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Duke Fuqua Essay Samples
We asked the former Duke Admissions Officers on our Stacy Blackman Consulting team, “What does Duke Fuqua Admissions look for?” The consensus they shared is, “Duke Admissions hones in on clear, concise and attainable career goals, as its team works very closely with the Career Management Center to ascertain recruit ability. As well, Duke Admissions looks for how you will contribute and fit in with the highly collaborative culture both in and out of the classroom.”
SBC has former Duke MBA Admissions Officers and several additional Duke experts on our team. We know the nuances of applying to Duke Fuqua successfully. If you’d like to speak with one of our Principals about your candidacy, please request a free analysis here.
In the meantime, please see sample Duke Fuqua application essays here from past successful Duke admits.
Having had to create homes away from home in Chicago and New York, I realized I may have found my new home when chatting with several Fuquans during Women’s Leadership Weekend (WLW). I quickly learned that as a Fuquan, it’s impossible to not contribute to the community they call family. What drew me to advertising was the sense of community and distinct culture within the industry. With the late nights in the office over the past several years also came camaraderie, which is exactly what I know I’ll find at Fuqua. During my time in advertising, I was a key player in creating collaborative environments between the agency and clients and within the team, a skill I intend on harnessing during my time at Fuqua both in and out of the classroom.
I plan to jump start my MBA at the Program for Entrepreneurs (P4E) summer kickoff. During P4E, I intend to vet my travel app idea during the “Opportunity Evaluation” course and recruit a team of classmates to help build the app. Additionally, I will become an active member of the Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club, which will give me the opportunity to better understand how and why startups are funded and meet other entrepreneurs during panel and networking events. In order to fully immerse myself in the entrepreneurial experience, I plan to get involved with Durham’s growing startup community in the Triangle. Building a community within Fuqua and Durham will allow me to integrate the two together and bring more hands-on experience to the classroom.
As a woman of color, I was most impacted by my interactions with the Association of Women in Business (AWIB) during WLW. I plan to prioritize involvement with AWIB because of their commitment to women representation in business and would like to help plan next year’s WLW. All the AWIB members I met were a source of comfort and assurance as I began to navigate the challenging business school process. Mentorship is extremely important to me and, evidently, to the AWIB women who did not hesitate to lend an ear or a helping hand after WLW. As someone who is currently building a new mentorship program for my agency, I am excited to continue my passion for mentorship by seeking out an AWIB Career and Mentorship position. By joining AWIB and its efforts, I aim to provide future prospective students the same sincerity and commitment I had felt at every AWIB event.
As evidenced by my career aspirations, travel is one of my biggest passions and I want to share that with my classmates by becoming a trip lead for the Global Academic Travel Experience (GATE) program. Planning an extensive trip for a large group would expose me to people’s various travel habits, behaviors, and planning approaches – observations that I could leverage as qualitative research for my travel app. Additionally, I would also like to plan a Week-in-Cities trip, like Tech Trek, where my classmates and I could further develop our understanding of the tech industry and network. Participating in experiential learning such as GATE and Week-in-Cities are invaluable opportunities to grow strong relationships with my classmates and to build upon the Fuqua family legacy.
Lastly, food has always given me a chance to connect with people in a more meaningful way, which is why I’m excited to join the Food and Agriculture Club. As a member, I’d like to help organize speaker-series events, such as FoodCon. Additionally, I plan to be a regular at the famous Durham Farmers Market and become a member of Durham’s local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). As current Brooklyn CSA-er, I want to share my love and appreciation for eating locally and seasonally with Fuqua and the broader Durham community.
I am most excited to start my new chapter with Fuqua and Durham because of the one-of-a-kind, tight knit community that they both undeniably offer. Fuqua offers extensive opportunities for me to pursue my passions all while building a strong foundation for business acumen. As someone who has successfully started new beginnings in multiple cities, I have learned how to build my own communities in new environments by embracing change and committing to integration. Ultimately, I intend to be an active member of the Team Fuqua community and I would be happy to call Duke and Durham home.
1. In fifth grade, I dressed up as broccoli for Halloween.
2. I am a creature of habit, so my instinct is to sit in the exact same seat every day. My coworkers joke that stealing my seat regularly and forcing me to sit elsewhere is a key part of my professional development plan.
3. My mom is Jewish, my Dad is Episcopalian, I went to Catholic school for three years, attended a Presbyterian preschool and college, and taught Hebrew school.
4. If I’m going to a new restaurant, I will spend at least fifteen minutes beforehand reading the menu online and picking out what I’m going to order (as well as what I’d like the people I’m going with to order so that I can taste it).
