What do you think might be the most important element of an essay that professes to talk about your “passion”? Hmmmm. Why don’t we start with excitement?? What’s missing from nearly every single instance of a “passion” statement in any essay we’ve literally ever reviewed is a sense that the person CARES about the thing…
This written communication thing is tricky business. Not only do you need to put yourself in your reader’s shoes and remember that they don’t have a clue about you and your world, but you also have to resist the natural tendency to fancy-up your sentences, and instead stick to normal everyday language. Developing good essays…
Well, that and “the network.”
And maybe “business acumen.”
Here’s a great explanation of why “passion” is not the most important thing in your career, courtesy of (surprisingly) Mashable . They’re a little overenamored of their witty alliteration and use of other “P” words in their article, but they cite some respectable thinkers and the points they raise are valid.
We get BSers talking about their “passion” in their MBA apps All. The. Time.
And All. The. Time. it makes us roll our eyes.
If you don’t have time to read about why, then just take our advice today and don’t talk about “passion” in your essays.
If you want to read more, you can check out these prior posts on the subject:
- “Passion” might work in certain situations (just not essays): Context matters: Presentation and content in interviews
- An oldie but a goodie: “Your thoughts on ‘passion’ essays?”
- The one that started it all: Punt on the ‘passion’ please
And oh yeah this one too:
- One of our many pet peeves Business Acumen
Perhaps the ultimate of the “sexy” post-MBA career goals is the desire to go into the sports business. We’ve supported quite a few Brave Supplicants with their MBA apps over the years where they pitched this idea to the adcom, and while we can say that in recent years, it’s become a bit more feasible,…
OK OK OK, no, maybe this isn’t “THE” most important thing. But it sure can help! (Insider Tip: The “most important thing” is to PRACTICE! Because interviewing is DIFFICULT and unless you’ve been doing gobs of it lately, it’s not something you’re going to be naturally good at.) Now that we’ve gotten that out of…
Reblahgging from several years ago – because it’s timely!
So you got a bunch of apps in this week, or maybe there’s a straggler that you’re still working on for tonight. Great! Congrats! That’s huge! Definitely you deserve a break after that big push in the past few weeks.
Once you’ve caught up on your sleep, and re-introduced yourself to your girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse, and apologized to your boss for being totally checked out mentally this week… what do you do then?
We strongly recommend that you pick up a hobby. You’re gonna need it.
The first day or so after deadlines typically brings a rush of satisfaction. You did it! Apps submitted, project accomplished! That alone can be a pretty great feeling.
But now you’re headed into what some claim to be the very hardest part of the entire process: The waiting.
The days and weeks and months from right now, today, through Decision Day in March are not going to be easy. At least those Round 1 BSers had Halloween and Thanksgiving to serve as distractions and interruptions from the waiting. Yes, you will (hopefully!!) be receiving invitations to interview, and there’s the inevitable disappointment that scads of applicants will experience right around the end of January / first of February, when HBS “releases” its crop of candidates who they aren’t asking to interview. So there will certainly be plenty of drama, and (hopefully!!!!!) you’ll be busy with interview prep in the sometime near future.
But that won’t occupy your time, and even more importantly, it won’t occupy your mind.
What you need is a hobby. Something to do with yourself. A way to put yourself to productive good use in your idle hours.
Even better: Dive back in with the volunteer work you told the adcoms that you participate in – that you haven’t actually participated in very much for the past year since you’ve been busy with GMAT and then essays (and reading MBA forums) for way too much of your time.
The very best advice that we can offer right now: Pick up the pace in your life. You’re on a high from the submits. Use that newfound energy to your advantage. At this very moment – yes, NOW – figure out what you’re going to do with yourself for the next three months. Chart a course. Come up with a plan. Then DO it.
Get re-engaged at work. Find a way to improve things for your team. Look for a project that will make your boss look good. (You do realize that that’s the best way to make your manager love you, right?) Turn your attention to something that matters, and find a way to have an impact with it, at work or in community or just in your life. Clean out the closet or organize the garage or detail your car. Do something that you’ve been putting off and never managed to get around to.
Right now, you’re riding high with the energy of accomplishment. The best way to get to the next level in your life is to apply that proactively to the next big thing. That’s how you can leapfrog yourself and become a new and better person in no time flat.
It’s the New Year. Grab hold of that energy that’s available and make something happen.
Or you can go back to the couch with your beer and your video games.
Life is all about choices. Make some good ones in the next day or so and who knows who you will become?
