Tag Archives: admissions

The “Nohria Effect” on Harvard Business School

A condensed version of this post originally appeared on the U.S. News — Strictly Business Blog. Nitin Nohria celebrated his first anniversary as dean of Harvard Business School on July 1st, making it a fitting …

A condensed version of this post originally appeared on the U.S. News — Strictly Business Blog.

Nitin Nohria celebrated his first anniversary as dean of Harvard Business School on July 1st, making it a fitting time to reflect on the considerable changes underway at this venerable b-school. From major innovations to its curriculum and shifts both subtle and less-so within the class of 2013 profile, to huge surprises””some might say upsets””in M.B.A. admissions, the past twelve months have been anything but business as usual.

While curriculum tweaks and overhauls have taken place almost across the board at elite M.B.A. programs, the innovations ushered in by Nohria are particularly progressive in that they will reduce Harvard’s dependence on the case study method of teaching in effect since the 1920s. The changes will also impact every single M.B.A. candidate as well as the majority of the school’s faculty.

“We think now is the right time to act to take the Harvard Business School M.B.A. Program to the next level,” Dean Nohria said of the curriculum changes in an alumni bulletin this spring. “The case method will always be a central part of what we do, but we’re now at a point in history when we can do some really interesting things in the field. Both methodologies ”” case and field ”” are absolute complements,” he added.

In order to prepare self-aware leaders for a global economy, as of this fall all first-year students will take a yearlong Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development (FIELD) course offering small-group learning experiences that are experiential, immersive, and field-based.

According to Youngme Moon, senior associate dean and chair of the M.B.A. Program, the FIELD course “ups the ante” in three key content areas: leadership, globalization, and integration based on experiential learning. Self-reflection, hands-on learning, and teamwork are the process skills that unify the three content areas and define the FIELD experience.

Students must also participate in off-campus immersion experiences during the January Term. In a recent interview with John A. Byrne of Poets & Quants, Nohria calls lining up 150 organizations in countries such as India, China and Vietnam to give meaningful project work to more than 900 M.B.A. students “a mammoth administrative and intellectual undertaking. It’s not just global tourism. It’s a spectacular opportunity for students to begin to imagine how to operate in this global century.”

Harvard has redesigned the second-year curriculum by splitting the existing two terms into four half-terms to allow faculty more creativity in shaping innovative courses and students more flexibility in building their schedules. While less far-reaching on the surface, the school says over time, the modular approach promises to transform the elective-year experience, particularly from a social standpoint.

“You could imagine that people working in small teams of six might develop friendships and bonds that would be even deeper than those that they have historically formed in the sections of 90 students each,” Nohria tells Poets & Quants. “These will be really intense bonding experiences that will add a more intimate social experience to the program.”

The curriculum isn’t the only thing that will look different at Harvard this September. The school made headlines last month when it revealed that the class of 2013 will include 39% women””its highest percentage ever””and substantially fewer candidates from the fields of finance and consulting.

The Wall Street Journal cites preliminary figures from Harvard admissions, which notes that about 25% of the 919 students in the class of 2013 are from finance industries”” including private equity, banking and venture capital””compared with 32% last year. Meanwhile, students with manufacturing backgrounds make up 14% of the class of 2013, up from 9% the previous year. Technology rose three percentage points to 9%.

Deirdre Leopold, managing director of M.B.A. admissions and financial aid, explains in the WSJ that the school doesn’t “run with quotas or targets”; rather, Harvard seeks to compose a diverse class that can contribute to the overall learning.

The talk in admissions circles this year has been that applicants with typical profiles weren’t admitted and those presumed to be “sure things” faced unexpected disappointment. But in my view, what we’re seeing are surface “shifts” that are helping Harvard refocus more clearly on its founding principles. This is not a program where a certain profile or pedigree is guaranteed admission””it’s a place that seeks out incredibly ambitious, world-changing leaders of all stripes.

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Tuesday Tips – Michigan Ross MBA Essay Tips

As Dean Dolan advises applicants on the Michigan MBA website, the “Ross difference is action-based learning.” Ross is a program that emphasizes learning both inside and outside the classroom, and is seeking candidates that are …

As Dean Dolan advises applicants on the Michigan MBA website, the “Ross difference is action-based learning.” Ross is a program that emphasizes learning both inside and outside the classroom, and is seeking candidates that are both intellectually curious and able to accomplish their goals.

When you are approaching this set of essays think about how you will best illustrate your fit with the unique Michigan MBA program.

