Tuesday Q&A: How to Pick the Best Essay Topic to Show Success?

Question:

I’m an IT Consultant and I’m having trouble figuring out how to show professional examples that have impact. Any insight into how to pick the best essay topic to show success?

Answer:

First of all, this is a great question. Sometimes, picking your essay topic is a no brainer: you had that one big, major success at work that knocked everyone’s socks off and won you that gigantic promotion, so of course you’re gonna write about that thing. For a lot of people, though, work successes are a lot more subtle and, therefore, harder to choose.

But that doesn’t mean they aren’t extremely meaningful, or that they won’t make GREAT MBA essays…. You just gotta be smart about it.

There are several ways to attack this baby. The first way is in terms of the concrete results of your projects. Look at your work history and find the success stories, big and small.

The project you consulted…

  • finished in half the expected time (or early, at all)
  • saved 50% of the budget (or some other impressive percentage)
  • made the company X amount of money, which is a Z% increase in ABC time span
  • increased efficiency and/or speed by X amount, compared to ABC time span
  • achieved a winning combination of some or all of the above, and here are the numbers that show exactly how your work improved things.

But consultants sometimes don’t get such concrete results because the projects are long-term, or because the company doesn’t update, or whatever. So another way to go about finding the concrete material to write about your success is in terms of feedback.

  • What client feedback did you get?
  • What managerial feedback did you get?
  • Did you get any awards? Promotions? Bonuses?
  • How did the success of this project ripple outward to future projects you would later work on that were also successful?

All of these look very good as concrete results, and are sweet opportunities to showcase the qualities that make you desirable to an AdCom. And when you wanna get into a top program, giving the adcom something they desire is, well, desirable.

–Jon Frank

Axolotl: Putting the Pieces Together, One at a Time