Application Tips

We are glad that you are considering applying for the Washington Ireland Prorgam Class of 2018. The selection process is highly competitive with less than 10% of applicants securing a place on the WIP Class. We value the time that you have put into your application and we work to ensure that all those who apply are treated with respect.

We want you to be able to write the best application possible. There is plenty of information available on the website, from alums, and from our Recruitment Office. Here are a few additional tips below to help you write a great application.

Step 1: Self Selection

Through our website, social media and our on campus events we aim to give you a clear understanding of the purpose and practicalities of the Washington Ireland Program. We hope that this will enable you to make an informed decision about whether WIP is for you in 2018.

Step 2: Application

The WIP application focuses on essay-style questions that encourage you to describe your leadership experience and service track record so far. There are 5-6 questions that are limited to 250 words or less. Applicants are asked to upload two CVs outlining their service commitments and leadership credentials.

Unfortunately we are not able to offer all applicants an interview, and less than a quarter of the applicants make it to interview. General written feedback will be posted on the WIP website after the application deadline.

Step 3: Interview

Students participate in a formal, face-to-face interview scheduled in Belfast or Dublin in late January/early February. Each student is interviewed individually by a panel and completes a small group-based interview with other candidates. Each student is assessed based on their individual performance and how they performed in the group interview.

36 of the interviewees are selected to participate on the WIP Class of 2018. Those who are not selected are offered the opportunity to have a phone call with a WIP staff member to get personal feedback on their interview performance.

Application Tips

Answer all parts of the question
Answering each part of the question is important to achieve a high score. There are no trick questions. Pivoting towards something else you want to talk about actually detracts from what we want to hear about. Review what you have written to ensure that your answer addresses each part of the question with balance between the component parts.

Give yourself enough time
Many applications come in on the last possible day and in previous years, it was clear that some of them were rushed. This could be seen from spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and short or abruptly ended essays. Plan ahead to give yourself enough time to complete the application thoroughly and allow enough time to review and edit it.

Pick your examples carefully
The examples used are an important part of strong essay responses. Consider whether your example speaks to the skill, experience or characteristic that you are trying to demonstrate. Also, consider how recent and how common your example is. Is this an experience shared by most of your peers? Was it a long-term commitment?

Don’t be afraid to expand on experiences and skills you’ve outlined in your leadership and service resumes in essay questions.  This can help build a clearer picture of substantial and important roles you have taken in activities.  It also helps build a common thread of commitment throughout your application and make sure that your answers are consistent in quality.

Don’t be generic!
Each year WIP receives between 300 and 500 applications and selects around 70 of those for interviews. Your immediate priority is to stand out from the crowd. The best way to do this is to highlight experiences that are both interesting and unique to you. It may somewhere you have worked, a project you have completed, an event you organized or an organization you are associated with. Think about what you have to offer, that nobody else has.

Make meaning and reflect on your experience/example
While your example is important, it does not speak for itself. We want you to reflect on the significance of those experiences and share why they were meaningful to you, and how they illustrate the point that you are making.

Speak from your own experience
We are looking for potential as well as experience. There will be areas that you do not have much of a background yet – that is OK. Be forthright about the experience that you do have; don’t belittle it or try to make it into something more than it is. Claim your experience and reflect honestly on it.

Don’t be afraid to talk about your weaknesses and failures
WIP doesn’t aim to find a group of perfect students, rather we seek out individuals who are willing to try new things and learn from others. We are interested in people who are willing to embrace their weaknesses, and to learn how to improve on them. A perfect way of doing this is talking about a time when you didn’t succeed or things didn’t go your way. Write about the experience; explain where you went wrong and if you were to do it again, what you would do differently.

3 Key Themes

The WIP application asks you a range of different questions to attempt to understand who you are and what is important to you. The questions focus on 3 key themes:

  • Leadership Potential: this does not require you to have been the Captain of your football team or President of your student society. The leadership that WIP is looking for is an individual who is passionate about something and is doing something active about that passion.
  • Commitment to Service: WIP looks for people with a history of service and doing things for others. This can be service within your family, community or organization. You need to demonstrate a track record of doing something that benefits others, rather than yourself over the long term.
  • Dealing with Difference – this is the crux of the Washington Ireland Program experience. WIP looks for passionate and curious students, but mostly students who are willing to open themselves up to new ideas and to learn from others who are from different backgrounds. Demonstrating respect for diversity, willingness to learn from others with whom you disagree, and being a good team player are attributes that are important in a WIP student.

Let the website guide you
Before you start your application, you should thoroughly read the WIP website ( and get a good understanding of what the aims of the program are and what exactly is involved in the WIP experience. You should pay particular attention to the WIP values in the “About us” section. Check out too the WIP Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages which can give you supplementary information about the program.

Don’t be afraid to apply again
Many WIP Alumni applied at least once or twice (or more) before they were successfully accepted onto the Washington Ireland Program. A previous unsuccessful application will not be held against you – in fact, it demonstrates a strong commitment to WIP, as well as an admirable ability to deal with failure. Just don’t attempt to submit the same application again – learn from where you might have gone wrong last time and write a fresh application informed by the tips shared here.

Speak to Alumni
One of the best ways of learning about anything is to speak to those who have been through the process before. Reach out to people you know who have been on WIP in the past and ask them for advice or help with your application. If you would like to be put in contact with an Alum from your College or Institution, get in contact with WIP (details below) and we can link you up with someone.

Get in contact!
Contact if you have any questions about your application.