Applying to IGAD: motivation letter, CV and beyond
I don’t know about you, but part of what drove me mad in my past job search sprees was the crafting of a motivation letter and tweaking the CV to EVERY – DAMN – POSTING.
In the best case scenario you find a detailed, well-written job posting that gives you a set of keywords to work with, a brief description of the company and their values, and even a salary indication. In the worst case scenario you find a typo-riddled pile of word vomit that mentions that you need to be a team player, be stress resistant, and they would prefer to pay you in cookies or “isn’t this a GREAT case for your portfolio? Seriously, you should pay us to hire you in the first place!”.
Well, as it turns out, applying to a school is somewhat a different story.
You’re given only a few facts to work with when creating your motivation letter, and the rest you need to put together yourself. Here’s how I went about putting together my A4 (I might have gone a little overboard) of awesomeness, and put together my CV to best support my message.
Motivation letter: how to market yourself
If you ever applied for a job, you know the basic function of the motivation letter. Your job (no pun intended) is to really have a look at the position, then have a look at yourself, your education and other experience and start putting the puzzle together in a way that doesn’t seem forcefully fitted (“But I have 3 years of experience in cat yodeling, that should seriously be a transferable skill for zen monks!“).
For a lot of people, showing off, or even finding, their good sides is hard. Like whatamIactuallygoodatIdon’tknow hard. I’m one of those people.
Listen to your guts. Listen to your family and friends. When in doubt, search for online personality tests, do them, and see if nice/fitting/amusing things pop out. For the record, I’m an INTJ, with a death stare to match.
My favorite resources for ideas, phrases, dos and don’ts would be as follows:
The Which University website is my top favorite after all the research I went through. So many useful topics, and not only for students from the UK. There are naturally more sources for inspiration out there, and your motivation letter should truly reflect your personality and your strengths. It goes without saying that copy-pasting someone else’s motivation letter while substituting a few words with your own accomplishments is a big no-no. I firmly believe that if you have to copy a motivation letter, you’re going to have problems at your university programme, and should do some serious soul-searching if academics are the place for you after all.
Now you get to see what I came up with. My IGAD motivation letter can be viewed here. Try not to giggle.
While it is one of the longer motivation letters I’ve seen floating around, it is a mighty fine representation of how I strive to be in my dealings with projects and life in general. It fulfilled its’ task, and I’m fairly satisfied with it.
I might have been kidding just a tiny little.
Most people know the function of a CV. Only a few understand to cut the uninteresting, irrelevant things out mercilessly. Whoever is reading your CV doesn’t want to know about addiction to puppies or deep-rooted passion for model windmills.
The layout of your CV should be easy to understand, and all entries should be in a logical order. As someone who has worked as a web designer for a bit before applying to IGAD, I opted to show my education first. I listed all my animation and 3D experience, and then touched upon that experience in explanations of the working tasks I’d been doing before. It was a bit of a gamble on my part, but it seems to have worked!
Always make sure your personality and abilities shine through, no matter how you construct the CV. A lot of the advice I listed for your motivation letter also applies here! Ask your family and friends, and make sure there are 0 typos in it at the end of the day.
As a final link-tip I would have a look at “What do employers look for in graduates?” post from Which University.
If you’re applying to IGAD, I wish you the best of luck!
This ends my 3-part series on Applying to IGAD. If you found these posts useful or have any questions, leave a comment!