Category Archives: INSEAD Advice

Tuesday Tips: INSEAD Fall 2016 MBA Essay Tips

INSEAD, “the business school of the world” is a dynamic, diverse and highly international MBA option. INSEAD was recently ranked the #1 most diverse MBA program by Business Insider. Along with the basic MBA questions …

INSEAD deadlines, essaysINSEAD, “the business school of the world” is a dynamic, diverse and highly international MBA option. INSEAD was recently ranked the #1 most diverse MBA program by Business Insider. Along with the basic MBA questions most other schools ask, INSEAD is looking for significant exploration of your career goals and background. Along with career aspirations and leadership experience, an international focus is important to INSEAD.

Stumped by the INSEAD application? Contact Stacy Blackman Consulting to see how we can help.

JOB DESCRIPTION ESSAYS

Essay 1. Briefly summarise your current (or most recent) job, including the nature of work, major responsibilities, and, where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, clients/products and results achieved.

This question should focus entirely on your current (or most recent) work situation. Though you will want to provide relevant context for your current role, make sure you are devoting most of the essay to describing the details of your day-to-day responsibilities and oversight. If you are lighter on supervising others or managing a budget, you have the opportunity to highlight some key responsibilities and results.

When you are composing this essay make sure you focus on what you uniquely have contributed to the role, rather than reciting the job description. What have you done that is above and beyond?

Essay 2. Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. If you were to remain with your present employer, what would be your next step in terms of position?

This is essentially a walk-through of your resume using the essay format to allow you to provide a unifying thread through the narrative. INSEAD is seeking to understand your career trajectory and how you have grown and progressed through your career. Think about the choices you have made in your career, and how your past experiences have combined to provide you with your current skill set. If you have a fairly straightforward career path you can take the opportunity to comment on some of the learnings from each position.

The second part of the question also needs to be answered. Think about the next step at your job, and where you might land if you did not leave to pursue an MBA. While this is a straightforward question, you may need to demonstrate that you can’t get where you want to go from your pre-MBA career role and that you will need an MBA to achieve your goals.

Essay 3. If you are currently not working, what are you doing and what do you plan to do until you start the MBA programme if applicable? (250 words maximum)

If you are not employed at the moment, you will want to answer this question to show how you are utilizing your time without full time employment. Ideally you are currently involved in an activity that is going to further your career or personal goals at this time. The best answer is one that shows you are self-motivated and do not need paid work to continue developing yourself.

For example, perhaps you are volunteering in a non-profit that is related to your career goals. Maybe you are working with a friend on a start-up. Or you are consulting and building contacts in your industry. If you are out of work only briefly, it’s also perfectly reasonable to be pursuing travel or other activities that develop your international awareness and perspective. However, make sure that your activities can tie back to your long-term goals or other key aspects of your application strategy.

ESSAYS

Essay 1. Give a candid description of yourself (who are you as a person), stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary. (600 words max.)

Strengths and weaknesses are a common topic for MBA applications. This is a great opportunity to highlight some of your skills and attributes that demonstrate leadership, teamwork or other qualities that will drive your future career success. Demonstrating self-awareness and the ability to assess your own performance will be impressive. While examples aren’t required, consider that the admissions committee is reading a vast number of essays and that concrete examples are both easy to understand, and may help you stand out from the crowd.

When describing weaknesses you will want to focus on those weaknesses that you have taken concrete steps to address, or that have been a route to learning more about yourself. Often strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the same coin, in which case you can even tie your key weaknesses to your key strengths. Because it is often difficult to write about one’s weaknesses this is an especially important essay to share with others to seek feedback on tone and impact.

Essay 2. Describe the achievement of which you are most proud and explain why. In addition, describe a situation where you failed. How did these experiences impact your relationships with others? Comment on what you learned. (400 words max.)

This essay is an opportunity to showcase one of your most important achievements. Impressive achievements that stand on their own are great, but you will want to pay equal attention to explaining why these accomplishments are valuable to you. If you concisely explain the accomplishment and how you were able to bring it to fruition, you will have room to provide the context for your personal pride in the accomplishment. If you don’t have an achievement that you think is incredibly impressive on its face, consider an example that demonstrates the activities you value. Remember, not everyone has sold a company or won an Olympic medal prior to business school!

The flip side of achievement is failure, and INSEAD wants to understand how you view both. When approaching any failure essay it’s important to use a real failure that has emotional resonance for you. An accomplishment framed as a failure will be easy to see through and will not demonstrate anything about your maturity or ability to grow. Your failure should be real, and also something that led you to grow or learn. If you can describe how you have changed your approach as a result of the failure that is an excellent outcome.

The third part of the essay deals with how these experiences impacted the others around you and what you learned. Whether you were part of a team or the main impact was on a loved one, this part of the essay encourages you to step outside your own narrative of success and failure and think about how you have impacted other people through your actions. Most obviously a success led to happiness from a team or a manager, while a failure was disappointing to those around you. However, your particular achievement or failure could have led to a learning experience for your team, an opportunity for someone else, or a chance for you to be closer to another person through a team challenge. Think creatively about this aspect.

