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Welcome back! Let’s look closely at the Leadership and Influence essay.
Another common question that I didn’t mention in the previous blog is “What kinds of awardees is Chevening looking for?” Here is their official answer:
“Whilst there is no ‘typical’ Chevening Scholar, we are looking for the kind of people who have the passion, ideas, and influence to provide the solutions and leadership needed to create a better future.”
I left this question to the end because this is what the essays are all about. The essays are the most important pieces of your application. That’s why I am going to focus on the essays and interview in these blog series. There are four essays in the Chevening application: Leadership and Influence, Networking, Study in the UK, and Career Plans.
In today’s post, I want to share how I answered the first essay Leadership and Influence. Here is the full instruction:
“Chevening is looking for individuals that will be future leaders or influencers in their home countries. Explain how you meet this requirement, using clear examples of your own leadership and influencing skills to support your answer.(Minimum word count: 50 words, maximum word count: 500 words)”
When answering this question, I thought of two of my best achievements where I used my leadership and influencing skills. I then used the STAR technique to write about each achievement. The STAR approach is an effective way to structure my writing. It stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result.
In this part, I described the general situation: what it was, what year, where it happened, and what role I took.
Then, I described what I tried to achieve.
In this section, I started to describe how I used my leadership skills to achieve the goal of my project. I tried to be specific by providing vivid examples.
Here I mentioned the improvement that happened in relation to my action.
Have a look at my paragraph example below. Pay attention to the color codes as they match with the STAR description above.
“In 2014, along with my colleagues, I started XXX project, a free English program, around the YYY School, an international school focused on sustainability education. XXX project uses English as a tool to overcome the language barrier between local and international communities so we can solve environmental problems together. At the beginning of the program, I worked with eight local schools and various teachers in the area to recruit 90 motivated students to the program. I invited the selected students and their parents to the school for interviews and scheduling. To help me teach the English classes, I recruited and trained native speaker volunteers. By 2016, XXX has grown to 264 students and 6 teachers. As a result of this project, students are not only more informed about English but also about environmental issues in their community. Most importantly, they can help solve these problems.”
In addition to following the STAR structure, I believe I did three important things in this paragraph:
- I described the project and the organization that I worked in. This is very important because we can’t assume that readers know what we are talking about.
- I used active sentences. Active sentences are strong and show involvement of the subject (in this case “myself”)
- I mentioned numbers to show progress. Including numbers is also an easy way to make a paragraph more vivid.
Whenever I write an essay, I always start with the contents. Then I work on the opening and draw a conclusion based on the main contents or reiterate the opening paragraph a different words. I did exactly that for this essay. I described two of my biggest achievements using STAR technique, then continued with the opening and conclusion.
I hope you learn something from my Leadership and Influence essay and best of luck!