There’s a few tips to offer today to make your career goals / why MBA essays more compact, streamlined — and effective. A lot of this advice applies to many schools, but we see several issues coming up on the Booth essays especially so if you’re tackling those, then this post is for you!
The first tip is, instead of writing any essay content around why you need an MBA, always focus your answers around why you need to go to THIS SCHOOL In other words, instead of saying “I need to learn finance” (which is a very basic statement and not nearly sufficient as part of the pitch, but we’re using it as an easy example) you can write “I need to take Course Blibbety-Bloop” — and then for the bonus points, you could even say “which I heard about from Sally Huang (Class of 2018) when she was telling me about the hardest class she’d ever taken in her life.”
Do you see what we did there?
We went from: “I need to learn finance”
Totally generalized, pointing to a massively broad discipline, that every single school in the world offers umpteen courses on
To: “I want to take THIS COURSE at YOUR SCHOOL”
Which is obviously the explicit name of the course that THIS SCHOOL offers
And for the bonus: “THIS IS THE REASON I want to take it”
(suck-up extraordinaire — because you are such a geek you want to work really really hard!! ooo that’s such a turn-on for a nerdy academic type, some of whom happen to work in admissions)
And the cherry on top: “THIS IS HOW I KNOW I want to take it”
Look how I’ve been doing my homework and reaching out to the students and networking!
See how that works?
General answers: Yawn.
Got it? Good. Moving on to the next tip.
Here’s what we got in an essay from a BSer some time ago:
Keeping my long-term goals in mind, I’ll take courses focused on international businesses such as Global Strategy and Strategic Management of Global Risk that will broaden my outlook of challenges in emerging markets – government regulations, social and economic considerations and several more.
If an essay has no length limit then maybe you can spend more time on the L/T goal, but usually it’s not really necessary.
Instead, it’s much more effective to use the essay to show why you need an MBA to achieve the SHORT TERM GOAL. Most people are strapped to dedicate enough time in bschool to prepare for the immediate needs only – and it’s not realistic to try and dual-purpose the education for something you would need right away versus some undefined and unknown requirement in a far-distant future (particularly when the L/T goal is not even well defined, which for many people it’s not). A more focused presentation that justifies why the MBA is the necessary next step, with a clearly stated set of goals that are rationalized from S/T → L/T without requiring additional explanation, is the best way to go.
When you have limited space — and when for almost everyone, the L/T goal is a complete fabrication, since BSers hardly know what they want to do next week let alone in 5+ years — then keeping the focus more tightly constrained and limiting the discussion to why you need the MBA now to go do the very next thing makes a lot more sense.
Whatever you learn in bschool will be long forgotten once you’re out of school for a year.
After all, do you sitting here right now remember what you learned in the classes you took in junior year? To the degree that you could actually use that as actionable information to make decisions by in a career you want to transition to?
That’s how it’ll be with bschool. You’ll learn what you need to learn, scrambling to cram it all in, just to get ready for the big leap you’re making into the unknown of that Short Term Goal world.
It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to simultaneously prepare for some undefined long-term career needs as well. Not when your head is already stuffed to the limit with stuff you need right away.
Besides, the world will change. There will be new important meaningful ways to do that future job that you’ll be exposed to only later, when they’re invited. They won’t even be featured in bschools for many more years.
So focus on the immediate needs and let the long-term path take care of itself. It’s not that you don’t need to say anything about it; it’s just that, realistically, there’s only so much you can say, and beyond that is wasted words and frittering away space that could be deployed more effectively.
Oh and also?
A phrase like “and several more” never belongs anywhere in your apps. Not in your essays, not in the resume, not in the app dataset. We’ll leave you to click on that little linky-link to find out why if you’re curious.
To wrap up the “why MBA?” tips, as we said to this BSer: “It seems that there is plenty more that could be said about why you need an MBA for the immediate next step. It’s hard to understand how global strategy coursework is that useful when you’re not saying anything about a global career straight after the MBA.”