MBA Essay Advice for IT Applicants

IT applicants

We often field questions from IT applicants about how to frame their work experiences within a 500-word MBA application essay. That’s because tech industry folks usually believe providing meaningful context when describing the “What I did” aspect of the essay question is necessary.

But business schools don’t care whether you can code in Java or possess multiple certifications in Oracle, AWS, or C++. The admissions committee doesn’t even need to know about those attributes when reading about your technical projects. Getting bogged down in such details is the number one mistake that engineers applying to business school typically make.

Curious about your chances of getting into a top B-school? Contact us to talk strategy with a free 15-minute advising session with an SBC Principal Consultant.

When describing a technical project, try to sum up its essence in a non-technical way in one to two sentences. Share your essays with a friend outside of your industry to see if it makes sense to the layperson. Then, shift gears to devote the majority of the essay toward demonstrating the qualities that MBA programs do care about:

Focus Areas for IT Applicants

Tech workers have a range of desirable transferable skills they can highlight when applying to business school. IT applicants typically have a lot of experience working in teams, so play up your interpersonal skills and describe how adept you are at collaborating well with others to meet goals. As we’ve noted, leadership potential is huge at the top business schools. So, talk about how you have shown leadership thus far, or discuss any cross-functional leadership experience you have had.

With business becoming ever more globally connected, the ability to work well with colleagues abroad will become critical to success. If one of your projects crossed international lines, you can talk about how you managed working with different cultures across time zones and what you learned from the experience.

Show examples of when you solved a problem or overcame a challenge through a unique or innovative solution. Did you resolve a conflict, demonstrate teamwork, or act with integrity? The thesis of the essay should be based on one of these qualities that an MBA admissions committee would value—not technical details.

The top three reasons tech recruiters have confidence in business school graduates are their strong communication skills (84%), their versatile skill sets (74%), and the fact that they are strategic thinkers (74%). —

Another place to differentiate yourself from other IT applicants is when describing your professional goals. Where do you envision yourself in five to ten years? Go beyond a generic goal such as “transitioning into strategy consulting.” Think about whether you ultimately see yourself owning your own business, creating innovative ways to improve cybersecurity, or becoming the CTO of an environmental non-profit.

Information technologists often fret about competing against a sizeable pool of similar applicants. That’s why your MBA essays provide the ideal platform to show you are more than your job. Use the essays to focus on the aspects of your personal life that make you unique. Think of the hobbies, community service activities, passions, and interests that make you stand out.

Listen to B-Schooled Podcast Episode #146: Standing Out From Your Competition

Differentiation is the Goal

When we began working with Abhi, an Indian engineer with his heart set on attending the Wharton School, his biggest roadblock was pertaining to an overrepresented demographic that would be competing with literally thousands of other MBA applicants.

Fortunately, Abhi had an admirable record of community involvement. But to make his candidacy stand out from the masses, we decided to focus on a unique event in which he coordinated a sizeable group to train for a marathon to raise funds to help a six-year-old girl with leukemia.

In his essays, Abhi focused on the leadership aspects of the experience. He discussed how he recruited participants, organized several fundraising events, and dealt with the inevitable obstacles that arose during the planning phase.

By allowing the MBA admissions committee to better understand who Abhi was as a person, and what motivated him and ignited his personal and professional passions, he became much more than just another male IT candidate from India in the pile… and Wharton ultimately did extend an offer of admission to him.

No matter your professional background, the MBA essays are the place to show off your individuality, leadership potential, and exactly why you are b-school material. So don’t let industry jargon or the nitty gritty of your job description get in the way of creating memorable essays that capture the interest of the school of your dreams.


Stacy Blackman Consulting offers multiple services to meet your MBA application needs, from our All-In Partnership and Interview Prep to hourly help with essay editing, resume review, and much more! Contact us today for a free 15-minute advising session to talk strategy with a Principal SBC consultant.

Here’s a snapshot of the caliber of expertise on our SBC team.

SBC’s star-studded consultant team is unparalleled. Our clients benefit from current intelligence that we receive from the former MBA Admissions Officers from LBS, Columbia CBS and every elite business program in the US and Europe.  These MBA Admissions Officers have chosen to work exclusively with SBC.

Meet Susan, just one of the many superstars on the SBC team. Susan was the Director of Recruitment and Admissions at London Business School LBS and also the Director of the Executive MBA program at Columbia Business School CBS.

Tap into this inside knowledge for your MBA applications by requesting a consultation.


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