Tuesday Tips: NYU Stern MBA Essay Tips

As the NYU Stern MBA website states, “Stern develops leaders who have an impact on business and beyond.” Evolving from a pure finance school into one that focuses on areas like entertainment and technology, Stern takes advantage of the vibrant and changing business opportunities in New York City.

The individual components of your application will be academic ability, professional achievements and career aspirations, and personal characteristics. Stern provides podcasts to describe each component on the admissions website, and it’s worth starting your research there. While your academics will be evaluated mainly through your GMAT and GPA, the essays are a crucial part of your application strategy.

Essay 1: Professional Aspirations
(750 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)
• Why pursue an MBA (or dual degree) at this point in your life?
• What actions have you taken to determine that Stern is the best fit for your MBA experience?
• What do you see yourself doing professionally upon graduation?

Why MBA, why now, is an important question to answer. While many people seek an MBA degree, NYU wants to invest in those who can use it most effectively. Perhaps you’re seeking an MBA for networking or professional credibility, or maybe you want an MBA to learn specific skills to change careers. Whatever your own personal reasons may be, make sure you can point to specific aspects of the MBA education both generally and specifically at Stern that are necessary to achieve your goals.

Note that this question specifically asks about your interest in pursuing an MBA at this point in your life. Why is now the right time for you, both personally and professionally? What will an MBA add to your already successful career trajectory to get you to the next level? If you are an older applicant you will need to spend time carefully communicating that you realize what an MBA can and can’t do for you at your professional level, and that you have a plan to leverage the MBA professionally in your next job.

This essay also offers an opportunity to demonstrate your fit with NYU Stern and describe why NYU Stern is the right place for you to spend the next two years of your life. Certainly personal experience of the campus through visits or student touch points would be ideal, but even if you are halfway around the world you can illustrate the many ways in which you learned about the NYU Stern experience.

The activities that most excite you academically should be logically related to your career goals explained in essay 1. The activities you are involved with might be professional, or could be personal hobbies or interests. This essay is your opportunity to describe who you are outside of work. Discussing the hobbies and extracurricular interests you have pursued thus far will be an important data point.

Your post MBA goal should be both achievable and demonstrate the need for an MBA. An MBA from NYU Stern will open professional doors for you, and you should demonstrate that you are ready to take advantage of those opportunities. Think about a logical sequence that starts with your past work experience, then your MBA education and ends with your immediate post MBA goal. Ideally your goal pulls from both your current work experience and the skills you will gain in the NYU MBA program.

Essay 2: Choose Option A or Option B
Option A: Your Two Paths
(500 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)
The mission of the Stern School of Business is to develop people and ideas that transform the challenges of the 21st century into opportunities to create value for business and society. Given today’s ever-changing global landscape, Stern seeks and develops leaders who thrive in ambiguity, embrace a broad perspective and think creatively about the range of ways they can have impact.
• Describe two different and distinct paths you could see your career taking long term. How do you see your two paths unfolding?
• What factors will most determine which path you will take?
• How do your paths tie to the mission of NYU Stern?

Option A asks you to exercise a thought exercise about your future career goals. After identifying your immediate post-MBA career goal in Essay 1, where can you see your long-term career evolving? Again, both trajectories should be logical. For example, if you worked as an analyst in finance prior to your MBA, and plan to work in private equity post MBA, perhaps you see yourself as a partner in your PE firm as your first path, or operating a company as your second path. Each could unfold depending upon the choices you make or opportunities you see as you engage actively with your career.

The second part of this question asks you to tie both paths to the NYU Stern mission, which is to “develop people and ideas that transform the challenges of the 21st century into opportunities to create value for business and society.” Almost any career goal can reflect this mission, though infusing an element of leadership into your plans can help maximize your impact beyond the career of one individual. Developing people who also have an impact on the world of business can multiply your impact and create tremendous value.

In the third section of the question you should consider all of the factors you might use as criteria to evaluate future career goals. This is a great time to consider what has motivated you in the past – do you thrive on achievement? Relish accomplishment of a difficult goal? Desire to help others? This question is one that demonstrates your ability to evaluate your own decision-making process, as well as revealing the values you hold most closely. Answer this question strategically to ensure you are intentionally revealing personal attributes that are most representative of your values and potential.

Option B: Personal Expression
Please describe yourself to your MBA classmates. You may use almost any method to convey your message (e.g. words, illustrations). Feel free to be creative.

Open-ended essays like this one can be intimidating. You are allowed any method to introduce yourself to your classmates, and you’re probably wondering what the best medium for your message is.
However, your content is king in this essay. The best first step is to brainstorm the information you want to convey. Reflect upon your unique personal qualities and what is valued most by your friends and family. How would you want your classmates to see you? What are some of the personal stories you would share with a new friend?

Once you have established the content you want to use for the NYU Stern essay 3, it’s time to consider the medium. If you are a visual person you may chose a drawing, painting or photo series. If you are a creative writer perhaps it’s a poem or short story. If none of the “creative” approaches feel right to you, feel free to write a standard essay where you explain who you are and introduce yourself to your classmates. The medium is not the most important aspect of this essay. What is most important is the message and content of your composition to demonstrate your motivations and who you are to the admissions committee.

Essay 3. Additional Information (optional)
Please provide any additional information that you would like to bring to the attention of the Admissions Committee. This may include current or past gaps in employment, further explanation of your undergraduate record or self-reported academic transcript(s), plans to retake the GMAT, GRE and/or TOEFL or any other relevant information.
If you are unable to submit a recommendation from your current supervisor, you must explain your reason, even if you are a re-applicant.
If you are a re-applicant from last year, please explain how your candidacy has improved since your last application.

NYU Stern provides the optional essay as an opportunity for you to explain a low GPA, GMAT or TOEFL. If you are in that situation, avoid excuses. Focus on the facts, and explain why this performance is not indicative of your future performance at NYU Stern.

If you are not submitting a recommendation from your current employer, this is the place to explain the situation. A few valid reasons may include a brief tenure working for your current boss, that you are not sharing your MBA plans with your supervisor, or that you work more closely with other members of the team.

Additionally, re-applicants have the opportunity to highlight the updates and changes to your candidacy this year. If you have quantitative improvements like a GMAT or alternative transcript those are excellent to highlight. Any qualitative improvements like clarified goals, new leadership experiences and any expansions to your job responsibilities are equally useful and this is the ideal place to highlight them.

Stacy Blackman Consulting has helped countless aspiring NYU Stern MBA students to showcase personal and professional stories that cut through the clutter. Contact us to learn more.

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