This is truly a blessed time to be a student. If you have a clear career trajectory at mind, you have endless opportunities in front of you to achieve your goals.
The internet provides you with information about a plethora of choices related to your field of interest. Most of the prestigious educational institutions in the world offer some of their best courses free online through MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).
This allows every potential student a glimpse at whether the course fulfills their requirements. This has widened the education field. Regardless of how much you can teach yourself independently, a college degree is still a prerequisite for a successful professional career.
And herein is the first speed bump. Educational institutions are limited in number. The ones with the most renowned faculty, golden history, successful alumni and extensive student resources are even more so.
Every year hundreds of thousands of applicants apply. Let us say you are accepted into the college of your choice. Can you afford the course fees?
A college education requires long-term financial investment. And even then you might have to take out a student loan, some of which take years to pay off. This means that you’ll spend a considerable part of your early working life getting rid of student debt.
This is not ideal. Fortunately, education is also heavily subsidized – either by the government, or the institution themselves, or private philanthropic societies and donors and now even by the corporate sector.
There are several options for scholarships from all these sources. Today, we will focus on scholarships offered by the corporate sectors.
What is a corporate or company-sponsored scholarship?
When a company sets aside a specific amount of money to sponsor education for meritorious or needy candidates, it is a corporate scholarship.
Today, most of the larger companies in the world have a dedicated scholarship program for a variety of individuals – high school students, graduates, doctoral candidates, employees, their families, war veterans or their children, and many more.
This is in addition to the resources set aside to promote education among the backward and underprivileged sections of society. The largest companies, including most of the Fortune 500 ones offer company-sponsored scholarships in some form or the other.
So, as a student, it is worthwhile to explore such options and not just apply to traditional scholarships providers. Things are looking up here – in fact, Peter Thiel, of PayPal has offered a scholarship to any high school student who drops out of college to pursue entrepreneurship
So, the eligibility requirements are not only rigid, but also keep up with contemporary times and the students’ own inclinations.
Why does the corporate sector offer company-sponsored scholarships?
Corporate social responsibility – In some countries like India, companies are required to set aside a certain proportion of their revenues every year to promote a worthy social cause.
This responsibility is enshrined in law and verified by auditors. Sponsored scholarships are one way in which the company can fulfill these objectives.
Brand image – Customers today focus not only on the quality of the end product and associated services but are also increasingly aware of what companies are up to.
This means that the company is required to be responsible, accountable and self-regulating. No longer can a company indulge in unethical activities in the name of the business.
The tiniest bit of information is disseminated over social media at lightning speed. To promote and maintain an image of credibility and integrity, companies sponsor scholarships.
Reinvestment of wealth – The worth of human capital cannot be underestimated. To remain competitive, a company must continually attract talented, skilled and hardworking employees.
By offering corporate scholarships, not only is the company developing talent, but also cornering it for their own purpose.
Giving back to the community – To qualify as a good corporate citizen, companies often involve themselves in philanthropic activities.
Tata Sons, for example, sets aside as much as sixty percent of its annual revenues for social purposes. Corporate scholarships are one of these.
How can you get a company-sponsored scholarship?
Start off by narrowing the field. Once you pick the industry of your choice, make a list of the biggest players. Conduct your own research to find out which ones offer scholarships and what the prerequisites are to apply.
Try to understand the company’s motivations behind such an offer. They shall impact how you can benefit from this scholarship.
For example: if the company wants to fulfill its corporate social responsibilities, the offer is likely to have no strings attached. If however, the company wants to develop employee talent for its own pool, there might be conditions associated with the offer.
Accepting the scholarship may require you to work with them for a specified period of time, or at least, not work with competitors.
Knowledge of the company is essential. A scholarship process almost always involves an interview. You will be expected to know the company’s origins, its vision and mission, its USP, its milestones, its industry position, its latest financial data, what makes it competitive, any ongoing research, and projected future path.
The company’s annual report, industry reports, website, and credible news sources are some rich sources of information. You must also know whether the company has been in the news lately and whether it is facing any criticisms.
Even if a company has a presence in several countries, it many offer scholarships in select places only. Read the terms and conditions carefully to check if you are eligible.
To get you started, here are some of the prominent company-sponsored scholarships worldwide:
– AXA Equitable Financial Services, LLC – AXA Achievement Scholarship
– British Petroleum – BP Community Scholarship Program
– Chevron Corporation – Chevron Corporation Scholarship
– Coca-Cola – Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation
– Dell – Dell Scholars Program Scholarship
– Voice of America – Voice of America Scholarship
– Ford Motor Company – Ford Driving Dreams Scholarships
– Lockheed Martin – Lockheed Martin Corporation Scholarships
– Walmart – Walmart Associate Scholarship
– Shell Oil Company – Shell Oil Company Technical Scholarships
– Google and Lime Connect Inc. – Google Lime Scholarship Program