Are you preparing an application for the Watson Institute’s Social Entrepreneurship Spring Semester Incubator 2020? Awesome! This article by Evioghene Uwede, a Watson Institute Fall 2019 scholar may just be useful for you.
In case you’re wondering whether or not you should stick around, if you’re wondering and thinking “Nope, I could never get selected.” Stick around! Hopefully at the end of this article you’ll not only be fueled to turn in that application, you’ll know how to.
About the Watson Institute
So what exactly is Watson Institute? Watson institute is an incubator program for both not-for-profit and for-profit social ventures. Basically that means you apply with an idea that you want to implement in your community and you’re provided with mentorship opportunities as well as a curriculum that will help you gain more insight into the problem you’re trying to solve as well as resources and skills to help you build that venture.
Is it worth it? Yes! It’s okay if your venture has been around for a few years you can still apply.
But let me break down what you get:
- Mentors: Your mentors want to help you succeed. They are hands-on and with you each step of the way
- Events: You get to attend events for free or at extremely discounted prices and meet very amazing people
- Support: If there’s anything I love about being here it’s the support that you get from the Watson team, your fellow scholars, mentors, and Teachers. You know the thing about support is that everyone needs it and we can only do so much by ourselves.
- Weekly Masterclasses: On most weeks we get to meet and learn from people who have been on this journey and they give you the real deal. It’s not all cupcakes and cream. So far we’ve met Tenzin Seldon, Brook… super amazing people but you know I don’t want to spoil all the fun. If you’re serious about making a difference this should be enough to get you all excited and giddy.
If you’re wondering, “Oh God this is so amazing. I don’t think I can make it.” Well you’ve probably heard this more time than you’d like to admit but it’s the truth. Almost everyone who applies do not think they might get selected; I said almost, but you can increase your chances by applying for opportunities that you are most qualified for. Basically you’re going to want to have some form of experience and volunteering is the best way to get them.
So if you’re not feeling qualified right now it’s okay to go get some experience and come back prepared. It’s also okay to ignore that voice and turn in your application anyway.
Alright let’s dive into the content: How do you apply to Watson?
- You apply via the website
- To get noticed or improve your chances of being selected you can be nominated by either a current or a previous scholar. But don’t panic, I wasn’t nominated nor did I have any affiliation with the listed programs and there are a couple of us here at Watson in the same boat so that doesn’t necessarily put you at a disadvantage.
- My advice would be to pay attention to the essay. Personally, I had experience via volunteering in all three areas that they were interested in. That’s not compulsory.
- If you’ve applied for any kind of workshop with the same idea be sure to note that in your application. I had applied for the MCW’s Young Leaders Access Program and was waiting for the final mail as to whether or not I was selected (sadly I wasn’t) but applying for that gave me insight to whether or not my venture was realistic as conducting surveys as part of the process. So, do that. The other documents are optional but I’d advise getting at least one – the pitch desk isn’t so hard.
So you got accepted! Awesome I can promise you, you will not be the same. The team is super supportive and would do all they can to help you get into Watson.
- Funding: I know this is the information a lot of you have been waiting for. After getting selected, you will receive a mail from Watson where you can apply for a scholarship and there are three kinds of scholarships. They also vary from Full scholarship to partial scholarship
- Need-Based Scholarship: This is awarded based on your financial situation. So please be truthful when filling these out. I don’t expect otherwise. We’re change-makers after all and the change begins with us.
- Merit-Based Scholarship: This scholarship is awarded based on the strength of your application, I’m not clear what the criteria is but essentially give your initial application your best.
- Fellowships: Some fellowships offer sponsorship to scholars to support them in coming to Watson. I received the Luff Peace fellowship which was a full scholarship.
I’d also love to point this out, the scholarships are towards your tuition and housing and you do have to pay for your flight to and from the US. Transportation within the city is by bus and you’ll have that taken care of.
Boulder is a pretty expensive place but luckily Watson helps to make living there as easy as possible so apart from the first week or two where you would have to get groceries, Watson does have a partnership with an organization that provides free grocery shopping. If they don’t have what you need, you’re more than welcome to shop anywhere. If you plan to cook, you might want to stock up on some spices.
- Visa application: Generally, you receive a visa packet from Watson which basically provides all the information you’ll need. If your interview date is too far as mine initially was (Sept 11th), you can apply for an Expedite and request a letter from the Watson team, they’ll be more than happy to help.
Things to Note
Application to Watson is on a rolling basis and what that means is that the sooner you apply, the sooner you get interviewed, the sooner you know whether or not you’re accepted. There is a lot of walks involved, I wasn’t told this so I didn’t have time to mentally prepare but basically, you’ll be walking up and down the Hill.
That’s all I’ve got for now. I am still documenting my Watson journey, it not over yet, so if you have any more questions, I’ll be more than happy to answer them. Goodluck!
Thinking of applying for the Watson Institute’s Social Entrepreneurship Spring Semester Incubator 2020 in Boulder, Colorado? Click here before October 1, 2019.
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