How to write a Professional Bio
Your professional bio is the very first thing that the employer will see about you – even before they see your CV and as we all know, first impressions really count.
When we receive your application documents for either a job or an internship, we will send them along to the partner organisation by email and we will introduce you with the bio that you enter on your ACN profile. Therefore this bio is also important because recruiters will ask about this.
Your ACN bio can also be used as your Linkedin professional bio.
A sample LinkedIn profile to model yours off is of ALA graduate is that of Bradley Opere.
Here are some tips to make sure your bio stands out:
Adapted from Jurgen Sundberg on “The Undercover Recruiter”
As writing a professional bio is the hottest thing since sliced bread, you best get on with it and follow these simple steps to do your personal brand proud. Here are a few tips.
Identify your purpose
Why are you writing this bio? Who will read it? People write anything from professional bios for getting freelance work, a comedy bio full of in-jokes for your friends, or a Bio for the back of their next piece of pulp fiction. Keep your audience in mind when authoring your bio.
Third person perspective
Your bio should sound as though it were objectively written, although it is obviously anything but. So instead of writing “I have lived in Switzerland and I speak 3 languages”, try, “Bradley has lived in Kenya and he speaks 3 languages”.
Start with your name
You will want to put your name in the first sentence of your bio so the reader catches on and realizes what they are reading. Just like when you are introduced to somebody, you will start with your name and then move on to pleasantries.
Short and sweet – 200 words approximately
State your business
Just like a CV, you want to drop your occupation and accomplishments in there early. The reader needs to be hooked and enticed to keep reading. An example would be “Anya is a MasterCard Foundation Scholar currently in her sophomore year at Quest University in Canada”. You should include any past internships or work experience, and any special skills that you have that make you unique.
Throw in some personality!
Add some flavor to your bio by including something unexpected. This can be a bit of humor or just curious information that you think people will be interested in. You could state what you are passionate about, or how you hope to transform the continent after graduation.
Read and rewrite
Get your Careers Service or a professional mentor to proof your bio before you publish it anywhere. Remember that your bio is a living document and you should review it regularly. As it’s fairly short, it won’t take you too long to make changes that can be quite important to the reader.
Sifael Ndandala (Tanzania) is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and Mathematics at St Lawrence University. He is on the Dean’s Honours List for academic achievement, and does tutoring and research in the Economics Department. He also works as a peer career guidance advisor. At ALA, Sifael was a pioneer of Dar es Salaam Youth Entrepreneurial Challenge, an entrepreneurship training programme. He has interned with Barclays Bank and Accion in Tanzania.
Brian Waweru (Kenya) is enrolled in the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business at the Wharton School of Business. Emerging markets, African Music and French are special areas of interest for him and he has explored these interests during his secondary and tertiary training. Brian is an avid follower of international sports and business and is a teaching assistant for Wharton’s Sports Business Professor Kenneth Shropshire. Brian has interned at Standard Chartered Private Equity in South Africa and at JP Morgan, New York, where he was one of the top ranked interns during his sophomore year.
David Machaka (Zimbabwe) is a MasterCard Foundation Graduate Scholar. He holds a BScHonours Degree in Journalism and Media Studies from the National University of Science and Technology in Zimbabwe. He is currently studying for a Master’s Degree in Public Relations at Michigan State University and is seeking a challenging position in a reputable organization that offers prospects for career growth. His career interests are in Communications, Public Relations, and Social Media.
Aissatou Gaye (Senegal) is an International Relations major at Tufts University with a focus on Economic Development and a minor in Studio Art and maintains a 4.0 GPA on the Dean’s List. In 2012 Aissatou studied abroad for a semester at the Sorbonne University in France. She has interned with Delta, a waste management company in Senegal, and Fula, an MIT-MBA fashion company, doing market research and vendor negotiations. She has also interned with the Council of International Relations working on renewable energy and economic development projects for the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) in Santa Fe, USA.
Ndeye Thiombane (Senegal) is a member of ALA’s 2011 Graduating Class. She recently graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from Jacobs University Bremen, Germany, where she studied gene sequencing. At ALA, Ndeye was Treasurer of the Agriculture Club, Accounting Manager for Agro-Experts (a student-run agricultural enterprise), leader of the Muslim Club and member of French Afrique. In 2013 she interned in South Africa with K-RITH, an HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis research institute. In 2014, she worked with the Centre Nationale de Recherche Scientifique in Paris, France, on genetics research. She is currently looking for an exciting position in the field of medical research.
Abdelrahman Hassan (Egypt) is majoring in Financial Economics and Entrepreneurship at the University of Rochester. His unique skill set includes financial analysis, technical writing and business plan formation. At Rochester he is an Entrepreneurship Teaching Assistant, Vice President of the Arab Association and an active member in Model United Nations, Meliora Capital Management and Boxing Club. Abdelrahman is also a research assistant in the marketing department at the Simon Business School and has interned at the African Export Import Bank in Cairo as well as at Corsair Capital in London.
Tariro Bure (Zimbabwe) is a MasterCard Foundation scholar currently studying Global Economics and Management at Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany. At ALA, Tariro was Founder and CFO of the Tamasha House of Entertainment, a student-run events planning organisation. She was also Marketing Executive for Project HIT (Hope, Inspire, and Transform), a community service project, and participated in an exchange programme with Governor’s Academy. In 2014 Tariro interned with the African Leadership Institute in South Africa. She previously interned with Endeavour, a high-impact entrepreneurship organisation supporting entrepreneurs in emerging economies as well as with New Faces New Voices, a pan-African advocacy group whose mission it is to expand women’s access to financial services. She is graduating in 2015.
- Lillian Maboya (South Africa) is a member of ALA’s 2011 Graduating Class. She is a final year student at the University of Cape Town, studying environmental science and geography. Lillian is passionate about the environment, and in the past, has worked for two summers at BioTherm Energy in Johannesburg, where she laid the foundation for the organisation’s Economic Development department. Lillian is also the founder of Tumbuka, a social enterprise that prioritises education and green technology development in rural areas. She will be graduating in December 2014.