Note that your application to INSEAD ideally covers both the personal and professional. This essay could be an opportunity in this essay set to bring in a new angle on your profile through describing one of your most substantial accomplishments outside of work.

Essay 3. Tell us about an experience where you were significantly impacted by cultural diversity, in a positive or negative way. (300 words max.)

This essay should demonstrate your awareness of the world outside your own ethnic or cultural identity. INSEAD is a highly international program and seeks candidates that both demonstrate and value diversity. This could be an opportunity to highlight any international or cross culture exposure you have had such as traveling outside your home country, or when experiencing diversity within your home country.

When you describe the experience and judge it to be either positive or negative it will be important to provide some individual context. Every applicant from INSEAD is coming from a unique background and from many different countries. Your perception of positive or negative cultural diversity will be a view into how you interact with the world.

For example, you could view the lack of diversity in a workplace or school environment as a significant negative, or perhaps you had an experience of being the only “diverse” person in a work or personal situation. On the positive side perhaps you learned more about others through a new cultural experience or through team building with a group of people different from yourself. Where you are coming from will be the deciding factor in terms of what experiences are ultimately positive or negative.

At all times consider the environment at INSEAD and what your essay is saying about your ability to fit in among a highly diverse group of people.

Essay 4. Describe all types of extra-professional activities in which you have been or are still involved for a significant amount of time (clubs, sports, music, arts, politics, etc). How are you enriched by these activities? (300 words max.)

Nothing is more personal than what you choose to do outside of school or work. What are the most meaningful pursuits you have spent your time on? You should both describe the main interests you have outside of your professional pursuits and explain why they are meaningful to you and why you spend time on them.

Ideally you can also explain how you will continue your involvement while at INSEAD and cite some specific clubs or groups where you see your interests contributing to the community.

Optional Essay: Is there anything else that was not covered in your application that you would like to share with the admissions committee? (300 words max.)

This essay is 300 words you can use for anything you would like to showcase and that you were unable to work into the rest of your application. Because INSEAD’s questions are quite thorough you may have covered all aspects of your candidacy and personal qualities in the other five essay questions, in which case you can feel comfortable skipping this question (it IS optional). If you did not have a place for an interesting hobby, new aspect of your background to describe, or key accomplishment, it may be appropriate to use this space to tell that story.

It is far better to fully explain any issues in your application than to leave the admissions committee to guess what happened. If you have any challenging aspects to your candidacy like a low GPA or a failing grade in college, this is the correct place to address those concerns. Explain your issue clearly and focus most of the essay on the correction for the issue.

For example, if you had a disciplinary issue in college, spend most of the essay demonstrating that you learned from the experience and have been an ideal citizen ever since rather than focusing on the negative. Avoid blaming anyone else for your issue, and relentlessly show why this one incident is in your past and will stay there.

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INSEAD’s Alternative Admissions Exam

For applicants contemplating an executive MBA from INSEAD, know that the school introduced its own specially designed EMBA admissions test in February of this year that seems to be garnering a very positive response from …

For applicants contemplating an executive MBA from INSEAD, know that the school introduced its own specially designed EMBA admissions test in February of this year that seems to be garnering a very positive response from test-takers.

If you’re still wondering whether to do the GMAT or the INSEAD test, take a look at these points of comparison INSEAD has shared with us, which may inform your decision.

INSEAD EMBA Admissions Test GMAT
Designed for senior level, busy, international applicants Designed for 20-something MBA applicants
Used only for INSEAD EMBA programmes – Global ExecutiveMBA (GEMBA) and Tsinghua-INSEAD Executive MBA (TIEMBA) Can be used for applications to other leading EMBA programmes
Preparation required: none, this is a test of raw talent.  But practice tests are available Preparation required: most people start preparing and practising 3 to 6 months before the taking the test; 3rd party preparation available around the world
Content: data analysis, data interpretation, communication analysis, critical thinking, plus business-scenario presentation (no non-applied mathematics or English grammar) Content: verbal, mathematical and integrated reasoning, plus analytical writing skills (includes some rule-based mathematics and English grammar correction)
INSEAD Interview:  Jury Panel which occurs on the same day as the test INSEAD Interview:  Alumnus in your home country, subject to availability
Timing: after applying to INSEAD, having passed a first pre-screening round Timing: before applying to INSEAD
Venue:  Any of the three INSEAD campuses (Fontainebleau, France; Singapore; Abu Dhabi, UAE).  Can be combined with a campus tour ”“ a good opportunity to get a feel for the school culture! Venue: Delivered in a GMAT testing center;  550 in more than 110 countries
 Frequency: approximately once a month Frequency: regularly offered
 Retakes: Not Applicable. One shot only Retakes: test can be repeated after 31 days have elapsed and can be taken up to 5 times in a 12-month period
 Cost: €185 Cost: €200 plus preparation costs, if needed

 

The final decision is yours, and INSEAD assures applicants that your choice won’t affect how the school views your candidacy. Keep in mind that testing is ultimately to your benefit, as it guarantees all of your classmates will have strong analytical and linguistic abilities.

