Category Archives: UC Berkeley Haas Advice
July 27, 2009
Haas has continued with the unusual format of asking several short answer questions and two longer required essays. The short answers are quite short, at only 250 words they are about the length of one of the three accomplishments you will outline for HBS. This challenge is an opportunity to provide a very concise and specific example for each, and to demonstrate several different aspects of your personality.
As Haas asks for your career goals last, the admissions committee will be getting to know you as a person before they understand what you are planning to do with your future. Make sure your career goals aren’t a huge surprise at the end, and that they logically flow from your attitude, personality and experiences.
Haas values leadership, teamwork and management potential as much as any other MBA program, yet specifically calls out innovation and creativity in essay 3. If you are a proactive, creative and innovative person this will be a great example for you to shine. While most of the new essay questions are quite similar to last year’s, there is a replacement for question 1, which was a mistake essay last year. This year you are being asked to describe what you are most passionate about, and why. It’s a good way to start the set of essays and should reflect a big picture passion in your life that may be reflected throughout the set of essays.
Short Answer:1. What are you most passionate about? Why? (250 word maximum)
Similar to what matters most, and why, this question seeks to get at your core values. What do you wake up in the middle of the night thinking about? (You may want to keep a pencil by your bed to get your creative thoughts flowing!) What common threads have been woven throughout your life, whether altruistic, artistic or personal?
Whatever your passion is, make sure you can draw a conclusion about why you are passionate, and preferably you are able to weave your passion through this entire set of essays.
2. Tell us about your most significant accomplishment. (250 word maximum)
Your accomplishment can be big or small, but it should be significant to you. While you have limited space, this is an opportunity to demonstrate what matters to you and to showcase one of your proudest moments.
While you are asked only about the accomplishment, the best essays will use this limited space to demonstrate clearly what the accomplishment was (be specific!) as well as commenting upon the significance of the accomplishment.
3. At Haas, we value innovation and creativity. Describe a time when you created positive change in a group or an organization. (250 word maximum)
Your own innovative and creative efforts can shine in this essay. This is an ideal place to demonstrate fit with Haas. Even if you are not someone who constantly strives for a new way of doing things, you likely have an experience where you either innovated upon a process or creatively solved a problem. This is likely to be at work, though can certainly be a significant leadership position you have held in an extracurricular organization. The key aspect of this question is to concisely describe what you did, and to elucidate what the impact on the group or organization was.
4. What steps have you taken to learn about the Berkeley MBA program, and what factors have influenced your decision to apply? (250 word maximum)
This is another great opportunity to demonstrate your fit and enthusiasm for the Haas MBA program. Basic research will certainly include a visit to the website and perusal of the course catalog. To really demonstrate fit you will benefit from visiting campus, attending an informational session or connecting with alumni or current students. The personal touch is often the most helpful, and will give you an opportunity to really understand how you can personally be connected to the school.
Give us an example of a situation in which you displayed leadership. (500 word maximum)
Both required essays are the same as they were last year. In this essay you will want to think about a specific leadership experience and what you did, said, felt and accomplished. Leadership can be expressed in many ways. Perhaps you lead a team of people at work, or in a volunteer capacity. If you do not have a formal leadership role you might have led a project or contributed as a strong leader from a team perspective. Whichever type of leadership experience you had, make sure to provide specifics of the situation. Strong results always stand out!
What are your post-MBA short-term and long-term career goals? How do your professional experiences relate to these goals? How will an MBA from Berkeley help you achieve these specific career goals? (1000 word maximum)
This is a fairly typical career goals essay that asks for both short- and long-term goals and the background that led you to this juncture in your career. This year it will be especially important to logically connect your background and your future, as schools will be looking for candidates who can be successful in a challenging job market.
Be specific about why Haas is the right program to pursue your goals as well. Make sure you have determined exactly what courses make sense for your career goals and the programs and clubs that you will participate in to reach your personal and professional goals.
(Optional) Please feel free to provide a statement concerning any information you would like to add to your application that you haven’t addressed elsewhere. (500 word maximum)
This optional essay can be used for any weakness you would like to address, or simply as an opportunity to end with some additional information that will help you stand out from the application pool. If there is an aspect of your background that was not illustrated in previous questions this can be a great opportunity.
