RIA Talent Advantage Student Scholarship: Application Best Practices
Transcript of the video:
LESLIE TABOR: Hi, everyone. I'm Leslie Tabor, Director with Business Consulting and Education for Schwab Advisor Services. Thanks for joining me for this quick video on best practices for our RIA Talent Advantage Student Scholarship application process.
Now, over the next few minutes, you'll gain a better understanding of the scholarship program, its process and components, and a few tips on preparing a successful application.
Now, at Schwab, we are committed to supporting the growth of the independent registered investment advisor, or RIA, industry, and advocating on its behalf to attract new and diverse talent. Now, as part of our commitment, our RIA Talent Advantage Scholarship Program will award each of our 12 scholarship winners with a $10,000 scholarship and an opportunity to connect with professionals in the RIA industry. Now, at least six of our 12 scholarships will be reserved for students from an underserved or underrepresented community. Our aim is really to help remove barriers and open the door for the next generation of talent to engage in and pursue a career in the RIA industry.
So how do you get started with applying for the scholarship? Here is what you're going to need to prepare. So the scholarship application has four main components, each of which help to make up your unique story. So those components include your official transcript and declaration of major. Now, to be eligible for the scholarship, you must be pursuing a bachelor's degree or a minor in financial planning or be an undergraduate student that can demonstrate your commitment to a career in the RIA industry. You must also be in good standing with an accredited four-year institution in either your freshman, sophomore, or junior year. Next is your resume and relevant experience, followed by a personal essay. And then, finally, letters of recommendation from individuals who can speak to your academic and future crew career plans. We're going to talk about this more in just a few minutes. These elements all provide a holistic view of you, as the scholarship applicant, your passion for and your commitment to the financial planning profession, as well as experiences you may have had that led you to choose this career path.
So what constitutes a standout scholarship applicant? Let's take a closer look at some scholarship application best practices.
All right. So the Resume section of the application is a place where you'll want to highlight your work experience, extracurricular activities, your honors and awards, as well as any volunteer work you've taken part in. Be sure to highlight any industry experiences you've had, like internships with advisory or financial firms, as well as any part-time and full-time work. Don't forget to include work experience outside of the financial planning space, as well. There are many skills that can be developed by working outside of the financial industry, which can also be important to becoming a financial advisor. So an example might be, let's say, you worked at a busy restaurant one summer. This can really help to demonstrate your ability to work in a fast-paced environment, focusing on meeting the needs of a variety of customers in order to really provide the excellent and memorable client experience.
Really take a moment to think of the various extracurricular activities you've taken part in, particularly, if they've involved financial planning or perhaps membership in any industry association. Activities that are outside of financial services can also be included. Much like the outside work experience, skills that you obtain through other activities often translate to those needed to be a financial advisor. So some examples are athletics, leadership, maybe organizational responsibilities that you had in any student-led organization, like a sorority or fraternity. These can also be included in your application.
Now, your willingness to share your valuable time with your community through nonprofit service and volunteer work is really commendable and it signifies compassion and empathy, which are also critical qualities that are important for an advisor.
Now, this is your opportunity to share that experience and further demonstrate your passion for working with and helping others that are in need. This is also your chance to brag a bit about your successes and your academic achievements. You've put in all that hard work and you've earned it, so make sure to list your honors and any awards that you've received. Be specific in the Resume section. The more descriptive you can be with your responsibilities, the better.
Now, in addition to highlighting what you've accomplished, describe the skills and the behaviors that really led to those accomplishments. You really want to paint a picture of your journey and experiences to help set you apart from other applicants.
All right. So the essay component of the application presents an opportunity for you to shine. Your assignment here is really to explain why you are pursuing a career as a financial planner, and to further demonstrate your passion for the RIA model, specifically. Now, if you're applying for the Diversity Scholarship, you can also take this time to explain why diversity is so important to this profession. Now, be sure to structure the essay as you would any persuasive essay. And I really encourage you to speak from the heart. Your unique experiences have led you to where you are today, so really draw upon them as you're writing your essay. Make a list of your greatest strengths and identify how those might translate into the financial planning profession. Was there, perhaps, a defining moment in your life that made you realize your desire to help others and achieve their financial goals?
Now, any good writer is going to tell you that the key to engaging your reader is to show, rather than tell, so really paint a picture so your reader can envision it happening. For example, instead of saying, "I interned at an advisory firm last summer and helped clients," you might want to think of a specific instance where you helped make an impact in a client's life. Describe that situation and how it made you feel, how it connected you to the client, and led to your desire to pursue a career in the financial planning profession.
Lastly, I can't stress enough how important it is to edit, edit, and then edit again. Make sure you proofread and correct any grammatical or spelling errors. Many leaders, including myself, really view this as poor attention to detail. So don't let grammatical and spelling errors be the reason that you don't move forward in the selection process. A great tip is to ask for help, a second and third set of eyes is really a wonderful idea.
All right, the Letter of Recommendation section is yet another opportunity for you to demonstrate just how incredible you are. To maximize this component, be sure that you're choosing wisely when selecting those who will be submitting a recommendation letter on your behalf. While you can certainly include those with whom you have a personal relationship with, it's also a good idea to include someone with industry knowledge, perhaps your financial planning professor or a financial advisor. Now, whomever you choose, it really should to be someone who can speak to your academic credentials, your character as a person, and why you would be the right person to not only receive the scholarship, but why you are uniquely suited for a career in financial planning. Now, you can choose up to five individuals to write a recommendation letter, but it's probably in your best interest to stick to one to two. You've got to keep in mind that these individuals will need to login to the application site in order to write the recommendation letter, so you want to make sure to give them enough time to do that. Ask these individuals to be as specific as possible about your experience in financial planning, in order to make the recommendation applicable to the RIA Talent Advantage Scholarship.
All right, before I go, I'm going to leave you with just a few more tips. Be aware of the scholarship deadlines. This is going to help to keep you on track. And be sure that you follow up with those individuals that are submitting a letter of recommendation for you, so that they can stay on track with those deadlines, as well. You want to stay organized throughout the process and be sure to properly label any attachments, such as your transcript or any other supporting documentation that you upload into the application site. Also, be sure to use the file type that is specified in the application site. This is going to prevent and avoid any issues.
Now, if I didn't stress it enough earlier in the Essay section, I'm going to say it here again because it really does apply to the entire process, be sure you read and proofread more than once. In addition to the Essay section, the Resume section is also freeform, so that's another area you should make sure you proofread for any grammar or spelling errors. Again, a second or third set eyes is not going to hurt anybody. They might end up seeing something that you may have missed.
All right, so please visit this URL for the access to the application site. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And on behalf of my colleagues at Schwab, I wish you all the best of luck with your scholarship application and all your future endeavors. Thank you so much, and be well.