Today we’re following up on the issue of whether a student “owes” something to a school. This question was raised when a current HBS first-year took a recruiter to task when the recruiter solicited her for an internship. The student in question is very passionate about the issue of chemicals in cosmetics and this recruiter happened to be from L’Oreal. We posted about it here and then we ran a quick poll asking for input. We only got a smattering of responses but those that were offered were insightful and interesting and so we’re going to share them with all of you today.
First of all, we asked your opinion on how the student handled the incident in general:
Not one person would’ve done the same? Granted, a sample size of
12 13 is not massive but still. (ETA: We had 12 responses when we first published this post; we got another one in December. That result is now included in these charts.)
We also asked whether it was OK for the student to post the recruiter’s email address on her blog, and most people felt that was not so great:
Yeah, that seemed a little lame to us, too.
Then we asked for any commentary on the incident, and we got some great remarks. Here they are:
I know that these schools work hard to bring recruiters onto campus and provide their students with great internships and career opportunities.
But here’s the thing: these schools are still institutions of higher learning. They’re not corporate PR machines. Elite academic institutions need to protect free thought and expression. I don’t think Ms. Assaf owes HBS anything here–I think HBS owes it to her to remain in her corner. If recruiters balk, HBS needs to fight back and say that it remains committed to bringing bright, open-minded people into its hallowed halls and that the corporate world should be excited about the opportunity to hire graduates who aren’t afraid to speak truth to power.
HBS needs to foster this kind of environment, not stifle it.
We didn’t hear anything about HBS stifling anything. -ES
I think you need to represent the brand of your school well. By all means, disagree, but do so professionally and with courtesy.
A student should care about how their actions reflect on their school.
I’m not sure how I feel about this incident, except it drive me towards more collaborate, friendly programs even further.
Almost everyone goes to business school to advance their career, so self-interest, even if it’s for an altruistic cause, is inherent in every BSer. In this sense, BSers should put their own interests ahead of others because what’s good for the individual is USUALLY good for the school. High incomes from grads mean more prestige and $$$ for the school later, which means more recruiting opportunities for future BSers. But self-interest/selfishness doesn’t always produce the best outcomes for the market as a whole (Great Recession?) especially when there are externalities such as reputation and biases at play. As an individual, you represent the school much in the same way that the school is the collective summation of unique individuals. It’s important to portray that brand with respect and professionalism at all times. If one deviates from that course, as determined by the community or the “reasonable person test,” then the individual in the wrong needs to make an apology. I believe BSers have a responsibility to work as a team to collaboratively promote their school’s brand in a way that’s not win-lose. In most situations, there’s a way to make the pie bigger instead of just dividing up a fixed number of slices. Perhaps considering this recruiter as a teammate instead of an adversary would have avoided Ms Assaf’s public berating of a recruiter and instead built a relationship with her to try and fix an organization from the inside. Isn’t teamwork one of the essential skills BSers need to develop in B-school? This situation has the familiar tint that many older generations use to categorize the negative qualities of Millenials. Giving Ms Assaf the benefit of the doubt, however, the issue area may require harsh language and responses in order to bring awareness to the cause. Perhaps Ms Assaf’s negative response was a strategic decision to gain publicity for this issue area. If that’s the case, then she has harnessed the positive network effects of social media effectively and should be respected for her tactical decision-making ability.
Two points in response to this: 1) Re: “recruiter as teammate”: The recruiter is an HBS alum but it doesn’t seem that relationship was top-of-mind to the student; 2) Ms Assaf apparently has disabled comments on those posts on her blog so she seems uninterested in a dialog on the issue. -ES
No, the student is not under any obligation to act a certain way. That said, a business school is there to provide you with many different career options. If you don’t like a particular company/industry and your personal values conflict with theirs, then you don’t have to reply to their email or go to their panel.
What if some passionate environmentalists decided to protest against an energy company’s presentations? What about if the non-profit/social entrepreneurship folks decided to protest against…all the banks/finance companies? It’s inevitable that there be a conflict of values. But a student doesn’t have to make a big fuss. A company that is not right for them may be right for others. Something like this CAN damage a school’s relationship with an organization, though since this is HBS, it probably won’t matter.
Anyway, the recruiter dashed off a hasty recruiting email and didn’t review the recipient’s resume. Quite frankly, it seems like the recipient’s ego was bruised (how dare you not know who I am and my personal causes!). Quite frankly, I think she should get over herself. There are much better ways to go about creating change, I don’t think this was one of them.
I don’t think you explicitly “owe” the school anything in terms of recruiting. However, as a member of a school’s class, I think you need to be aware of how you are representing the school’s brand and identity, as you are now part of the club (or clan or tribe).
In my opinion, the student came across as unprofessional and self-righteous and damaged both the school’s reputation and the career center’s relationship with L’Oreal (albeit in a minor way).
