I am applying for a PhD in neuroscience and one of the requirements on the application is to write a supplemental essay about a time you experienced failure. I wrote an essay about finding a job after undergrad and the times I was rejected and what I learned to ultimately land a job after several rejections. I want to conclude the essay by writing a sentence or two about how the job hunting experience will prepare me for some responsibilities during my PhD. I'm having trouble relating the skills I learned while job hunting (tailoring applications, organizing application materials, networking, interviewing etc.) to what is done during a PhD. Can anyone suggest what I can connect this to? Thanks!


(tailoring applications, organizing application materials, networking, interviewing etc.)

During your PhD and in your future academic career you will spend a significant amount of your time:

  • Tailoring applications to grants
  • Organising materials for those grant applications
  • Networking at conferences, workshops, online, etc across your discipline and in to other disciplines
  • Presenting your research and selling yourself as a researcher as you present papers at conferences etc (not entirely unlike a very harsh interview)

It seems to me that you've answered your own question. Your experience has prepared you for many of the academic extras that happen beyond simply being able to do good research. I think that's probably your hook there.


This seems like a very specialized requirement. I haven't heard of it before.

But, think about what is required in a doctoral program. You mention some of these already, such as organizing, networking, etc. But there are others. Perseverance is a big one. Flexibility is another. But there may be some aspects of responding to setbacks that are specifically related to neuroscience that I'm not aware of. Those would probably be the best factors. Learning things about yourself that you didn't know before?

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