How to write a Statement of Purpose (SOP)?
November 19th, 201131 comments
With academic internships on Internshala (likes of CERN, JNCASR, EPFL etc.) ruling the roost, we have been inundated with requests for tips on how to write an impressive Statement of Purpose (SOP). The kind which grabs selection committee’s attention and forces them to accept you in one go. We present, a been there and done that, expert telling you the finer nuances of how to write an effective SOP. About the author: – Nirmal Jayaram graduated from IIT Madras in 2006 post which he did his M.S & Ph.D from Stanford University. Whether Nirmal is synonymous with the term Academic Brilliance or coined it; I am not sure. Sample this – he graduated with a CGPA of 9.54 from IIT Madras (last 4 sem GPA being 10/10), he had calls from all 6 IIMs and attended interviews of only 2 and converted both including IIM Ahmedabad. But of course he did not join it. He had admits with full scholarships from Stanford, MIT, Berkley, Cornell, UTA, & Purdue. Rumors has it that MIT admission committee stalked him for weeks to swing his decision in their favor and sulked for months when he went to Stanford instead. With these credentials, if I were you I would pay VERY close attention to what he has to say on SOP writing. Happy reading… 1. Understand what a statement of purpose means: You’ve probably been in situations where you have to choose one among several exciting alternatives. Recruiters face the same scenario while dealing with several good resumes intended at the same job opening. The statement of purpose gives you an opportunity to connect all your application materials together and express to the recruiter why you fit the role the best. To understand what goes into a good statement of purpose, you need to put yourselves in the recruiter’s shoes, and try to get a feel for the two burning questions a recruiter has: 1.
Why are you interested in the opening? Sometimes the answer to this might be obvious. You current area of study/ work could well be closely related to the job opening, but it still can’t hurt to clearly enunciate your interest in this area of work and how that helps you move further in your intended career path. Naturally this is much more important when the job opening is in an area unrelated to your current area of work, although you might believe that the new area is really your calling. The end goal is that the recruiter needs to believe that you are very serious about this opening and you would give it your all once you actually get the job. More on this later. 2.
What do you bring to the table? So, you have shown the recruiter that no one could be any more serious about the opening than you are. You’ve won half the battle, but you still need to prove that you are not all bluster and you are capable of performing the work at a very high level. Your resume does this for you partly, but the statement of purpose gives you an opportunity to highlight some of your major achievements and skill sets that are closely related to the job of interest. 2. Tell a story, your story! Let’s talk about structuring your statement of purpose for a bit. Your statement of purpose needs to tell your story in such a way that the recruiter clearly understands your background, your capabilities and your suitableness for the job. There are many ways to structure a statement of purpose, and this would be one: •
Who are you and what do you do currently? Start out with your current education background and what got you there. Maybe you were inspired by pure science as a kid and ended up as a physicist. Maybe you were excited by the world of algorithms in high school that inspired you to pursue the field of computer science. Or maybe you even wanted to build the next Eiffel tower and decided to become a Civil Engineer! •
What are your current academic credentials? Dedicate some part of your statement of purpose to explain your academic achievements and credentials in your...
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