To learn more about INSEAD’s alternative admissions exam, take at look at these FAQs, which offer insight on preparing for the test and lay out the five components that make up the test.


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Tuesday Tips: INSEAD MBA Essay Tips

Two campuses, multiple degree options and a diverse and international class set INSEAD apart from its competitors. INSEAD has released the essay questions for this year’s application, right before the deadlines for the January intake. …

Two campuses, multiple degree options and a diverse and international class set INSEAD apart from its competitors. INSEAD has released the essay questions for this year’s application, right before the deadlines for the January intake. When you approach this set of essays, make sure you are ready to explain your career plans in detail, and highlight any International experiences in your background.

INSEAD focuses separately on the job and personal portion of your MBA application essays, seeking to understand candidate’s current career position in detail before delving into the personal aspect. While most MBA programs combine all aspects of your career goals trajectory into one essay, INSEAD provides three separate opportunities to discuss your current job, past experiences and future goals. Though career is covered in three essays rather than one, you should make sure that all of the essays work coherently together. As INSEAD states on the website: “We evaluate each applicant against four central criteria: leadership potential and work experience; academic capacity; international motivation; and ability to contribute to the INSEAD experience.”

Job Description Essays
1. Briefly summarise your current (or most recent) job, including the nature of work, major responsibilities, and, where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, clients/ products and results achieved. (250 words maximum)

This question should focus entirely on your current (or most recent) work situation. Though you will want to provide relevant context for your current role, make sure you are devoting most of the essay to describing the details of your day-to-day responsibilities and oversight. If you are lighter on supervising others or managing a budget, you have the opportunity to highlight some key responsibilities and results.

When you are composing this essay make sure you focus on what you uniquely have contributed to the role, rather than reciting the job description. What have you done that is above and beyond?

2. Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. If you were to remain with your present employer, what would be your next step in terms of position? (250 words maximum)

This is essentially a walk-through of your resume using the essay format to allow you to provide a unifying thread through the narrative. INSEAD is seeking to understand your career trajectory and how you have grown and progressed through your career. Think about the choices you have made in your career, and how your past experiences have combined to provide you with your current skill set. If you have a fairly straightforward career path you can take the opportunity to comment on some of the learnings from each position. The second part of the question also needs to be answered. Think about the next step at your job, and where you might land if you did not leave to pursue an MBA. While this is a straightforward question, you may need to demonstrate that you can’t get where you want to go from here ”“ and that you will need an MBA to achieve your goals.

3. If you are currently not working, what are you doing and what do you plan to do until you start the MBA programme if applicable? (250 words maximum)

If you are not employed at the moment, you will want to answer this question to show how you are utilizing your time without full time employment. Ideally you are currently involved in an activity that is going to further your career or personal goals at this time. The best answer is one that shows you are self-motivated and do not need paid work to continue developing yourself. Perhaps you are volunteering in a non-profit that is related to your career goals. Maybe you are working with a friend on a start-up. Or you are consulting and building contacts in your industry. If you are out of work only briefly, it’s also perfectly reasonable to be pursuing travel or other activities that develop your international awareness and perspective. However, make sure that your activities can tie back to your long-term goals or other key aspects of your application strategy.

Essays
1. Give a candid description of yourself, stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors, which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary. (600 words maximum)

Strengths and weaknesses are a common topic for MBA applications. This is a great opportunity to highlight some of your skills and attributes that demonstrate leadership, teamwork or other qualities that will drive your future career success. Demonstrating self-awareness and the ability to assess your own performance will be impressive. While examples aren’t required, consider that adcomm is reading a vast number of essays and that concrete examples are both easy to understand, and may help you stand out from the crowd.

When describing weaknesses you will want to focus on those weaknesses that you have taken concrete steps to address, or that have been a route to learning more about yourself. Often strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the same coin, in which case you can even tie your key weaknesses to your key strengths. Because it is often difficult to write about one’s weaknesses this is an especially important essay to share with others to seek feedback on tone and impact.

2. Describe what you believe to be your two most substantial accomplishments to date (if possible specify one personal and one professional), explaining why you view them as such. (400 words maximum)

Similar to the HBS question, this is an opportunity to describe two of your most important accomplishments. While impressive accomplishments are great and will certainly enhance your overall application, you should pay equal attention to explaining why these accomplishments are valuable to you. If you concisely explain the accomplishment and how you were able to bring it to fruition, you will have room to provide the context for your personal pride in the accomplishment.

Note that INSEAD prefers to see both the personal and professional in this essay. This is your first opportunity in this essay set to bring in a new angle on your profile through describing one of your most substantial accomplishments outside of work.

3. Describe a situation taken from your personal or professional life where you failed. Discuss what you learned. (400 words maximum)

The classic mistake essay seeks to understand how you handle failure and learn from challenging situations. The most important aspect of this essay is to demonstrate that you are able to learn and grow as a result of your failure. Everyone fails; it’s how you react that determines your effectiveness in an organization and in achieving your own personal goals.

