Tuesday Tips: UVA Darden MBA Essay Tips

Further cutting the essay portion of the application down, UVA Darden asks only one question this year. While you only have to write 500 words, you have to make those words count. Leadership is crucial to future Darden MBAs. Personal qualities are also key with a small, tight-knit community. Learn more about the school by visiting the Darden website, attending events and speaking with current students and alumni.

Don’t forget to check your deadlines before starting your MBA application plan.

MBA Application Essay Question:
Share your perspective on leadership in the workplace and describe how it has been shaped by the increasing influence of globalization. (500 words maximum)
Continuing a trend towards brief, open-ended questions, Darden is asking for your broad perspective on leadership and globalization. While this could be answered in an academic and detached way, the best essays will use personal examples to illustrate how you arrived at your perspective.

Before you start answering the question asked it may help to brainstorm all of the leadership experiences you have had at work, either being managed or managing others. Ideally you can think of topics that you were directly involved in, rather than observing.

Once you have a list of all of the experiences that could have shaped your perspective choose the examples that will also demonstrate some of your personal qualities to the admissions committee. You have your career history submitted in your resume and your GPA, transcript and GMAT to demonstrate academic ability. This essay is one of your few opportunities to show how you think, what your leadership approach is, and how you handle teamwork and conflict. Think about the situations that showcased your best performance at work, or that were a turning point in your approach to teamwork and leadership.

The incorporation of globalization into a question about leadership challenges you to have an international perspective. If you haven’t worked abroad, think about co-workers or customers that may be from a different culture and how that has influenced leadership at your workplace. This angle certainly adds more challenge to the question, but is also your opportunity to think broadly about the world beyond your home country.

Because you have only one essay question to present yourself, make sure you have a trusted reader to tell you if you are effectively communicating why you are going to be a strong global leader who deserves a spot in the UVA Darden MBA class.

Additional short questions:
With limited space in the one essay question, you may be able to add additional information to aid your case for admission in the short answer questions.

At Darden, a core part of your academic experience is your participation in and contributions to your learning team. What will you contribute to your team? (150 words maximum)

This is an opportunity to highlight key skills and work experience from your resume. If you don’t want to showcase hard skills you can also talk about your leadership experience and ability to bring a team to consensus. Think about your successful teamwork experiences at work and demonstrate what you will bring to your Darden team.

If you were on an elevator with your dream company CEO or angel investor, what would you tell him/her about your professional ambitions and goals? (150 words maximum)

This question requires a very brief answer. We often advise clients to formulate a career vision statement, and this question would be a place to use that statement. A career vision statement boils down your career goals into one succinct statement that tells the reader what your unique goals are. For example, a career vision statement could be: I want to lead the company that develops a clean-energy solution that will drive global industry without destroying our planet.

At its essence, the career vision statement is specific, clear and very brief. With such limited space you do not have room for extended explanations.

As you consider what your career vision is, keep in mind that this economy has led MBA programs to be more pragmatic about recruiting. A career vision that is clearly relevant to past experience, yet aspires to take your career to the next level, may be the most effective.

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