Westpac Social Change Fellowship: 10 tips for writing a successful application
15 July 2019 at 8:32 am
If you had the chance to invest in your professional and personal development to increase your impact, would you do it? The Westpac Social Change Fellowship gives you this opportunity.
Unlike other social innovation programs, it focuses on the growth and development of the individual, not the organisation. This program is all about you. And what you need to grow as a leader to drive positive social change in Australia.
Each year the Westpac Scholars Trust awards 10 fellowships each valued up to $50,000, and applications for 2020 are now open.
We asked last year’s successful Social Change Fellows to share their tips for preparing the best application possible. Here are their top 10 tips:
- Critically reflect on your personal development needs
Show how the fellowship would be a turning point for you and how it would help build your capacity to drive social change.
“Be honest with yourself – what is blocking you on your leadership and personal development journey? What are your strengths and weaknesses, and how you would use the fellowship to build on them? This process is about helping you as an individual to create the biggest possible impact on the world, so put a lot of thought into what will make you a powerful enabler of social change.”
- Do your research
Thoroughly research the fellowship opportunity and craft a well-considered development plan.
“Have a complete plan as to what you want to do to support your needs. It’s beautiful to be able to fantasize about what you would do if you had $50,000 at your fingertips, but you need to spend hours and hours researching how to utilise your time and money to invest in yourself the best way possible. Be flexible with your plan but also be clear about what you need to learn from your fellowship.”
- Seek advice from others
Social Change Fellows understand the importance of collaboration and connection.
“You are strengthened by a team being on the journey with you, whether a peer, mentor, board member. Reach out to current or previous Social Change Fellows. Be open-minded and ask for feedback and suggestions to refine your initiative or to help you discover new connections or fresh opportunities for personal growth.”
- Consider how networks can support you
Social Change Fellows need to demonstrate an ability to collaborate and network to achieve outcomes. What will access to these new networks mean for you?
“When I applied for the fellowship, I underestimated the power of the Westpac network and the Westpac Scholars (W100) Alumni as enablers. If I had known more about how I could work with these networks and how they could benefit me, I would have written a different application.”
- Think big
Your initiative must be innovative and meet an unmet need in the Australian community.
“A bold initiative requires thinking beyond the ordinary to the extraordinary. Be brave, push yourself beyond comfort zones and self-limiting fear, to where the real growth happens. Aim high and shoot well beyond your means and dreams. I never considered doing half the things I’ve ended up doing.”
- Show them the real you
Social Change Fellows are leaders, innovators and pioneers from all walks of life.
“Make sure that who you are and what drives you come across in your application. Social Change Fellows are selected because of how they think and what they think is possible, rather than the projects or issues they represent. Share your story and show them your authentic self.”
- Be clear and concise
Social Change Fellows must be good communicators.
“When you live and breathe your work every day, it’s easy to forget to tell your story from the beginning. Remember you’re speaking to people who are likely to be hearing of your organisation, approach or even your cause for the very first time. Start at the beginning but be clear and concise. And most of all, be compelling.”
- Give this opportunity the time it deserves
Unlike other social innovation programs, the Social Change Fellowship is an investment in you.
“Don’t treat this like just another task on the ‘To Do’ list. Think of this as an extraordinary opportunity that requires your focus and attention.”
- Start your application early
Don’t leave the application until the last minute.
“Give yourself plenty of time to tell your story in a way that conveys your passion. It might need a few takes before it’s good enough.”
- If at first you don’t succeed, try again when the time is right
Key attributes of a Social Change Fellow are resilience and perseverance.
“Don’t be too discouraged if you aren’t successful the first time around. When I initially applied, I didn’t make it to the interview stage. I found that the process of putting together an application was helpful as a way of thinking about what I was doing and why. After continuing to grow, challenge myself and to work to establish my social initiative, I reapplied two years later with a much more considered vision and was fortunate enough to be successful.”
Thanks to our 2019 Social Change Fellows for their tips; Dr Shelley Bowen, Lyndon Galea, Nipuni Wijewickrema, Sarah Powell, Summer Elizabeth, Tori Haar and Tanya Dupagne.
Applications are now open for the 2020 Westpac Social Change Fellowships. Apply or nominate someone today.
Register for an information webinar on 17 July, hosted by the Westpac Scholars Trust and a Social Change Fellow, to learn more about the fellowship.
Read more about the Westpac Social Change Fellowship guidelines and FAQs here.