The MIT Cover Letter – Analysis (2009)

Prepare a cover letter (up to 500 words) seeking a place in the MIT Sloan MBA Program. Describe your accomplishments and include an example of how you had an impact on a group or organization. Your letter should conform to standard business correspondence and be addressed to Mr. Rod Garcia, Director of MBA Admissions.

Ah, the ol MIT cover letter.

Before we crack this sucker, let’s take a super brief glimpse at the content portion:

– Accomplishments

– Examples of how you had an impact on a group or organization.

Fairly straightforward. But as usual… context is everything here. If the question had said “Describe your accomplishments and include an example of how you had an impact on a group or organization,” and they gave you 500 words, your approach would be COMPLETELY different.

It’s all about context. All about the medium.

If you’re a magician, and you’ve been thrown into a GIGANTIC Las Vegas venue… you’re not gonna do sleight of hand. It’s wrong for the medium.

If you’re a mime, you’re not gonna perform your greatest act… on the radio. Wrong for the medium.

What’s the right approach for a cover letter then? Well, let’s think about it. What are cover letters used for? More often than not—-> Getting Job Interviews.

They are sales pitches of yourself to get that phone call that goes, “Yeah, we wanna know more.” You’re gonna say JUST the right amount of stuff (not too much, not too little) to get them leaning forward with interest. A great cover letter contains the following elements:

– conveys an authentic passion for “the job/organization”

– conveys clarity in argument for how the applicant FITS with the job/organization

– brandishes confidence… confidence… confidence

– in case I forgot to mention confidence, let me say it now—> great cover letters drrrrrrip with confidence

There are some twists with this one, of course. 500 words? Eeep. That’s a LOT. But we’ll dance. You’re applying to MIT. Not for bschool, not as part of an application, wipe that. You’re applying to MIT, Inc. They have a limited number of seats, you want one. It’s THAT simple. Why should they call you in for an interview?

Go.

This should sound like a starter pistol’s shot. You need to make a pitch for why you are worthy of one of their seats. But not in a desperate way; rather… through a confident, compelling, and engaging pitch. Every company has a THING. If you’re applying to Google, you’re not gonna talk about how you don’t like to think outside the box. If you’re applying to NASA you’re not gonna center your argument around your greatest passion being your stamp collection. Think about what THEY (the companies) are after, right? In this case MIT is a company that’s gonna hire you to perform a job. That job is to get really good. At something. Eventually, you’re gonna leave MIT and make a lot of money. Or innovate in some field, somehow. And either give the school a lot of money as an alum, or do a lot of free advertising through your success everytime it comes up that you went to a little place called MIT for your MBA.

What does that all mean in terms of what you need to write about?

You need to convince them that YOU = FUTURE SUCCESS.

Goals. Dreams. Aspirations…. and some proof that you can pull it off. Hence, the accomplishments request. Now, they want to SEE you in action, so they want to walk them through the way you had an impact on an organization. This is all about what you DID—in terms of actions. Not just bullet points off your resume. Remember, this is NOT your resume right? The descriptions here should be full of action words, easy to picture for the reader.

Hit them with a nice clear, intriguing pitch for your future goals. Talk briefly about a key accomplishment or two. Illustrate your style and impact in an example. Then, as you close, if you’ve done your job correctly… they’re fairly convinced, and now you can cinch it by revealing your passion for the place. This is where I want to be and here’s why. Do NOT do that boring thing of “this class will help me blahh, and this will help me that.” No, make a crisp and EARNEST pitch for why you’re all about Sloan.

Format should be boring and conform to standard, professional business cover letter convention. But the content should make them wet for an interview.

Chicago Booth Essay Breakdown – Essay 2 (2009)