5. For my senior year at college, I lived in an incredibly dirty, loud apartment with four of my best friends, right in the middle of campus. I don’t know if I could ever do it again, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
6. Growing up, I played competitive soccer for thirteen years. Those experiences engrained my work ethic and effectiveness in a team environment.
7. I had terrible shin splints in high school. They got so bad before my junior year that I had to wear air casts on both of my legs for two months – it was a good look!
8. One of my favorite childhood memories is practicing piano while my family’s dog “sang” along while sitting next to me.
9. I grew up in (city) but am somehow freezing 80% of the time in (location). Living in the South for seven years has weakened me!
10. A huge component of what drew me to (college) was the honor code. While most undergraduate institutions have honor codes, the way that (college) emphasizes its importance in our admissions literature and at the beginning of freshmen year makes its influence on academics and student life unique.
11. From childhood through my senior year of high school, I was convinced that I would become a pediatrician. As advanced science classes became less exciting to me, I realized that I was passionate about the idea of this career because it was rooted in helping others and building long-term relationships with patients.
12. My final round interview at Consulting Firm was a three-hour dinner with eight of my future teammates. While it was an exhausting several hours, I love that they wanted to get to know me as a person in addition to assessing whether I would contribute to the firm.
13. I pride myself on never forgetting any family members’ or friends’ birthdays and on being an excellent gift giver.
14. I absolutely love being a middle child as it allows me to experience the best of both worlds. I get to be a role model to my younger brother while having my older sister to look up to.
15. My first job was at a property management firm in the summer between seventh and eighth grade. I called tenants to collect rent that was several weeks overdue – needless to say, it was an abrupt entrance into the working world.
16. In 2007, I spent a weekend canvassing for Obama in Iowa.
17. My friends make fun of me for having terrible taste in music as my choices are eclectic and have no rhyme or reason. The artists of my top 100 “most played songs” on Spotify range from Justin Bieber to Idina Menzel in Frozen.
18. At the end of a stressful day of work, nothing is more relaxing to me than coloring books.
19. When I was fifteen, my eighty-year-old grandmother got married in my backyard. Unfortunately, I fainted in the middle of the ceremony due to dehydration. Fortunately, people thought that it was because I was so overcome with emotion.
20. At airports, I am the annoying person who anxiously lurks around the boarding gate way too far in advance. Upon landing, I stand up from my seat immediately after the fasten seatbelt sign is turned off even though I know I will not move for at least another ten minutes.
21. A few years ago, I started playing tennis regularly. I love participating in a competitive sport again – it relieves any frustration from my day, increases my patience, and helps me to manage stress.
22. My favorite snacks are pop chips dipped in ketchup and sweet potatoes with Greek yogurt.
23. I see tremendous overlap in the values that define Consulting firm and those that are most important to me: integrity, a strong sense of community, an emphasis on the value of hard work, and the importance of supporting those around you.
24. In middle school, my friend and I caught a foul ball together at a MLB game. Every week for the next three years, we would trade off whose house the ball got to “live” in.
25. My family enjoys having long debates over dinner about topics such as whether the Byzantine empire was actually the Roman Empire or a separate entity. This particular gene skipped me as I would prefer to discuss almost anything else!
I attended my first Fuqua Friday with (name), a current student, when I visited campus in March. If I join Team Fuqua, this will certainly become a part of my weekly routine. It was wonderful to see students actively choosing to be together in their free time. Per the “loyal community” paired principle, they are clearly engaging in the full Fuqua experience as I also plan to do. The sense of community at Fuqua Friday was underscored by my concurrent discussion with (name). She told me about the lifelong friendships she’s made at Fuqua, that it is true that students choose to stay on campus over the weekend, and that the “supportive ambition” paired principle is not a myth even in situations when you’re directly competing with your classmates for a role. (Grad), a Fuqua alumnus, described that most of the Fuqua student body live in one of three buildings near campus. This unique, close-knit situation provides the opportunity to build even more meaningful relationships with your peers. I want to be fully immersed and live in this environment at Fuqua.
I will jumpstart my Fuqua experience by participating in the HSM Bootcamp. I will build relationships with classmates in the tight knit, supportive HSM community prior to orientation. The experience will confirm my interest and build foundational healthcare knowledge so that I can take full advantage of the HSM courses to come. Later I aim to work on a Duke University Hospital Experiential Learning Practicum. Given my experience on a range of consulting projects, I am confident in my ability to quickly pick-up key components of my HSM courses and apply them to support my DUH-ELP client. Additionally, I will leverage my ability to effectively build rapport with clients over a short period, collaborate with multiple stakeholders with conflicting priorities, and distill large amounts of information into actionable insights to contribute to my project. Through DUH-ELP, I will make a positive impact on Duke University Hospital, and better prepare myself for my summer internship.
