Tuesday Tips: IU Kelley School of Business Fall 2019 MBA Essay Tips

Kelley MBA essay tips

Kelley School of Business at Indiana University is a top-tier business school with an innovative program that cultivates strong recruiting relationships with companies. From the moment you decide to attend Kelley you will be focusing on your career and leadership development. For example, even before you start classes, you will be part of an orientation program called Me Inc. to help you refine your career goals.

After you start school you will continue to receive personalized coaching, leadership training, and real-world industry projects. This will help you focus on the right career path and job openings for your internship and full-time job search.

Kelley’s program is unique and close-knit, so your fit with the program and your desire to participate fully will be important to the admissions committee. Kelley has an academically strong class of students, a large number are from outside the United States, and the class is diverse with a significant number of women in each MBA class.

1. Please discuss your immediate post-MBA professional goals. How will your professional experience, when combined with a Kelley MBA degree, allow you to achieve these goals? Should the short-term goals you have identified not materialize, what alternate career paths might you consider? (500 words)

Entering Kelley with a crystallized career vision and an idea of how you will accomplish your goals will help you take full advantage of the program. Kelley’s curriculum is tailored to help you reach your career goals, and students can specialize almost immediately by choosing one of the first-year Academies in your industry area of focus. Think about these opportunities at Kelley when you answer this career goals question, and be specific about how you see yourself using the tools available.

When you discuss your career experience, make sure that you are focusing on the most important moments in your career, not reciting your jobs like a resume. Think about the times when you had to stretch to accomplish the goals set out for you, when you had to step up to be a leader, or when you learned more about yourself and your aspirations. Those are the stories that will explain how your professional experience will help you achieve your goals.

The second half of this question deals with your flexibility around your career goal and your ability to handle change. Change is constant in most industries, and your ability to recognize opportunity, even outside your anticipated career goals, will be critical to your success. Think about the core elements that are important to you in forming your career goals and how they can be realized in different career opportunities.

For example, perhaps you are passionate about the food industry and want to be involved in updating the world of packaged goods, but you could imagine pursing either a strategy role or a finance role within consumer packaged goods. Or perhaps you love marketing but could see yourself either marketing a film or a jewelry line, as long as you are practicing the craft of marketing. Showing that you can pivot while staying true to your core values and interests will position you well in this set of essays.

2. Please respond to one of the following short essay prompts. (300 words)
• My greatest memory is…
• I’m most afraid of…
• My greatest challenge has been…
• I’m most proud of…

While the prior essay focuses on your career path and goals, this essay seeks to understand your core personal motivations. Beyond career, what have been formative moments in your life? The story you choose to tell in this essay will be revealing to the admissions committee and will show your personality and values.

Think about the moments in your life when you have changed or matured. Was there an experience that led you to learn more about yourself? Perhaps you interacted with someone who challenged you, or inspired you. Or you may have traveled outside your comfort zone, either literally outside your home country, or in a transition like leaving home for college.

Option b, “I’m most afraid of…” is the one prompt that does not specifically call on a past experience. However, it’s likely that your fear has its roots in a formative moment in your life.

Once you have a story to tell, make sure you are explaining why this moment is important to you. You can either narrate your thoughts, reactions and opinions as you retell the story, or take time at the end of the essay to reflect upon what you learned and why it was important to you.

3. Please share with the admissions committee an interesting or surprising fact about you (25 words)

The admissions committee has read your career goals, read about a pivotal experience and likely has reviewed your resume and application fact sheet. What you describe here is something that didn’t come up in any of those demographic or background data sheets in your application. It’s also something short and easy to explain in 25 words.

Perhaps you were a competitive swimmer in high school, but didn’t pursue it in college. Or your grandmother was from Sweden and taught you traditional cooking techniques that no one else in your life knows. Maybe you are heavily involved in a hobby that has impacted your life.

If you are struggling to come up with an interesting or surprising fact, this is a great question to poll friends and family about. You will want to use something that is unique about you, and that most other applicants would not be able to say.

Your friends and family likely know the elements of your background and personality that go far deeper than your resume or application fact sheet and would know what is unique about you.

Is there anything else you think we should know as we evaluation your application? If you believe your essays and credentials represent you fairly, you shouldn’t feel obligated to answer this question. (300 words)

Kelley’s optional question is open-ended, allowing you to add almost any story or additional background data you would like. Before you take full advantage of the extra space, make sure you are truly adding to your application. If you have done the work on a comprehensive resume, excellent recommendations and finely-honed essays you likely don’t need this space.

If there is anything to explain in your application, definitely use this space to do so. That may be a poor grade in a quantitative course in college, academic probation, or the lack of a recommendation from a current supervisor. Whatever you need to discuss, make sure you are focused on explanations rather than excuses, and you provide solid, recent evidence that you have done better since the event.

Struggling with the Kelley MBA application? Stacy Blackman Consulting can help. Contact us to learn more.

If you have an interview coming up, you will want to review SBC’s interview prep services. The key to interview success is practice and we provide you with all the tools you need to do just that.

  • Leverage our video platform to practice, view yourself and improve
  • Work with our experts for live rehearsal and feedback
  • Download a guide for lists of practice questions, tips on how to prep and overviews of interview formats
  • Experience a real group interview before your big day

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