A strong essay will include a clear and concise description of the situation. Describe your failure quickly and avoid any lengthy backstory. Your failure should have stakes for you ”“ was it embarrassing? Did it set your career or school pursuits back? Establish why you considered the situation a failure in your life. Once you have defined the failure you can devote most of the essay to discussing your reaction and what you learned. Demonstrating that you learned something from the situation is crucial to demonstrating self-awareness and emotional intelligence. If you have the room, either applying your lesson learned to a current situation or a subsequent experience would be an excellent way to wrap up the essay.

You are provided the freedom to pull examples from multiple areas, and this is an opportunity to demonstrate another side of you that has not been explored in the previous personal or career essays.

4. a) Discuss your short and long term career goals. (300 words maximum) and b) How will studying at INSEAD help you achieve your vision? (250 words maximum)

This essay is a continuation of the first two essay questions. Here you should make a case for why an MBA is the appropriate next step in your career and life, and why INSEAD is the right place to do it. You already laid the groundwork on where you have been in essay 2, and where you are right now in essay 1, and this essay is a continuation of your overall career trajectory. Consider what you said about your next position in career essay 2, and how INSEAD will enhance your future career.

INSEAD seeks MBA candidates with a range of experiences and the school wants to clearly know why you are seeking an MBA. Your future career goals should flow logically from where you have been in your career and your education at INSEAD. If you are confident about where you are going the admissions committee will be confident about your ability to take advantage of the unique MBA experience.

5. Please choose one of the following two essay topics:
a) Have you ever experienced culture shock? What insights did you gain? (250 words maximum)
b) Describe the ways in which a foreigner in your country might experience culture shock. (250 words maximum)

Both of these essay choices seek a response that will demonstrate your awareness of the world outside your home country. INSEAD is a highly international program and seeks candidates that both demonstrate and value diversity. Either one of these essays offers an opportunity to highlight any international or cross culture exposure you have had, whether while traveling outside your home country, or when experiencing foreigners within your home country. You will want to demonstrate cultural sensitivity, but also an awareness of the real cultural differences between people and nationalities.

Culture shock can be a result of visiting or living in a new country, an unfamiliar group of people, or even a novel situation. Because INSEAD is such an international community it would be best to use this opportunity to discuss your awareness of other cultures and people. Choose an example that is easy to understand, and then spend some time explaining why you felt the culture shock and what it signified to you.

Option b allows you to act as host in your own country, describing the customs and challenges that may await a foreign visitor. This essay can demonstrate your skills of observation and empathy as you step into a stranger’s shoes and evaluate your own culture and values.

Whether you choose option a or b, it will be important to make sure you are highlighting your ability to conduct business across cultures. A highly international program like INSEAD will want to see demonstrated international savvy in any successful candidate.

6. Is there anything that you have not mentioned in your application that you would like the Admissions Committee to know? (350 words maximum) This section is optional.

This essay is 350 words you can use for anything you would like to showcase and that you were unable to work into the rest of your application. Because INSEAD’s questions are quite thorough you may have covered all aspects of your candidacy and personal qualities in the other five essay questions, in which case you can feel comfortable skipping this question (it IS optional). If you did not have a place for an interesting hobby, new aspect of your background to describe, or key accomplishment, it may be appropriate to use this space to tell that story.

It is far better to fully explain any issues in your application than to leave the admissions committee to guess what happened. If you have any challenging aspects to your candidacy like a low GPA or a failing grade in college, this is the correct place to address those concerns. Explain your issue clearly and focus most of the essay on the correction for the issue. For example, if you had a disciplinary issue in college, spend most of the essay demonstrating that you learned from the experience and have been an ideal citizen ever since rather than focusing on the negative. Avoid blaming anyone else for your issue, and relentlessly show why this one incident is in your past and will stay there.

7. In case of reapplication, please provide an update on any new aspects of your professional, international, academic or personal profile that would not have been included in your previous application. Please also explain your motivation for re-applying to INSEAD. (400 words maximum)

For your reapplication to INSEAD, you should outline the changes in your profile that support your renewed candidacy. The most successful applicants will provide tangible evidence of improvement. Aspects like GMAT score or new quantitative classes as especially tangible, but a promotion, increase in responsibility at work, a job change or even a change of goals and mission can apply.

A rejection or waitlist last year is a form of feedback, and may have led to soul searching for you. When you describe your changes make sure to reflect your ability to take feedback and improve. Describe how you approached the reapplication process after assessing your own strengths and weaknesses as a candidate and making the appropriate efforts to improve.

Struggling with your INSEAD application? You can still make the upcoming deadlines ”“ contact us to start the process of partnering with Stacy Blackman Consulting.

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Tuesday Tips: INSEAD MBA Essay Tips

INSEAD has released the key dates, deadlines and essay topics for the 2011-2012 admissions cycle. Fit with INSEAD’s unique program is important to this rather large set of essays. INSEAD’s focus on international experiences is …

INSEAD has released the key dates, deadlines and essay topics for the 2011-2012 admissions cycle.

Fit with INSEAD’s unique program is important to this rather large set of essays. INSEAD’s focus on international experiences is clear through the final essay in the set. Two campuses, multiple degree options and a diverse and international class set INSEAD apart from its competitors.

