Shell Scholarship

Shell runs a very attractive scholarship program. It’s open to applicants who want to pursue their studies in a variety of destinations, be it the US, UK or even Australia, and they do not have restrictions on the degrees they sponsor. Trust me, I applied with a weird non-engineering course and got accepted. This is mainly because the Shell Program is intended as a Corporate Social Responsibility activity, which also means it has no bond (you heard me right, no bond).

First Stage

Start with applying. Go to their website and get the necessary information. Compile the needed documents and be sure to be careful enough to send all the right documents.

Second Stage

The second stage is a phone interview (in English) conducted by, I presume, a Shell employee (my interviewer’s phone number indicates she’s from India). They’ll set a date and time with you for the interview. Be on your phone during this period. Plan your day, make sure you’re not out or anywhere distracting to have this interview.

It’ll start with the usual “What are your strengths?”, “Why are these your strengths?”, and “What advantages can you offer to your team?”. It went well, until she started rolling out more difficult questions, such as “If you could start a business, tell us how, where and why.”

Take your time, gather your thoughts. She’s hoping for a well-thought-out answer. She understands that you’re being put on the spot here but that’s exactly what she wants. In a matter of minutes, you interviewer wants to gauge how much you can consider and how thorough your thinking process is.

Third Stage

Congrats! You aced your phone interview; it’s the phase where a lot of applicants get dismissed. By now you should have been invited to a venue (mine was the Intercontinental Hotel, KL) to have your interview stage. If you happen to live in Sarawak or Sabah, rest assured that they’ll pay for your expenses and accommodation. And I also found out that they allow you to bring a parent as well (they’re awesome that way).

The third stage is divided into 2 sections. In the first section, you’ll be given a case study where you have to solve real-life problems with real-life (replicated but still) documents. They’ve placed you as a manager somewhere and you have to attain your goals given your constraints.

Here’s a key thing you should know. There are no right answers but there is a ‘right’ answer. All proposed solutions are equally bad (mainly due to your constraints) but some are more unique. So it tests your ability to contextualize and choose the ‘best’ one available. You also do not have time to propose a new solution (I barely had time to finish reading the thing) but you can try.

Next, you’ll be placed into groups and given a portfolio. There your group should prioritise what the key things that your portfolio should achieve are. Here’s the catch, the other group also have their portfolio and goals, and both our groups will be placed on one table to negotiate. Again, constraints will force some choices but now you’re in direct competition with the other side. Luckily enough, my team was filled with capable arguers and we got more of our agenda onto the final paper (which I think did wonders for my chances).

After, the interviewer will hold a ‘press conference’ to grill the 2 groups on the final paper. This is where having more of your agenda will help, the interview can’t ask you hard questions. The other group however, had to engage in damage control on questions like “It seems that the solution leaned more onto the national agenda (my group) rather than the local agenda (the opposing group)”. Better hope you have a politician in your group for these questions.

And that’s the overall process. You patiently wait for their reply on whether you got the scholarship. This could come by phone or email.

General Advice for 3rd Stage

I’ll be honest, some of the best apply for this scholarship and the people who get through seem to have their own niches that make them special. At the ice-breaking session, I sat next to a Cambridge aspirant who plays some instrument for the Malaysian orchestra and the other person next to me climbed Mount Kilimanjaro (I had to Google where that was) and was going to do Geology at Imperial. Its very likely that you’ll be sitting next to very impressive people and wonder why you’re there.

Just remember this, you are there. There’s something special about you just by being there. And it’s not worth bothering yourself on ‘why’ and concentrate more on ‘why you’re there’. You want that scholarship. You can get it. You just have to keep calm and scholar up (whatever that means).

This article is written by a Shell scholar who prefers to remain anonymous.


11 thoughts on “Shell Scholarship

    1. Hello, in order for the assessor to better understand your application, I would strongly suggest that you state the university offers that you have already obtained. You could also state the universities that you are awaiting replies from.


  1. Under the eligibility section, Shell states that “Not presently holding other scholarship/loans”. If I am currently holding a scholarship that only lasts until the end of my pre-university, am I still eligible to apply to Shell scholarship?


    1. You should be eligible. Your contract with Shell will only begin when your university begins. What they meant is that if you already have a scholarship that covers your studies up until undergraduate and/or beyond, then you will be ineligible.


    1. Hi, generally cover letters will contain your motivations towards the scholarship programme, why that scholarship programme is suitable for you and most importantly, the skills, characteristics and competencies that you have/have had. Generic cover letters can normally be found elsewhere on the web. As long as you convey effectively the core questions above, your cover letter is good to go.


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