making a research about how Fulbright scholars’ interviews were like. On the contrary to what I foresaw, later I realised that the investigation I had made was not as useful as I thought.
Also, I found out that one reason for the lack of these advices is that the candidature processes are not equal in all countries. Accordingly, in some of them a stage like an interview is not always a requisite.
Questions that were meaningful for my interview’s preparation:
- Why are you applying?
- Are you open to new trials and ideas?
- How ready are you for challenges in a new culture?
- How prone are you to pursuing the project you have proposed yourself to?
- What strengths do you have that will help you pursuing that project?
- Are you able to adapt to a new cultural environment?
- What do you think will be your biggest worry once in the United States?
Reflecting about these questions helped me indirectly during my interview. It is impossible to predict what is going to be asked to you, but one thing is certain: the questions are about you and about what you wrote.
THE BIG DAY!
You must be at the Fulbright Commission’s office on time! ‘Punctuality is a virtue’, they say!
Another key point is how you present yourself! It is equally important to be presentable, maintain an approachable and professional aspect. You have worked hard submitting a winning application, given that… What do you want to look like?
Although this may be true, when I arrived at the Commission’s office not everybody was wearing a suit. I was! Not because it was required, but because I wanted to. As an economics’ student and as a fashion blogger I am used to be dressed in formal clothes for presentations and at events, also this was another manner (for me) of getting more comfortable and confident. My recommendation for you is: dress some elegant clothes that make you feel that way!
On the one hand, the way you look isn’t everything and that is not the reason why you are there! On the other hand, all the 2015 Portuguese winners did ‘suit up’ for their interviews. Coincidence?
Additionally, I suggest you not to be nervous, the interview is in a friendly and easy-going environment. Leave stress behind and be as confident as you can be!
While waiting why not chatting with the other candidates? That was what I did in order to kill some time and to loosen up before being called. In the meanwhile, I met Carlos who was applying for the second time and this was also his second round on an interview. Immediately, I took a chance and asked him what was expecting me. What he told me was what I already mentioned: this meeting is about you! Fulbright wants to know the worthwhile asset that was described in those papers you sent!
Later on, when the winning candidates’ names were made public, I saw that Carlos’ was between them. So, if you are not called this time for an interview try again next year! You have got nothing to lose!
DURING THE INTERVIEW:
As I entered in the room I greeted everybody with a smile and a handshake. Without delay, I was asked to take a sit in front of three people who eventually would start making me questions. It was not as scary as it may seem, everybody were kind and the inquiries’ target was to get to know me. These aren’t ‘yes or no’ questions, there is no wrong or right, there is only your answer!
Share your vision with them! Tell them why are you a leader and how do you bring prosperity to your community! If possible, promote your ideas and your long term visions. That was what I did. I was also asked to tell a few more instances about my personal statements (the essay questions) because the interviewers were curious and interested in them.
When you go to your interview, remember: these representatives are devoting 15 minutes of their time to be all ears to you! You are in the spotlight, take advantage of it! I made the best use I could of my time and as a matter of fact in the very next day I received a call from Fulbright, I had been chosen to be a Portuguese finalist!
Further, my application was send to Washington, DC and on the 26th of May all of the sudden I received a phone call and a letter confirming that from all European students I was one of the 20 chosen ones who won the ‘Study of the U.S. Institute for European Student Leaders on Environmental Issues’ grant.
WHAT ARE THE LONG TERM BENEFITS OF PARTICIPATING?
I would regret so much if I had not applied to this scholarship and let this opportunity slip like sand through my fingers. It has open so many doors! Here are a few from the many benefits I had acquired from this experience :
- Knowledge: In 5 weeks I gained so much awareness about topics I never had a chance to deeply study about. I explored so many new places I have never heard about and did not have a clue that existed! Regions and insights regarding environmental stewardship and American culture.
- Leadership strengthen and training;
- Brand new friends: I made more than 30 new friendships with awe-inspiring people from all over the globe who spent this summer experience with me and made it majestic! At the present time, we are still in touch with each other.
- Fulbright and US Embassy Fellowship: The Fulbright Commission and the US Embassy in Portugal do an extraordinary work empowering their Alumni networks. They maintain constant contact thought electronic platforms, organizing Alumni events or educational ones;
- International Exchange Alumni (US Department of State Platform): Once you become an Alumni, you will be able to accept this platform where you can find tools to make every project of yours successful.
Being just an undergraduate who was selected last year to represent Portugal in one of the SUSI institutes, everything I am sharing with you is based on my experience as a candidate. In case you have any formal difficulty, you must read all the information associated with the programme you are applying to. All you need to know is available on Fulbright website. Still, I recommend you to get in touch with your country’s Commission by the contacts that were made available to you.
The SUSI scholarships are worth $12,000 but they are not directly supplied to the students. This amount of money is the sum of the total costs involved in the student’s grant.
Some useful links:
- SUSI INFO: http://www.fulbright.pt/articles/study-of-the-u-s-institutes-susi-for-student-leaders-from-europe/study-of-the-u-s-institutes-susi-for-student-leaders-from-europe
- My Fulbright Experience (written in Portuguese): http://www.fulbright.pt/articles/my-fulbright-experience/emilia-de-abreu
- Studying in the USA! When, What and Why? http://simplicityischic.blogspot.pt/2015/07/studying-at-usa-when-what-and-why.html
- Exclusive Report From a Fulbright Foundation Scholarship Recipient: http://uduni.com/fulbright-foundation-scholarship-susi-application
Author: Emília de Abreu
“One of my biggest traits is to search for reasons and motives, I am very careful about my choices and decisions. Notably, I always take great satisfaction from being busy and productive, especially when I am writing or working with brands, press and media as part of my blogger tasks.” Fulbright Alumnus: Portuguese Student Leader Representative at SUSI on Environmental Stewardship 2015. Currently studying Economics at ISCTE Business School and blogging at Simplicity is Chic.