INSEAD focuses separately on the job and personal portion of your MBA application essays, seeking to understand candidate’s current career position in detail before delving into the personal aspect. While most MBA programs combine all aspects of your career goals trajectory into one essay, INSEAD provides three separate opportunities to discuss your current job, past experiences and future goals. Though career is covered in three essays rather than one, you should make sure that all of the essays work coherently together. As INSEAD states on the website: “We evaluate each applicant against four central criteria: leadership potential and work experience; academic capacity; international motivation; and ability to contribute to the INSEAD experience.”

Job-Related Essays
1. Briefly summarise your current (or most recent) job, including the nature of work, major responsibilities, and, where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, clients/ products and results achieved. (250 words maximum)
This question should focus entirely on your current (or most recent) work situation. Though you will want to provide relevant context for your current role, make sure you are devoting most of the essay to describing the details of your day-to-day responsibilities and oversight. If you are lighter on supervising others or managing a budget, you have the opportunity to highlight some key responsibilities and results.

When you are composing this essay make sure you focus on what you uniquely have contributed to the role, rather than reciting the job description. What have you done that is above and beyond?

2. Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. If you were to remain with your present employer, what would be your next step in terms of position? (250 words maximum)
This is essentially a walk-through of your resume using the essay format to allow you to provide a unifying thread through the narrative. INSEAD is seeking to understand your career trajectory and how you have grown and progressed through your career. Think about the choices you have made in your career, and how your past experiences have combined to provide you with your current skill set. If you have a fairly straightforward career path you can take the opportunity to comment on some of the learnings from each position. The second part of the question also needs to be answered. Think about the next step at your job, and where you might land if you did not leave to pursue an MBA. While this is a straightforward question, you may need to demonstrate that you can’t get where you want to go from here ”“ and that you will need an MBA to achieve your goals.

3. If you are currently not working, what are you doing and what do you plan to do until you start the MBA programme? (250 words maximum)
This essay is the only completely new question for INSEAD this season. Perhaps in a nod to the ongoing anemia in the global economy, INSEAD has allowed space for all applicants who are not currently employed to explain what they are doing with their time. Ideally you are currently involved in an activity that is going to further your career or personal goals at this time. The best answer is one that shows you are self-motivated and do not need paid work to continue developing yourself. Perhaps you are volunteering in a non-profit that is related to your career goals. Maybe you are working with a friend on a start-up. Or you are consulting and building contacts in your industry. If you are out of work only briefly, it’s also perfectly reasonable to be pursuing travel or other activities that develop your international awareness and perspective. However, make sure that your activities can tie back to your long-term goals or other key aspects of your application strategy.

Essays
1. Give a candid description of yourself, stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors, which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary. (600 words maximum)
Strengths and weaknesses are a common topic for MBA applications. This is a great opportunity to highlight some of your skills and attributes that demonstrate leadership, teamwork or other qualities that will drive your future career success. Demonstrating self-awareness and the ability to assess your own performance will be impressive. While examples aren’t required, consider that adcomm is reading a vast number of essays and that concrete examples are both easy to understand, and may help you stand out from the crowd.

When describing weaknesses you will want to focus on those weaknesses that you have taken concrete steps to address, or that have been a route to learning more about yourself. Often strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the same coin, in which case you can even tie your key weaknesses to your key strengths. Because it is often difficult to write about one’s weaknesses this is an especially important essay to share with others to seek feedback on tone and impact.

2. Describe what you believe to be your two most substantial accomplishments to date (if possible specify one personal and one professional), explaining why you view them as such. (400 words maximum)
Similar to the HBS question, this is an opportunity to describe two of your most important accomplishments. While impressive accomplishments are great and will certainly enhance your overall application, you should pay equal attention to explaining why these accomplishments are valuable to you. If you concisely explain the accomplishment and how you were able to bring it to fruition, you will have room to provide the context for your personal pride in the accomplishment.

Consider using personal or extracurricular examples in this essay, as most of your previous essays will be career focused.

3. Describe a situation taken from your personal or professional life where you failed. Discuss what you learned. (400 words maximum)
The classic mistake essay seeks to understand how you handle failure and learn from challenging situations. The most important aspect of this essay is to demonstrate that you are able to learn and grow as a result of your failure. Everyone fails; it’s how you react that determines your effectiveness in an organization and in achieving your own personal goals.

A strong essay will include a clear and concise description of the situation. Describe your failure quickly and avoid any lengthy back story. Your failure should have stakes for you ”“ was it embarrassing? Did it set your career or school pursuits back? Establish why you considered the situation a failure in your life. Once you have defined the failure you can devote most of the essay to discussing your reaction and what you learned. Demonstrating that you learned something from the situation is crucial to demonstrating self-awareness and emotional intelligence. If you have the room, either applying your lesson learned to a current situation or a subsequent experience would be an excellent way to wrap up the essay.

You are provided the freedom to pull examples from multiple areas, and this is an opportunity to demonstrate another side of you that has not been explored in the previous personal or career essays.

