Tag Archives: career goals

Tuesday Tips: Dartmouth Tuck MBA Essay Tips

The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth has a small student body and a rural location, combined with world-class faculty and academic focus. As you approach your Dartmouth Tuck MBA application it will be important …

Tuck School of BusinessThe Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth has a small student body and a rural location, combined with world-class faculty and academic focus. As you approach your Dartmouth Tuck MBA application it will be important to consistently show how you will fit into the school values of leadership, teamwork and collaboration and bring your own unique qualities and experiences to the community.

Before you begin the essays think about the areas you want to communicate to the Tuck Business School admissions committee. As you consider each topic be sure to provide specific examples to illustrate your unique qualities. Real life experiences are your best evidence of leadership qualities, teamwork skills and management potential.

The Tuck admissions team encourages applicants to respond fully but concisely to these essay questions, and to limit the length of their responses to 500 words for each essay.

Stacy Blackman Consulting has worked with successful Tuck applicants for over a decade, contact us to learn more about the customized assistance we can provide for your application.

Essay One: What are your short- and long-term goals? Why do you need an MBA to achieve those goals? Why are you interested in Tuck specifically?

This standard career goals question requires you to clearly outline your short- and long-term career goals. Your short-term goals are the aspirations you have for your job immediately after graduation, while your long-term goals may be 10 or 20 years after you complete your MBA. In this relatively short essay you will need to explain what you have been pursuing in your career thus far, and why you need an MBA at this point in your life, along with your career goals.

“Why Tuck Business School” is an important element to this essay, and your opportunity to demonstrate fit. Make sure you have researched the school’s programs and determined your education will suit your plans. By reaching out to current students and alumni you will gain crucial insights that will provide a personal perspective on the culture of the school.

Essay Two: Tell us about your most meaningful leadership experience and what role you played. How will that experience contribute to the learning environment at Tuck?

As you consider topics for this essay reflect upon the situations that may have revealed your own strengths and weaknesses. Think back to Tuck Business School’s criteria, and possibly use this essay to either demonstrate your interpersonal leadership skills or to show something from your background or experience that is unique. Think about the leadership opportunities that led to a deeper understanding of yourself and others, and may have resulted in definition of your strengths or an improvement in your weaknesses. The example you choose can be from work or community involvement, as “great leadership can be accomplished in the pursuit or business and societal goals.”

One aspect to remember as you draft this essay is that the Tuck School of Business definition of leadership is inherently collaborative. Team based experiences may be preferable, and as you describe your leadership experience, make sure you explain how you were able to inspire and enable others to accomplish as well.

Essay Three: (Optional) Please provide any additional insight or information that you have not addressed elsewhere that may be helpful in reviewing your application (e.g., unusual choice of evaluators, weaknesses in academic performance, unexplained job gaps or changes, etc.). Complete this question only if you feel your candidacy is not fully represented by this application.

This is your opportunity to discuss any perceived weaknesses in your application such as low GPA or gaps in your work experience. When approaching a question of this nature, focus on explanations rather than excuses and explain what you have done since the event you are explaining to demonstrate your academic ability or management potential.

You could potentially use this space to add something new that was not covered in the previous essays or in the application, resume or recommendations, however use your judgment about the topics as Tuck asks that you only complete this question if you “feel your candidacy is not fully represented by this application.”

Essay Four: (To be completed by all reapplicants) How have you strengthened your candidacy since you last applied? Please reflect on how you have grown personally and professionally.

If you are re-applying to Tuck this essay is the place for you to showcase any developments since your last application. Ideally you have concrete improvements like a stronger GMAT score, grades from business classes, or a promotion. Even if nothing quantitative has changed in your profile you likely have developed more leadership activities or progressed in your job responsibilities. If you are struggling to think of any clear improvements you can describe refined goals or deeper thinking about your future that has led you to apply again to Tuck. Demonstrating growth in maturity or introspection can be a huge improvement to your application and absolutely should be highlighted.

