Tuesday Tips: Cornell Johnson MBA Essay Tips

Essay questions and deadlines are posted for the Johnson MBA program at Cornell. According to the Cornell MBA admissions committee they are seeking “individuals who demonstrate academic achievements, high-quality experience, leadership potential, decision-making abilities, and outstanding interpersonal and communication skills.”

Cornell MBA’s relatively short essay set is a strong opportunity to focus your application strategy and demonstrate your personal qualities, goals and fit with the Johnson School. Career goals, a creative essay and an essay focused on your fit with Cornell allow you to show many aspects of your background and personality.

1) What career do you plan to pursue upon completion of an MBA degree and why?
This standard career goals essay requires you to demonstrate that your Cornell MBA will be the right next step to achieve your career goals. While short- and long-term goals are not explicitly requested, you may want to describe how you view your career unfolding from graduation to achievement of your ultimate goal.

Since your past experiences are likely indicators of where you are headed in the future, you may briefly outline key aspects of your career history. The question does not specifically require career history, so you have the flexibility to choose key inflection points rather than an entire resume review. When considering what aspects of your past career to focus on, think about the situations that led you to realize what you really want to do, that built skills that will be important to your goals, or introduced you to people who were crucial to your development.

Make sure to spend enough time on your interest in the Cornell MBA to demonstrate why Cornell is the right place to spend the next two years of your life. Academics are going to be a crucial part of your career goals, yet classmates and activities will also be important.

2) You are the author for the book of Your Life Story. Please write the table of contents for the book. Note: Approach this essay with your unique style. We value creativity and authenticity.
This essay is an opportunity to show the admissions committee who you are on a personal level. Think about highlighting areas you may not have been able to touch in the first essay, which was focused on your professional life. You can use this opportunity to demonstrate your unique personal attributes or community involvement. If you have a consistent theme of involvement in a charity or activity this is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate why you became involved and what you have done over the years.

When structuring the story, think of this essay as a way to communicate a narrative theme of your life to the admissions committee. What are the key moments that are meaningful to you? Were there key stories involving your friends, family, hobbies or interests that impacted the person you are now?

Though the essay specifically asks for the Table of Contents, you can certainly illuminate each chapter through brief descriptions. Describe the major milestones and be sure to share your essay with friends and family to make sure you are communicating effectively though the creative exercise.

3) What legacy would you hope to leave as a Johnson graduate?
Essay three is all about fit. As elaborated upon in the Cornell Admissions blog, “’Fit’ is different for everyone, so we want to see how authentic and purposeful you are about applying.”

This essay requires you to research Johnson thoroughly. You should be aware of the major academic, extracurricular and social components of the MBA program and think seriously about what you want to leave behind when you graduate. Perhaps you want to start a club or a conference. Maybe you aspire to help a professor with her research. Or you will return to the school to be a panelist or mentor. Think both about what you have to offer, and what Cornell needs.

Research on your own is a great first step, but the personal approach may pay more dividends in this essay. Think about networking with current students or alumni, visiting campus, and attending information sessions. If you are able to talk to a current student or alum about your essay topic you might gain valuable feedback on the direction you will take with your legacy.

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