Most major tech companies offer scholarships for prospective or current college students. While some of those are geared toward all students, other scholarships are designed to fix the racial disparity within the tech industry. According to research from 2021, fewer than 10% of STEM employees in the workforce are African-American. The Blacks at Microsoft Scholarship aims to close the gap and encourage more Black students to major in STEM-related fields.
What is the Blacks at Microsoft Scholarship?
This scholarship is directly sponsored by the Blacks at Microsoft (BAM) organization, a group of Black Microsoft employees who want to support students interested in technology.
Every year, BAM will give out five $5,000 scholarships that are renewable for up to four years. They will also give out 45 $2,500 one-time scholarships. Scholarship winners may also be considered for a Microsoft internship, but placement is not guaranteed.
The application is due March 15, 2023 at 3 p.m. CST. Students must submit all materials, including recommendation letters, online by the due date. They cannot mail or email any documents.
How to win the Blacks at Microsoft Scholarship
Only high school seniors are eligible for the Blacks at Microsoft Scholarship.
To qualify, you must:
- Be of African descent, including being African-American or an African immigrant
- Plan to enroll at a four-year school based in the U.S. after you graduate from high school
- Have a 3.0 GPA or higher
- Have demonstrated financial need
High school seniors who plan to attend a two-year community college can still apply for this scholarship, as long as they plan to receive a bachelor’s degree at some point.
To be eligible, you must plan to major in:
Students will have to write an essay with the following prompt, “Describe how you plan to engage in the technology industry in your career.” The essay should be 2,000 characters or less, which equals about 500 words.
Students will also need to submit a full-color headshot, an official transcript and one recommendation letter. You can submit multiple recommendation letters, but at least one must be from a teacher or faculty member.
Improve Your Chances of Winning
Write a Compelling Essay
The essay portion is one of the most critical aspects of the application. Before you start writing, take some time to brainstorm the main points you want to make. You can also meet with a STEM teacher or advisor and discuss the essay prompt before you begin writing.
Work on a rough draft and have a parent, guardian or trusted teacher take a look. Try to incorporate their revisions into your next draft.
If you have had any difficult circumstances to overcome, make sure to mention them in your essay. These can help you stand out from the other applicants.
Get a Solid Recommendation Letter
Try to find a teacher, club sponsor or another faculty member who can speak to your academic work ethic and interest in technology.
If you plan to approach a teacher who is often asked to write recommendation letters, make sure you give them enough notice. If you ask someone at the last minute, they may not have enough time to produce something unique.
Also, the recommendation letter must be completely original and not something you have sent in for a previous college or scholarship application. It should also be submitted on official letterhead.
Write an Impressive Resume
Students will have to submit a resume that includes any extracurricular activities, including paid work, volunteer positions, and more. Your resume is a chance to show off any STEM-related awards and achievements.
Go through the resume and make sure it does not have any typos, spelling or grammar mistakes.
Microsoft offers up to eight free certification exams for students. If you take these and pass, you can add them to your resume. This can beef up your technical skills section, which may be helpful if you don’t have many tech-related extracurricular activities listed.
Completing these courses may also prove that you’re serious about a career in tech and that you have a strong work ethic.
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