We hear it all the time: a shiny-faced Brave Supplicant starts the conversation with us by claiming that they want to “go into international business.”
“What exactly do you want to do?” we ask.
“Work for a multinational company,” is the answer.
“OK great. But what do you want to do?”
“Oh! Maybe emerging markets,” they say.
We smile broader. “That’s nice,” we say. “What exactly would you like TO DO?”
Brave Supplicant, none of these answers are answers. At least, they’re not the answers that most adcoms are expecting in a career goals essay (or in an interview when asked about career goals). These are broad-strokes ideas. They’re not even industries. They’re definitely not helpful responses that the adcom can do anything with.
How do we know that you’re qualified for Career X unless you DEFINE IT FOR US?
A career goal has something to do with … a career. Like, what you will actually do for a living. Like, what discipline or specialty or darn it, just a department or functional area that you’ll work in. It’s fine to want to work for a big multinational Fortune 500 what-zi-what. But at a minimum, you should define the INDUSTRY — like, consumer products, or maybe pharmaceuticals, or what about real estate? Or whatever floats your boat. And even more important, you’ll need to define AN ACTUAL JOB that you want to do. Like marketing. Or logistics. Or strategy, we suppose (everybody says strategy, it’s soooo ooh-la-la sexy).
Just please, say SOMETHING more than “international business.”