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SMPS Seattle Behind the Scenes: Picking a Scholarship Winner

by Alissa Grieves, Osborn Consulting, SMPS Seattle Scholarship Chair

Ever wonder what goes into the scholarship process here at SMPS Seattle? I've been a member of SMPS for two years now and applied for a scholarship in 2013 right after I first joined. I didn't win, but I was curious how the who process works. Earlier this year, I joined the Special Events Committee as the Scholarship Chair and have been learning a lot about the scholarship program.

SMPS Seattle awards four different scholarships a year: the Pacific Regional Conference (PRC) Scholarship; the Continuing Education Scholarship; the Build Business Scholarship; and, an Undergraduate Scholarhsip. The planning starts months in advance. Depending on the budget, the Board determines how many scholarships we can award at the beginning of each SMPS calendar year. The Board reviews the application guidelines and requirements before it is released to the public, adjusting it each year in an effort to continuously improve it.

For this year's PRC scholarship, SMPS Seattle was able to fund two $1,000 scholarships. We received eight applications - a great turnout over previous years. We had a very diverse group of applicants with industry experience ranging from less than a year to more than 18 years, new SMPS members to veteran members, and marketing assistants all the way up to marketing directors.

To ensure anonymity during the judging process, the Scholarship Chair - myself - is not part of the judging process. As the Scholarship Chair, I receive all the applications, separate the contact information section from the essay responses. As I received each application, I kept a spreadsheet of each applicant and renamed each file for consistency. Once the deadline passed, I assigned a random order to the applicants and labeled them Applicants 1-8. I then sent the judging committiee (President Amy Matsumoto, President-Elect Amanda Erickson, Past President Jessica Biel, Secretary Amy Pugh, and Director of Special Events Tara Miller) a packet of information that included their scoring sheet as well as all of the anonymous essay responses.

The judges reviewed each applicant and sent me their scores; I compiled all of those scores and let the judges know it was a pretty close contest. The judges decided to hold a conference call to discuss the top applicants and they ended up picking the two top scoring applicants. Once everything is finalized, I keep a record of the applications, judges' scores and comments and everything is uploaded to for a historical record.

You can check out the scholarship winners in this post and read why they applied for the scholarship in their own words.

This is the same format we'll use later in January when we pick a winner for the Continuing Education scholarship. This is a great opportunity to help cover costs for the CPSM certification, or attend a workshop you've been eyeing.

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