My name is Inn Inn Chen and I was a Marshall in 2008. I first want to say to anyone reading this that if I was able to a fellowship, YOU CAN TOO. The experience of applying/interviewing for these fellowships was absolutely amazing (and that included a Rhodes interview in which I was slaughtered) and I would encourage anyone seriously considering applying to do so.
I'll keep this brief, but feel free to contact me with any questions you have. This post is in two parts, one about the "official" marshall experiences, and the second is about the two tips that I think are most important for the interviews.
-Official visits to the State Dept. w/ a debriefing session with the Deputy Secretary of State (I'm sorry but there were so many debriefing sessions with politicians, I don't remember any others. . .)
-Official visit and lunch in the Senate Building
-Cocktail event in the Senate Building with various scientific lobby groups
-Q&A with some distinguished Marshall alums
-Tour of parliament
-Official visit to 10 Downing St. and sessions with the Prime Minister's staff
-GOOGLE PARTY!! (This is the highlight of the year--Google throws an over-the-top party at an amazing venue for all the Rhodes and Marshalls each year. They do some informal recruiting presentations, etc. but it's worth sitting through for the amazing (free!) dinner, reception, party, live entertainment, and alcohol. . . )
-Free invitation to the official London Inaugural Ball for President Obama--Another great party, better still because the tickets were all at least $100, but one of the Marshall commissioners is on the board of Democrats Abroad
-Annual Marshall Trip
-All the Marshalls have an annual trip to either Ireland, Wales, or Scotland. It's free.
-It's a packed trip with official visits with many of the heads of state
-This year, it was Belfast and Dublin, so we met with the leaders of N. Ireland, including Martin McGuiness and the Nobel lauruete John Hume. It was really incredible to hear their views about the state of the world today.
-For those Marshalls in Oxford, the marshalls and rhodes meet every week at a specific pub in Oxford. . . it's great for those politically-inclined scholars for networking. . .I must admit, I've only made it to two of the weeks since I've been in Oxford
My Interview Tips:
There are many tips, but these are two (almost conflicting) tips that I wish EVERY applicant considers.
-Wikipedia everything in your application--your interview panel will not be experts in your field but they will ask very specific questions about your area. While the questions will be very specific, the extent of their understanding of the answer will be "mostly" based on what wikipedia says, and not from the latest paper from your field's journals or esoteric knowledge. The panel is very diverse, and they do have to research the areas of all interviewees, so wikipedia is a common source. That said, you probably will have at least one expert in your area--so you are expected to answer in sufficient depth when they ask follow-up questions.
-This tip is in hindsight: Prepare for the interview, but understand that preparing for the interview actually doesn't make a huge difference in the end. I say this because when I look back, EVERYTHING I talked about in the interview was based on thoughts/ideas/knowledge that I had known/carried with me for some time. Cramming doesn't do anything for this type of interview. The interviewers are really looking for WHO YOU ARE, and who you are DID NOT suddenly appear just when you started applying for this fellowship. I wish I had known that before the interview, because honestly, I read a lot of things specifically to "prepare" for the interview. . . and they didn't help AT ALL.
-Oh one last tip: your favorite classical music composer is Handel. It just is. Several Marshalls were asked that question and they were all challenged why it wasn't Handel. He is a huge part of the heritage at Oxford. . . so just WIKIPEDIA him!
I hope some of this is inspirational for you guys! PLEASE feel free to contact me--Dr. Adams has my email.