By asking candidates to submit three essays of 250 words each, the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas, Austin, has drastically streamlined its essay questions this year compared with last year—and in concert with what many other MBA programs are doing this season. Then, the length requirement for Essay 1 alone was 800 words, and applicants had roughly 600 words for the school’s three-part Essay 2. Overall, McCombs’s questions appear to have taken a more personal tone, asking candidates to introduce themselves to the student community, explain what they can contribute to the program other than professional qualities and describe how they expect to develop during their two years in the MBA program. Gone are any explicit references to short- or long-term goals and one’s career history, so the applicant’s more internal aspects and soft skills are highlighted instead.
1. Imagine that you are at the Texas … Read full post
When preparing MBA application personal statements that require significant information about career progress (for Chicago Booth, Kellogg or Wharton, for example), many b-school applicants choose to discuss their accomplishments in chronological order. Although the simplicity of this approach makes it attractive, we encourage you to consider an alternative—showcasing more recent and thus potentially stronger accomplishments first. By choosing this latter approach, you may capture your reader’s imagination more quickly and reduce the risk of being lost amid similar candidates.
Consider the examples of a software analyst who is now a project manager, managing a budget and leading a team of 20 programmers, and of an investment banking analyst who is now in his/her third year with a company and has been sent abroad to work directly with a CFO:
The Project Manager:
Chronological: “Joining ABC Technology as a software programmer, I…”
Reverse: “Scrutinizing my plan one last time, I waited … Read full post
We at mbaMission tend to believe that asking MBA candidates about their short- and long- term goals is plainly absurd, because so many students change their goals while they are in school. Further, an MBA supposed to be about career development and exploration, right? Regardless of how we feel on the subject, though, during a time when the economy is down and many firms are cutting back on their MBA hiring, you must ensure that (if a school asks via its essay questions or in an interview) you have a compelling story about where you believe your MBA will take you. Two years ago, getting a banking job may have sounded compelling to you. Are you really capable of making that transition today? Certainly, fewer jobs are available now in the real estate world. Is this a likely next step for you during a prolonged real estate drought? Venture capital … Read full post
Many candidates choose to take a straightforward, historical approach to their business school personal statements. This can be an easy way to organize an essay, but this approach may also lead candidates to ignore possibilities for a more focused and gripping introduction. Although nothing is fundamentally wrong with taking a historical approach, under certain circumstances, an anecdotal approach can better maintain the reader’s interest. (This all comes down to execution, of course—a strong writer could effectively execute either approach.)
Example 1: Historical
“When I graduated from NYU with a finance degree, I eschewed Wall Street and pursued my own distinct path; I opened a flower shop in midtown New York, never imagining the challenges I would face as I strived to bring in new customers and locate products around the world. With time, I learned to advertise selectively (on billboards in local office buildings) and developed relationships with suppliers, … Read full post