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Tuesday Tips: UVA Darden MBA Essay Tips

While writing only 500 words for your Darden MBA application essay may seem simple, it requires discipline to highlight all of the important parts of your profile for the admissions committee in one short essay. …

While writing only 500 words for your Darden MBA application essay may seem simple, it requires discipline to highlight all of the important parts of your profile for the admissions committee in one short essay. Writing a successful essay with such limited space requires you to focus only on your most compelling attributes.

Leadership is crucial to future Darden MBAs. Personal qualities are also important to Darden, a school with a small, tight-knit community. Darden, similar to HBS, is devoted to the case method of teaching business subjects. Learn more about the school by visiting the Darden website, attending events and speaking with current students and alumni.

MBA Application Essay Question:
Describe the most important professional feedback you have received and how you responded to it. (500 words maximum)

In this question Darden is seeking to understand how you take feedback and how you process and learn from feedback. Feedback is often the first stage to grow and develop as a professional and as a leader. Learning to take all feedback – both positive and critical – and examining and incorporating the lessons from that feedback into your development is a sign of maturity.

As you describe the professional feedback you will want to set the stage for the feedback by describing your relationship with the person who gave you the feedback and any background facts. Take the time to describe how you felt while receiving the feedback, and don’t be afraid to talk about having uncomfortable feelings about it. It’s a normal reaction to feel threatened by criticism, which is often what professional feedback is perceived as. If the feedback was positive make sure you can use the story to demonstrate development and growth.

If you can’t think of the most important moment of feedback you have received, think about working backwards from a professional accomplishment you are proud of. As you think about the areas where you have excelled you may find that the trigger was a piece of important advice or feedback from a manager, peer or customer.

Make sure your feedback story enhances the overall package of your application. You have your career history submitted in your resume. Your GPA, transcript and GMAT will demonstrate academic ability. This essay is one of your few opportunities to show how you think, what your leadership approach is, and how you improve as a result of input from other people. Think about the situations that showcased your best performance at work, or that taught you something about your interests or future career goals.

Because you have only one essay question to present yourself, make sure you have a trusted reader to tell you if you are effectively communicating why you are going to be a strong leader who deserves a spot in the UVA Darden MBA class.

Looking for perspective in your approach to your Darden MBA application? Contact us to discuss how Stacy Blackman Consulting can help.

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Tuesday Tips: Yale School of Management MBA Essay Tips

Yale SOM’s essay question has remained unchanged this year. Yale has found that the answers to the essay question are insightful and demonstrates whether a candidate fits with the Yale core mission. With only one …

Yale SOM’s essay question has remained unchanged this year. Yale has found that the answers to the essay question are insightful and demonstrates whether a candidate fits with the Yale core mission.

With only one essay question, and no specific career goals essay, make sure your resume and recommendations showcase your key accomplishments. You may want to highlight specific projects at work that have most excited you and shaped your future goals and discuss why. Strategically designing additional application components can add some insight to your background and enhance your candidacy.

The Yale School of Management educates individuals who will have deep and lasting impact on the organizations they lead. Describe how you have positively influenced an organization as an employee, a member, or an outside constituent.

Impact and leadership are key components to this question. Impact could range from driving business results for your company to starting an affinity group for an underrepresented employee population. Overall the impact story should be one that you are proud of and that showcases both your values and your leadership traits. Remember the type of MBA student Yale is most interested in admitting. Ideally you are coming across as an intellectually curious student with a diverse background deeply interested in the integrated curriculum.

Behavioral questions like this one seek to understand how you actually operate in various situations. Try to be as specific as possible about how you positively influenced the organization. What did you think or say when you were determining what to do? What did you actually do? How did you feel about the result? Start by describing each step in detail in terms of what you did, the reaction of others and your own reaction. From there you can cut out anything that is too detailed or too superfluous to the story to maintain the 500 word maximum.

