Blog: Today we launch our Fellowship interviews

Published: 4 Jan 2019

Author: Sara Canullo
Blog: Today we launch our Fellowship interviews

Today is the first day of interviews for the 2019 Churchill Fellowships. This is a really exciting time of year for our team. We’ve already read about the candidates' amazing projects on the application forms and we’ve heard from their referees. Now we’re going to meet them in person.

We will interview over 240 candidates for 150 Fellowships, and this careful process will take us all month. The interviews are carried out by expert panels in every category for which we award a Fellowship, from Education to Healthcare.

What makes interviews so exciting is knowing that this could be a starting point for so many wonderful things that happen in a person’s life and career. We regularly hear from people who became Fellows 20 or 30 years ago and want to update us on the latest achievements for which they credit their Fellowship as the springboard. Many of them have never met any of the current staff members here, but they still want to keep in touch. They often send us their recollections of their interview and can even name all the members of their panel. It’s a day that makes such a big impression.

It’s humbling to follow someone’s journey from interview through their travels and beyond. They come to us with an idea and a passion, but perhaps aren’t in a position to effect change yet. Seeing how a Fellowship enables them to grow, progress in their careers - and ultimately bring about positive change - is so rewarding.

I also enjoy interviews because I get to learn about issues about which I previously had almost no knowledge. One example of this was Ellie MacLennan, who researched approaches to whale disentanglement. In her interview she vividly described what it was like being on a boat trying to help an enormous animal in distress. Hearing about her project was fascinating, so I made sure to follow her blog and Facebook posts while she travelled. I can’t wait to hear about what she does in the future.

This year, our new partners the Samaritans and the Prince’s Countryside Fund will be attending interviews for the first time, for two of our new award categories Suicide prevention and Rural living. Our partners are always blown away by the fervour and energy of the candidates, and I’m sure this year will be no different.

As ever, we expect the standard of the field to be extremely high. Our panelists will have some difficult decisions to make. For applicants, reaching the interview stage is already a huge achievement, considering how competitive the process is. I wish all of this year’s candidates the best of luck.

Sara Canullo is Fellowship Director at WCMT.

Top picture: a candidate for a Churchill Fellowship is interviewed by our panel.

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