The Chevening Scholarship is Britain’s most prestigious scholarship programme, providing fully-funded one-year master’s degrees. This year the competition is even more fierce than in previous years. Competition for Chevening Fellowships in particular is very strong, so it is vital for you to stand out from the crowd. It can be difficult to know what kind of essay will catch the eye of the Chevening Scholarship selection panel. The good news is that there are a few things you can do to make sure your application really stands out from the crowd, and we have some examples below:
Essay 1: Leadership and Influence
“Chevening is looking for individuals who will be future leaders or influencers in their home countries. Explain how you meet this requirement, using clear examples of your own leadership and influencing skills to support your answer.”
It is increasingly becoming a well-known fact that ‘influence is the new currency for success.’ This is especially true in this new social media era where several careers have taken off on the strength of social media influence alone, and a number of political careers have been elevated through the power and ubiquity of social media. Former American President Barack Obama, who used the Internet to orchestrate an unprecedented political campaign mainly using social media, is a prime example. As such, I am well aware that influence and leadership are intertwined, where one cannot exist without the other.
Amassing influence is, therefore, in my opinion, the surest way of achieving one’s leadership goals because, essentially, people can only be motivated to follow a person who possesses some degree of influence. It is with this knowledge in mind that I have therefore endeavored to build my influence over the years in order to develop into a leader within both my profession and my community. This has seen me take on various leadership responsibilities in school, at work, and in the community.
In high school, I held two main leadership responsibilities
— I was both the head Girl and Netball Captain at Kereri Girls High School. Being a Head Girls the highest leadership position one can attain as a secondary school student, and as you can well imagine, with it came a lot of weighty responsibilities. I was the overall leader of all prefects in the school and had to carefully use my influence to guide them towards exercising thoughtful and balanced leadership over the rest of the students. As the Netball Captain, I had to motivate my teammates towards achieving success in the various national and provincial competitions we would take part in. Even at the university, I found myself in a leadership role where I was tasked with heading the Fourth Year University Project Group.
Professionally, I have consistently exercised my leadership skills throughout my career. As the Branch Operations Supervisor at NIC Bank, I oversaw teller operations, back-office, and customer service operations, and guided staff accordingly. In fact, in recognition of my leadership capabilities, I was rewarded with the ‘NIC Bank Branch ForexChampion’ award. These leadership roles have continued as I progress in my career at NIC and currently, I chair the NIC Securities Limited Welfare Committee.
Within the community, however, is where I have most enjoyed exerting my influence as a leader because it has helped me to contribute towards the betterment of society in my own little way. I am a Mentor at Nyabururu GirlsHigh School, Kerri Girls High School, and the Equity Bank Wings to FlyProgram. As a mentor, I have been able to guide young people in terms of professional and academic mentoring, as well as financial support especially with respect to sanitary towels and other school items. In addition, I currently work with the Uthiru Area Chief to support disadvantaged families by donating clothes, food, and some financial support.
Essay 2: Networking
“Chevening is looking for individuals with strong professionalrelationship-building skills, who will engage with the Cheveningcommunity and influence and lead others in their chosen profession.Please explain how you build and maintain relationships in aprofessional capacity, using clear examples of how you currently dothis, and outline how you hope to use these skills in the future.”
I believe that building a strong network is crucial for professional success, regardless of the career that one is in. From my own personal experience, I have come to discover that a strong and expansive network is invaluable as it provides you with insight into different trends in the professional world, in addition to giving you access to insider information on job vacancies. Moreover, there is so much one can learn just by interacting with people in different fields. I, for one, have learned so much from medical professionals that I have networked with, knowledge that has allowed to me to better take care of my health by way of new nutritional choices I have made as well as preventative measures have adopted against potential lifestyle diseases such as diabetes. After all, knowledge is power, and one of the best ways of gaining knowledge is simply by interacting with people who are more knowledgeable than you.
Social media networking has personally proven to be one of the most effective ways of building and maintaining relationships. I read somewhere that social networks represent the digital reflection of what humans do: we connect and share.’ This is undeniable since social media has become the new way of forging relationships and sharing information. Personally, I love social media because I feel like it’s the first step towards discovering professionals in the fastest, most convenient, and affordable way. LinkedIn, in particular, has been such an indispensable platform that has allowed me to connect with professionals from my field and other professions as well. Understanding how the LinkedIn algorithm works and how to use SEO in LinkedIn has been priceless in helping me to build incredibly valuable connections with professionals within and outside of my field from all over the world. I am very proactive on LinkedIn, making sure to comment on posts or respond to comments on my own posts, ensuring that I add value as much as I can. When I finally get to meet these connections in person, it is so much easier for me to pick up from our online conversations and make reference to my previous communications with them.
Even Facebook has been a great networking platform for me. Despite its reputation as being strictly for social engagements, I have discovered that there are a number of Facebook groups that are very professional and they have provided me with the opportunity to meet new professionals and learn new things. I have also had the pleasure of adding value and gaining from others as well.
