I wanted to give personal statement advice for those who continue to Pickering.
To note: I was rejected by Pickering last year and their decision made me do a lot of self-reflection. I started the process by looking back at my application and noticed many little mistakes and that I came off as unfocused. While working on my Rangel app, I had many drafts over 20 each with a different intro. It was a difficult process because most of the feedback I was receiving was to be personal and that's not much to go off of.
So here's my advice based off of the process I put myself through this time around and things people told.
1. Completely throw out your personal statement.
2. Start from scratch. I did not look at what I had written for Pickering when I wrote my PS for Rangel. (It was obviously unsuccessful, so it made no sense to revisit)
3. The intro is so important and it's your chance to grab the readers attention and be personal with them. (Like I said I had over 20 intros I had drafted)
4. Be personal with your essay. Make it about you and the things you did.
5. Don't sound like you're reading your resume.
6. The personal statement is your opportunity to speak directly to the review community and explain why you want to dedicate yourself to public service.
7. Think of the application and fellowship as a whole. Not just the one component like the FS. There are many gears at work.
8. Be concise. Don't come off like you're all over the place.
9. If you mention grad school, talk about one school, not 6.
10. Don't be afraid to ask others for help throughout the process. Have many people read your app.
11. Don't think you are a shoe in because you meet the basic requirements.
12. Really think about who can write you a recommendation, make sure they know the program. Don't get hung up on titles, university rankings, or the person's position within a university. Be strategic, yet mindful (added).
13. Lastly, a lot of people applying to these programs have similar academic and career exploits. This is why you have to be personal and really explain your intentions.
I hope this helps and that you apply to Pickering and other fellowships.