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I wasn’t selected to be a Mandela Washington Fellow. What now?
February 3, 2022

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 next application season that will improve your chances.

Their advice is particularly helpful because not only can they 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 in past #YALIChats on the YALI Network Facebook page, and this blog post summarizes some of their best recommendations.

For more tips on writing, be sure to check out previous blog posts on how to pitch yourself in the personal essay, how to write a personal statement, and advice on preparing your resume.

Also check out the advice from Fellows 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.

For more ways to improve your English, download this English learning toolkit created by IREX and the University of Texas at Austin. This toolkit was designed to help members of the YALI community who are ESL speakers continue to develop their English skills.

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.”