6 Insider Tips from Fulbright Winners for Your 2024 Application

Jun 19, 2024
A young Asian woman with a short bob and wearing a yellow straw hat and large bright yellow backpack facing a town below a small hill. She is wearing a red buffalo check shirt and slim blue denim pants. The town has little white houses with dark, bright maroon roofs. Mountains are in the far background with he sun and clouds peaking out from behind and above the mountains. At the right side, a part of the ocean can be seen. This image is representative of the inspiring feelings and nature and Fulbright.
Before submitting your 2024-2025 Fulbright application, check out insider tips for success from previous years’ winners!

The Fulbright Program is a prestigious international educational exchange initiative designed to increase mutual understanding internationally through diplomacy. Sponsored by the U.S. government, the program offers various grants for students and scholars to undertake advanced research, university lecturing, and teaching in over 140 countries worldwide.

Fulbright is unique in its inclusivity, providing opportunities for individuals at every career level and across all academic disciplines. Whether you’re a recent graduate, an early-career professional, or an experienced researcher, there’s a Fulbright program tailored to your background and goals. This flexibility and breadth make Fulbright a valuable and transformative experience for participants from diverse fields and stages in their careers.

Each year, thousands of applicants vie for these coveted awards. To help future applicants succeed, we’ve gathered the top five tips from past Fulbright winners.

1. Connect with Current Fulbright Scholars

Lily Mott is a US-UK Fulbright Scholar pursuing an MA in Digital Media and Society at Cardiff University. She is a multimedia journalist from Colorado, USA, and used her Fulbright opportunity to advance her career.

Lily emphasizes the importance of networking with current Fulbright Scholars for her tips. She suggests contacting LinkedIn or other platforms to learn from their experiences and insights. “I have met so many inspiring Fulbright Scholars in my cohort,” she says. “Do some research, send a message, and introduce yourself.” Engaging with current and past scholars can provide valuable advice and mentorship, making the application process less daunting.

2. Silence Your Inner Critic

Olugbenga Joseph is a Nigerian American scholar, educator, and artist who was a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Spain. He taught English, history, and art there and served as a U.S. Student Fulbright Alumni Ambassador.

Olubenga advises applicants to manage the “mental game” of the application process. He emphasizes the importance of silencing self-doubt and reflecting on one’s achievements and goals. “You are good enough!” Olugbenga also highlights the importance of understanding country-specific nuances and collecting data from various sources. “This could mean listening to the Fulbright webinars and contacting your university’s fellowship office. It could also mean talking to Fulbright alumni in your desired host country.” His comprehensive approach has helped him succeed in Fulbright and winning the Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund.

3. Treat Your Creativity as a Professional Skill

Our next tip is from Miles Iton, an academic, entrepreneur, and music artist whose journey exemplifies the transformative power of passion-driven education. Through Fulbright Taiwan, he gained unique insights into the intersection of creative arts and learning. In this interview, Miles discusses his Fulbright experiences, his innovative venture, Lo-Fi Language Learning, and the profound impact of these fellowships on his personal and professional growth.

He believes approaching creative practice as applicable skills can give applicants an edge in fellowship applications and beyond. “Approaching my creative practice as a transferable skill is how I managed to give myself an edge in fellowship applications, cross over into new industries, and establish a vantage point for building my small business acumen. Thus, the best tip I can offer to anyone of a creative bent perusing Profellow at the moment is to revere & regard your creativity as much as you would like a hiring committee to!” This mindset not only enhances applications but also helps in building a sustainable career.

4. Leverage Work Experience Before Pursuing a Degree

Zolboo Dashmyagmar’s journey, rooted in international business management in Mongolia, evolved through her fascination with geography, development, technology, and sustainability. She carved out an impressive international career as a Fulbright Scholar and McKinney Climate Fellow at Indiana University.

Zolboo, for her advice, stresses the value of work experience before embarking on a master’s degree, which she did for her award. She believes that practical experience provides crucial insights into one’s areas of interest, making higher education more impactful. “Gaining work experience provides valuable insights into our interest areas of study,” she notes. This approach helped her secure her Fulbright award and thrive in her studies. Zolboo also emphasizes staying curious, learning about the world around you, and bringing the mindset of positive change even when preparing your application.

5. Write Your Essays Early and Seek Feedback on Your Application

Anesce Dremen, a Fulbright-Nehru English Teaching Assistant in Kolkata, India, says that external feedback perspectives and many revisions are essential to creating the best application. She also provides advice on which feedback to take versus ignore.

“Crafting a compelling narrative takes time, revisions, and an external perspective of yourself. You can seek feedback from your thesis advisors, the writing center, and the study abroad and/or fellowship advisor on your campus. It is not uncommon for these application essays to go through seven or more drafts. That is not a reflection of your worthiness; it is a growth process to become a better grant writer. When receiving feedback, make sure to ask whether this suggestion for revision aligns with your values and whether the suggestion would accurately portray your experiences. If so, take the suggestion. If not, it is alright to pass on that suggestion. Remember that you are the best expert on your experiences.”

6. Embrace the Journey and Find Community

We end with Magaly Cabrera-Ortiz, a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in the Czech Republic. During her ETA, she taught English and gained valuable skills for her future career, including language proficiency and an understanding of different education systems.

She encourages applicants to embrace the cultural adjustment process and actively find community abroad. She emphasizes that both winners and applicants should be open-minded throughout their experience. Magaly highlights the importance of patience, being proactive, and engaging with the local community to create lasting memories and a sense of belonging. She adds, “To adjust, aside from finding support within your cohort, find ways to grow as part of your community. What are things you enjoy doing back home? Be willing to try new things, such as being a regular at restaurants or grocery stores.” Her experience shows that cultural immersion enriches the Fulbright journey and enhances personal growth.

Each of these Fulbright winners offers unique insights and practical advice that can help future applicants navigate the rigorous selection process and make the most of their Fulbright experience. For detailed interviews and more tips, be sure to read more interviews with Fulbright winners on ProFellow.

Create a free account to use the database to search the various kinds of Fulbright available for you. If you’re interested in applying to opportunities similar to a Fulbright, check out our list of Alternatives to the Fulbright Awards.

© 2024 ProFellow, LLC. All rights reserved.