Tuesday Tips: Berkeley Haas Fall 2018 MBA Essay Tips

berkeley mba essay

Haas School of Business at University of California Berkeley is both highly selective and a small class. With a much larger admissions pool than the school can admit, it’s important to stand out from the crowd and demonstrate fit with the culture and program. This year the essays have significantly changed, but continue to ask for creativity from applicants.

The Haas admissions committee has a series of videos and podcasts posted on the website that are worth reviewing for their key insights and tips.

Stacy Blackman Consulting has successfully coached applicants to the Haas MBA each admissions year. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you set a winning application strategy.

Tell us a six-word story that reflects a memorable experience in your life-to-date. Elaborate on why it is meaningful to you. (250 words maximum)

The Haas admissions committee has their own six word stories in each profile, check them out for great examples.

Think of your six-word story as a compelling headline for the memorable experience you will describe. Just as journalists write the headline after the story, it will be easier to start with the elaboration and then encapsulate it in a pithy and captivating six-word story.

Haas has asked creative and open-ended questions for many years, and this is another version of that kind of essay. Brainstorm the most compelling story you can, preferably one that shows your diversity of experience. Ideally your experience also reveals something about you.

For example, we worked with a client who had a dramatic story about surviving a plane crash. The first time we read the draft it was highly exciting, but missed any description of his actions and what it meant to him. We worked on the meaning of the story and ended up with both a compelling and memorable narrative, and a story about leading through uncertainty, as he worked to help his fellow passengers through language barriers and lack of medical training.

Once you have written your own story, think about that six-word headline. You should reveal some of the plot while leaving enough to the imagination to grab your readers interest.

Respond to one of the following prompts: (250 words maximum)
• Describe a significant obstacle you have encountered and how it has impacted you.
• Describe how you have cultivated a diverse and inclusive culture.
• Describe a leadership experience and how you made a positive and lasting impact.

The admissions committee is open to either professional or personal experiences in this essay. Think about what you have described in the prior essay and the stories you may use in the next one. What aspects of your background, experiences, and values have yet to be highlighted? This may be the right place to explore those elements.

This essay asks a behavioral question (“Describe” is the operative word) and you will want to briefly explain the situation, then explain in depth how you thought, felt and acted in the situation. If you choose the middle option and describe how you have cultivated a diverse and inclusive culture, make sure you have specific examples of what you did and how you did it.

Perhaps you first recognized that a diverse culture was needed in your workplace or extracurricular activity, then you researched how you could improve the situation, finally you took action and followed through to a result. If you faced challenges and stumbling blocks it will be interesting to read how you overcame them. It will be tough to provide detail in 250 words, so be selective and specific as you tell your story.

1. Briefly describe your immediate post-MBA career goals. (50 words maximum)
2. How have prior experiences motivated and prepared you to pursue these goals? (250 words maximum)

This is a short career goals essay and asks you to describe your immediate goals succinctly and then how your past experiences have led you to those goals. path to business school along with your future goals. You should not focus on reciting your entire resume here – rather highlight the key experiences that will be relevant in your future career. Think about the experiences you would describe in a cover letter for your post-MBA job application, and tailor your approach accordingly.

Be specific about why the Haas School of Business is the right program to pursue your goals as well. As you consider 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.

For example, 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 specific skills gained from an MBA and your own unique background will inform how you take advantage of the Haas experience.

Use this essay to share information that is not presented elsewhere in the application, for example:
• Explanation of employment gaps or academic aberrations
• Quantitative abilities
• For re-applicants, improvements to your candidacy

Note that there is a specific place to indicate that you won’t have a recommendation from your current supervisor in the supplemental information section, so you do not need to explain that here in the optional essay.

Haas recommends using this space to address any information that was not adequately covered elsewhere, specifically suggesting that any employment gaps or lack of apparent quantitative skills be covered.

If you have a strong quantitative background like an engineering or hard sciences degree, or you work in a quantitative field like finance, it is likely unnecessary to further explain your quantitative skills.Otherwise, you may want to take one or two examples to demonstrate that you have an analytical mind and can take a quantitative approach to problem solving and evaluating data.

As the question specifically asks you not to focus on the grades on your transcript, use this space to describe projects at work, additional post-graduate coursework, or your plans to strengthen your quant skills before you enroll at Haas.

A short gap between school and a secured job is not necessary to explain, but an unexplained gap of several months between two jobs should be addressed. If your resume has significant employment gaps you should describe what you did between jobs in this space. Ideally you can point to additional education, training, volunteering or traveling that you engaged in while unemployed.

Reapplicants can describe hard improvements to your candidacy such as an improved GMAT score, new grades from quantitative classes, or a promotion. Other improvements might include refined career goals and additional leadership responsibilities at work or within a volunteer activity.

With deadlines around the corner, you may be interested in the world-famous SBC Flight Test. Once a full set of application materials for your initial school have been drafted, but not finalized, the application will be sent to a former admissions committee member for a one-time review, adcomm style. You’ll have the benefit of a true admissions committee review while still having the ability to tinker and change.  You will receive written feedback within two business days after submitting.

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