1 Shakalkis

Mba Essays Corporate Strategy

Graduating class: 2010

Current Job Title: Strategic Planning Manager at Invesco

Essay prompt: "What would you like the MBA Admissions Board to know about your undergraduate academic experience?"

I first considered applying to Berry College while dangling from a fifty-foot Georgia pine tree, encouraging a high school classmate, literally, to make a leap of faith. Every autumn, my school's graduating seniors took a three-day trip to Berry to bond on the ropes course, talk about leadership, and speak frankly about the future, and it was on that retreat, after the ropes course, that I made my own leap.

I had narrowed my college choices to my top scholarship offers, but after a number of campus visits I still hadn't found a place that truly felt like home. On the retreat, I realized Berry College was different. The students I met were practical, caring, and curious. The 28,000-acre campus was idyllic. The atmosphere was one of service, leadership, and intellectual curiosity (as founder Martha Berry termed it, an education of the "whole person . . . the head, the heart, and the hands"). Berry also offered what I thought was the best opportunity to mold my own academic experience, take diverse leadership roles, and change myself and my college community in the process.

That is exactly what I did. Taking a "case method" approach to my undergraduate education, I complemented every academic lesson with a practical application. I supplemented my formal education in economics, government, and political philosophy with cigar shop chats, competitive international fellowships, leadership in student government, and in-depth academic research. Rather than studying communication, I practiced communication. As a freshman, I was the campus's top new television reporter, and as a junior and senior, I translated that passion for human connection into a stint as Berry's top newspaper opinion columnist and a widely read campus poet. I was the lead in a one-act play and led my college speech team to its highest ever national finish. I learned business, finance, and organizational leadership by founding a community soup kitchen and leading the campus investment group to unprecedented stock market returns; and in everything, I sought not simply to become better educated, but better rounded — a "whole" person—and to change my campus community in the process.

At Berry, I learned that you can stand trepid before a challenge, transition, or experience. Or you can embrace new challenges, define your own experience, and make a leap of faith. I am proud that my undergraduate academic experience was a period lived in leaps.

Why it works

Not only does the essay show that a brand name or Ivy League college isn't the only path to Harvard Business School, it does an excellent job of showing the author's personality through the narrative and the way it's written, has a clear sense of energy, and makes it very clear what John would bring to HBS.

Source: 65 Successful Harvard Business School Applications

Re: Best app tips? [#permalink]

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 15 Apr 2009, 14:44

One thing that kept coming up over and over during this long app season, with friends, on forums, even for myself, is CAREER GOALS. Very very important! Only when I updated my career goals did I get accepted from the waitlist.

It seems many applicants spend most of their time and energy on explaining who they are and their past and why this school, but overlook the future and making meaningful and realistic career goals, which may be the most important part. When I updated my goals, they went from being very general and rather broad, to being very very specific, I'm talking specific to the point of company names, programs, and positions.

To get even just a few sentences of detailed career goals required weeks of research, maybe why many overlook it. I read hundreds of pages about my target industry and target specializations within it, I had to speak to many current MBA students in that track, and even spoke to successful executives in that field, etc, etc. Very time-consuming, but VERY important.

By pinning you down to very specific goals, the school can insure that you are a planned person on the path to success. Also, they can lump you into a demographic for their class diversity. So be careful about choosing a goal that is common, as you may place yourself into the most oversubscribed demographic, as a friend who went 0-for-5 did. I have very non-traditional goals (that fit my past and present), but now that I'm in I can take a well-traveled route if I choose.

Last edited by decemberblues on 20 Apr 2009, 17:40, edited 1 time in total.


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