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Thursday, 16 April 2015

6 Steps to Winning a Fully Funded International Opportunity

By Uju Silver

I understand the difficulty involved in getting an all-expenses-paid offer to attend a conference or an internship. It is usually very difficult and extremely competitive. Nonetheless, this should not deter you from trying again and again.

A lot of us want to travel abroad on all expense paid trips, gain international experience and build our CVs but here are my own tips that can help prepare you and give you the opportunity you desire.

  1. Identify your niche and the type of conference you want to attend. This is very key in getting the opportunity to attend a conference, or getting an internship. There are specialized programs and there are general ones. It's important that you identify the kinds of conferences and internships you are interested in. Don’t try to do everything. Be selective.
  2. Start Local. You may not have the opportunity now to attend conferences abroad but there are conferences in your country or locality that you can attend to help build your capacity. Start with local seminars, events, symposia and other capacity building programs that can be of help.
  3. Volunteer and Intern Locally. This is one of the most difficult parts for young people but it is very essential. The desire to make quick money and the economic situations we all find ourselves makes it very difficult to do this. But it is the starting point. People need to see that you have the experience and that you are someone they can work with. They need to see that you have the experience, you are loyal, committed and money is not the drive for you. They need to see that you are interested in gaining experience and adding value.
  4. Always Review your Applications. We do not know all. Therefore it is important that you have someone who is more knowledgeable in the field you are interested in and can help review your application. Constantly go back to your applications. You will see that you are getting better in terms of your writing style, content, sentences and approach.
  5. Always have a Support Folder. All applications cannot be the same and do not have the same criteria, structure or guidelines. It is therefore important that every application you send out is saved somewhere. Always save your personal statements, Motivation letters and previous applications. You will need them. The more you keep going back to previous applications the better your applications will get
  6. Don’t Stop Trying. Many of us are always discouraged when we get emails that start like this “Dear… we are pleased that you are actively involved in…. and we encourage your efforts. However due to the large number of applications we have received, we are unable to proceed with your application. You can follow the event via Facebook, twitter and YouTube. We look forward to hearing about your activities. We look forward to your application next year”

I know you can relate to this. I have read it severally that I wrote this from my head without having to go back to previous mails of reject, failed applications and disappointment. My attitude has become one of “what is the worse that could happen?”

Actually, what is the worse that could happen? The worse is that you will be rejected again and life continues. Equate this with the number of “NOs”, failed courses, failed relationships, failed dates, failed job interviews, job applications and you are still carrying on with so much hope, faith and vigor that someday it will get better.

That tells you that these applications are just a tip of the iceberg, a tip of the greatness that is going to come your way. If other people can get it then you can. Imagine how many times you have been singled out of many people to be honored. That means that you can be selected.

Now go ahead to to get your opportunity. I wish you the best!

Ononuju Silver

Ononuju is a graduate of International Law and Diplomacy from Babcock University. He is passionate about contemporary development issues such as leadership, education, peace building, conflict prevention, security, poverty alleviation, social change, volunteering, youth participation and governance. Uju is a recipient of the 2015 UN Exchange Learning Internship in Geneva.


  1. Very fruitful encouraging tips ... thanks for sharing your experience of application. (y)

  2. Insightful!.. Thank you for this.

  3. Very useful information, I liked the bit about volunteering. I have always known that volunteering was a key element in these applications but I am just getting to know why from your write up. Thanks

  4. A nice write up. More grace.

  5. Thank you so much for that article....I needed to read that. Feeling motivated!

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