If you were not selected to be a Mandela Washington Fellow, you are far from alone. Remember that thousands of energetic young leaders competed for just 700 placements. For many, this isn’t the first time they have faced this particular disappointment. Former Fellows who have been in your situation would agree on two main points:
- Don’t give up.
- Start preparing yourself now: There are things you can do between now and the 2020 application season that will improve your chances.
Their advice is particularly helpful because not only can they can help explain why their applications succeeded, but in some cases they can also share what they learned from previous mistakes. Many Fellows have responded to questions on the YALI Facebook page, and this blog post summarizes some of their best recommendations.
Adepeju Jaiyeoba, a 2014 Fellow from Nigeria, compiled her own list of tips as a 2015 guest blogger. She wrote a whole series of posts on the YALI Network’s Face2Face page offering advice on how to answer the application essay questions. You may want to consider sharing your application and essays with a Fellow you know to get personal advice on how they can be improved.
Several Fellows, with the application experience still fresh in their minds, had good advice on ways to improve your English skills, which of the three tracks you should choose, how best to show your accomplishments, and what the Fellowship means when it asks for a “proven record of leadership.” They also highlighted many ways that using the YALI Network’s power to connect people will give you an advantage next time.
Be sure to read 2016 MWF Alfousseni Sidibé’s excellent blog post on how he overcame not being selected in 2014 and 2015. He said he took this advice from automaker Henry Ford: “Failure provides the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.”