The winner of this year\u0027s QS Connect Masters Scholarship, worth US$2,000, is Laur Ciorobea. \r\n\r\nWe caught up with Laur to learn more about how the scholarship will change their study plans and to get their top tips for your own scholarship application.\r\n\r\nWhat are you planning to study, and why did you choose the university you’ve applied to?\r\n\r\nI will be studying Management of Innovation at Erasmus University Rotterdam (Rotterdam School of Management) in The Netherlands.\r\n\r\nRSM was my first choice as it presents a globally renowned Management program providing not only vast academic and work opportunities in a vibrant, multifaceted business community, but also the chance to embrace the cosmopolitan culture of a city bursting with creativity and innovation.\r\n\r\nAs I have always been passionate about art - painting, drawing and sculpting from an early age - I am also excited to be inspired by the imposing skyline and modern architectural landscape, with local landmarks including the Erasmus bridge, the Kubuswoningen or the Markthal.\r\n\r\nWhat do you hope to gain from your degree? How will it affect your career plans?\r\n\r\nHaving worked as a Marketing and PR Representative for Honda Romania as part of my bachelor\u0027s at Warwick Business School, I realised that much of what made marketing an attractive field of study for me, like exploring customer needs, wants and desires as a key strategic input for market entry and the creation of sustainable competitive advantage, was in practice the scope of innovation management, rather than the more narrowly defined opportunities marketing departments offer.\r\n\r\nThus, this master’s program will allow me to dive deeper into an exciting area of study that I was not able to fully explore during my bachelor\u0027s, opening up a range of career opportunities in the long run, from innovation consultancy and executive positions in local or multinational organizations all the way to entrepreneurship and venture creation.\r\n\r\nIn countries like Romania, still playing catch-up with the rest of Europe, hindered by corruption and outdated governmental policies, it is often up to innovators and entrepreneurs to tackle pressing societal challenges such as healthcare disparities, energy security, information technology penetration and infrastructure development, in order to accelerate the pace of societal and technological transformation.\r\n\r\nAs I continue my academic and professional journey, I eventually hope to join the wave of promising young professionals and entrepreneurs in my country and contribute to innovation that serves the current and future needs of society.\r\n\r\nHow did you find the scholarship application process? How many sources of financial aid did you approach?\r\n\r\nI have applied to the majority of scholarships that I was eligible for, so about 10-15 applications to six universities and external scholarship providers. This meant that, although not technically complex, the scholarship application process was overall quite time-consuming.\r\n\r\nThat being said, I found the QS application process to be among the most straightforward as it only involved the submission of an essay, rather than a portfolio of motivation and recommendation letters, financial data and academic records. Furthermore, the question format allows you to approach the task with a bit more creative freedom, making the process a lot more enjoyable. Thus, I was able to complete each QS essay in a few hours, spread over several days.\r\n\r\nA qualifying criteria was attending a QS event prior to the application, something that I would recommend regardless as an effective way to meet representatives from your desired universities and get a lot of information quickly.\r\n\r\nWhat difference will this scholarship make to you? \r\n\r\nThe QS scholarship definitely takes some of the pressure off, especially in this current period of financial uncertainty. Most of my classes have moved online for the fall, so moving to my university’s city has definitely become a less attractive proposal. However, having the financial security of my scholarships has allowed me to take on the accommodation and living expenses costs regardless, thus benefitting from the social, extracurricular and career opportunities available on campus.\r\n\r\nWithout the financial support from QS and other institutions, I do not think I would have taken advantage of this opportunity.\r\n\r\nWhat advice do you have for other prospective students who are applying for scholarships?\r\n\r\nFirstly, reflect on who you are and who you want to be. It is important to achieve a balance between showcasing how your achievements have contributed to your personal growth while simultaneously making sure your future aspirations shine through your application essays and motivation letters. If your application is going to stand out among thousands more, it needs to be genuine and unique to you, demonstrating that you have thought long and hard about the impact you want to have on those around you and on society as a whole. Do not be afraid to dream big, but make sure you stay true to yourself.\r\n\r\nSecondly, time and information management is key: make sure you are proactive and set time aside to meet application deadlines, keeping in mind that they may be set months before the actual course application deadline. Make sure you are well aware of application terms. Remember to tackle first come, first served scholarships first and do not overlook sources of scholarships that may not be present on the university’s website, such as national or international programs.\r\n\r\nLastly… hustle! Did you miss a deadline for a scholarship for which you were a perfect candidate? Consider contacting the awarding institution and making your case regardless: providing they have not awarded their entire allocated budget, there may still be a chance for you, with a strong profile. I personally have secured two separate scholarships this way, so I can definitely attest to the value of being persistent and resilient.