To be fair, she is also young, clearly passionate about the issue, and willing to make a stand for it. Perhaps this, to some extent, reflects the HBS “type” – she’s vocal about her opinions (would speak up in class), not afraid of public scrutiny, and cares enough about issues to do something about it. Also, she’s kinda cute.
That being said, I think what she did was stupid and wouldn’t want someone like that in my class…but maybe that’s why I didn’t get into HBS.
Now you have to be cute to get into Harvard?? Hunh, never knew that one! -ES
Thank you, everyone, for those remarks – it’s interesting to see the different reactions! Does anyone have any further reaction to these reactions? The original poll is still open or you can just add your thoughts in the comments of this post.
And Happy Thanksgiving, to the Americans in Snarkville!
Yesterday we tweeted this:
— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) November 10, 2014
The tl;dr of it is, a first-year (first-term, really) student at Harvard who campaigns against chemicals in beauty products received one of the standard recruiting emails that many companies blanket the bschool campuses with at this time of year – but this email came from L’Oreal, a company that this woman really dislikes. And so she responded, quite publicly, on her blog. (Our comment “REAL passion” is just a contrast to all the BSers who claim to have “passion” for stuff in their bschool essays – but really, they don’t. That’s not really the point of our post today, though we should probably circle back to that, too!)
Here’s the first line of the email that she sent to the L’Oreal recruiter – who’s an HBS alum by the way – you can read the whole thing in her first post (there’s quite a few now about this):
I guess you didn’t get a chance to review my resume before sending this email, because if you had you would have realized that I am definitely not the right candidate for an internship at L’Oreal. I have been a chemical activist since the age of fifteen, committed specifically to spreading awareness about the unregulated cosmetic industry and the unnecessary chemicals in our beauty products.
She then basically goes on to challenge the recruiter on L’Oreal’s practices of deceptive advertising and including bad chemicals in their products.
Now, most of the readers of the EssaySnark blahg are on the opposite side of the equation; they (err, you) are not yet students at any school, Harvard or otherwise. They (you) are not currently being wooed with recruiting emails from companies that are eager to have you join them at six-figure salaries. They (you) are instead nervously awaiting news of the fate of your applications to the bschool that will hopefully give you the ticket to be so wooed in about a year’s time (after you dump six figures on them for the privilege of it all!).
Right now, your perspective as a hopeful is likely a little different than that of this HBS RC. (“RC” means “Required Curriculum” which is what first-years at Harvard are called.)
Or maybe not. We’re wondering what your reaction is to this? Would you have done the same? We don’t know of any beauty industry activists currently among our readership nor have we, this year, come across many with strong political views (not that they’ve revealed to us), so we have no idea if you feel similarly about this or any other topic. But we’re curious.
The blogger, Jessica Assaf, said in her posts about this that she’d been criticized for, among other things, posting the L’Oreal recruiter’s name and email address. How do you feel about that?
What about the fact that HBS works hard to develop relationships with these companies and bring their recruiters to campus, and that there’s likely a bunch of people at Harvard that actually want to work for L’Oreal, and now may have some fallout to deal with? Do you think that a student owes any allegiance to the school? Or are your own beliefs always paramount and you should stand up for them at every opportunity? What about loyalty to the school, does that matter?
These are just some questions that came up for us. It’s an interesting situation (it’s very Millennial).
We put together a little survey to collect some views on this – we probably could’ve spent more time exploring other issues surrounding this but these came to mind right away. If you have other thoughts on it we’re very curious to hear about them!
Quick survey on students, bschools and recruiting relationships
We’re curious what you all have to say!
Update: There have been some very interesting comments left on the survey… We’ll be compiling the results and posting a few highlights in the next day or so. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
So many of you are currently in the exhilaration of deadlines and adrenaline. Push comes to shove, the calendar puts you up against a wall, and YES! You PERFORM! Essays are being written, submit buttons are being clicked. You feel ALIVE, and VIBRANT! You’re GETTING SH*T DONE!
That’s good stuff. We applaud that. Getting any application in is a feat of sheer will; we understand what it takes to get to that stage. You have a right to feel proud of yourself at the moment.
Maybe there’s still a few deadlines you’re targeting; Haas and Yale, and Kellogg was gracious enough to extend theirs till Thursday. A couple other apps may be floating around. You still have plenty a window of opportunity for more essay stress.
But since you stopped by the blahg today, what we’re going to suggest to you now to think beyond all that. We think it’s time to COME UP WITH AN ACTION PLAN FOR WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO DO ON FRIDAY.