You may decide to focus on a key solo accomplishment at work, and that may be entirely appropriate since most MBA applicants are individual contributors. However, ideally you can demonstrate how you work with others as a leader. Regardless of whether you choose an individual or team accomplishment it should show a significant positive impact on the organization or people within the organization.

Contact us To learn more about designing the best Yale application possible with Stacy Blackman Consulting.

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5 Key Qualities of Successful MBA Applications

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com Every MBA candidate brings something unique to the table, but business schools are always on the lookout for specific qualities as they review …

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com

Every MBA candidate brings something unique to the table, but business schools are always on the lookout for specific qualities as they review the thousands of applications that cross their desks each season. If you can convince the admissions committee that you possess the following five qualities, you’ll put yourself leagues ahead of everyone else within your applicant pool.

1. A leadership track record: Business schools want to develop leaders who will contribute positively to society, and applicants should show how they have begun to lead others even before setting foot on campus. But this does not have to mean coming up with grand and sweeping examples that forever changed the course of history at your company.

Think about a time when you motivated others to do something, when you marshaled resources to solve a problem, when you brought a fresh idea or new way of thinking to your organization and most importantly, how you worked to inspire others and bring out the best in them. The aim is to show where you made an impact, no matter the size.

One former client, George, had participated in an annual charity bike ride for the past five years. He felt his application lacked compelling examples of leadership, so we suggested that he volunteer to lead the coordination of the next ride. His responsibilities included recruiting volunteers, coordinating vendors and collecting funds.

[Find out 3 Surprising Application Mistakes Prospective MBAs Make]

George’s leadership of the team ultimately helped to increase the amount raised in the ride by 14 percent. George used this experience to write a strong leadership essay for each of his target schools, and it ultimately helped him gain admission to MIT Sloan School of Management.

2. Display quantitative competency: While you don’t need an undergraduate degree in economics to go to business school – MBA programs warmly welcome diversity in the form of applicants from the humanities, arts and social sciences – you do need to show that you won’t be in over your head with the information business school is designed to teach.

To get your foot in the door, strive for a GMAT or GRE score that aligns with the average at your target schools. It will set the admissions committee’s minds at ease knowing that, assuming you have relatively minimal academic experience in quantitative subjects, it won’t be a hindrance once you hit those core courses.

If this is a problem area for you, tackle it head-on. Allow ample time for test prep, retake the test a few times, complement your score by acing a college-level quantitative course or point out any quantitative skills used on the job to support your ability to handle the material of the program.

[Learn how to Effective Ways to Address Academic Strengths On MBA Applications]

3. Exhibit excellent communication skills: The general principles of finance and accounting are easily learned at business school, but recruiters frequently gripe ?that even MBA graduates from the most elite institutions need to work harder at cultivating soft skills.

You’ll impress the admissions committee right out of the gate if you can demonstrate that you already possess strong communication skills. Highlight experiences that show you work well with others and that prove you can make a presentation in a persuasive, professional manner. Or, show how your effective communication skills have helped you land a client or seal a deal.

If this is an area you need to work on, reach out to mentors or supervisors whose communication skills you admire and ask for advice on how they read their audience, navigate meetings, and how they have cultivated their own interpersonal abilities for business success.

4. Set realistic post-MBA career plans: It’s not uncommon for MBA applicants to be uncertain about their career goals. Nevertheless, you need to be very concrete about short and long term goals in your application. Explaining why you chose your career path is crucial.

As you describe your career trajectory, make sure you explain what has led you to pursue it and why it resonates with you. The answer doesn’t need to be elaborate or dramatic, but it should be convincing and real.

[Get do’s and don’ts of convincing MBA programs you’re a fit.]

Whether they discuss it openly, business schools are very concerned with job placement statistics. If they can’t help their MBA graduates find jobs, the ripple effect leads to fewer applicants in the future and lower yield.

Are you sure that the industry you want to work in is one that typically hires MBAs? The admissions committee needs to know your career plans are achievable with an MBA degree.

