We have all experienced it in one way or another. Scientists perhaps more than others – rejected papers, job applications, fellowships, grants or training applications. But what can we do when it happens again and again and again?
In the EMBL Course and Conference Office we see it all – our scientific courses are way oversubscribed, and competition is tough! We’ve taken a look at the most common mistakes that will lead to your application being rejected. These 10 tips will help you to be among the minority of successful course applicants, and while we can’t promise that every application you submit will be accepted, following these tips will ensure that you stay towards the top of the pile!
- Apply on time!
It sounds simple, but we have so many requests from late applicants to submit after the deadline. Newsflash – you won’t be considered! The application deadlines are part of a well-planned process, and we stick to it. So plan in advance and don’t leave things until the last minute!
- Complete ALL questions directly and clearly
Again – sounds simple, right? It’s amazing how many applicants think some questions are optional. Organisers have to select participants from a highly qualified pool of applicants, and if they have no comparison, you will be put straight on the “no” pile.
- Submit all requested documentation
Take the time to collate all requested documentation before submitting your application. If you make it past the first round, these will be vital in securing your spot in the final selection.
- Read the guidelines…and follow them!
Generally course guidelines will be provided. Take the time to read through them and make sure you follow them – they are there for a reason!
- Be sure that it is the right course for you
Make sure the course WILL actually be of benefit to you. Check that you have the required pre-requisites, and that the learning outcomes are the same as your learning desires.
- The motivation LETTER – not the motivation THESIS
Most likely you will be provided with a word limit. Stick to it. If you don’t have a word limit, don’t take this to mean you can write a thesis. The scientific organisers have a lot of applications to go through and limited time to do it. Yours needs to catch their eye from the onset, so make sure the important stuff stands out!
- The motivation letter – the important stuff!
This is perhaps the most important part of your course application, so take it seriously! There is a lot of competition, so show that you have put some effort into it. Things that you should definitely include:
- Why would you like to attend?
- What do you expect to learn?
- How will you benefit from what you learn?
- How and when will you use the skills learned on the course?
- A brief description of your current research and future plans
- Any relevant skills, experience and qualifications
- Your scientific career and training
- Relevance in the lab – is the knowledge lacking and can you pass it on?
- Show academic curiosity
Make it clear that you have done your research and are actually interested in the topic. If it is clear that you are only applying for the course because your PI told you to, chances that you’ll be considered are slim.
- Make sure you can spare the time and, if necessary, get a visa on time
If you have other commitments or think it won’t be possible to get a visa on time to enter the country where the course is taking place, please reconsider and apply for a course taking place at a later date. Otherwise you will take the spot of someone else who would be able to attend.
- Show your application to your supervisor
Ask your supervisor to check over your application before submitting. They will have much more experience in submitting successful applications and can give you advice on what to change and adapt to increase your chances of getting accepted.
So it’s over to you now! And if you’re not sure where to start looking for your next scientific training course, take a look at our upcoming events under www.embl.org/events.