4. a) Discuss your short and long term career goals. (300 words maximum) and b) How will studying at INSEAD help you achieve your vision? (250 words maximum)
This essay is a continuation of the first two essay questions. Here you should make a case for why an MBA is the appropriate next step in your career and life, and why INSEAD is the right place to do it. You already laid the groundwork on where you have been in essay 2, and where you are right now in essay 1, and this essay should be part of the overall career trajectory. Consider what you said about your next position in the job related essay 2, and how INSEAD will enhance your future career.

INSEAD seeks MBA candidates with a range of experiences and the school wants to clearly know why you are seeking an MBA. Your future career goals should flow logically from where you have been in your career and your education at INSEAD. If you are confident about where you are going the admissions committee will be confident about your ability to take advantage of the unique MBA experience.

5. Please choose one of the following two essay topics: a) Have you ever experienced culture shock? What insights did you gain? (250 words maximum) or b) Describe the ways in which a foreigner in your country might experience culture shock. (250 words maximum)
Both of these essay choices seek a response that will demonstrate your awareness of the world outside your home country. INSEAD is a highly international program and seeks candidates that both demonstrate and value diversity. Either one of these essay offers an opportunity to highlight any international or cross culture exposure you have had, whether while traveling outside your home country, or when experiencing foreigners within your home country. You will want to demonstrate cultural sensitivity, but also an awareness of the real cultural differences between people and nationalities.

Culture shock can be a result of visiting or living in a new country, an unfamiliar group of people, or even a novel situation. Because INSEAD is such an international community it would be best to use this opportunity to discuss your awareness of other cultures and people. Choose an example that is easy to understand, and then spend some time explaining why you felt the culture shock and what it signified to you.
Option b allows you to act as host in your own country, describing the customs and challenges that may await a foreign visitor. This essay can demonstrate your skills of observation and empathy as you step into a strangers shoes and evaluate your own culture and values.

Whether you choose option a or b, it will be important to make sure you are highlighting your ability to conduct business across cultures. A highly international program like INSEAD will want to see demonstrated international savvy in any successful candidate.

6. Is there anything that you have not mentioned in your application that you would like the Admissions Committee to know? (350 words maximum) This section is optional.
This essay is 350 words you can use for anything you would like to showcase and that you were unable to work into the rest of your application. Because INSEAD’s questions are quite thorough you may have covered all aspects of your candidacy and personal qualities in the other five essay questions, in which case you can feel comfortable skipping this question (it IS optional). If you did not have a place for an interesting hobby, part of your background, or key accomplishment, it may be appropriate to use this space to tell that story.

If you have any negative aspects to your candidacy like a low GPA or a failing grade in college, this is the correct place to address them. Strike an upbeat tone here and avoid excuses. Explain your issue clearly and focus most of the essay on the correction for the issue. For example, if you had a disciplinary issue in college, spend most of the essay demonstrating that you learned from the experience and have been an ideal citizen ever since rather than focusing on the negative. Avoid blaming anyone else for your issue, and relentlessly show why this one incident is in your past and will stay there.

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Tuesday Tips – INSEAD MBA Essay Tips

INSEAD’s essay questions offer unique challenges addressed in this week’s Tuesday Tips. Two campuses, multiple degree options and a diverse and international class set INSEAD apart from its competitors. INSEAD focuses separately on the job and personal portion of your MBA application essays, and we will guide you to address both questions thoroughly.

INSEAD has released the key dates, deadlines and essay topics for the 2011/2012 Fall and January intake.

INSEAD’s range of essays seeks to understand both your career path and your personal motivations. Fit with INSEAD’s unique program will be important, and the focus on international experiences is clear through the final essay in the set. Two campuses, multiple degree options and a diverse and international class set INSEAD apart from its competitors. In addition, you have the option to enter INSEAD either in the traditional Fall intake or in a January intake option.

INSEAD focuses separately on the job and personal portion of your MBA application essays, seeking to understand candidate’s roles in detail and career progress before delving into the personal aspect. While most MBA programs combine all aspects of your career goals trajectory into one essay, INSEAD provides three separate opportunities to discuss your current job, past experiences and future goals. Though career is covered in three essays rather than one, you should make sure that all of the essays work coherently together. As INSEAD states on the website: “We evaluate each applicant against four central criteria: leadership potential and work experience; academic capacity; international motivation; and ability to contribute to the INSEAD experience.”

Job-Related Essays
1. Please give a detailed description of your job, including nature of work, major responsibilities; and, where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, number of clients/products and results achieved. (250 words)

This question should focus entirely on your current work situation. Though you will want to provide relevant context for your current role, make sure you are devoting most of the essay to describing the details of your day-to-day responsibilities and oversight. If you are lighter on supervising others or managing a budget, you have the opportunity to highlight some key responsibilities and results.

When you are composing this essay make sure you focus on what you uniquely have contributed to the role, rather than reciting the job description. What have you done that is above and beyond?