Don’t forget to check your deadlines before getting started!

Essay 1
Introduce yourself to your future Ross classmates in 100 words or less.

The first thing to ask yourself is what you would want to know about your future classmates as potential teammates and friends? That is the information you should communicate here. If you have worked on your application strategy and thought about your personal branding, this question is just one part of the whole. You will be discussing career goals and other professional aspects of yourself in the next few essays, so this is your opportunity to tell your future classmates something about you as a person. Do you have a unique background you will be able to share with your classmates? What about hobbies and personal accomplishments? Think about this question as the “elevator pitch” to adcomm, and one that should be more personal than professional.

Essay 2
Describe your career goals. How will an MBA from Ross help you to achieve those goals? What is your vision for how you can make a unique contribution to the Ross community? (500 word maximum)

This career goals question is fairly standard, yet focuses more on the future rather than the past. Since you are not specifically asked to explain your entire career path, focus on the high points that will provide the relevant context to your goals. When did you face a turning point or make a big decision about your career? What were some of your proudest accomplishments?

When you describe your goals it will be important that they are both aspirational and credible. Because you are investing in an Michigan MBA, you will want to show how your career goals warrant the time and money you will spend. A promotion to the next level is not enough of a reason to spend two years at the Michigan MBA program, but perhaps your goal to run the company one day is. Think about the goal that will represent the pinnacle of your career in the next 10-20 years, and then describe any other sub-goals that will help you get there.

Having done your research on Michigan MBA’s academics and resources will help you answer the question about your motivation to pursue an MBA at Ross and how you will contribute to the community. Choose specific classes, professors and programs that fit into your career goals. Think about clubs and conferences that are unique to the Michigan MBA and will advance your career. This question is about more than how Ross will help you achieve your goals, you’ll also need to show your unique value as a member of the community. Can you share your career expertise? Your network? Personal hobbies or skills? Think again about what you would want from a future classmate and apply that filter to your unique talents.

Essay 3
Describe a time in your career when you were frustrated or disappointed. What did you learn from that experience? (500 word maximum)

Behavioral questions like this one are meant to illustrate how you have acted in situations in the past, as a predictor of future behavior. Your answer should be concise but detailed, and clearly lay out both the situation and what you did and thought as you navigated the outcome.

Often a tough experience is an excellent learning opportunity and contributes to your growth and development. Don’t be afraid to admit that you have faced frustration and disappointment, because you are only human. The important part of this story is how you reacted and what you learned. Think about the type of person who will be successful in a Michigan MBA program and as a manager and a leader. What skills do you share with a strong leader, and were any formed during a challenging interpersonal situation like this?
Similar to the HBS essay, this is an opportunity to show how you handle challenging situations. Everyone faces frustrations and challenges at work; it is how you decide to react that creates learning and growth. Revealing your emotions and thought process in this essay will provide a window into how you process difficult experiences and emerge from them with a new direction.

The key to a successful essay is to demonstrate how, specifically, you navigated the experience. A lesson learned or beneficial outcome to the experience would end the essay well and allow you to illustrate your leadership, teamwork or social skills.

Essay 4
Select one of the following questions:
Ӣ What are you most passionate about and why? (300 word maximum)

Since you have only 300 words you will want to focus on one aspect of your personal, professional or extracurricular life that really excites you.

Overall, this essay is meant to show how introspective you really are. Have you thought deeply about your passions and motivations in life, and do you know what truly makes you happy? If you can show that you understand yourself and are most motivated by your own passions rather than the expectations of others, you can demonstrate both self-awareness and maturity in this essay.

If the open ended prompt is intimidating you can try brainstorming over a period of a few days. Ask friends and family what most excites you when you go about your day to day life. Keep a notebook by your bed so you can record your first thoughts upon waking up, or dreams that might help you understand your passions.

Ӣ Describe a personal challenge or obstacle and why you view it as such. How have you dealt with it? What have you learned from it? (300 word maximum)
This essay question is similar to Essay 3, but focuses on a personal challenge or obstacle. This question is the perfect opportunity to bring up a pivotal moment in your background that has shaped your personal development. Challenges often reveal quite a bit about character, and your story should convey how you handled the situation, and reflect upon the key lessons of the situation. If you are describing a challenge that was external to you rather than self-imposed be sure to avoid blame or excuses. Everyone faces challenges or obstacles in life, and your response will reveal a tremendous amount about your character. This kind of essay is ideal to seek a third-party opinion on tone and approach.