5. Get enthusiastic recommenders: Letters of recommendation are one of the most compelling components of the application, and also the most unsettling for applicants since it’s the one aspect you cannot entirely control. Make sure your recommenders are close enough to provide specific and relevant examples of your work and, above all, make sure they share in your excitement about going to business school.

Whether the mistake is choosing someone who doesn’t know you well enough to provide a convincing recommendation, not adequately preparing your recommender, or unwittingly selecting a supervisor who is not 100 percent supportive of your MBA plans, there’s nothing worse than discovering your chances at admission were torpedoed by a lukewarm endorsement.

So there you have it – five essential details that can make or break your MBA application. Study them well and with any luck, you’ll sail through the admissions process and sidestep many of the common red flags plaguing lesser-prepared applicants.

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Tuesday Tips: 2015 Michigan Ross MBA Essay Tips

Michigan Ross is a program that emphasizes learning both inside and outside the classroom, and is seeking candidates that are intellectually curious and able to accomplish their goals. Ross is also a close-knit community and …

Michigan Ross is a program that emphasizes learning both inside and outside the classroom, and is seeking candidates that are intellectually curious and able to accomplish their goals. Ross is also a close-knit community and fit with the program is important to demonstrate in the application process. Visiting Ross or learning about the program through current students, alumni or faculty would be helpful before starting this set of essays.

The Ross admissions blog states that concise, clear and simple language is prized in the essay portion of the application. Make sure you are using the limited space to explain specifics about you and your experiences and goals rather than generic statements.

Essay One: What are you most proud of and why? How does it shape who you are today? (up to 400 words)

Last year Ross separated the professional and personal in this question, asking candidates to explain what they were most proud of in both realms. This year you have the flexibility to pull from any area of your life to discuss what you are most proud of and why.

If you choose a professional topic remember that intellectual ability, professional achievements and teamwork are all among the qualities the Ross admissions committee is looking for in applicants. As you consider topics for this essay focus on the ones that will demonstrate you are a strong leader and that you can learn from experience.

The personal attributes the admissions committee are looking for in applicants include community engagement and interpersonal, communication and teamwork skills.

When you consider topics for this essay you may want to write about an important extracurricular accomplishment, a challenge you overcame, or an event in your life that highlights something unique about your background. For example, if you have a track record of club leadership through college and afterwards that can be compelling evidence of your community engagement and leadership skills. On the other end of the spectrum perhaps you have spent time outside your home country for school or work and that has shaped your teamwork, interpersonal and communication skills.

In some cases you may be most proud of an accomplishment because of what you learned and how it shaped your career. In other cases the follow up questions are two separate components of the essay. Either way the why behind your pride in accomplishment will reveal what you value most – whether prestige, credit, or the motivation to achieve your goals. Make sure that your values are aligned with how you want to be perceived by the admissions committee.

Whatever you are most proud of, make sure you are addressing why it is important to you. What you learned and how you have used what you learned since in your life can offer invaluable insight as well.

Essay Two: What is your desired career path and why? (up to 400 words)

Michigan Ross is interested to hear what you plan to do after your MBA and what is motivating that decision. The Ross admissions blog is clear that the question is meant to understand your motivation and interests, and that no specific “correct” career is expected. Both traditional and non-traditional MBA goals are welcomed as long as you are sincere about the path you plan to take.

Answering “why” you chose your career path is crucial. As you describe your career path make sure you explain what has led you to pursue it, and why it resonates with you. The answer doesn’t need to be elaborate or dramatic, but it should be convincing and real. The question doesn’t ask “Why MBA?” or “Why Ross?” but you may want to address both questions. Particularly if Ross has unique resources that will help you achieve your goal, it may help your case to explain why Ross.

Stacy Blackman Consulting has worked with successful candidates to Michigan Ross for over a decade and can offer comprehensive strategic advice every step of the way. Contact us to learn more.