2. Please give us a full description of your career since graduating from university. If you were to remain with your present employer, what would be your next step in terms of position? (250 words)

This is essentially a walk through of your resume using the essay format to allow you to provide a unifying thread through the narrative. INSEAD is seeking to understand your career trajectory and how you have grown and progressed through your career. Think about the choices you have made in your career, and how your past experiences have combined to provide you with your current skill set. If you have a fairly straightforward career path you can take the opportunity to comment on some of the learnings from each position. The second part of the question also needs to be answered. Think about the next step at your job, and where you might land if you did not leave to pursue an MBA. While this is a straightforward question, you may need to demonstrate that you can’t get where you want to go from here ”“ and that you will need an MBA to achieve your goals.

Essays
1. Give a candid description of yourself, stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors, which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary. (400 words approx.)

Strengths and weaknesses are a common topic for MBA applications. This is a great opportunity to highlight some of your skills and attributes that demonstrate leadership, teamwork or other qualities of a future business leader. Demonstrating self-awareness and the ability to assess your own performance will be impressive. While examples aren’t required, consider that adcomm is reading a vast number of essays and that solid examples to prove your points will help you stand out.
When describing weaknesses you will want to focus on those weaknesses that you have taken concrete steps to address, or that have been a route to learning more about yourself. Often strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the same coin, in which case you can even tie your key weaknesses to your key strengths. Because it is often difficult to write about one’s weaknesses this is an especially important essay to share with others to seek feedback on tone and impact.

2. Describe what you believe to be your two most substantial accomplishments to date, explaining why you view them as such. (400 words approx.)

Similar to the HBS question, this is an opportunity to describe two of your most important accomplishments. While impressive accomplishments are great and will certainly enhance your overall application, you should pay equal attention to explaining why these accomplishments are valuable to you. If you concisely explain the accomplishment and how you were able to bring it to fruition, you will have room to provide the context for your personal pride in the accomplishment.

Consider using personal or extracurricular examples in this essay, as most of your previous essays will be career focused.

3. Describe a situation taken from school, business, civil or military life, where you did not meet your personal objectives, and discuss briefly the effect. (250 words approx.)

Modeled after the failure or mistake essay, this essay asks you to discuss a situation that was disappointing to you. The most important aspect of this essay is to demonstrate that you are able to learn and grow as a result of a mistake. Everyone faces disappointment; it’s how you react that determines your effectiveness in an organization.

A strong essay will include a clear and concise description of the situation; describe your objectives, and how you did not meet them. Then you can devote significant space to discussing what your reaction was and how you moved forward. Demonstrating that you learned something from the situation is crucial to demonstrating self-awareness and emotional intelligence. If you have the room, either applying your lesson learned to a current situation or a subsequent experience would be an excellent way to wrap up the essay.

You are provided the freedom to pull examples from multiple areas, and this is an opportunity to demonstrate another side of you that has not been explored in the previous personal or career essays.

4. Discuss your career goals. What skills do you expect to gain from studying at INSEAD and how will they contribute to your professional career. (500 words approx.)

This essay is a continuation of the first two essay questions. Here you should make a case for why an MBA is the appropriate next step in your career and life, and why INSEAD is the right place to do it. You already laid the groundwork on where you have been in essay 2, and where you are right now in essay 1, and this essay should be part of the overall career trajectory. Consider what you said about your next position in the job related essay 2, and how an MBA will change your future career for the better.

INSEAD seeks MBA candidates with a range of experiences and the school wants to clearly know why you are seeking an MBA. Your future career goals should flow logically from where you have been in your career and your education at INSEAD. If you are confident about where you are going the admissions committee will be more confident about your ability to take advantage of the unique MBA experience.

5. Please choose one of the following two essay topics:
a) Have you ever experienced culture shock? What did it mean to you? (250 words approx.), or
b) What would you say to a foreigner moving to your home country? (250 words approx.)

Both of these essay choices seek a response that will demonstrate your awareness of the world outside your home country. INSEAD is a highly international program and seeks candidates that both demonstrate and value diversity. Either one of these essay offers an opportunity to highlight any international or cross culture exposure you have had, whether while traveling outside your home country, or when experiencing foreigners within your home country. You will want to demonstrate cultural sensitivity, but also an awareness of the real differences between people and nationalities.

Culture shock can be a result of visiting or living in a new country, an unfamiliar group of people, or even a novel situation. Because INSEAD is such an international community it would be best to use this opportunity to discuss your awareness of other cultures and people. Choose an example that is easy to understand, and then spend some time explaining why you felt the culture shock and what it signified to you.

Option b allows you to act as host in your own country, describing the customs and challenges that may await a foreign visitor. This essay can demonstrate your skills of observation and empathy as you step into a strangers shoes and evaluate your own culture and values.

Whether you choose option a or b, it will be important to make sure you are highlighting your ability to conduct business across cultures. As a highly international program INSEAD will want to see demonstrated international savvy.

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Tuesday Tips – INSEAD Essay Tips

Through five essays that span both career and personal attributes INSEAD seeks to understand who you are as a person, and what you have demonstrated in your career. Two campuses, multiple degree options and a …

Through five essays that span both career and personal attributes INSEAD seeks to understand who you are as a person, and what you have demonstrated in your career. Two campuses, multiple degree options and a diverse and international class set INSEAD apart from its competitors. INSEAD is an international MBA that has a compelling reputation within the US, offering excellent recruiting opportunities throughout the world.