Optional Essay
Is there anything else you think the Admissions Committee should know about you to evaluate your candidacy? (500 word maximum)

If there are any areas of concern, 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 issue demonstrating that you learned from the experience and have been an ideal citizen ever since.

If you do not have a weakness to address here, it’s an ideal opportunity to provide any information that you were unable to work into the other three essays. If you have an unusual background, hobby or extracurricular experience, this may be an opportunity to provide that information to the adcomm.

Posted in Application Tips, Michigan Ross Advice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

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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SBC Scoop – Challenging Resume Remedy

Work experience is a large aspect of any MBA application because past performance is often a good predictor of future achievement. May came to us as she started thinking about applying to MBA programs. In …

Work experience is a large aspect of any MBA application because past performance is often a good predictor of future achievement. May came to us as she started thinking about applying to MBA programs. In the first meeting we reviewed her resume and I needed to ask dozens of clarifying questions to understand her career path. Clearly, May needed our help creating a compelling and concise story for her MBA applications.

May had grown up living all over the world as her family followed her military father’s career from Japan to Germany to Washington, DC. As a result, May was incredibly skilled at adapting to new circumstances and built relationships easily. Other great aspects of her candidacy included a 700 GMAT score and a 3.4 GPA.

May’s resume was organized chronologically and demonstrated a vast array of interests. For example, I could see from May’s resume that she was involved in a sorority, starred in several student theater productions, was an officer in the Asian-American culture club and The Film Society, and was part of a fashion show project while she was in college. I also saw a college internship at Morgan Stanley.

Post college May’s resume displayed far less clarity. Her most recent experience was as an office manager at a gourmet food importing company. Before that she had worked in sales for a high-end jewelry brand. I saw that she had worked for two years after school in Los Angeles at a law firm, and had also starred in two pilot projects for television networks ”“ seemingly in the same time period. The overall picture was not clear in any way from the document May presented, and I was concerned her career goals might be as cloudy.

My clarifying questions helped me understand a bit more about May’s path. Her internship at Morgan Stanley had taught her a tremendous amount about banking and analysis, and also taught her she was not a good fit for the business. Through a connection she was able to audition for a pilot in Los Angeles, which led to a small part. Though the show wasn’t picked up, May was intrigued by Hollywood and wanted to take the time to try building an acting career. To support herself she took a job within a law firm. After two years as a struggling actor May knew she needed a change. A family friend ran the jewelry retailer, and May was offered a lucrative sales job. She enjoyed helping to build the business and was able to close several interesting deals with celebrities and wardrobe stylists based on her past connections. Ultimately May wanted to be more involved with running a business, and found an opportunity to manage the office and run a fledging business development group at a growing gourmet food importer.

Now May wanted to obtain an MBA from a school in California while she continued to work at the importer, with a goal towards ultimately taking over general management of a similar business or starting her own.

We started to unpack the common aspects of May’s background to strategize the best way to present her in her UCLA, USC, Berkeley-Columbia and UC-Irvine executive MBA applications.

During our discussion it was clear that May did an excellent job of building connections with people. Every single career opportunity post-college had been the result of a conversation with a friend or family member. As an actor, May had honed her skills as a relentless networker, and she brought these skills to the business development part of her current job. I could see the common thread of building and leveraging relationships in her entire resume. Then we needed to compose the story that showed how she had moved from acting to office managing. The challenge of her resume was that May had not only moved functions, she had moved across four separate industries. We parsed her experience down to key transferable skills: sales, communication, management and leadership. When we held this list up to each position, May was able to articulate the parts of each job that utilized those skills. She then composed the bullets of her resume to correspond. Finally, we worked on a summary paragraph at the top of her resume to tie the experiences together.

Most candidates don’t need to spend as much time on their resume as we did with May, but defining a clear strategy to explain her confusing background was the basis of several other aspects of May’s application. When we tackled her career goals essay and her interviews, May was prepared to communicate clearly and concisely about her key skills and talents.

The approach paid off, and May continued her education within the USC EMBA program.

To read more SBC Case Studies, click HERE.


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Tuesday Tips – UC Berkeley Haas MBA Essay Tips

Approaching the new set of Haas Business School questions may be intimidating, as you are required to answer six questions that focus on a variety of attributes and accomplishments, while you are being judged upon …

Approaching the new set of Haas Business School questions may be intimidating, as you are required to answer six questions that focus on a variety of attributes and accomplishments, while you are being judged upon “a strong cultural fit with our program and defining principles.” A clear understanding of your application strategy ”“ particularly your career goals and strengths/weaknesses will be key to put together a cohesive application.