Given my goal to further develop my career in management consulting, I aspire to serve as a co-President of the Consulting Club, leading with a peer who’s focused on larger firms; this will facilitate a balance of perspectives. Through serving as (Consulting) training lead, I have experience leading amongst peers which will create a smooth transition into this role. One priority will be organizing networking and interviewing opportunities for students with midsized consulting firms. Additionally, I want to help prepare classmates taking summer internships in consulting for the first time. At (firm), I created and implemented a best practice checklist to more effectively onboard new consultants to client-facing projects. I’ve thought about the prioritization and simplification of questions to ask and actions to take when entering a new client situation. I will lead a team in gathering input from second years and Fuqua faculty members, synthesizing and streamlining, and creating clear best practice recommendations for new summer consultants. This will strengthen Club resources.
As a member of Team Fuqua, I want to serve as an Admissions Fellow. I was a tour guide in middle school, high school, and at college. I enjoy engaging with prospective students through sharing information on organizations about which I am passionate. At (firm) I take candidates to coffee and show them around the office which I consider to be the adult equivalent of “tour guiding”. I believe in the importance of cultural “fit” and as an Admissions Fellow, I can contribute through helping prospective Fuqua students ascertain this intangible.
I’m also excited to join the Association of Women in Business Club at Fuqua. For my first year at (company), my project teams were primarily comprised of men and therefore I had limited opportunity to identify female role models. This finally changed on my most recent project giving me the opportunity to grow relationships with other women who I can identify with more closely and now look up to immensely. I hope to have this same opportunity through engagement with the Association of Women in Business Club at Fuqua. I plan to contribute to the club through organizing fun events such as “Dinner with Six Strangers” to provide additional opportunities for women from all backgrounds to build relationships with one another.
When I visited campus, I attended a Women in Business coffee run by a current Admissions Fellow. Among many things, (student) discussed learning to work with her C-Lead team which highlighted how Fuqua’s “collective diversity” paired principle comes to life. In one of her team’s first meetings, they discussed a seemingly straightforward topic: “What time would you arrive for a 3:00 meeting and when would you expect the meeting to get started?”. One of her teammates was from Colombia and had a completely different answer to this question than (student)– with a variance of 20 minutes! What would be a clear-cut conversation amongst most groups that I’ve been a part of turned into a nuanced discussion about cultural norms and effective ways of working in a diverse group. At Fuqua, I want to absorb as many of these learnings as possible while having the opportunity to contribute my own background and experiences.
Fuqua’s location in a smaller city appeals to me and it will be great to explore local restaurants with Fuqua’s Culinary Club. I’d also love to contribute through joining Fuqua On Board, with the aim of serving a non-profit working to reduce the inequity in our education system. The program’s focus on mentorship will demonstrate how to benefit organizations through impactful board membership. I will also contribute the learnings from my leadership-focused Fuqua courses and experiences serving on the Junior Board of the (organization) to add a fresh perspective.
Following my day on campus and conversations with current students and alumni, I am confident that Fuqua’s people, culture, location, and opportunity to be both supported and challenged is the right place for my MBA. I will engage with and contribute to the Fuqua community in the same way that I’ve impacted organizations I’ve loved so much in the past, ultimately leaving Fuqua an even better place than I found it.
1. I have been to 23 countries on four continents. One of my favorites was a safari in Botswana because for the first time I was completely disconnected – no internet, no cell phones. As a result, I truly detached and enjoyed the beauty of the nature and animals around me. My goal is to hit 30 countries by age 30!
2. In college I won the Founders Award and a $500 monetary prize for best analytical historical paper at Emory, writing on the transition from courtship to dating in 1920s America. Ever since my high school American History class, I’ve been fascinated by the role gender has played throughout history.
3. When I was 15, I desired to see the world beyond my hometown of Cleveland. After researching study abroad programs, I lobbied my parents and school to allow me to take part in a non-school sponsored program where I spent a semester living with a French family and attending French school. The experience greatly impacted me; it ignited a sense of curiosity and passion for meeting new people and seeing parts of the world different than my own.
4. In high school, I spent a summer volunteering in Costa Rica, helping run a day camp for underprivileged children. As a result of our team’s efforts, we were awarded “Visitante Distinguida” (distinguished visitor) by the Mayor in a televised ceremony for outstanding community service.
5. I started an international food and wine club with my friends; each month we pick an international location and make food and bring wine from that region. I always try to make recipes that I have never made before. Some group favorites include chicken saltimbocca and quiche frommage.
