Tuesday Tips: Georgetown McDonough Fall 2019 MBA Essay Tips

Georgetown McDonough essay tipsThe Washington D.C. setting of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business puts the school at the epicenter of public policy and international business. The program requires all students to participate in an international consulting project called the Global Business Experience, and Georgetown also has the Steers Global Real Estate Center and a new entrepreneurship initiative.

Along with the academic and career benefits of the school, Georgetown’s community is close-knit, intellectually curious and diverse. Shelly Heinrich, interim associate dean of admissions has announced that the new essay questions this year are designed to “give applicants the flexibility to distinguish themselves from a competitive applicant pool.” Additionally, she says that it’s important to Georgetown “that our students represent a diversity of backgrounds, experiences, cultures, and more.”

The new structure for the essays allows you to choose from several options for the first required essay. These questions are applicable for both the Full-time MBA and the Flex MBA.

Please select one of the following three essays to complete in 500 words or less and include the essay prompt and your first/last name at the top of your submission.

Essay Option One: It can be said that life begins outside your comfort zone. Describe a situation when you were asked to lead outside of your comfort zone. What leadership characteristics did you exemplify in this situation that allowed you to succeed?

Many leadership experts believe that stretch assignments are the best way to develop high potential employees, and the definition of a stretch assignment is something outside your comfort zone that you need to learn and develop to achieve. As you reflect upon some of your best leadership moments you may find that you were outside your comfort zone. If so, this is a great essay to demonstrate what you learned and developed in that process.

One of our clients found herself out of her comfort zone when her boss was on maternity leave and she was asked to cover the work. Suddenly she was responsible for answering questions and managing clients as the sole representative for the company, rather than always depending on her boss as a sounding board. She discovered that she really enjoyed making decisions and that she grew and learned as she needed to find her own answers to difficult questions.

When her boss returned from leave she was in a position to ask for a promotion and more responsibility. You may have faced a similar situation, whether planned or impromptu, and discovered that you had leadership skills ready to hone through this stretch assignment.

As you write this essay, include details and descriptions. Make sure you describe the situation as well as what you did, any hiccups in the plan, and what you learned about yourself and leading teams and projects.

Essay Option Two: “Failure is not something to be ashamed of, it’s something to be POWERED by. Failure is the high-octane fuel your life can run on. You’ve got to learn to make failure your fuel.” -Abby Wambach.

Describe a situation when failure has been your fuel. What was your failure (or when did you not succeed to your full potential), and how did you use this as motivation to move forward and be successful in a future situation?

If you are the kind of person who thrives in the face of adversity, this is the question for you to answer. This option provides an opportunity to reflect upon a moment in your life when things did not go smoothly. We all have pivotal moments in our lives, and often they felt like failures as they were occurring.

Perhaps you were asked to take on a project in a subject area you knew nothing about and it did not go well. Or you managed an employee who was more experienced than you, and did not respect your contribution. You might have joined a team that did not welcome your input. How did you take those professional challenges and use the failure to fuel you to eventual success? What tools did you use or develop to create success in a future situation?

If this question appeals to you it likely means you have the personality type that can turn a lemon into lemonade and thrives in the process. It will be helpful to demonstrate that mindset in this essay and show how you think. As you answer the question about how you used this experience to be successful in future situations, make sure you reflect a bit on your own development and what you learned in the process.

Essay Option Three: Your personal brand reflects your values and beliefs, and impacts your relationships and community. Describe the personal brand that you will bring to business school using examples or experiences that support how you’ve developed it. How do you believe your personal brand will strengthen the McDonough community? As you complete your MBA program, how do you hope to see your personal brand evolve through the transformative experience of business school?

Essay option three is a bit different from the prior two questions, which focused on a single situation from your past. This question draws from your entire background to understand more about how you see yourself and present yourself to the world.

Additionally, this question allows you to showcase what you understand about McDonough and why it is the right fit for you. If you have a strong sense of your personal brand and how that brand will develop at McDonough, this question is a good option for you.

As you describe yourself and your experiences, make sure you have a handful of vivid examples to support what you say about your brand. For example, if you say that you are a career matchmaker, have a few examples of a time when you uncovered the ideal job for your colleague or helped a friend create the perfect resume for her dream job.

If you are a world traveler, make sure you describe a few of your pivotal journeys. And as you think about your brand, what will you bring to McDonough and what will you learn and develop while you are attending the program?

Video Essay: We ask that you introduce yourself to your cohort in one minute or less. The Admissions Committee would like for you to appear in person during part of your video, and we strongly encourage you to speak outside of the experiences we can read on your resume. Use this video as an opportunity to bring life to your application. For more instructions, view our Video Essay Guide.

McDonough’s video essay guide specifically asks you to appear in the one-minute video and to address situations outside your resume. However, you will have unlimited time to record and edit this video (unlike a video interview). While you have been asked to show yourself in the video, you may add other elements aside from your talking head, including interviews with family and friends, photos or graphics and music.

One minute seems like a short amount of time, but consider that television commercials are generally 30 seconds, and you realize that a lot of information can fit into a one-minute video.

Like all interactive MBA admissions essays, the content is the most important aspect of this exercise. The admissions committee wants to get to know you and your dreams, background and personality. Think about personal stories that you did not describe in your resume, recommendations or your written essays. Perhaps you have a family story to tell, a hobby you are passionate about or a significant extracurricular responsibility.

This is also the ideal place to demonstrate your fit with Georgetown (unless you focused on option three of the previous required essays). Can you take your hobbies to school and share with your classmates? Will your background add to the diversity of the class? Or can you open doors for your classmates professionally? Always think about your own contributions to McDonough.

If you can demonstrate enthusiasm as you speak to the camera and add additional elements to the video it should be compelling to the admissions committee, but keep in mind that content is the most crucial part of this video.

Optional Essay: Please provide any information you would like to add to your application that you have not otherwise included. (500 words or fewer)

This is an entirely open-ended optional essay. Most optional essays ask for an explanation for a gap in employment, the lack of a current supervisor recommendation, or academic issues. If you do want to address any of those elements to your application this is the ideal place.

If you do not have anything to explain about your overall application you may want to use this space to highlight another aspect of your experience at work or in your extracurricular activities. Perhaps you have an amazing leadership experience you want to discuss. Or a learning experience that was not covered in essay one.

There is no obligation to use the space, however, so do not write an essay just to add more for the admissions committee to read. If you do use this space to elaborate on your application profile, do not recycle essays from other schools that ask specific and recognizable questions.

Re-Applicant Essay: Required for re-applicants. How have you strengthened your candidacy since your last application? We are particularly interested in hearing about how you have grown professionally and personally. (500 words or fewer)

Many candidates can write about a specific improvement since your last application like a promotion, improved GMAT, or increased responsibilities or experience. Georgetown is also interested in the less tangible improvements like a revised career goal, personal growth or increase in maturity. Make sure you are able to make the case that you are now ready for a McDonough MBA and that any new development has only strengthened your resolve.

Need assistance with your Georgetown McDonough MBA application? Stacy Blackman consulting can help. Contact us to learn more.

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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