Building a Strong MEST Application

Sylvana Lewin, Wednesday January 23rd 2019

Every year, we accept a new cohort of aspiring entrepreneurs from across the African continent into the MEST Training Program for a year focused on growing their business, communications, and tech skills as well as developing their own companies. With thousands of applications coming in from all over Africa, you may be wondering how to make your application stand out.

When it comes to the first stage of the MEST application process, Recruitment Manager Tobi Lafinhan says,

“The biggest piece of advice I can offer to potential candidates is to make sure your application tells a compelling story! All the questions on the form have been carefully curated to give you a chance to look within yourself and your experiences and draw out strong reasons why you want to follow after your dreams of becoming a tech entrepreneur, and why MEST is the perfect environment to support that.”

We’ve put together a few quick tips on how you can make sure your application stands out!

Communicate your genuine interest/passion/desire clearly

One key quality we expect to see in applications to the program is a strong desire and passion to start a software company. Make sure to clearly and succinctly communicate this demonstrated passion throughout your application. This means you should be able to show us tangible evidence which validates your passion.

We generally encourage applicants to use strong descriptions, stating specific reasons why you think you are a great fit for the program, when given the chance to do so.

Take enough time to do your research

Spend quality time engaging in proper research about the MEST program and the MEST brand before finalizing your application. The MEST blog and social media pages (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & LinkedIn) offer a great window into daily life at MEST and can help you demonstrate your understanding of our community while putting together your submission.

Seeing as the questions on the application form require short and straightforward answers, a lot of applicants in the past have made the rookie mistake of rushing through their applications in a bid to submit very early. Note that applications are evaluated on a rolling basis: earlier submissions don’t necessarily give you a better chance.

Fill your short-essay sections with plenty of real-life examples

Specific anecdotes and vivid details make a much greater impact than general claims and broad summaries. Although you only have about 150-words to do this, it is just about enough to get to the point you’re trying to make quickly and to focus on 1-2 specific examples.

Choose your references wisely

Use former supervisors, team members, teachers, counsellors, and others who know you well. Give them enough time to write thoughtful and considerate recommendations, and be sure to thank them.

Use a well laid out resume format

First and foremost, your resume should highlight specific and measurable accomplishments you achieved while in each position - as opposed to listing your job descriptions. This will help us understand what you accomplished at each position.

Next, use a format that is easy to scan through and makes it easy for us to pick out your unique experiences. Reviewers sometimes have to go through thousands of resumes and will quickly assign low scores to resumes that are not intuitively laid out.

You can find the MEST recommended format here; note that you do not have to use this template, we have only provided this example of what we think is a well laid out resume.

Hopefully, these tips prove helpful to you as you put together your application. Good luck!

Have more questions? Reach out to!