Haas Business School short answers require focus, at only 250 words you will need to answer concisely and clearly to make sure your point is communicated. While challenging, this is also an opportunity to demonstrate several different aspects of your personality to the admissions committee.

As Haas Business School 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.

For more information on the question and deadlines, visit the blog post on the new Haas questions.

1. What brings you the greatest joy? How does this make you distinctive? (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?

Haas asked a similar question last year, and a new aspect is the second part where you are asked how your passion or joy makes your distinctive. Your passion is inherently distinctive because it reflects your unique core values, though it may appear standard on the surface. Delve deep into your own motivations for what gives you the greatest joy, and anything in your background that has shaped your feelings. For example, perhaps your greatest joy is something fairly typical like spending time with friends and family. Take the time to think about WHY this is your greatest joy ”“ perhaps you are part of a tight knit family with unique values that you can discuss, or maybe you moved a lot as a kid and so your friendships feel precious. Whatever unique aspects of your background inform your joy can be relevant to the question.

2. What is 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. Describe a time when you questioned an established practice or thought within an organization. How did your actions create positive change? (250 word maximum)
The situational question would like to see your values in action as part of the question. When approaching a situational essay like this it’s important to provide both a concrete example and to explain what you thought, felt and did during the situation.

4. Describe a time when you were a student of your own failure. What specific insight from this experience has shaped your development? (250 word maximum)
This question asks you to think about a time you failed, and a time you learned from that failure. This essay is your opportunity to demonstrate your maturity, flexibility and leadership qualities. Leaders are not people who are always successful, rather they are people who are willing to admit to failure and learn from difficulty.

As you recount your failure it will be crucial to demonstrate what you have learned as concretely as possible. As a thought experiment, try thinking about a recent triumph. Trace your life events backwards until you find a failure, and think about how that failure directly led to your success. For example, perhaps you took a job immediately after college that was not a good fit for you. You may have felt like the job was a failure, but instead of despairing you took the time to think about what you really wanted, and subsequently found a job that led you success in your career. Perhaps your story isn’t career oriented but showcases learning from extracurricular or volunteer involvement.

5. Describe a time when you led by inspiring or motivating others toward a shared goal. (250 word maximum)
In this essay you will want to think about a specific leadership experience and what you did, said, felt and accomplished. At the same time, you need to focus specifically on how you motivated your team and inspired a group of people to accomplish a shared goal. You may not have *done* a great deal in the situation, but the key aspect is how you helped your team to be stronger and better through inspiration and motivation.

Leadership can be expressed in many ways in your life. 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!

6. a. What are your post-MBA short-term and long-term career goals? How have your professional experiences prepared you to achieve these goals?
b. How will an MBA from Haas help you achieve these goals? (1000 word maximum for 6a. and 6b.)

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. Think about what you hope to achieve with your MBA and the career opportunities it will reveal for you. You don’t need to recite your resume here ”“ rather highlight the key experiences that will be relevant in your future career.
Be specific about why the Haas School of Business is the right program to pursue your goals as well. As you consider your past experiences and your future goals you will be able to see what you want to gain from the Haas experience to fill any gaps. If you have an advertising background and want to become a brand manager you’ll likely need classes in operations and finance to understand the analytical side of brand management. Other goals will require other skills and your own unique background will inform how you take advantage of the Haas experience. 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.

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Tuesday Tips – Stanford GSB Essay Tips

Nowhere is the mandate to be authentic more emphasized than with the Stanford GSB application essays. The Stanford GSB admissions website provides clear guidance and advice for what to do, and what not to do …

Nowhere is the mandate to be authentic more emphasized than with the Stanford GSB application essays. The Stanford GSB admissions website provides clear guidance and advice for what to do, and what not to do that all applicants should read and follow. As you approach topics for this set of essays think about the events of your life that have shaped your values and your future plans. Your accomplishments and achievements are part of why you have developed into the person you are today, however it’s far more important to explain your influences, lessons learned and motivations. Stanford GSB asks for candid self-examination in the first essay, and that theme of introspection should persist through the entire set of essays.

Stanford GSB Essay 1: What matters most to you, and why?
This is the keystone of the Stanford GSB essays and your chance to demonstrate who you are and what motivates you. Topics can range from personal history to grand visions of the future. While this topic should not be explicitly career related (and the strongest essays may not be career oriented at all) a truly cohesive life path will likely bring some of the aspects of what matters most into the topic of Essay 2.