For most of you, the flurry of apps will soon subside. You’ll wake up one morning in the very near future with nothing to do. Or at least, no MBA thing to do. You won’t have essays to write or recommendations to track down. You won’t have a deadline staring you in the face.
This is a crucial time.
You have an opportunity here.
When in the superfocused-craziness-mode of trying to get a bunch of really big stuff done in your life, it tends to make you sharp. It focuses the attention. It brings up your power. Your life starts to accelerate when you’re working fast on some massive deliverable. Everything becomes a little more real.
That’s you, isn’t it? How you feel? Right now?
You can do something with that.
The whole point about applying to bschool is, some part of you is not satisfied. Some part of you prompted you to go to all this trouble in the first place. Some part of you wants to do more with your life.
Great! Awesome! Well guess what? You can do something about that! You don’t have to wait for the adcom to wave a magic wand. You can change your life today.
If you’re someone who wants to advance herself – and we know that you do, you’re applying to bschool! If you want to get ahead, not necessarily to be famous, or important, but to be better, to live as fully as possible, in an all-systems-go kind of way – then what you’ll do is TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS MOMENT.
You got some apps done. You’re riled up. Fired up. Jacked up and jazzed. You’ve got the juices flowing, the blood is pumping, you’ve been DOING STUFF lately.
Take that momentum and – right now, while you’re thinking of it, while we’re laying this idea out there – figure out what you’re going to do next.
What’s that big thing you’ve always wanted to tackle? Not the MBA. You’re doing that (or will be soon!). What’s the other project you’ve been toying with and thinking about?
Maybe something in your career, like the CFA.
Maybe something for fitness, like running a marathon.
Maybe something for personal development, like learning a new language.
Right NOW you have opportunity.
Right NOW you have all forces aligned with you.
Right NOW you have pulled up your power to make stuff happen.
This is an IDEAL time to set the next goal and launch yourself towards it.
Our strong recommendation is, don’t just idly muse about some idea you’ve toyed with in the past… but DO IT.
Whatever you told the adcom that you’re so “passionate” about, GET BUSY. GO TO IT.
OK no, first you need to get today’s applications submitted. But as soon as you do that – no later than Friday of this week – put something in motion with this next new project or ambition.
Make it tangible. Set a goal. Make a concrete step towards another new future. Don’t just fall back on your butt and veg out again.
Maybe you want to learn to play guitar. Maybe you want to write a poem.
Go find a class. Go get a teacher.
Maybe you want to fix your credit, so that you’ll be in better shape for getting those student loans you’ll soon be applying for. Go sign up for a credit report and see what you’re facing with such a project.
You’re in an interesting moment right now. Don’t let it slip. Make the most of it.
The standard reaction for most people in your position is, they get the last app submitted, they breathe a big sigh of relief, and they go get drunk. Or whatever ritual represents the rejoining of the land of the living that they’d exited two weeks ago when essay-writing mania took over. They reintroduce themselves to whatever form of wife/boyfriend/partner has been waiting patiently on the sidelines. They celebrate that the crisis is over… and they quickly resume old patterns.
Back on the couch for weekends watching football.
Back to ridiculous hours at work, if that’s your form of escape (it is for some people!).
They drop back to whatever level they were at before – and they quickly become the person they used to be.
The person who, in many of your cases, is a procrastinator. Who doesn’t do stuff until it’s last minute and you’re pushed. The person who got themselves into this pickle of pressure.
(You know who we’re talking to!)
You can choose to be somebody different. You’re in a moment ripe with potential right now. What will you do with it?
For all of you who’ve made it to this point in the journey, CONGRATS! Just getting the darned applications in is a big deal.
And what we suggest to you is, TAKE THIS ENERGY TO THE NEXT LEVEL. You became a new person through this grueling process of writing and introspection. This type of WORK pays off; you may have discovered new things about yourself, and made sense of priorities that you didn’t know you had.
It’s a new year, and you have done something awesome already with it: you’ve applied to business school! Now the best way to make the most of this buzzing momentum that you’ve got going is to apply it immediately into something else. Figure it out. What new project will you embark on? Plan to begin right away. Yes, on FRIDAY. Like, day after tomorrow. START SOMETHING NEW.
(That’s also the very best way you’re going to survive what is known to be the MOST DIFFICULT part of this whole process: THE WAITING! You should be aware that the weeks ahead are going to be the most grueling you’ve gone through yet.)
Brave Supplicant, congrats on your apps – kudos for getting those done – now figure out what mountain to climb next, and go to it!
Yeah it’s the holidays but that doesn’t mean you can take a break from your essays! We’ll be here throughout this crunch time to support you. To that extent, we’re posting some advice offered to those who’ve gone before. The BSer who sent this in has actually just finished their first semester at a Very…