White man¿s hand moving white pawn on chess board with white and brown pieces

Scholarship Strategies to Build Your Professional Network

Networking is important to your future career--but it can also help your scholarship search! Develop a scholarship networking strategy with this expert advice

The obvious benefit of searching and applying for scholarships is the potential to win free money for college, but did you know there are also many networking benefits to scholarships beyond the monetary award? Private scholarships from companies, organizations, and foundations are created and awarded to students for several reasons: to make an impact on the future of a professional industry, align with a corporate or organizational mission, or promote and build brand awareness, for example. This benefits the awarding company or organization as well as the winning applicant(s), who can build relationships with the sponsor and establish new contacts for the future. More and more private scholarships are created every year, which means more opportunities for winning and networking! Here are a few strategies to employ to benefit your scholarship search and your future professional network.

Learn which organizations can support you in your chosen field

Many organizations and foundations are formed to specifically provide education, support, professional networking opportunities, and internships within a specific industry. They may also offer multiple scholarships for multiple education levels. Regardless of where you are in your educational journey, learning about the professional organizations and foundations in your industry of interest can open doors to internships, jobs, mentors, and—of course—scholarships. If you’re certain about the field(s) you want to professionally pursue, start researching related organizations now.

Scholarships from organizations and foundations

  • Joseph James Morelli Legacy Foundation: This scholarship is open to high school seniors and students attending technical school, community college, or undergraduate programs with a demonstrated learning disability. Applicants must be pursuing a STEM-related degree to win awards of up to $2,500. The deadline is March 17.
  • American Nuclear Society Scholarships: Open to graduating high school seniors as well as undergraduate, graduate, community college, and trade school students pursuing Nuclear Engineering, this scholarship has a deadline of April 1 and offers awards of up to $3,500.
  • Bill and Shireen Kirk Scholarship Fund: This scholarship is open to undergraduate juniors and seniors and graduate students pursuing programs in Business, Chemistry, Civil Engineering, Construction Management, Marketing, or Sales. Awarded through the Asphalt Institute Foundation, this scholarship’s deadline is February 15, and award amounts vary. (Note: Applicants can be from any state, but preference is given to students from Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.)

Related: STEM Scholarship Opportunities for Minority Students

Learn more about companies in your chosen field

Companies can be a little different from organizations when it comes to scholarship opportunities. When companies sponsor a scholarship, they generally include information about what they value. A deeper understanding of the values of any company within your future career field might give you a strategic advantage when applying for an internship, job, or scholarship. Many scholarships have interview components and can also provide a potential open door to connect with human resources and a hiring manager.

Examples of company-sponsored scholarships

  • AmericanTrucks Scholarships: This scholarship program is open to high school seniors as long as they are 18 years old and pursuing programs in traditional building trades as a full-time student at a vocational school or technical institute, including carpentry, HVAC, electrical, or related fields of study. (Certificate programs are eligible.) The award is $2,500, and the deadlines are October 15 and June 15.
  • Tourism N Travel Small Business Scholarship: This scholarship is open to high school seniors, two-year and four-year college students, and vocational students majoring in Aviation, Business, Economics, Finance, Hospitality, or Tourism who have an interest in starting their own business. Students from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States can apply. The award is $2,000, and the deadline is December 15.
  • Save a Life Scholarship: This scholarship from the American Academy of CPR and First Aid is open to high school seniors or current college students pursuing or planning to pursue careers in either health care or education. The award is $1,500, and deadlines are May 1 and October 1. 

Related: Top 10 Career Fields in America: What You Should Know

Build strategic connections with fellow scholarship seekers you’re not competing with

Private scholarships are offered for students at varying levels of education, so it would serve everyone well to collaborate and help each other find more opportunities—as long as you won’t be competing against each other for the same award. For example, a high school senior who knows they want to pursue Engineering should connect with an undergraduate Engineering student as well as a graduate Engineering student if possible. This can be easily done through referrals from the alumni and admission departments at your colleges of interest. You may find a scholarship that’s only open to graduate students, whereas your undergrad connection may find an opportunity that’s only open to high school students. By sharing information, you’ll find opportunities faster while building relationships that aid your future professional career. 