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Evaluate 3 Factors When Comparing Business School Acceptances

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com Receiving an offer of admission from one of your target business schools is every MBA hopeful’s dream, and that achievement feels even more …

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com

Receiving an offer of admission from one of your target business schools is every MBA hopeful’s dream, and that achievement feels even more amazing when a second or even third offer comes in.

After taking some time to properly celebrate, now comes the hard part. Since you likely applied only to programs that you felt passionate about, you must decide where to spend the next two years of your life, and a small fortune. The decision-making process is different for everyone, but there are a few things to consider that may sway your choice.

1. Financial incentives: For some applicants, a generous scholarship offer from one school clinches the deal. However, I typically counsel clients not to focus too heavily on this aspect.

More money from a lesser-ranked school may mean you graduate with little or no debt, but the choice could cost you down the line when it comes to the quality of your network. Within the first few years out of business school , the salary bump that accompanies an MBA with a strong brand will compensate for that initial financial advantage.

If the schools in contention are similarly ranked but have offered drastically different scholarship amounts, or if one program has offered a financial award and the second program offers nothing, you may be able to change that to level the playing field.

Reach out to the admissions office, reiterate your sincere interest in attending their program, and then ask if it’s possible to be considered for a higher scholarship amount – or any scholarship amount – because you now have another offer of acceptance and financial incentive on the table. If you handle this tactfully, and without mentioning the other school by name, you have nothing to lose.

2. Career goals: If you haven’t already done so, now is the time for an in-depth study of how each program will help you advance your professional trajectory. Learn what student clubs and resources exist that support your career interests. Find out which companies recruit heavily at the school, and take a good look at the strength of the career services center and alumni network.

Check out the annual employment report or company lists published on the school’s website. See if one program seems to provide a substantial advantage in your field. If you need more input, call up recruiters and companies you’re interested in to see what they think of the schools you’re choosing between.

Hugo Varela, who works in the health care industry in Madrid, received offers of admission from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, and the MIT Sloan School of Management in round one this season.

As he wrestled these past few weeks with the decision of which program to attend, Varela said in an email that, “The single most critical factor is whether a certain school provides me with the best opportunity to reach my goals.”

However, he said that in his case, “The three schools I have been admitted to could put me in a great position to achieve those goals, without much of a difference among them in terms of opportunities.”

Looking solely at career stats, therefore, may not be enough to guide your decision.

3. Fit: This is always the most unquantifiable yet crucial element to consider when deciding on a school. Check your gut as you visit the campus or chat with current students and alumni.

Think about if you feel intimidated or uncomfortable, or welcomed and completely at ease. When you reach out to alumni or students, note if they are eager and quick to answer your questions, or if you have to wait days for a follow-up email or call.

Due to work constraints, Varela says he was able to visit only the Tuck campus in person, but he talked to current students and attended school-hosted events in Madrid before and after applying in order to get to know as much as he could about every school.

“Current students and alumni really have been key for me to decide where to apply and where to attend,” he wrote.

If possible, attending each program’s admitted students weekend, where you’ll spend time on campus around current students and other admitted applicants, is one of the best ways to help you decide which school is a better fit. Sometimes though, a campus visit is logistically or financially impossible.

“As an international student who could not physically visit schools, I think attending infosessions, talking to students and alums and online research to the point of cyber-stalking was what helped me decide on which schools to apply to, and also gave me an edge in the admissions process, especially the interviews,” wrote a prospective student from Bangalore, India, who goes by Vandana? and works for a global online entertainment portal.

Vandana maintains a blog chronicling her MBA journey, and was admitted to UCLA Anderson School of Management, Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business in round one this season.

“My Kellogg interviewer actually remarked how great it was that I could glean so much about Kellogg – in-depth knowledge on clubs, activities, student culture and really get a feel for the school despite living halfway across the world,” she wrote.

The decision may ultimately come down to where you want to end up geographically after graduation, or what type of experience you want to have during your MBA. For each candidate, the answer will be different.

“Deciding between programs is hard,” Varela wrote. “But it is one of those decisions where you are going to win no matter what you choose.”

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