Marching band at a stadium

Mid-Career Professional Development Grant

The Mid-Career Professional Development Program (MCPD) is intended for professionals and specialists in various fields.
Application period for the academic year 2020-2021 starts in August!

Purpose of the grant program

The aim of the grant is to allow professionals from various fields to pursue a project, further education or training that would enhance their professional development and the field at large. The applicants should be at a point in their careers when maximum benefit will ensue from this period of professional enrichment.

The program is primarily aimed for Finnish citizens who are over 35 years of age. Having an academic degree is not a requirement for applying. The applicant should create a project that may include studies, practical experience in actual operations, visits to organizations in the applicant's professional field, public lectures, or other appropriate professional experiences. Applicants are required to independently arrange their own host organization/institution. Fulbright Finland Foundation does not arrange affiliations. 

MCPD Sirpa Kokko smiling next to a sign saying "Sirpa Kokko, School of Art, Design, and Art History, Fulbright Scholar"

In today’s world, there is an abundance of information available about cultures all around the world. However, the personal contacts between people from different countries and hearing their personal stories is the best way to overcome cultural barriers. The Fulbright Finland Foundation has made it possible for so many Finns, luckily now including me, to visit the U.S. and exchange ideas about their professional fields and their respective societies and cultures. After my Fulbright scholarship, my understanding and appreciation of the U.S. has risen and I will do my best to share this experience in Finland. - Sirpa Kokko, Finnish MCPD-grantee 2018-2019

The focus of the grant cannot be aimed at academic research or full-time studies in the U.S. If you are looking for grants to study in an American university or to pursue academic research, read about the Fulbright Finland Undergraduate Grant Program, ASLA-Fulbright Graduate Grant Program, ASLA-Fulbright Junior Scholar, ASLA-Fulbright Pre-Doctoral Research Fellows and ASLA-Fulbright Senior Scholar -programs.

Benefits

The award is a maximum of USD 13 500, and the grantee may use the award during the academic year.

The number of granted awards changes every year. In 2017-2018 the award was granted to two Finnish professionals, and in 2018-2019 it was granted to 3 professionals.

The grant is awarded for 3-12 months. The MCPD grantees will receive the full support services provided by the Fulbright Finland Foundation for all Fulbright grantees in Finland. These include a free visa to the United States, personal guidance, and an orientation day in Helsinki, where the grantees will learn about American culture, taxation, social security, school systems and the upcoming Fulbright period.

While in the U.S., the grantee may ask for guidance from IIE/CIES contact person. The contact person can especially help with matters regarding visas, taxation, etc. The CIES service page for Fulbright-grantees can be found here.

Other benefits include a supplemental ASPE health benefit, Fulbright Enrichment Seminars, leisure activities provided by IIE/CIES, and a worldwide Fulbright network of over 250,000 Fulbright grantees. A Fulbright grant also gives remarkable extra value to your career growth, as the grant is internationally recognized and respected.

Eligibility

Applicants must be Finnish citizens and they must arrive to the United States with the J-1 visa provided by the Fulbright program. Dual citizens of Finland and the United States or applicants who have or wish to gain permanent residency in the U.S. are not eligible to apply.

Fulbright grantees cannot apply for a work permit or a migrant-visa during the next two years after the Fulbright period. Fulbright grantees with J-1 visas are subject to a two-year home-country physical presence requirement. It requires the grantee to return home for at least two years after the exchange visitor program. However, regular tourist trips and studying in the United States are allowed. More information about visa restrictions can be found on the U.S. Department of State website.

The so-called “12-month bar and 24-month bar” guidelines restrict the admittance of a J-1 or J-2 visa for a person who has previously visited the U.S. with a J-1 or J-2 visa. Applicants who have visited the U.S. with a J-1 or J-2 visa during the previous two years should be in contact with the Fulbright Finland Foundation when filling the MCPD application.

Cost-share grants

The MCPD grant can be cost-shared with the candidate’s home institution/organization. If the applicant works in a higher education institution, he/she is required to find out the host institution’s view on sharing the grant costs. The applicant must attach the “cost-share agreement form” [link] to the application even if the applicant’s home institution will not share costs of the grant.

Since there is a limited amount of MCPD grant funding available, cost-sharing with the applicant’s home institution can play an important role. However, the ability to cost-share is not a requirement for applying for the grant. For candidates who are not from higher education institutions, including the cost-share form is optional.

Read more about the cost-shared grant programs on the Fulbright Finland Foundation website.

Application instructions

The application is submitted through the IIE electronic application form. Before filling out the application it is important to read the application instructions, which can be found on the Fulbright Finland Foundation website. Link to be posted in August/September 2019.

