My 4 biggest lessons-learned when applying for the Swedish Institute Scholarships for Global Professionals (SISGP)

The clock is ticking and finally, the application portal has been open for SISGP. Thinking about my 2 years in Sweden, it all started with an application and a brave soul that dare to challenge herself. The “SISGP applying journey” has not only brought me closer to Sweden, but also helped me understand myself more and learned valuable lessons. Below are my top 4 lessons and advice that may help you with this year application.

1. Patience is a virtue

If you ask me what the biggest lesson that I have learned when applying for the scholarships, it is definitely patience. In 2018, I once missed the chance to apply. Thus, I have patiently waited for 1 more year for that chance to come again and take it without hesitation.

While preparing for the application, I have patiently gone through all the instructions, noted down the requirements and documents. I have also patiently read all the blogs about the scholarships, tips and notes. Being patient has helped me prepare better for letters of references, CV and motivation letters as these documents take a lot of time to go through and fill in with relevant information.

A girl sitting and reading a book
Photo: Emelie Asplund/

However I was not patient enough to read through all the FAQs and that was my biggest mistake. Thankfully, I have had enough time to correct the mistake. Later I have realised if I have paid more time and attention to read through the FAQs  ↗️, I would not be so panic by the deadline.

Tip 1

Read all the FAQs before applying!

2. Understanding your key values is important

Have been working in the development sector for a couple of years, I have kept wondering what I really want to pursue for my career. And I found out that the SISGP has been a precious opportunity for me to reflect my true motivations and key values. The combination of CV, Work and Leadership experience proof documents and Motivation letter has provided me the chance to reflect myself and my passion.

I have received quite an amount of emails and questions on Instagram asking how to proceed with the Motivation letter as there are only 1000 characters. In my opinion, the most important factors are how your key values would fit the scholarship goals and how the scholarship can better your key values. There is no right or wrong answer for writing a motivation letter. Remember it’s called MOTIVATION and it’s much related to your passion and values.

Scholarship goals of SISGP 2021↗️. Photo: SI/
Tip 2

List your strengths and weaknesses, especially your motivation – trying to think how these points relate to the SI scholarships’ goals

3. Consistency is the key factor

Actually, the second lesson of self-understanding has led to my third lesson of consistency. I have mentioned a lot about the importance of consistency in this blog post with my colleague Katongo.

When I started writing the motivational letter for SISGP, I have had to read through my CV and the work and leadership experience document several times. It is mentioned clearly in the instruction for answering the motivation letter that “you should not repeat information already stated in your CV, but elaborate and expand on your achievements”. Thus, the connection between the motivation letter, CV and work and leadership experiences document is extremely important. After completing all the documents, you should proofread to check if they support each other.

Instruction of Motivation letter question for SISGP 2021↗️. Photo: SI/
Tip 3

Tell your own story through the scholarship documents: CV, Work and leadership experience form and Motivation letter

4. It’s never too late!

There is one question that I usually get when the scholarship application time comes, it is “I’m … years-old and I’m afraid to apply because I think I’m too old for the scholarships”. And all the time, I would always say: “It’s never too late or too old to start something great”.

One of the most admirable SI scholarship holders that I have met in Sweden is in her fifties when first starting her Master programme. She has overcome many challenges to start a new academic journey in Sweden with her family. And never once I found her stepping back from all the prejudice against her age or gender.

I believe the SI scholarship is a wonderful chance for all of us to beat prejudice of age and gender in higher education and academic research. And guess what?! In the criteria of the SISGP, there’s no mention of age and gender. So if you’re still pondering on the thought of age, I would say: “Don’t let age or gender diminish your chance to achieve something that you believe.”

Senior citizens in a lake
Your journey and story should never be defined by age. Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/
Tip 4

There is no tip. Just believe in yourself.

I have also asked other SI scholars what their biggest lessons when applying for the SISGP. Check out their advice for you:

Lien from Vietnam, SISGP 2020 – 2021

A portrait photo of Lien
Lien from Vietnam, SISGP 2020 – 2021, currently studying MSc Finance at Lund University. Photo: Lien.
  • Matching: The biggest lesson I learned from the application process is the matching between your profile and scholarship criteria. No matter your profile is excellent or not so good in some areas, if you can show good points which satisfy requirements of this scholarship, it is highly likely that you can achieve the scholarship.
  • Dare to try: Although SISGP has very strict requirements on different forms, namely LOR, CV, Motivation letter, don’t be afraid and skip that scholarship if you cannot satisfy these all requirements. Eg, the LOR form requires to have official stamps at the end of every page but it is unreasonable in Vietnam. In my country, we just seal the stamp on the final page and on adjoining edges of all pages of the document and that practice is accepted by the scholarship board.

Lusanda from South Africa, SISGP 2019 – 2021

A portrait photo of Lusanda
Lusanda, from South Africa, SISGP 2019 – 2021, currently studying MSc Fashion Marketing and Management at the University of Borås. Photo: Oskar Omne
  • I learnt to question my bigger purpose because I had to relate my goals to something that will be truly impactful – not only for me, but my home country (South Africa) and society at large! In my case its the urgency of sustainability needed in the fashion industry. I realized I couldn’t just say what I thought would impress SI, but I had to believe in my long-term goals and motivate how the scholarship will go much further than myself.

Throwback to this time 2 years ago, it was Tet Holiday – the biggest traditional holiday in Vietnam and I sat down in my desk writing down that “I will study in Sweden with SI scholarship” as my first goal of the year. And now I’m in Sweden, writing my thesis to finish my Master degree and the Tet Holiday is just 2 days away. I hope this piece of thought would help you find your own and better way in the scholarship applying journey. If you still ponder if you should apply for SISGP this year, do it. If you are not prepared enough, just patiently wait for next year and take the chance as soon as possible.

All the best and do share with me if you have any questions. 🙂


Written by Nguyen

10 Feb 2021