YALI Application: Mistakes to avoid

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YALI Application – In the last three years, staff from the United States Department of State have had to answer questions concerning the Mandela Fellowship for Young African Leaders and as the 2017 application approaches, we intend to point out a few mistakes every prospective member of applicant should avoid when applying.

The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) is a signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders.  President Obama launched YALI in 2010 to support young African leaders as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa.

Below are the mistakes to do away with when applying.

On country of residence

Ensure you are resident in Sub-Saharan Africa and that you show commitment to the future of your continent and home country in filling your application.

Secondly,  cross-check that you are not applying from any of the following countries Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt as they are not listed as part of Sub-Sahara Africa for this program.

In a nutshell, you have to be a citizen of a Sub-Saharan African country and have to be residing in a Sub-Saharan African country.

On English proficiency and age

Ensure that your English proficiency is top notch as you will be required to participate in an academic program in the United States. You should be proficient in English but also between the ages of 25 and 35 at the time of your application.

Also, ensure that you give an honest assessment of your English proficiency (spoken and written) as you do not require a TOEFL test result in your application, but you will be required to write essays and to pass through an oral interview, both in English.

On setting quotas

The United States and Washington Fellowship program has high regard for diversity in culture, ethnic groups, religious interests, gender, physical, visual, and hearing abilities etc. So if there is any attribute that makes you a unique African from the Sub-Saharan region, do not hesitate to hold back on it.

This is because the United States is looking for a diverse group of opinions and a full range of people who make up African society. They expect to have people participating in this program from every country in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the hope that there will be a representative group of individuals from across the continent as a whole.

On what documentation to include with your application

Considering that the key quality sought after is leadership,  it is advisable that you pick the documents that best reflect either your professional expertise or your leadership capacity. You should have a proven record of leadership or accomplishment in public service, business/entrepreneurship or civic engagement. Also, the fellowship would like to see a demonstrated commitment to public or community service, to volunteerism or mentorship.

Secondly, ensure you indicate that you have the ability to work cooperatively in diverse groups respect and the opinions of others.

YALI Application

On which Fellowship track to choose

Here is a candid advice: Apply for fellowships that correlate with your area of expertise or where you have experience either in business & entrepreneurship, public management or civic leadership. Such a person will be a stronger candidate than someone who has never worked in that area. Although, everyone is welcome to apply.

On submitting multiple applications

Do not submit more than one application. If you submit multiple applications, you will be disqualified.

On the role of educational achievement in the selection process

Although formal education plays a role in terms of how we evaluate your application, you can still apply as you will not be disqualified if you do not have a formal diploma or degree.This is because Africa is a diverse continent and it is a known fact that leaders come to prominence through both formal and informal means.

On what is expected upon your return to Africa

In completing your application on returning to your home country, never deviate from this as it is what is expected of you and it is the major reason for which you  where chosen: have a real commitment to return to Africa and put your new leadership skills into use to benefit your community and country.

The organizers of the fellowship program expect that you take back new skills and new enthusiasm. The hope is for a multiplier effect — that you share with your friends, family and colleagues what you saw, learned, and perhaps taught others in the U.S. so that this experience grows.

The most important criteria is to have a real commitment to return to Africa and put your new leadership skills into use to benefit your community and country.

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