Documents which are required to be included in the application:

  • Project statement and a detailed description of the project aimed at pursuing further studies, training, or other appropriate professional experiences that would enhance your professional development and the wider field
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • An invitation letter(s) from the U.S. host organization(s). Applications without a letter of invitation will not be reviewed. Non-academic affiliations require special review and approval is not always granted.
  • Three recommendation letters written in English. Contact your referees and register your referee information in the online application as early as possible. Referees need to submit their recommendations by the application deadline through the online system.
  • A preliminary project budget 
  • A signed checklist (link to be posted in August/September)
     
  • Letter of support from home institution (cost-share agreement form) if applicable. [link]

Only complete applications sent by the application deadline will be reviewed. Applications that are late or incomplete will not be reviewed.

Evaluation criteria

  • The originality and innovativeness of the application
  • The clarity and viability of the application
  • Professional or academic readiness and competence
  • Arguments for completing the professional development project in the United States
  • Contribution of the project to the advancement of knowledge in the candidate’s field
  • Contribution of the project to the objectives of the Fulbright Finland Foundation and the global Fulbright Program,
  • Personal qualities assessed during the interview; adaptability and suitability of the candidate to act as a Fulbright Ambassador for Finland

Applicants with little to no experience of the U.S. may be placed before others in the application process.

Interview

Applicants that pass an initial screening will be invited for a personal interview. Please note that the Fulbright Finland Foundation does not cover the expenses resulting from the interview.

The interviews are compulsory and will take place at the office of the Fulbright Finland Foundation in Helsinki on February 10, 2020. Candidates invited to the interviews will be notified via email by January 28, 2020. A copy of a passport will be requested prior to the interviews.

The applicant should reserve 20 minutes for the interview. The interview committee consists of 3-5 Finnish or American members and the language of the interview is English.

Read more about the application process and preparing for the interview here.

Timeline

Application period starts August, 2019
Application period ends December 8, 2019
Technical screening of the applications December 2019 - January 2020
Interview invitations are sent to the selected candidates January 28, 2020
Interview are conducted February 10, 2020
Selections are made February 28, 2020
Leaving for the U.S. August 2020 - May 2021

 

Alumni tips for being in contact with potential host institutions

  • Catchy subject line for the email is important (example: Fulbright candidate Mikko from Finland looking for a host organization for project on Aug-Dec 2020)
  • Start with a short and to the point introduction about yourself and what is it that you do (a few sentences), and explain what you want to accomplish in the U.S. through your project (a couple of sentences).
  • Explain why you are contacting the specific organization (remember praises), what is expected of the host institution and what is not. Clarify what you need from the organization, and what you don’t need (e.g. do you need an office or a computer). You should explain that you are not seeking salary, will have your own insurance for the duration of your stay, and will arrange your own accommodation.  If you are hoping that your host organization connects you with their contacts, explain that as well, and mention if you plan on being very independent with your project.
  • Highlight how you could contribute to the host organization and how they could benefit from hosting you (a few sentences).
  • Remember well wishes for the end and all your contact information (add a link for you digital CV, Twitter and LinkedIn if you are active in Social Media).
  • If you don’t hear back in about a week, email them again (maybe a couple of times) and/or follow-up with a phone call and/or offer Skype and/or WhatsApp call as an alternative. If there are no answers look for another organization.

 

Keep your first messages concise and to the point, remembering politeness. Remember to mention your needs and expectations and what you don’t need. Explain how the organization will benefit from hosting you.
Your Finnish
sisu will be rewarded, so don’t become discouraged if the first option doesn’t work out!

Alumni tips for networking in the United States

  • Business cards are a must in the U.S.!
  • It’s good to learn to express yourself enthusiastically. You should almost be over-kind.
  • Do as much research into your trip as possible. Find possible contacts, print business cards, acquire Finland-related souvenirs (e.g. chocolate) to take to the most important contacts.
  • Remember that emails should be answered promptly.
  • Kindness, constant gratitude, politeness and humor are essential when networking in the U.S.
  • Be well prepared for meetings, so that you are able to discuss topics which are, for instance, not readable online.

 

Create a few sentence pitches on your project and your expertise, even if it would be a little bit too straightforward to what the reality is. You will need to answer this hundreds of times and people love confident answers and also in the U.S. people seem to have little bit difficult understanding expertise or work outside their own familiar fields. You feel better yourself too when you don't need to stumble and mumble something vague. MCPD Grantee 2016
  • Making friends as an adult (and with Americans) is surprisingly difficult. Contact everyone you know and talk to your friends and ask them to introduce you to people.
  • It’s good to have contacts in the U.S. before the journey. If possible, visit the U.S. beforehand especially if you are planning to bring family with you for a longer duration of time.
  • I don’t believe that more detailed information could’ve been available. The orientation day was important, as well as all the information available online.

Alumni blogs

Useful links

Help finding a host institution can be found from Finnish communities in the U.S. on the Finland.org website.

Get to know the American grantees in Finland through the Fulbright Speaker program. This is a great opportunity to build your U.S. network.

Questions?

Mirka McIntire
Phone. 044 5535 269
[email protected]