6. In undergrad I was elected as a Campus Visit Coordinator. I met weekly with the Director of Admissions to discuss applicants and planned three Admitted Student Weekends. I loved getting to know each applicant and determining who would be a good fit for the program – it was my own way of leaving my legacy at Emory!
7. I went to one of the world’s largest camel and livestock fairs in the world in a desert in Pushkar, India. I was amazed by the literally thousands of camels along with nomadic people and gypsies.
8. My sister and I both love to bike and travel. We’ve meshed the two and gone on international biking trips in the Loire Valley, France, Tuscany, Italy, and the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia. My favorite trip was to Cario because my grandparents are from Egypt; it was a great way to connect with that part of my culture.
9. I am the proud aunt of two-year-old little Peter, who lives in Spain with my sister and her husband. While I do not speak much Spanish, I think learning a foreign language at a young age is an incredible opportunity; so whenever I visit, I love playing games with him so that we can both learn Spanish.
10. I am actively involved with the Girls Scouts Association in Atlanta, GA For its 100th anniversary, my team successfully raised $10,000 for scholarships for underprivileged students in the Atlanta. area. As a result, I was elected as the youngest member on the Executive Board.
11. I recently volunteered for Soul Fiesta, an annual block party in my neighborhood that celebrates heritage and culture among low income Latino and African American neighbors. I helped run carnival games with the children and served food from some of the neighbors’ native homes, such as Salvadorian and Mexican cuisine. I enjoyed volunteering for an event that promotes different cultures, especially amongst my neighbors.
12. I love few things more than trying a new restaurant. I have a running Excel spreadsheet with lists of restaurants in different cities (D.C., New York, Atlanta, Nashville, San Francisco, etc.), broken down into type of cuisine, location, setting and price. I am considered the go-to resource for restaurants!
13. My favorite part of my job after completing the quarterly valuations of my portfolio companies, is getting to present my findings at the quarterly Board meeting to the Board and C-Suite level executives. I feel excited when presenting, and enjoy learning from this level of executives.
14. I taught a Financial Literacy class in the Bronx to underprivileged elementary and middle school children. I found it rewarding to help young students begin to understand the importance of their finances.
15. My favorite book is Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, which argues that the most successful people in our time achieved this status due to a combination of hard work and being in the right place at the right time. I have tried to live my life to this effect, by not only working steadfastly, but also by putting myself in positions to take advantage of any opportunity if it should arise.
16. I’m an active member of Emory’s Alumni Association. I was drawn to Emory by the strong sense of community and school spirit.
17. I love to smile and laugh…my high school superlative was for “Best Smile!”
18. Growing up, I was the baker in my family and always had freshly baked treats ready to go. Some personal favorites include coconut cupcakes, homemade brownies and apple pie.
19. I really enjoy getting in a workout – whether it’s going for a run, spin or barre class. Working out makes me feel healthy and that I’ve accomplished something strictly for myself.
20. I love dancing too. In high school I directed and choreographed my Spanish club’s salsa dance at the cultural extravaganza.
21. Emory doesn’t have a business major, so despite knowing before college that I eventually wanted an MBA, I chose to major in History because I loved writing and had a great high school history teacher. I never realized at age 16 just how much my high school teacher would impact such important decisions.
22. I don’t like sitting at my desk all day never interacting with anyone. I am definitely a people person!
23. Going to India on a cultural expedition was one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life. I found that it was a place of contrasts – 30 foot high piles of trash on the side of the roads, set against spice markets or beautiful cloths and silks that were so full of color and life. I also saw the contrast between the rich and the poor, and the divergence amongst the two.
24. I studied abroad in Paris and became close friends with three other girls from across the States I never would have met without this program. Every time we get together now, we start the weekend cooking French food like crepes.
25. In college I was hand-selected by Emory’s Chancellor Goldman to take a class he taught on the Federalist Papers. Every week for a semester, ten of us met in his office to discuss the Founding Fathers of our country. It was one of my favorite classes because I think it spoke to how involved the Chancellor wanted to be in the school. With this in mind, I am also impressed that Fuqua’s Dean Bill Boulding continues to teach classes in addition to his duties as Dean.
Throughout my application process, family, friends and colleagues have asked me why I want to attend Fuqua. I always share with them that Fuqua is my first choice for all the following reasons:
Anyone who knows me well already understands my passion for travel. I have studied abroad in France and Mexico four times, and have also traveled extensively through Europe, Central America and parts of Asia and Africa. I find being in new places, surrounded by people with different backgrounds and culture, to be absolutely invigorating. Those who know me will also tell you that my career goal is to follow this passion, becoming a Management Consultant for a company like Bain in its Travel, Hospitality & Leisure practice. After gaining the skillset necessary at a larger firm, I plan to transition to a smaller, niche consulting firm in the industry, eventually achieving the rank of Partner. There, I will lead the practice to ultimately help our clients offer rewarding travel experiences.
