The final essay you will write for your Chevening scholarship application is on your career plan. The question you will be answering in this essay is; Chevening is looking for individuals who have a clear post-study career plan. Please outline your immediate plans upon returning home and your longer term career goals. You may wish to consider how these relate to what the UK government is doing in your country. (Minimum word count: 100 words, maximum word count: 500 words)
In this essay you are required to demonstrate that you have a clear and defined career plan. This should be the easiest to write because you are writing about your future. However, the plan should be realistic for instance, although it’s in order to dream of being the president of your country, you should have demonstrated in your leadership and networking essays that you have started or at least you are interacting with the people who will help you actualise your dream.
Just like the other essays, it should start with an introduction on its own paragraph. Here you should introduce a problem in your country that you seek to solve by following your career plan. As explained in Studying in the UK essay, looking at DFID projects can provide a guideline but shouldn’t limit you. My introduction was as follows;
According to a 2017 report by Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, over 70% of Kenya’s poor and hunger-stricken people live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Growth in the agricultural sector has been estimated to be over ten times more effective in reducing poverty compared to growth in other sectors in poor countries. According to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the sector employs over 40% of Kenya’s population. This could increase if more efforts are directed there and this is why am seeking to build on my experience with rural poor communities to pursue a career in International Development. This will impart me with knowledge and skills to influence policies on poverty reduction through small-scale agriculture, rural development and research.
The career plan should be structured into short term, middle term and long term. In each you should mention the organizations you plan to work for/ or you plan to start, their objectives, your role/title and how the skills and training received will facilitate that. If shortlisted this will be the backbone of your answers in the following questions; where do you see yourself in x years? What’s your immediate/ long term plan after studying in the UK?
It is important that your community or country should be the focal point where your career plan should revolve. You will be representing your country as a Chevening scholar. Chevening awards are an important element in Britain’s public diplomacy effort and bring professionals, who have already displayed outstanding leadership abilities, to study in the UK. The objective of Chevening is to support foreign policy priorities and achieve FCO objectives by creating positive relationships with future leaders, influencers and decision makers. In addition, show how the UK will benefit by awarding you the scholarship and foster relations between the two countries although this should not be at the expense of your country. At this juncture, it’s also important to indicate you know what the UK is doing in your country.
My second paragraph covered my short term career plan (1-2 years although this is not standard) as it varies from one person to another.
In the short term, I see myself starting a community-based organization in Murang’a County that will endeavour to transform agriculture into a viable businesses for rural small-scale farmers. I will achieve this by seeking partnerships with the county government and relevant social enterprises such as Juhudi Kilimo to increase smallholder farms productivity, enhance marketing systems and offering business, safety standards and technical skills training. These initiatives will turn small-scale farms to businesses, link them to regional and global food chains and create job opportunities.
My medium term career plan was in the third paragraph and covered 3-5 years after returning from the UK. As I said previously, this is not standard and will vary from one individual to the other.
I plan to serve in the next Murang’a County Government as a County Executive Committee Member in charge of Agriculture and Cooperatives. In this role, I will work with the County Assembly to improve the reliability of water supply for irrigation for small-scale farmers, build more wholesale market sheds, employ more extension officers, identify and invest in first-mover crops and improve on feeder roads to support agriculture.
My long term career plan covered was more detailed and was as follows;
In the long-term, with experience and skills gained in the local government, I plan to serve as Member of Parliament in the National Assembly, chairing the Agriculture, Trade and Cooperatives Committee. In this role, I will build on my success with the County Government to work closely with the Executive arm of government to spearhead legislation to transform Kenya’s Agricultural sector to ensure food security and create more jobs. I will lead negotiations with United Kingdom Multinationals such as Marks & Spencer to increase their fair-trade products in Kenya and rope in more tea and coffee factories in their supply chain. In addition, I will advocate for Diageo to replace imported grains with local crops such as sorghum and cassava for their beers. This will promote trade between Kenya and the United Kingdom, deepen our relations and create jobs in the country. By following this career progression, it will be possible to make necessary adjustments based on my experience and the prevailing circumstances.
As you can note, my career plan had a progressive pattern and building up on skills and experience gained in previous roles.
Finally I had a conclusion that summed up everything as follows;
Generally, training in the United Kingdom will help me develop networks and collaborations that will contribute to Kenya’s agenda on food security while creating jobs especially among rural women and the youth. This is line with DFID’s initiatives in Kenya on hunger and prosperity which are also part of global goals for sustainable development.
This being your last essay, do not submit very early because you might get stronger examples in leadership or networking because as a leader you continue to evolve and grow. At the same time do not wait till the last day due to unforeseen circumstances such as power outage, network problems or computer crashing that can make you fail in submitting your essays in time.
Finally be authentic, give your story and do not copy essays of previously selected scholars. The readers can detect plagiarism (an academic offence ) and it makes your interviews in later stages easier when you own your story. In addition, use simple grammatically correct English sentences. Your essays are the opportune moment to create a first impression and writing skills are paramount in this. Have people to proofread your essays for guidance and where you use abbreviations, make sure you give their meaning initially.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are purely mine and do not reflect the position of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and or its partner organizations.
This brings to an end the Chevening essays guidelines for now. We will be focusing on sustainable agriculture and food security till shortlisting takes place next year when we shall do an article on preparing for the interview.