We're a little crazy, about science!

Fellowship applications

Well looks like we’re switching gears. That’s right, now that I’ve finished (FINALLY!) writing the draft of my grant proposal, I can move on to some other funding opportunities. It’s fellowship season and since it ’tis the season, I need to iron out my CV and best of all I get to do something different!… wait it’s just more writing.

That’s write (see what I did there?). I get to switch from writing one thing, to writing something totally different. Fellowship applications are a lot like writing a paper for a journal. You first plan an experiment, maybe even collect some data, and then you realize that maybe you should’ve taken a different path in life. Finally, you dive in and write out what you did, what you’re doing, and what you plan to do next.

The trick is that just like a scientific journal, each fellowship has its own requirements, style, and aims. Some are more demanding than others, but each has its own pitfalls and problems. Because I was grant writing this month, I’m behind the curve. I still have quite a bit of work to do and I’m not 100% sure that I’m going to make it.

The problem is references. For any fellowship you need a certain number of people who work with you or have worked with you in the past to say you’re a good student. Usually the list includes your current PI, former PI’s (if applicable), possibly employers, but usually they want academics so depending on the number of people you need a letter from, you may be digging deep into your contact list.

Luckily I’m a MS to PhD and I have some years behind the PhD now (just two, but they count) so I have connections and people to ask, that isn’t the problem. The problem comes from the fact that these are all very busy people who require advanced notice and a few of the fellowships I’m eyeballing (applying for) have deadlines sooner than I would like.

Since I’ve finished my grant proposal, I have a good framework for just about any fellowship I apply to. Now it’s a matter of formatting and getting all the other requirements in order. That means, CV, transcripts, etc need to be gathered. Nothing too crazy, but it all takes a little bit of time. Once I get it all organized though, most of the requirements are the same across the board so I’ll only need to do the work once (unlike reformating my proposal… gurr).

Point of today? Take the proper amount of time to write you grant/fellowship/whatever. Remember to give the people you need something from plenty of time to get it done. That last part is more about being polite than anything (in my opinion), but sometimes, like in this case, that isn’t always an option. Typically I plan ahead, but my main PI threw me off with the last minute grant writing suggestion.


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