Kellogg School of Management – Essay 3 (2009)

Essay #3 – Assume you are evaluating your application from the perspective of a student member of the Kellogg Admissions Committee. Why would your peers select you to become a member of the Kellogg community? (600 word limit)

Hallelujah. Awesome question. Very hard, but very awesome. They are HANDING you an opportunity to write something that showcases your personality. Never more has the WHO YOU ARE piece been teed up on a silver platter. Do not squander this opportunity and be boring.

Think about it. What the hell does a “student member” care about boring, resume stuff? When a student is excited about inviting you to become part of the community, it isn’t because you have an impressive resume. It’s because you’re cooool. And they want to hang out with you. No one wants to hang out with a resume. They want to hang out with a personality. Coolness. For some, the coolness just oozes naturally. For others, it requires a bit of digging, but I assure, it is there in all of us. You just need to tap the hell out of it, and let loose. And it’ll come from getting excited about something and talking about it with attitude and desire. If you allow yourself to do that, half the battle is won.

If you come from an exotic place, don’t wear it as a badge as if BY ITSELF that’s supposed to mean something. Make a case for how and why your experiences growing up in EXOTIC PLACE X gives you a cool perspective on stuff. If you’re a childhood TV star, great. But why should I care? Tell me something about who you are what that experience did to make you see things in a cool way. What kind of stuff do you like to do? You know that classic essay/interview question that goes something like “If you could invite any famous person living or dead to a dinner party, whom would you choose and why?” Well… flip it. We’re about to invite YOU over. Give us a reason.

Here’s another way to open up possibilities as you’re thinking about this:

In keeping with the food theme, say you’re invited to a POT LUCK dinner, and you’re expected to bring something. What are you gonna bring that will make people excited? Okay, Jason is bringing garlic smashed potatoes, Rehana is bringing braised short ribs (on the bone), Alejandro is bringing a pear-walnut salad…. you’re bringing…….. ?

Don’t bring napkins, for God’s sake. Yes, they’re helpful and functional, but I’m not looking forward to the dude who brings a handful of paper to the party. Bring something tasty. Something cooool. Soda? Boring. Home-made meat-filled empanadas? DONE. Sign me up. Make me salivate. Tell me something about yourself that a fellow student will CARE about. And don’t be false. Don’t tell us a bunch of bullshit about how you’re gonna help tell stories to enrich other people’s experiences. Who does that? When you bring something to the table, it’s not fact-filled prose about your life that people are interested in hearing. It’s PERSONALITY that makes you charming. Give me attitude, opinions, perspectives you have that are different and cool and how you got them.

Okay okay–we get it. Now HOW DO YOU DO THIS? This is precisely where your personality will shine through. No formula, no rubric. But no matter how your style pours out from your pen, it will no doubt derive from the same place: PASSION. If you talk about something you LOVE LOVE LOVE… chances are, I’m going to get sucked into your desire by way of the contagious nature of desire. When people get excited about stuff, others tend to get curious. When people hang their head and shrug their shoulder out of boredom, the crowd around them yawns.

Talk about what you love, what you love to DO, what you love to learn about, explore, what you do when you unwind, what you fantasize about, what you dream about, what makes you laugh, what makes you cry—> give us something that turns the robotic nature of words on a piece of paper come to life.

And please, whatever you do, don’t bring napkins to my party.

NYU Stern – Professional Aspirations Essay (2009)