Guide to applying for YSI: Tips from a veteran

Ali Mannan Tirmizi became one of the 25 under 25 in 2017, and is now working with his team to ensure clean water for the world, through the project Xyla Water. 

Apply only if you want to make an impact

If you’re reading this, Congratulations!

You just took the very first step. Either you have committed to apply for YSI or are in the process of doing so. The application you are about to begin may just be the beginning of a life-altering moment for you. But don’t worry, No pressure! For all great things begin with a decision and that decision doesn’t come easy. Before we begin I would like to point out something. If you are applying for this program just for a free ride to Norway and for the sake of some party time, I would advise you to stop right there. The journey you are about to embark on is long and surreal. Only your passion and resolve to turn things around will drive you through the steep uphill journey that lies ahead. You should only apply for the Young Sustainable Impact Innovation Program only and only if; you really do want to make an impact.

At YSI, you will have a time of your life. Not because of the place, but because of the people around you. The sheer brilliance of the people you will meet, will not only inspire you but will also serve as constant motivation to bring out the best in your personality.

 

Kopi av amundysi_vildemedia12

YSI participants and crew at the annual Culture night! Photo by Vilde media.

 

 

The Three Questions

Your aim should solely not be profit driven. If your intention is for pure profit then there are plenty of business incubators out there. YSI is not just like any other innovation program. Real life problem solving and making a positive impact on society is at the core of YSI. YSI is not just an event, it’s a journey. A journey of a lifetime that the brave embark upon and never look back. Before hitting that apply button here are some questions that you need to ask yourself:

  1. Am I passionate about changing the world?

If not, then the journey will take a toll on you and sooner or later you will burn out. Passion, perseverance and a 100% concentrated power of will to go against all odds is what keeps you going. A sense of purpose and passion is what wakes you up each morning and gets you going. You need to be ready to work on something much greater than yourself. Remember that you should be willing to move heaven and Earth to reach your goals.

  1. Do I have time?

YSI is not just a five-month innovation program. Nope, that’s just the start. The innovation program is just a preparation for forming your team and floating an idea and perhaps launching a prototype. The real work comes down the lane, after the program. Launching a startup is no easy task. It takes a lot of coordinated effort and time. If you are a student, doing a job or have other responsibilities, you should consider your position in terms of the time that you have up your sleeve. If your commitment and priorities aren’t in line you might want to reconsider and apply when the time is right.

  1. Am I ready for this?

It’s extremely important to be the right person, for the right job at the right time. There’s no shame in not being ready. Maybe you’re committed elsewhere and might want to consider applying when you are ready or you have your stuff sorted out till then. In the nutshell, you need to be ready mentally and physically. The rest will follow.

If the answer to all of the above questions is a YES! That means that you MUST definitely apply. If No, don’t sweat. YSI is here to stay and you can apply whenever you are ready.

This is the part where I share with you some tips on applying to YSI. Last year more than 10,000 people from all over the world applied to be a part of the 25 under 25 cohort for 2017. And truly so, I got to meet and befriend some of the most amazing, talented and driven individuals from around the globe. They weren’t only nerdily smart but also the coolest, craziest and funniest lot ever. When it came to partying, they knew how to party and when it came to working, these people really knew how to put their heads down and work for excellence. They really followed the mantra: Work Hard, Party Harder!

 

The 8 tips to read before applying

Tip Num 1:

Refer to your profile. Before starting out your application, look up your resume and if you do not have one, simply jot down all your entrepreneurial ventures, business ideas, instances where you took up leadership roles and relevant experiences. Experiences and past endeavours are a good way to tell the world what you are capable of. In order to succeed, you must be able to convey your point of view across the board. While filling in your application, keep your profile in mind and relate your answers to them wherever possible. This will help YSI gauge your true potential and help your application maintain relevancy. Also, you will make sure that you make the most out of your profile and throw in your best.

Tip Num 2:

Read the application carefully. It’s surprising how many people actually don’t follow this very simple, yet effective point. Many times you are tempted to skim through the question and dive straight towards the question. Don’t do that. You might end up missing out on the essence of the question. Take your time and jot down notes for each question. Gauge what is the question asking specifically and how do you plan to answer it. Referring to tip 1, you can even make notes on what relevant experience you should elucidate in each section.

Tip Num 3:

Details! The folks at YSI get tons of applications. They will probably read the same generic answers about having a startup or leading an organization. What interests them is your unique journey and struggle. If you have a business then mention the details, How big is it? How many people work? How much revenue does it churn? Or if you’ve ever led an organization, How big was your team? What impact did it make? Specifically, what work does it execute and with whom does it operate? All these details are the real life of your content so be sure to add relevant statistics and figures for in-depth insight.

 

Tip Num 4:
Clarity. Great deals of very viable participants do not make it into the program. That for a fact that they aren’t able to express their expertise in writing. Remember that your application is your representative to the team here at YSI. It is your one chance to make an impression. So be sure to fully utilize that opportunity and to make every attempt at making everything clear.

Tip Num 5:

Get a friend to read your application. It might sound surprising but sometimes when you’re the author of something, everything seems to look all hunky dory. Only when someone else reads it, does one discover that the point isn’t actually being delivered across Make sure that after drafting your application; ask a couple of your friends to proofread it for clarity, spelling and grammar.

Tip Num 6:

Elucidate. Where possible provide links and relevant material for your projects and past experience. A LinkedIn page or a personal website with details about you and your interests/projects can be great. Investing some time into building an online presence will help you in the long run.
Tip Num 7:
Keep it personal. Stats and figures are all very good indicators of your performance but YSI is a very humane organization and they are really interested in what sets you apart from others, based on your personal experiences and life story and beliefs. In the “Why are you motivated to attend the YSI program?” Relate a personal story or an ambition that you have had. This is the place where you tell what really sparks you to be one of the people who want to change the world.

Tip Num 8:
Believe! Last year only 25 people made it from 10,000+ applicants, globally. No one could’ve predicted that they were going to make it. However, all applicants must believe that they are good enough. And that is what will give you the hope and courage to send your applications in the first place. This year probably more than 10,000 people will apply. However, you stand a chance as long as you apply. Even a 1% chance is better than regret. So, give the application your best shot and believe in yourself.

Perhaps you can find solace in this Arabic proverb:
“What is destined for you will reach you, even if it is between two mountains. And what is not destined for you, will not reach, even if it is in between your two lips”

If you’ve stuck with this post till now. A very heartfelt Thank you! I am immensely glad.

However, a very brief parting note. The most important thing to remember is that at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether you make it into the YSI program or not. In the very end, it’s about making the world a better place for all of us. You need to know that you are the most unique and gifted person, in your own distinguished way. You hold the power to change the world in unprecedented ways. The only thing standing between you and your goals is yourself. When you start out with the application, you must promise yourself that you will work to make the world a better place, whether you make it in, or not. That, in reality, will be your true victory. The YSI family is there to help you, each step of the way!

To check out what Ali and his team are up to visit www.xylawater.com and like them on their Facebook-page 

You can also apply here for the YSI program!

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