Academically, Fuqua is the best place for me to achieve my goals. While as a CPA I have a solid understanding of accounting, Fuqua’s rigorous foundation within the general management core disciplines and variety of teaching methods will give me a more well-rounded skillset. I also am drawn to the emphasis on teamwork because after having spent considerable time working on teams during graduate school and at EY, I enjoy collaborating with a diverse range of people; I believe that working together is the best way for me to learn and solve problems. While at Fuqua I plan to earn concentrations in both Strategy and Management, which will provide me with the skills I need to excel in my career in management consulting. I am excited to take classes like Strategy Implementation with Professor Joao De Figueiredo and International Strategy with Professor Arie Lewin; the former will teach me how to broadly execute strategies to successfully deliver value to my clients, and the latter will help me to better understand some of the specific nuances and global challenges my Travel & Leisure clients might face. The Fuqua Client Consulting Practicum also offers a unique opportunity to tailor my education, and I hope to pursue a project aimed at solving a Travel & Leisure company’s real-world issues. I also tell my family, friends and colleagues how excited I am to participate in Fuqua’s Global Academic Travel Experience, and my desire to travel somewhere new like China. Learning firsthand about all aspects of China’s business, politics, economics and culture will prove extremely useful when I am staffed on engagements for Asian hospitality companies. As a whole, GATE will give me greater exposure to international businesses, which is crucial for my desired career path.
Outside of the classroom, Fuqua has all of the professional extra-curriculars in which I am interested. I am excited to join the Consulting Club, and aim to eventually become a Cabinet Member of the organization, so that I may facilitate networking and coordinate case interview preparation with other members. I also plan to be involved with the International Business Club, which will help me learn more about international business opportunities and connect with fellow students from different countries, learning about some of their personal travel experiences both in the U.S. and overseas. Finally, I will become a member of The Association of Women in Business, because coming from the male-dominated field of private equity, I appreciate some of the unique challenges women face in the workplace. I want to surround myself with people who are supportive of one another.
Fuqua on Board is another program that personally excites me about Fuqua. I am a member of the Executive Board for Girl Scouts Association (GSA), a non-profit that provides educational events for GSA members and raises money for scholarships. Serving on a non-profit board through Fuqua on Board will enable me to continue my involvement with a non-profit, further develop my leadership abilities and allow me to give back to the Durham community in a way that’s meaningful to me.
Arguably what I am most excited to tell my family, friends and colleagues about matriculating at Duke is the resounding sense of Team Fuqua that permeates throughout the student body. When looking at undergraduate colleges, I was drawn to Emory’s strong sense of school spirit, which ultimately drove me to be actively involved both in and out of the classroom. This spirit is also what has propelled my strong involvement as a current member of the Emory Alumni Association. I appreciate the unquantifiable benefits of an active and spirited school body and am looking for a similar engagement with my MBA program. Speaking with Jason DeValdenebro, a Fuqua first-year and former undergraduate school classmate and friend, he relayed that Fuqua’s sense of school spirit is palpable, and noted that Fuqua’s emphasis on collaboration and teamwork is similar to that of Emory. I felt this sense of school spirit firsthand during my visit to Fuqua, where everyone from my tour guide to the students on the Curriculum Panel seemed genuinely excited about Fuqua. This made me even more thrilled to be there than I already was. My visit also allowed me to truly envision myself as a Fuqua student, and daydream about what my life would be like, the sorts of classes I would take and the lifelong friends that I would make.
When the people who matter to me most ask me “Why Fuqua?” it is not always a quick answer, despite being one I am truly excited to give. Academically, Fuqua offers the best of both worlds for me – a solid general management foundation, with countless options to tailor my studies to prepare me for Management Consulting within the Travel & Leisure space. Outside of the classroom Fuqua offers the extracurriculars that excite me both professionally and personally, including Consulting Club and Fuqua on Board. Finally, Fuqua’s spirited and collaborative student body are intangible assets unique to Fuqua that excite me not only about starting my MBA program at Fuqua, but also about giving back to Team Fuqua for many years beyond.
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Just two of the many superstars on the SBC team:
Meet Beth who held the position of Director of Admissions for Kellogg’s Full Time MBA program selecting candidates for the 2-year, 1-year, MMM and JD MBA programs.
Meet Kim, who was an Senior Associate Director of Admissions at Chicago Booth.
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We can improve your MBA profile and boost your candidacy.
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