INSEAD focuses separately on the job and personal portion of your MBA application essays, seeking to understand candidate’s roles in detail and career progress before delving into the personal aspect. Most MBA programs combine all aspects of your career goals trajectory into one essay. INSEAD provides three separate opportunities to discuss your current job, past experiences and future goals. Though career is covered in three essays rather than one, you should make sure that the set works coherently together. As INSEAD states on the website: “We evaluate each applicant against four central criteria: leadership potential and work experience; academic capacity; international motivation; and ability to contribute to the INSEAD experience.”

Job Essays
1. Please give a detailed description of your job, including nature of work, major responsibilities; and, where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, number of clients/products and results achieved. (250 words)

This question should focus entirely on your current work situation. Though you will want to provide relevant context for your current role, make sure you are devoting most of the essay to describing the details of your day-to-day responsibilities and oversight. If you are lighter on supervising others or managing a budget, you have the opportunity highlight some key responsibilities and results.

2. Please give us a full description of your career since graduating from university. If you were to remain with your present employer, what would be your next step in terms of position? (250 words)

This is essentially a walk through of your resume using the essay format to allow you to provide a unifying thread through the narrative. If your past experiences require explanation, this is an opportunity to demonstrate the reasons for any unusual choices you have made, and how your past experiences have combined to provide you with your current skill set. If you have a fairly straightforward career path you can take the opportunity to comment on some of the learnings from each position and where you would go next should you stay with your job.

Personal Essays
1. Give a candid description of yourself, stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors, which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary. (400 words approx.)

Strengths and weaknesses are a common topic for MBA applications. This is a great opportunity to highlight some of your skills and attributes that demonstrate leadership, teamwork or other qualities of a future business leader. Demonstrating self-awareness and the ability to assess your own performance will be impressive. Providing an example for each strength or weakness you describe will be most helpful to provide solid evidence.

When describing weaknesses you will want to focus on those weaknesses that you have taken solid steps to address, or that have been a route to learning more about yourself. Often strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the same coin, in which case you can even tie your key weaknesses to your key strengths. Because it is often difficult to write about one’s weaknesses this is an especially important essay to share with others to seek feedback on tone and impact.

2. Describe what you believe to be your two most substantial accomplishments to date, explaining why you view them as such. (400 words approx.)

Similar to the HBS question, this is an opportunity to describe two of your most important accomplishments. While impressive accomplishments are great and will certainly enhance your overall application, you should pay equal attention to explaining why these accomplishments are valuable to you. If you concisely explain the accomplishment and how you were able to bring it to fruition, you will have room to provide the context for your personal pride in the accomplishment.

3. Describe a situation taken from school, business, civil or military life, where you did not meet your personal objectives, and discuss briefly the effect. (250 words approx.)

Modeled after the failure or mistake essay, this prompt requires you to discuss a situation that was disappointing to you. The most important aspect of this essay is to demonstrate that you are able to learn and grow as a result of a mistake. Everyone faces disappointment; it’s how you react that determines your effectiveness in an organization.

A strong essay will include a clear and concise description of the situation; describe your objectives, and how you did not meet them. Then you should devote some space to discussing what your reaction was and how you moved forward. Demonstrating that you learned something from the situation will be important, and either applying that lesson to the current situation or a subsequent experience would be an excellent way to wrap up the essay.

4. Discuss your career goals. What skills do you expect to gain from studying at INSEAD and how will they contribute to your professional career. (500 words approx.)

In some ways this is a continuation of the first two essay questions. Here you should make a case for why an MBA is the appropriate next step in your career and life, and why INSEAD is the right place to do it. You already laid the groundwork on where you have been in essay 2, and where you are right now in essay 1, and this essay should be part of the overall career trajectory.

INSEAD is not rigid about the experience level of MBA candidates, but does ask that you know why you are seeking an MBA. Your future career goals should flow logically from where you have been in your career and your education at INSEAD. If you are confident about where you are going the admissions committee will be more confident about your ability to take advantage of the unique MBA experience.

5. Please choose one of the following two essay topics:
a) Have you ever experienced culture shock? What did it mean to you? (250 words approx.), or
b) What would you say to a foreigner moving to your home country? (250 words approx.)

Both of these essay choices seek a response that will demonstrate your awareness of the world outside your home country. Either essay offers an opportunity to highlight any international or cross culture exposure you have had. You will want to demonstrate cultural sensitivity, but also an awareness of the real differences between people and nationalities.

Culture shock can be a result of a new country, an unfamiliar group of people, or even a novel situation. Because INSEAD is such an international community it would be best to use this opportunity to discuss your awareness of other cultures and people. Choose an example that is easy to understand, and then spend some time explaining why you felt the culture shock and what it signified to you.

Option b allows you to act as host in your own country, describing the customs and challenges that may await a foreign visitor. This essay can demonstrate your skills of observation and empathy as you step into a strangers shoes and evaluate your own culture and values.

Whether you choose option a or b, it will be important to make sure you are highlighting your ability to conduct business across cultures. As a highly international program INSEAD will want to see demonstrated international savvy.
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