In November, I received an email from the Australian Government that started with “congratulations”. I was a recipient of the New Columbo Plan Scholarship. Naturally, I screamed. Six months on, I’m gearing up for a big move to the Indo-Pacific, where I’ll remain for up to nineteen months. Let me show you how you can do it, too. (I’m still screaming, FYI.)
Okay, so the New Columbo Plan scholarship is an initiative of the Australian Government to help build relationships between Australia and the Indo-Pacific – which includes 40 countries. Each year, the government sends a large cohort of Australian students across the ocean to live, study and intern, with the aims of building connections with people and organisations in the region. These connections also boost your employability when you return.
It’s referred to as the “most prestigious undergraduate scholarship in the country” and some of the benefits include:
- A travel allowance of $2,500
- An establishment allowance of $2,500
- A monthly allowance of $2,500 (for up to 19 months)
- Tuition fees up to $10,000 per semester for students studying at a non-exchange partner university
- In-country language training up to $10,000
- Health and travel insurance for the duration of the overseas scholarship program, including a $1000 mental health allowance
Yep, a pretty sweet deal.
And what’s so great about it is that it’s open to all degrees. I thought scholarships like this were for people studying law or medicine, not journalism – but here I am. It’s essentially a choose-your-own-adventure and you can build a program plan tailored to your aspirations and goals.
For me, I’m gearing up for a move to Singapore where I will study for a semester at Nanyang Technological University, one of the highest ranked journalism schools in Asia. Afterwards, I plan to do an internship with a media organisation in Singapore, before heading off to somewhere else in the Indo Pacific (not sure where, yet!) to do another internship in a different media landscape. While abroad, I’ll also be learning Mandarin.
Outside of the obvious perks of spending between 3-19 months living, studying and interning in the Indo-Pacific, the NCP scholarship is a major door opener. Like, major. The program is internationally recognised and has partnerships with leading companies across the region in a bunch of different fields. Plus, having overseas experience in any field is a big yes for future employers and interning is an even bigger yes.
I haven’t even left the country yet and I’ve been invited on a fully funded trip to South Korea in July where I’ll learn about the country’s major media organisations and systems. My experiences and learnings as an NCP scholar will ~hopefully~ set me up for the career of my dreams. If not, it’ll certainly put me on the right path and open doors I could only dream of.
The thing is, the application is hard work. There’s a lot involved, so buckle up. You want my advice?
1. Don’t leave it to the last minute
I spent a lot of time on my application. Like, heaps. You should too. Do your research and be specific.
2. Write, re-write and re-write again
As good of a writer you may be, your first draft won’t be what you submit. Keep at it.
3. Call in back-up
Have your family, friends, enemies, dogs, etc. read it and give you notes. Welcome any and all feedback.
4. Tell a story
Your application needs a narrative. Choose one and sell it. Mine was all about my love of storytelling.
5. Speak to the Global Experience team
During my application, their advice was invaluable. They helped me choose a suitable country and helped with my re-writes. I couldn’t have done it without the Global Experience Team.
Applications close on the 27th of June. If you meet the age and GPA requirements and can squeeze an overseas stint into your degree’s program plan, then get the heck onto it. You’d be mad to miss it. So, don’t.
You can learn more about the NCP scholarship here.