Tuesday Tips: UC Berkeley Haas School of Business MBA Essay Tips
The set of essays for admission to UC Berkeley Haas School of Business covers a variety of topics – from the personal to professional. In approaching these varied questions it will be important to remain focused on what you want to communicate to the admissions committee.
A clear understanding of your application strategy, particularly your career goals and strengths/weaknesses, is the key to putting together a cohesive application. While challenging, this is also an opportunity to demonstrate several different aspects of your personality to the admissions committee.
Stacy Blackman Consulting has successfully coached applicants to the Haas MBA program for over a decade, contact us to learn more about how we can help you set a winning application strategy.
Describe an experience that has fundamentally changed the way you see the world. How did this transform you? (400-500 word maximum)
Berkeley Haas leads this set of essay questions with a highly personal topic. It also sounds incredibly lofty, and may be intimidating if you wonder whether you have had a transformative experience in your life. One way to approach this is to think through transitions. Perhaps the transition from high school to college was meaningful for you.
Traveling for the first time outside your home country may have been another transition. Transitioning from University to the work place could have exposed you to new people and a new lifestyle. If none of those transitions lead to a topic for this essay you can delve into the smaller incidents in your life. A friendship, family experience or trip could have opened your eyes to something new and changed your approach.
Once you have selected a topic for this essay you will need to explain how you were transformed. What was your attitude like before the experience and what are you like now? Was the transformation internal or did you change how you approached other people? It’s likely you learned something from this transformation and explaining your lessons learned is always a strong finish to an MBA essay.
What is your most significant professional accomplishment? (200-300 word maximum)
This year Berkeley Haas asks for a professional accomplishment specifically. Though no timeframe is specified most similar MBA essays like to see an experience from your fairly recent professional past.
Your accomplishment can be big or small, but it should be significant to you. Explain what the accomplishment meant from a big picture perspective. Was it the first time you demonstrated a valued skill? Did you learn a key lesson about your industry or work? How have you used what you learned since?
While you have limited space, this is an opportunity to demonstrate what matters to you and to showcase one of your proudest moments. While you are asked only about the accomplishment, the best essays will use this limited space to demonstrate clearly what the accomplishment was (be specific!) as well as commenting upon the significance of the accomplishment.
What is your desired post-MBA role and at what company or organization? In your response, please specifically address sub-questions a., b., and c.
a. How is your background compelling to this company?
b. What is something you would do better for this company than any other employee?
c. Why is an MBA necessary and how will Haas specifically help you succeed at this company?
(500-600 word maximum for 3a, 3b, and 3c combined)
This is a fairly typical career goals essay that asks for both short- and long-term goals and the background that led you to this juncture in your career. The unique aspect of this question is the request for a specific company or organization you would prefer to work for. Thinking of a specific company or organization helps you to focus this essay. As the follow up questions request, you will need to tailor everything you discuss to this specific opportunity.
Researching your target company or organization will help you craft the strongest essay. Think of it like a job application and interview and take the time to discuss your desired role with friends and contacts who may have advice.
For the question about your background you don’t need to recite your resume here – rather highlight the key experiences that will be relevant in your future career. Think about the cover letter you would write to obtain your desired position at this company and tailor your approach accordingly.
Your company research will pay off in the second part of the question, “what is something you would do better for this company than any other employee?” This question really is aimed towards your future career identity, which will combine your current experience with your MBA. What will be unique about you after you graduate from Haas? For example, perhaps you have a creative marketing job now and will add the quantitative rigor of an MBA program to your skillset making you the perfect combination of creative and analytical for your future position.
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. 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. Make sure you have determined exactly what courses make sense for your career goals and the programs and clubs that you will participate in to reach your personal and professional goals. Thorough school research will be invaluable in approaching this question.
Please feel free to provide a statement concerning any information you would like to add to your application that you haven’t addressed elsewhere. (500 word maximum)
This question is entirely open ended, so you can either use it to explain anything you need to in your application, or add another aspect to your overall profile. If you need to explain something in your application like a low GPA or a recommender that is not your current supervisor, keep the explanation brief and factual. Focus on explanations, not excuses. If you felt that there are stories in your work, extracurricular, or personal profile that you did not have the opportunity to express in the prior essays, this is an opportunity to add that information.
If not clearly evident, please discuss ways in which you have demonstrated strong quantitative abilities, or plan to strengthen quantitative abilities. You do not need to list courses that appear on your transcript. (250 word maximum)
If you have a strong quantitative background like an engineering or hard sciences degree, or you work in a quantitative field like finance, this may not be a necessary essay. 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.