What You Should Highlight In Your MBA Essay

This, below, is too good not to syndicate here with a tip of the hat and thanks to author Kathrin Liesenberg, Associate director of admissions for MBA and MSc at ESADE Business & Law School, and QS TopMBA.

MBA essays are your direct communication line to the MBA admissions team and your best tool to stand out. Use your MBA essays to present yourself to admissions and share your talents and accomplishments with us without sounding pompous. The MBA essays are your chance to directly convince us of what you have to offer the program and that you are a good match for the school.

What the MBA admissions teams looks for first
Before we look at the content of your MBA essay, let us quickly mention two important aspects: tone and format. Remember to…
•    Be honest.
•    Write in a natural, clear and precise way that reflects your own voice.
•    Use a positive, conversational tone to make the essays readable and to prevent them from becoming rote autobiographies.
•    Talk about yourself by offering a balanced description backed by analysis in order to catch our attention. Use facts to support your intended message and leadership skills.
•    Don’t look for excuses. Nobody is perfect, and we all have failed at some point. Whining does not reflect maturity and should be avoided.
•    Don’t leave anything up in the air when you end your essay. Wrap it up by highlighting the aspects you would like us to remember.

MBA Essay Content
Now let us talk about the content. The MBA admissions team already has your marks, test scores, letters of recommendation and CV from your MBA application, so there is no need to write about those aspects extensively. The best way to approach the essays is to tell us a consistent story that ties together all of your experience and goals, using plenty of narrative and including specifics.  Write your story, smoothly and naturally linking together all the aspects you consider relevant (your work experience, situations in which you demonstrated leadership skills, extracurricular activities, volunteering and social engagement, etc.).
•    First and foremost: stick to the questions! While this may sound obvious, applicants all too often stray off-topic.
•    Try to begin with something interesting (an anecdote, a quote, etc.) that leads you directly to the core topic you would like to address. How you begin your essay will largely determine whether it is a pleasure or a trial to read.
•    Clearly describe your specific mid and long-term goals, explaining how the business school can help you achieve them.
•    Showcase your high energy level and leadership skills. Being a hard worker able to give your best in all situations can lead to success; it can also offer proof of your commitment to achieving your goals.
•    It is also a plus to note that you have been in touch with current and former MBA students. It shows you have done your homework and bears witness to the seriousness and thoroughness of your approach.
•    If you are given a chance to write an optional essay, use it to share additional information that you believe will truly help to round out your MBA application with MBA admissions. If you believe something important has been missed, this is your chance to tell us about it. Likewise, if you plan to use this question to address an aspect of your MBA application that you believe is a potential disadvantage, do not make excuses. Instead, provide the necessary clarification and take responsibility. It will help to highlight your maturity and show that you can also be self-critical.
•    Allow a third party to read your essays and bring them back down to earth if they do not reflect the real you or if you forgot to mention, or simply took for granted, a true personal asset.

Fill in gaps from your MBA application
Be sure to cover the following three areas in your essays:
•    Your leadership skills and potential: challenges you have overcome and progress you have made in terms of your responsibility level over your career. How will you change the world?
•    The impact of the international environment on you, as well as your international experience. How will you approach the diversity on our campus?
•    Your understanding of the MBA program and the kind of collaborative, teamwork-based learning environment most MBA programs thrive on.

Final words of advice
•    Does length matter? Yes it does! Try not to exceed the word limit, as it could suggest that you are unable to follow simple directions. We receive hundreds of essays at MBA admissions and do not appreciate it when applicants fail to observe the word limits.
•    One last piece of advice: make sure you send the essay to the right institution! We receive essays meant for other institutions more often than you might think. Needless to say, it can have a very negative impact on the applicant’s candidacy, including automatic rejection for carelessness or, even worse, for committing plagiarism.

In conclusion, please don’t write what you think we want to read. Just be yourself and be honest! At ESADE, we cherish diversity and are very open-minded regarding work experience, education and post-MBA goals. However, when we are reviewing your MBA application, especially if you advance to the interview round, we will be looking for consistency and sincerity in your answers.

What Goldman Sachs Told Its MBA Interns And Why It Matters For B-School Admissions

MBA interns started their summer banking and consulting summer internships earlier this month, and the news point was Goldman Sachs instructing newbies at its offices around the world to leave before midnight and not come back before 7am the next day.

Policies like this follow the 2013 death of a 21-year-old Merrill Lynch intern, Moritz Erhardt, who collapsed and died in his London apartment after working 72 hours straight.

Shortly after Erhardt’s death, Goldman Sach’s CEO Lloyd Blankfein effectively told his interns to get a life:

“You have to be interesting, you have to have interests away from the narrow thing of what you do (at Goldman),” he said. “You have to be somebody who somebody else wants to talk to,” he said.

Sound familiar? It does to me. Every time I work with an MBA applicant who is all about the office and nothing else, the red flag goes up: MBA Adcoms are not going to like this.

Remember, you have to be somebody somebody else wants to talk to.

So, get some outside interests. It doesn’t matter too much whether these interests are sports, arts, or community oriented, but preferably (very preferably) your outside activities should be group or team-based rather than solo endeavors because “works well with others” is a big part of a successful admissions profile for business school.

‘Big Data’ Will Give Some MBA Applicants An Edge

The article below describes how Haas Berkeley and many other schools are revising their structures and curricula to adapt to the the data analytics wave in business.

The MBA admissions implication is, if you have some background in ‘big data’ you have an edge almost anywhere you apply, and you want to make this a core part of your platform. Your knowledge and background will contribute to the learning experience of others, in the classroom and in group work. With this background, and with MBA in hand, you will be all the more recruitable to brand-name firms upon graduation. And so on.

If you don’t have this type of background (most don’t), don’t panic. Look for your edge elsewhere. Remember the happy rule, which is MBA adcoms are each year required to recruit a cohort that is widely diverse in its experiences and specializations.

From BusinessBecause:  “California’s Haas School of Business became the latest big name business school to revamp some of its MBA curriculum to include a focus on big data.

“Haas has teamed up with top management consultancy firm Accenture to create new classes and a lecture series designed to give MBAs the tools required to understand and work with big data…

“Business schools believe data analytics is essential for business leaders who will increasingly need data analysis to glean insight and drive decision making…

“Accenture is one of a number of leading employers to have invested in business education. KPMG will invest £20 million in a data analytics research centre at Imperial College Business School in London. IBM and Telfer School of Management have invested around $5 million into a similar centre at Telfer…

“Accenture has estimated previously that the US could see demand for analytics talent outstrip supply by more than 250,000 positions this year alone. A survey of Fortune 100 recruiters by the Graduate Management Admission Council this month found that MBA employers cited analytics skills the most frequently…

“The tie-up is the latest in a long line of new program and curriculum launches. HEC Paris, a leading French business school, revamped some of the content of its MBA in a deal with IBM. DeGroote School of Business in North America recently launched an EMBA degree focused on big data with IBM and Canadian bank CIBC.

“Master programs in business analytics are rapidly increasing in supply. Schools with highly-ranked MBAs are forming standalone courses.

“These include Warwick Business School which runs the MSc Business Analytics, the master’s in business analytics at Melbourne Business School, and the MSC in Business Analytics at USC Marshall School of Business.

“In 2015 both Yale School of Management, and Kogod School of Business have announced plans to launch analytics and software courses. Data programs at ESSEC Business School, Amsterdam Business School, and CEU Business School will also start this year.”

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