If the open ended prompt is intimidating you can try brainstorming over a period of a few days. Ask friends and family what values they see you demonstrating in your life and choices. Keep a notebook by your bed so you can record your first thoughts upon waking up, or dreams that might help you understand your motivations.

Though the essay question may seem open-ended, answering the question with vivid and specific examples will provide solid evidence that you have demonstrated or experienced “what matters most” throughout your life. Keep in mind as you select examples that Stanford GSB specifically advises focusing on people and experiences that have influenced you, rather than accomplishments or achievements.

Stanford GSB Essay 2: What do you want to do””REALLY””and why Stanford?
The emphasis in the question on authenticity (what do you REALLY want to do?) is new this year. We’ve observed that in these economic times plenty of candidates are content to be conservative about their dreams. For Stanford that approach may backfire. Stanford likes to see applicants who dream big, and have the credibility to achieve their goals.

So think hard about what you REALLY want to do. Not what your parents or partner want you to do. Not what your boss wants you to do. Not what you think an MBA program wants to hear. What do you, with your own unique background and values, want for your life?

If the question seems too vast, take a few minutes to close your eyes and reflect. Envision your life in twenty years. Where do you live? How do you spend your days? What is your favorite activity? How does this vision fit into your career aspirations? Dream big about what two years at Stanford can bring into your life. Once you have identified your dream career, you also need to make sure an MBA is an important part of achieving your plans. Stanford wants candidates whose MBA will make an impact on the career they REALLY want, not candidates who are looking for a prestigious piece of paper.

One thing that is crucial “not to do” is be less than specific about why Stanford. You should know everything about the program that overlaps with your interests and aspirations. Have you met current students and alumni? Who are the professors you are excited about? What are the unique programs? Stanford GSB wants to know what you specifically need that will be uniquely satisfied by the program at Stanford GSB, and research will help you determine the specifics of the academic program, community and students will be essential to demonstrating your knowledge and fit with the program.

Stanford GSB Essay 3: Answer two of the four questions below. Tell us not only what you did but also how you did it. What was the outcome? How did people respond? Only describe experiences that have occurred during the last three years.
Choose strategically here. What aspects of your background or career progress have not be highlighted in the previous two essays? Is there a community service involvement you would like to demonstrate? All examples must be from the past three years, and it is important to clearly describe your process and results. HOW is the key word for this set of questions. By asking specifically about your behavior, the admissions committee hopes to understand your motivations by clearly “seeing” your actions.

o Option A: Tell us about a time when you built or developed a team whose performance exceeded expectations.
Many candidates for Stanford have not led teams formally at work. If you have done so, this is an ideal essay to highlight your management experience. If you have no formal management experience think about the times you have served informally as a leader. Perhaps you led a team as part of a project, or led part of a project for your boss. If work did not provide an opportunity for you to lead a team, consider an example in your volunteer or extracurricular activities.

Whatever the situation, describe what happened and your role in the performance of the team. In addition to clear description, explain what the expectations were for the team and how your team exceeded them.

o Option B: Tell us about a time when you made a lasting impact on your organization.
Making a lasting impact through a discrete project or achievement is possible, yet less likely than creating impact through your relationships with others and the overall operations of the organization. Did you create a new initiative that involves many others? Have you impacted the culture or operations of your organization through an idea or by developing your team? Think about actions you have taken that may have lead to a fundamental shift in the way things are done or perceived within your company or organization.

o Option C: Tell us about a time when you generated support from others for an idea or initiative
This is a behavioral question focused on your ability to understand and motivate others. This question seeks to understand your leadership skills and ability to build support whether through action or persuasion. When answering the question it is important to demonstrate your own leadership skills through specific examples. Explain clearly how you (uniquely) were able to motivate your team or build support for the idea or initiative and what results you saw for the idea or initiative.

o Option D: Tell us about a time when you went beyond what was defined or established
The topic of this essay can be from almost any area of your life. It will be helpful to give the context around what was defined or established to clearly demonstrate how you went beyond. Why and how did you achieve results beyond expectations? This topic could be similar to Option A in scope, yet is focused on your individual achievement rather than directing a team’s actions.

As you put together your Stanford GSB application it will be helpful to read all of the essays together (and have others read them) to see the overall impression. It should be clear what your underlying motivations are, what you hope do you with your career, and how you operate as an individual and in a team within an organization. As Stanford GSB clearly requests, the best essays will illuminate your individual voice clear and strong.

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