It’s a stressful time of year for many graduate students. There are midterms to write and midterms to grade. Project deadlines for the end of the semester are looming nearer even as emails reminding you to submit your syllabus and book list for next term start popping up in your inbox. While this might seem like a challenging time of year to start thinking about applying for external funding, it can be a good opportunity to start to strategize your approach to funding either you (fellowships) or specific projects (grants), not least because successfully applying for funding opportunities might make next fall semester much less stressful. Here are some tips and tricks for applying for and thinking about pursuing external funding opportunities.
“The Unspoken Benefits of Grant Writing,” by Justin Dunnavant
As a winner of both a Fulbright and a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship, Justin Dunnavant has a lot of experience with the benefits of external funding. In this post, he shares some of the benefits that come with the process of applying for these types of awards. These include burnishing your CV, helping to build your network and facilitating new collaborations. Indeed, Dunnavant says that “over the years, I’ve come to learn that while the money is good, the networks and resources provided to grantees can be just as important.” This post is a great place to start for grad students looking to develop a better understanding of the payoffs of external funding as well as some tips for managing funding applications in the midst of all the other responsibilities that go with grad student life.
“Get Funded,” by Lesley McCollum
In this post, McCollum shares the insights that she gained while applying for a National Institutes of Health National Research Service Award (NRSA F31). This award and other nationally competitive fellowships look great on your CV and can free up a lot of time to focus on your research and making progress toward your degree. The first rule in preparing an application for a program like this? Start early and “prepare to dedicate a significant amount of time and energy to completing the application,” McCollum says. Applying for nationally competitive fellowships is complicated and time-consuming, but the payoffs can be pretty spectacular, and this post offers great suggestions on how to approach these funding opportunities strategically and intentionally.
“Preparing an Award-Winning NSF GRFP Application,” by Alex T. Williams
It’s never too early to start thinking about applying for external funding, and in this post, Williams, a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program winner, lays out a sample timeline for tackling the process. “The small things can make your application stand out,” Williams says, “and small things often come down to preparation.” Taking this timeline as a sample, you can start to explore funding options and plan out your own process to make sure that you have the time and space and energy to make the small things perfect.
“Applications & Professional Development,” by Brady Krien
It’s hard to know where to begin with writing a major fellowship or grant application. In this post, Krien, a graduate careers and fellowships adviser, shares some tips for developing a successful application, starting with telling your story. Rather than trying to list all of the things that make you a great candidate, it’s often far better, Krien suggests, to “provide a narrower, but more detail-rich application.” Building these applications requires you to prioritize and know your purpose, neither of which is especially easy, but they lead to far more memorable (and often, by extension, more successful) application materials.
“Beyond Sulking,” by Florianne Jimenez
While everyone who submits an application for external funding hopes to win, the unfortunate reality is that most funding applications are unsuccessful. In this post, Jimenez offers suggestions for dealing with rejections from funding agencies, including how to use the experience to improve future applications. Though it may be hard, it’s important to thank the funding agency and “make sure you convey that you’re definitely interested in the job/fellowship/award/etc. in the future, and that you’d like to know what you can do to improve your chances later on.” The feedback that you receive in these exchanges can be invaluable when you’re preparing for the next application.
What tips or ideas do you have for those interested in pursuing external funding opportunities? Share them with us in the comments below or by tweeting to us at @GradHacker.