The Path to Leadership
The last few weeks have been pretty hectic for me. Aside from the fact that semester 1 exams rolled around, and I was preparing to pass a whopping 10 different exams (4 now, thankfully!) I finally resolved a promise that I'd made to myself more than a year ago.
I applied to the Royal Academy of Engineering's 'Engineering Leaders Scholarship' program.
(The day before the deadline.)
(Yes, I was poring over it for a while!)
If you're interested in a summary of my application, you can watch my video submission here: ^
Like many students, throughout my first few years of university, I always strived to work on projects; to gain experience in student societies and internships, and improve my skillset.
But over the last year or so, I realised the value of branching out - looking for the opportunities that others actively create for students outside of university, to help them in their career journeys. The Royal Academy of Engineering, and their Engineering Leaders Scholarship program, is one of them.
Apart from the initial eye candy of receiving £5000 towards career related activities, I learnt throughout the application process about all the other benefits I could receive, and what I could provide as a result of joining the community. Access to a network of professional engineers, industry knowledge, the option to be mentored, as well as proper training in technical aspects.
It meant that when I finally sent my application off, I applied not only for monetary reasons, but with a clear vision in mind of how joining the program could benefit my career, as well as the careers of the engineers that I might potentially work with.
More than just a simple throwaway scholarship application, it gave me the chance to sit down and properly reflect on where I wanted the next steps in my academic life to take me.
As per the application process, I was asked to answer the usual questions. Post-16 studies, notable achievements, what motivated me to be an engineer. I drew inspiration from a lot of my early thoughts on the topic, as a 17 year old who loved space films, and was watching the early stages of Elon Musk's reusable Falcon 9 rockets finally make their first successful landing.
A lot of the application was focused around sustainable engineering, and how I would make an effort to promote it through my career, bringing to mind the UN's sustainable development goals, and the UK's plan to have net zero carbon emissions by 2050 - big targets in the industry for the coming decades.
I was asked to describe a situation involving engineering that left a positive impression of what being a leader in engineering could mean for me - and my first thoughts were towards Kestrel, my student drone project. Having managed a team of 20 students, in a project of 50+, I really got an insight into what it takes to help people function optimally at that scale. Even more than that, I think the lessons I learned in leadership, delegation and productivity on that level were transferable to fields outside of engineering; and in that sense, writing about those lessons really helped me realise the value I'd gained.
The Purchasing Pitch
Another very important part of the application process was answering the question of what I would use the resources for, and how they could advance my work as an engineering leader. It was an amazing chance for me to outline not just the benefits I'd get out of the program, but the specific steps I wanted to take to progress in those career-related activities, even without the help of the ELS.
If you follow my blog closely, you'll realise that I've been trying for a while to increase the amount of content I push out regularly - and whilst exams have halted that somewhat, my application was very much focused around my desire to share my lessons on social media.
This was my chance to outline every potential purchase I'd like to make. £5000 is a lot of money, and so in many ways, it was my pitch to explain what I would buy if I had all the money in the world.
Funnily enough, that was a good framework to use when thinking specifically about how I'd put the money towards career related activities, content creation and entrepreneurship - separate from anything I wanted personally just because it would be nice to have. (Probably a few donuts, I reckon - I think I'm getting a craving).
If you're curious about what I intended to buy, the full spending plan can be found here: ELS Funding Outline - Google Sheets
Why It Was Worth It
Far from just being an application that I put together to try and get some spending money - the process gave me a much needed push to introspect on where I was headed: whether that was in academia, my future career path in aerospace engineering, or my plans to create content and provide value from a more personal perspective.
If just the application process had that effect on me, I can't wait to see what any potential future opportunities might bring.
For anyone considering applying to a scholarship, or wanting to find one - I'd highly recommend you to start looking. People are out there willing to help you achieve your goals - in some cases, finding any excuse to help! Don't waste that chance.
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