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Sabrina Neeley PhD, Wright State University MPH ProgramTeaching Prevention 2015 Program Planning Chair
Patrick Remington MD MPH, University of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Medicine & Public HealthAssociate Dean for Public Health and Professor of Population Health Sciences

Tips for a Strong Application
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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.   

Essay

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 Credentials

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. 

Previous Experience

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 of Recommendation

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.

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