12 Tips to Master Your Essay Submission for the SIGGRAPH 2020 Student Volunteer Program

Image via Josh Seal (@jseal2) on Instagram

Do you have writer’s block where your SIGGRAPH 2020 Student Volunteer (SV) application is concerned? Are you stuck on what to share in the essay portions? Fear no more! Consider these 12 tips from your SIGGRAPH 2020 Student Volunteer Subcommittee.

Tip 1: It’s OK to (Write About a) Fail

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“People grow the most from their failures. Learning from mistakes is how we get better at what we do. Be self-aware in your essays. Writing about an experience that perhaps did not go the way you wanted it to is a great way to showcase your resiliency and how you developed personally from it. It’ll make you stand out as an SV and in life.” —Sarah Rust, SIGGRAPH 2020 Student Volunteers Chair

Tip 2: Proofread

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“Don’t miss preventable grammatical errors and spelling mistakes that could cost you a valuable spot to serve [as a] student volunteer. Avoid this common overlook [by asking] a few professors, family members, or friends [to] read over your essay for consistency and accuracy in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and formatting. If you’re able, try to reach out to former student volunteers to share their examples and expertise on takeaways from their experiences in the program. This will provide understanding on expectations for what it means to be #ProudToBeSV.” —Alex Bryant, SIGGRAPH 2020 Student Volunteers Program Manager

Tip 3: Show Enthusiasm

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“When writing your essays, don’t be afraid to let your enthusiasm show! We want volunteers who are passionate about the program, excited to gain invaluable experiences, and all-around ready to help run an amazing conference. Express these feelings in your writing, so we can get excited about your application with you!” —Chelsea Roehl, SIGGRAPH 2020 Student Volunteers Communications Manager

Tip 4: Don’t Stress

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“We aren’t here to judge your lives, or your future in your industry. Have fun with your applications … and the entire SV process if you are brought on! Psyching yourself out is one of the worst things you can do. Trust us, we were all in the exact same position when we started with SIGGRAPH. Be positive and put your best foot forward, and you will surely end up in a better place than you expected!” —Desmond Williams, SIGGRAPH 2020 Student Volunteers Community Development Manager

Tip 5: Research ACM SIGGRAPH

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“Take a moment to browse the conference and organization websites to familiarize yourself with the history, committees, perks of being involved, latest news, and overall content. Just like when you apply to join a club or for an internship, employers tend to ask about how you heard about the organization or company and why want to be involved. This also applies here.” —Wellington Aguiar, SIGGRAPH 2020 Student Volunteers Technical Lead

Tip 6 Time Management and Deadlines

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“It’s ok, don’t panic! Take your time with your essays, just don’t forget about the deadline. Focus on well-organized time management and always be aware of the deadline date. If you miss the deadline, then your application will not be accepted. And, you’ll miss out on this amazing opportunity.” —Ben Rosado, SIGGRAPH 2020 Student Volunteers Industry and Outreach Lead

Tip 7: This Isn’t ‘Aesop’s Fables’

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“Life-altering experiences are so important for personal development but can easily become too broad for 300 words or less. Try to stay away from over-generalizing your experiences into a moral. It’s enough to be descriptive in your examples and write about what you did or could have done better in the situation. You’ll get your point across without your essay sounding like an Aesop’s fable.” —Sarah Rust

Tip 8: Be Your True Self

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“Express your most authentic self in [each essay]. This will help communicate your personality and showcase what can bring to the program. Think about [highlighting] your intellect, enthusiasm, empathic skills, and [ability to be] a team player.” —Alex Bryant

Tip 9: Don’t Hesitate to Reach Out

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“Confused about one of the questions? Don’t quite understand what it’s asking for? Don’t hesitate to reach out to a friend, mentor, professor, parent, or employer. If you have more [specific] inquiries about the program, reach out [to us] anytime at sv.SIGGRAPH.org.” —Chelsea Roehl

Tip 10: Relevant Experience Counts

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“Worked in a leadership position of any sort before? Ran (or were a member) in a local club or association? Dealt with an annoying customer or client in a proper manner? Those are all valid things to include in your essays if you find yourself struggling to come up with more ways to sell yourself!” —Desmond Williams

Tip 11: Tell a Story With Examples

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“Just like reading a novel, share stories with a beginning, middle, and end in your essays. Set the scene of your past experience with specific examples of your leadership skills and being a team player that will be relevant to the program.” —Wellington Aguiar

Tip 12: Take a Break

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“You don’t have to write your essays all in one shot. It’s better not to rush them. Rushing can lead to scrambled thoughts, and you want your essays to be well thought out. So it’s okay to get up and take a break! Step away for a bit and come back to it later. Sometimes, a little breather is all we need to organize our thoughts.” —Ben Rosado


Still have questions? Check out Frequently Asked Questions on our website or email the committee. Applications close Tuesday, 11 February.

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