If you have a weakness you would like to address here, focus on specifics. Describe what happened, why it is not representative of your potential, and provide specific examples of how you have performed better in your life since. Explanations and not excuses are always the best path.
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July 8, 2008
Haas School of Business short answer essays are both an opportunity and a challenge. At 250 words, they make it challenging to communicate the range of your personal qualities and skills, yet the questions provide the opportunity …
Haas School of Business short answer essays are both an opportunity and a challenge. At 250 words, they make it challenging to communicate the range of your personal qualities and skills, yet the questions provide the opportunity for variety in what you communicate. Because of the brevity, you will want to be extremely specific and concise with your examples.
The last two essays, on leadership and career goals, offer more space to express yourself while demonstrating the emphasis the program places on well articulated career goals and leadership qualities.
The numerous essays required for the Haas Business School application allow you to be strategic in the topics you choose. Because your career goals essay is last, you will introduce your values and personal qualities first. Choose your examples carefully to show your breadth of experience and interests, both professionally and outside of work.
1. If you could change one thing you’ve done in your life, what would it be, and how would you do it differently? (250 word maximum)
This question has elements of the standard “mistake” essay, which requires the applicant to describe and reflect on a misstep. As in a mistake essay, you will want to describe the event you would like to change, and reflect on why and how you would change it. This question also invites further introspection, and allows you to discuss a turning point in your life. There is an opportunity here to show a moment when you matured, changed your perspective, or decided to take a specific path in life.
2. Tell us about your most significant accomplishment. (250 word maximum)
This is a great opportunity to showcase an impressive accomplishment in your life, preferably one with a team or leadership component. You have very little space to describe the accomplishment, and will still want to describe your thought process and results, which will require discipline. The question does not limit you to professional accomplishments, and you have the opportunity to choose a significant accomplishment from an outside activity that is meaningful to you.
3. At the Haas School of Business, we value innovation and creativity. Describe an innovative solution you have created to address a specific challenge. (250 word maximum)
This question both addresses your “fit” with Haas (do you value innovation and creativity?) and allows the adcom to see how you work and think. Describe the challenge you needed to address very briefly, and then discuss the innovative solution. Your thought process throughout should be illustrated, and you may need to explain why your solution was considered innovative by yourself and/or others. If an innovative or creative idea doesn’t come immediately to mind, think about a time when you have approached a challenge differently from others, even if the situation itself does not immediately seem innovative.
4. What steps have you taken to learn about the Haas School of Business program, and what factors have influenced your decision to apply? (250 word maximum)
This is a straightforward inquiry into your interest in and fit with the Haas School of Business program. Because some applicants use Haas as a backup to Stanford or other programs, you will want to be thorough and specific in demonstrating your knowledge of the program. Going beyond basic research by visiting campus, speaking with students and alumni or even reading informal blogs can show your level of interest in the program. It is also important to describe the impact of your encounters with the Haas community on your decision to apply.
1. Give us an example of a situation in which you displayed leadership. (500 word maximum)
Leadership is an important quality to all MBA programs, and the length of this essay compared to the short answers highlights its importance to Haas. When choosing an example, a professional situation is ideal, although you will want to consider whether you have made a greater leadership impact in a volunteer situation. Leadership can be demonstrated in many ways, and you did not have to be the official leaders in the situation. Think of a time when you influenced a group of people, when others followed your lead, and when you made a solid impact. Describe the details of the situation, along with your thoughts and actions. Focus on the lessons learned as well, to show that leadership is an ongoing part of your life.
2. What are your short-term and long-term career goals? How do your professional experiences relate to these goals? Why do you want an MBA from Berkeley at this point in your career? (1000 word maximum)
This is a standard career goals essay that most MBA programs require. In this essay, it will be important to describe your short-term and long-term goals, and also provide professional context for the goals in your past experience. Your MBA from Berkeley should fit in as a natural bridge between your past and future in this essay. Your short-term goals should be specific and realistic as a new MBA graduate. Your long-term goals will lead from the short-term goals and MBA, and will reveal what you value in life and your career. The long-term goals can be a bit more visionary, but should still be specific and considered.
