If you’re interested in applying for Watson Fellowship nomination in the fall and we haven’t yet talked, now is a great time to connect! I am around for much of the summer, but will be traveling too—so my ability to respond to you may be faster or slower depending on when you contact me. In general, I will be generally unavailable during the following times: June 14-July 2; July 13-18; August 2-5; and August 18-26. So plan accordingly, be patient and maybe a little bit of both. You can reach me at email@example.com and/or 802-443-3183.
For the fall deadlines, I may need to adjust slightly—will have everything set in August, but it won’t vary greatly from what I’ve outlined below.
For the nomination process in September, you will need to submit the following:
- Watson Application Cover Sheet (available by through go/fellowships)
- A proposal explaining what you want to do, your background/experience, and the source of your interest in the topic. Please consult the Watson Foundation Web site; this statement should be a blend of the Personal Statement and the Project Proposal. Draft proposals must be no more than 5 pages long, double-spaced, double-sided, in 12-point font. (Yes, if nominated, you’ll be reworking this into two separate essays.)
- Academic transcript, printed from Banner Web (use the Degree Progress format)
I will hold an info session again in early September (date TBA) and am looking at a September 22 campus deadline for nomination applications. We will invite a group of applicants to interview with Watson campus committee members; that group will select up to four nominees and one alternate.
Application Process and Timetable:
By June 15: Have read through carefully information on the Watson fellowship site—both at go/fellowships (click on Watson in list) and at http://www.watsonfellowship.org/site/index.html .
By July 20: Draft of cover sheet and combined proposal/ personal essay for nomination application (see materials above) to me for feedback. Do also share with other relevant people for feedback.
Early September: Look for on-campus workshop/info session, date/time TBA. Talk with those you would want to write letters of recommendation for you, just giving them a heads up. Note: letters are only needed IF you are nominated! But you do want to start the conversation with those you would ask.
By September 15: Have some local contacts in countries in place.
September 22: Submit your application for Watson nomination.
Late September/early October: We will hold Watson interviews for a subset of applicants. Dates/times TBD.
November 5: Watson foundation application deadline
For the most part, deadlines above are not absolute, but guidelines intended to help you organize the different parts of the application and get everything done so that you are ready to go by the September deadline. Note: the campus submission and foundation deadlines really are hard deadlines.
A few important notes about the Watson:
- Really read through (and think through) the Watson website, especially the eligibility section. There are lots of good questions for you to ask yourself and your project idea to see if this is a good fit.
- Your application should really reflect YOU. This is not an academic fellowship. It’s about a deep, abiding personal interest you have and it’s also about you as a deeply curious, independent, courageous person. The Watson foundation is looking for fellows who are independent, imaginative, resourceful, responsible, bold, and self-motivated. Your project is just that—your project and should embody, reflect a passion you have. It does not have to be unique to you but definitely can be. It should grow organically from your life—things that you’ve done, explored, studied, wondered about, are inspired by—and should be personally significant to you. Watson priorities are person first, project second.
- Selecting countries for visiting: you should be choosing places that are new to you (the stretch factor). You may have been inspired by a period of study abroad or travel in a certain place, but depending on the amount of time you spent there (more than 4-6 weeks typically), you should not include that country/area on your project list. (And often there are ways to adapt a particular interest to a different set of countries/areas). Also, some countries are of such a broad and diverse scale, you may be able to justify a visit to a different part of that country. China or Russia might fall into the latter category. The Netherlands would not. For some of you, this is an area we may need to discuss further and think about how you might adapt your proposal. And any country on the US state department warning list (NOT travel advisory), you may not include that country on your list. And as you develop your proposed travel itinerary, keep in mind, this may be ideal and you should have back up plans. Sometimes things won’t work out, or the money won’t stretch that far—all possible. I don’t expect you have figured out everything with respect to the feasibility of all components for the nomination process, but I do expect you’ve given serious consideration to different ideas and are prepared for some shifts in your plan. The list of countries ultimately may change between application for nomination, application for Watson, Watson interview and departure, and actual fellowship year. Any country on the US state dept warning list may be listed provisionally in case it changes (and of course, countries may also shift in the other direction too).
- Contacts abroad may take some time to identify and connect with, so definitely allow for that. What you want from them may differ according to your project, but they should provide a resource and a kind of grounding for you in the community/country/project focus. You may also be contributing to them as well—but make sure that your mission, your project is still your own.
- When thinking about recommendations—if you are nominated, you will need 2-3. If two, both can be from Middlebury or one from Middlebury and one external. If three, one must be from Middlebury, one external. If you are nominated, I will talk with you further about what is most helpful in these letters for the Watson selection committee.
- Language ability: you will definitely propose going places where you do not speak the language—and you should. But do think about how you will conduct the work of the project in these spaces. Guides/interpreters may be essential in some cases.
- In thinking about your blended personal/project statement, you want to describe the following: Your plan for the 12-month fellowship year, including a description of your project and details about how you intend to carry it out. (In addition to focusing on a topic you are passionate about, the project should be personally challenging (yet feasible), independent, and sustainable over 12 months.) Discuss why you chose your topic, how it developed out of previous interests or experiences, and how it represents a new challenge. You may also want to describe your background, your college years, your professional goals and aspirations, and your reasons for seeking a Watson Fellowship.