Theodore Roosevelt once said, "Do what
you can where you are with what you’ve got.” Although not intended as a
motivational message for application submissions, Roosevelt’s statement speaks
to how to prepare a successful application. You must demonstrate your skills,
strengths, and experiences in the best possible manner.
The essay can be the most difficult
part of the application. Writing succinctly is very important since there is a
1,000 word limit. However, the essay portion of any application is where you
can make yourself stand out from the crowd. Reviewers evaluate writing style,
focus, and quality of writing. Describe personal and professional experiences
as they relate to each fellowship position for which you are applying. Write
clearly and use proper grammar and punctuation. Applicants may score low if
they send in one generic essay for numerous positions or they do not
demonstrate why they would be the best candidate. Reviewers also look for
personal characteristics that would make the applicant a valuable participant.
Strength of overall academic record and the successful completion of
course work relevant to the focus of the fellowship are very important
indicators of a successful applicant. Obviously you cannot change the past, but
quality of work, appropriateness of courses and good academic standing are
rated highly. Reviewers look at course work and evaluate whether the classes
are relevant to the fellowship position. Sometimes
applicants are scored low because of this, but there are many other deciding
factors. Many applicants are offered fellowship positions despite the lack of
pertinent course work or stellar academic performance because their
applications excel in other areas.
Practical experience (internships, jobs, research) in a related subject
area is important. Include all relevant experiences in your resume. Hands-on
experience which required the applicant to work independently and follow
projects to completion is especially important.
Letters must come from academic faculty and/or preventive medicine or
public health professionals. Try to avoid getting recommendations from
individuals who supervised you in strictly clerical positions. Rather, try to
choose a person who knows you well and can comment on your abilities and
interests. Choose someone who can write a persuasive and enthusiastic
endorsement of you and your qualities. Many applicants lose points because it
becomes clear the person writing the letter does not know the applicant and is
merely summarizing the applicant’s resume.Reviewers/Mentors
are often interested in the type of person they will be training and how they
will handle the training environment. They want someone who will be a positive
addition to CDC and who will contribute to the overall fellowship program.
Solid recommendations help convince reviewers you are that type of person.