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July 23, 2007
As with the other essay tips we’ve presented, the most important advice is be yourself! Show your personality, values, and humor. Short Answer: 1) If you could have dinner with one individual in the past, …
As with the other essay tips we’ve presented, the most important advice is be yourself! Show your personality, values, and humor.
1) If you could have dinner with one individual in the past, present, or future, who would it be and why? (250 word maximum)
This is a good opportunity to articulate what is important to you. Think about what you care about, what you are curious about, how you would like to impact the world, what you want to learn. Don’t dedicate the whole essay to talking about that you want to meet. Make sure this essay is still about you. You can show what is important to you and reveal who you are through your answer.
2) Tell us about your most significant accomplishment. (250 word maximum)
With this question, show that you set goals and reach them and also reveal what is important to you. You could choose a professional event, community service experiences (the more recent the better), or even personal hardships you have overcome. Be sure to balance professional and personal examples across your collection of essays. Most importantly, set up the accomplishment succinctly and focus on WHY you view this event as an accomplishment.
3) At the Haas School of Business, we value innovation and creativity. Describe an innovative solution you have created to address a specific challenge. (250 word maximum)
Again, pay attention to how many professional and personal examples you are providing across your essays. If you used a community service or personal examples for the accomplishment essay, then consider a professional example for this one. The Haas School of Business wants to hear what you thought and did in the face of a challenge. Don’t just say that your solution was innovation, explain why it was a different approach and how you got the idea to do that. In other words, SHOW instead of tell.
4) What steps have you taken to learn about the Haas School of Business and what factors have influenced your decision to apply? (250 word maximum)
This question requires some pre-writing preparation. If you don’t have time to visit the Haas School of Business, then try to find ways to speak with students or alums. Maybe there’s an information session in your area. You can search your undergraduate school database for Haas Business School alums and contact them via email to hear about their experiences. But don’t just list out what you did to learn about the Haas School of Business. Articulate how you were affected by what students or alums said or what you read. Relate your own value system to what the Haas Business School values. Reveal what is important to you and how you’ll find that at Haas.
1) Give us an example of a situation in which you displayed leadership. (500 word maximum)
The Haas School of Business has worded this so that you can think outside of the box, meaning you don’t need to write about work. Consider volunteer or even personal experiences that have required resilience, vision, creativity, and achievement. Think about when you have led a group of people and demonstrate your ability to motivate a group and make things happen. As with the other essays, set up the experience quickly (500 words is short) and focus on your actions and reflection (lessons learned).
2) What are your short-term and long-term career goals? How do your professional experiences relate to these goals? Why do you want an MBA from Berkeley at this point in your career? (1000 word maximum)
This is the standard why MBA question. There are a few questions embedded in this question and you must hit on each of them and budget your words.
What are your short-term and long-term career goals?
Your career goals should in some way reflect what is important to you (this does not mean they are one and the same, but that there is some correlation). By specifically asking for your short-term and long-term plans, the Haas Business School wants to see concrete, specific goals. Show that you have a realistic but ambitious plan, and explain why your goals are meaningful to you. Be sure to lay out short term and long term plans.
How do your professional experiences relate to these goals? Note that they are asking specifically how your career background has informed your goals for the future. They do not want a list of your experiences or even a colorful description of these experiences. They want to you to reflect on how past experience connects to your future plans. You may have a fairly linear career path with obvious links between past and future plans. In which case, articulate what you have enjoyed and learned. Or you may be desiring a career change. In this case, explain what you have learned (stay positive) and your thought process to get to your current goals.
Why do you want an MBA from the Haas School of Business at this point in your career?
This is a combination of Why the Haas Business School and Why Now. As with every school, you must be specific about how Haas will help you achieve your goals – offer up classes, clubs, etc that will help you. They want to see that you are ready to hit the ground running, that you will take advantage of the Haas Business School and make a difference in their community. Do not neglect the Why Now aspect – explain what is motivating you to apply to school. This could be woven into how your past experiences have informed your goals. Maybe you want to move up in current career, change careers, etc. Or perhaps a personal experience has inspired you to delve into a different field. Or maybe you’ve gained the skills you wanted after college and now feel ready to reach for your dream. Just be sure to articulate your reasoning.