Scholarships open to students at various education levels

  • AES Engineering Scholarship: This scholarship is open to high school seniors as well as current college students pursuing any field of study. The award is $500, has a deadline of October 5, and requires an essay between 500–1,000 words.
  • Art of Protest Grant for Black Students: This scholarship is for Black students at any education level who are furthering a protest or social change through any form of visual art. Applicants must be attending a school or educational institution in the US. The deadline is September 15, and the award is $900.
  • Don’t Text & Drive Scholarship: This scholarship from the Law Offices of Matthew J. Quinlan is for high school senior, college, and graduate students who are 24 years old or younger. This is not a need-based scholarship. The award is $1,000, and deadlines fall on September 15 and March 15 each year.

Related: 3 Summer Scholarship Strategies for Any Education Level

Reducing your educational expenses may be the common reason to start the scholarship pursuit, but embracing all the benefits of private scholarship opportunities could yield far more than financial rewards by helping you establish a professional network for many years to come.

Start finding scholarships for college using our Scholarship Search tool, and expand your professional network at the same time by following us on LinkedIn.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Tags:
money for college paying for college scholarship opportunities scholarship search scholarship strategies scholarships

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
CollegeXpress Logo

$10,000

Are you our next winner?

Register now for our scholarship giveaway

Khush

Khush

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress is a multi-maneuver platform that has been helping students in their college applications and scholarship hunt process. For me, CollegeXpress has been a boon. I've been able to find my dream university via CX, and I've also been able to apply to thousands of scholarships through it. All the thanks to CollegeXpress for doing such a great job for free. I express my sincere gratitude to you for doing such a wonderful job. I recommend CollegeXpress without any reservations.

Lydia Huth

Lydia Huth

Student, Campbell University; CollegeXpress Student Writer

I discovered CollegeXpress while embarking on my college search journey as an excited—but scared and way confused—high schooler without a counselor or college-bound sibling to give me advice. Let me tell you, I’m so glad that I stumbled on this community! CollegeXpress helped me find potential colleges and keep application deadlines straight. It gave me a great list of scholarships, and the blogs and emails made me feel like I wasn’t going it alone. Almost three years later and with freshman year of college down, I still love the CollegeXpress vibe so much that I’m writing for them. I’d recommend this site to anyone!

Kamal

Kamal

University of People Student

I registered with CollegeXpress, filled all my necessary and relevant information and the course I wished to study. Few days later an email was sent to me with the list of schools offering the course, amongst them was the University of People, the school I got admitted to.

Melanie Kajy

Melanie Kajy

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me tremendously during my senior year of high school. I started off using the college search to find more information about the universities I was interested in. Just this tool alone gave me so much information about a particular school. It was my one-stop shop to learn about college. I was able to find information about college tuition, school rank, majors, and so much more that I can't list it all. The college search tool has helped me narrow down which college I want to attend, and it made a stressful process surprisingly not so stressful. I then moved to the scholarship search tool to find scholarships to apply for because I can't afford to pay for tuition myself. The search tool helped me find scholarships that I was eligible for. The tool gave me all the information I could ever need about a particular scholarship that was being offered. The CollegeXpress scholarship search tool is so much better than other tools offered, like the Chegg scholarship search. Thanks to CollegeXpress, I was able to apply to tons of scholarships in a relatively easy way!

Sadie Hartmann

Sadie Hartmann

High School Class of 2021

I'm a senior in high school, and CollegeXpress has helped me in so many ways this year in trying to navigate the process of deciding and committing to a university. The COVID-19 Student Resource Center has helped me many times with the most up-to-date and accurate information, along with financial aid and student life [advice]. During these uncertain times, CollegeXpress has been a great recourse to relieve the stress as a senior. Along with the COVID-19 Student Resource Center, I'm constantly using the extremely helpful tools off the site to aid me during this stressful process. Tools like the lists and rankings of universities have been the most beneficial. I've also used the site to receive expert advice on topics like financial aid. Finally, CollegeXpress has helped me easily apply for several scholarships. I'm thankful to be given the chance to win a scholarship to lessen the burden of my college debt.

College Matches