Other than social media, I do also enjoy face-to-face networking events. The NIC Bank End Year Party, for example, has been a great avenue where I have been fortunate enough to create and nurture lasting relationships. During this party, I have made concerted efforts to meet colleagues that I rarely get to engage with during the year and even learn of various happenings in the company that I otherwise would not have been privy to.
Essay 3: Studying in the UK
“Outline why you have selected your chosen three university courses, and explain how this relates to your previous academic or professional experience and your plans for the future. Please do not duplicate the information you have entered on the work experience and education section of this form.”
For my master’s degree course, I have a keen interest in specialising inFinancial Economics and seek to pursue it in the UK at the University ofManchester, the University of Kent, or the University of Glasgow. My decisionto zero in on Financial Economics as opposed to any other course has beenunderpinned by my long-term career goal, which is to rise through theprofessional ranks to eventually become the Chief Financial Economist in theNational Treasury (Kenya). I am acutely aware that such a senior andimportant position will require expert-level knowledge and advancedunderstanding of financial analysis, planning and strategy, international andbilateral trade, investment policy, micro and macro-economic trends, global,regional, and sectoral developments, international business development,negotiating international agreements, trade litigation, and the production anddistribution of goods and services. It additionally requires the ability to collectand process economical and statistical data, in addition to carrying out tradeand economic research and high-level analysis using different sampling andeconometric methods, hence my desire to become an expert in FinancialEconomics.
Evidently, a rigorous course that equips me with the above knowledge andpractical skills, and more, will therefore be critical. From my extensiveresearch, all the three universities I have chosen offer very high quality training in Financial Economics and I am confident that any of the threeuniversities are well equipped to help me advance my knowledge in this area.The University of Manchester, in particular, stands out to me because it hasbeen ranked at sixth place in the UK in the 2019 Academic Ranking of WorldUniversities. It also offers a wide array of facilities and resources, plusnumerous societies at the university, which will provide me with excellentopportunities for networking and exchanging great ideas.
Moreover, the Financial Economics course ties in perfectly with my currenteducational background and professional experience. I possess a Bachelor ofScience in Actuarial Science from the University of Nairobi, and CISI Level 1and Level 2 professional qualifications. Given my existing grasp of financeand economics, I will be able to cope with the challenges of the course withrelative ease. As far as my work experience is concerned, I presently work asan Equities and Fixed Income Trader at NIC Securities Ltd. Before thisposition, I had worked as the Operations Assistant/ Supervisor at NIC BankKenya, the Relationship Officer (Operations) at Equity Bank Limited, the Acting Supervisor (Operations) at Equity Bank Limited, and the RelationshipOfficer (Operations) at Equity Bank Limited, respectively. These professional experiences perfectly lend themselves to the field of Financial Economics,and I have no doubt that I will be able to draw on my considerable hands-onexperience in both Finance and Economics to handle the course’s requirements. My work and education are essentially going to serve as anatural progression into a Financial Economics career path.
Essay 4: Career Plan
“Chevening is looking for individuals who have a clear post-studycareer plan. Please outline your immediate plans upon returning homeand your longer-term career goals. You may wish to consider how theserelate to what the UK government is doing in your country.”
I intend to put the new skills and knowledge I will have acquired from myeducation in the UK into good use in Kenya. Therefore, my immediate short-term career goal as soon as I return to the country will be to use my newqualifications to search for a job that is commensurate withmy master’sdegree course. The position I already have in mind is that of a PersonalFinancial Advisor as it is a financial/economics advisory role, a role that I amvery interested in. I will also seek a job as a Financial Analyst, Budget Analyst, Management Analyst, and any other related job. I anticipate thatgetting my first job after returning home will not be too difficult given myexistingprofessional experience and the master’s degree I will have obtained.Moreover, since I have already built excellent relationships at NIC Bank, it willbe the first place that I seek employment from. In whatever new job I will havesecured, I will be able to put into practice everything I will have learnt in the UK.
My medium-term career goal is to establish a consultancy company where Iwill be providing expert advice on all things business, finance, accounting, andeconomics. This will present an admittedly daunting yet rewarding challengeto me as it will be the first time I will be stepping out of formal employment intorunning my own business. This I plan to venture into after about 5 years ofemployment. By this time, I expect to have gained enough knowledge andskills, and should have saved enough capital to sustain my business for at east 1 year. This one year grace year period will allow me to roll up mysleeves and build the necessary foundation for the business from the groundup before it becomes profitable and sustainable on its own. I quite lookforward to this challenge.
I will give myself about 10 years in this capacity so as to develop my skills,expertise, and also a strong network of professionals in the corporate worldand government before eventually applying for a senior position such as ChiefFinancial Economist in the National Treasury. This is my ultimate long-termcareer goal. By this point, I will be in a much better position to use all theinformation I will have accrued from my education and work experience toprovide the requisite expert advice that the government and governmentbodies need.