“There is a time for everything,
and a time for every activity under the heavens” – Ecclesiastes, 3:1
I quote these words to offer assurance to every person out there, especially in these uncertain times, who is trying and failing. Your efforts, while unsuccessful, embody success in their persistence. Something similar happened to me when I was applying to be an Atlas Corps Fellow.
I came across the Fellowship in 2017, and, of course, one does not let an opportunity like this go by without at least trying for it! By the end of 2018, I was a semi-finalist. However, after that, the matching process seemed to take forever. There were simply no host organisation matches for me! So, my impatient self hastily gave up on the Fellowship.
Life moved on, and, in November 2019, I was eating pizza for lunch in a café in Bhutan, when I checked my email. I had been matched with SAP for the Fellowship cohort of January 2020. Life changed soon after.
The next few months moved at whirlwind pace. I interviewed with two members of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) team at SAP – two wonderful women who are now my supervisors. My acceptance email arrived soon after. Then, pre-Fellowship preparations and visa applications followed suit. Notice I mention ‘visa applications’ (in plural). My visa got rejected the first time, leading me to believe that I was not getting a chance at this Fellowship after all.
The team at Atlas Corps encouraged me to reapply, and I did – for what did I have to lose except face another rejection, right? I highly suspect that the second time around, that visa would still not be sitting in my hands had it not been for the Atlas team’s help in reaching out to the embassy as well as in preparing me for the interview. And as soon as I had resigned to the fact that this Fellowship just was not meant to be for me, it actually, wonderfully, really was.
The purpose of recounting this story is to tell you, future Fellow, that, sometimes, the process is long. Which life-changing experience ever came easily? For me, it occurred when I was ready to live independently in the true sense, far away from my comfort zone. Factors such as a cooperative team and an understanding host organisation played to my favour, as did the fact that I was just finishing an assignment in my country, making it the right time. Indeed, timing was perfect in every way that I could have asked for. I hope that it is the same for you.
For the aspiring applicant, here are a few retrospective thoughts on the application and the interview process:
- Read the instructions: And read them once again! Information about how to write your short bio and requirements from other answers are mentioned in the application, wherever necessary. Most questions are subjective, and, hence, open-ended.
- Play to your strengths: You have multiple strengths and areas of expertise. But, which ones would you want to highlight? That depends on how you want to place yourself in the professional world.
- Be your authentic self in the interviews: Interviews vary, as do interviewers. But, what all interviewers want to know is who you are professionally and personally to gauge whether you would fit in with their team. Be yourself.
- Get in touch: Prior Fellows and the Atlas Corps team are approachable if you have questions. Know the process and ask if there are doubts.