Many b-school applicants struggle to craft goals that set them apart from every other candidate. As a result, there’s a seemingly endless stream of articles and advice columns offering insight into how to make that consulting or tech management goal “unique.” But what about the applicant with a goal so unique it’s not even on the adcom’s radar?
I plan to revolutionize the way West African ports handle complex supply chain logistics.
I will lead the production of lithium cell batteries to make them cheaper and more efficient.
These goals are what you might call niche. While to you, and perhaps to others in your industry, these are exactly the kind of high-flying, industry-changing long-term goals MBA applicants SHOULD have, to the adcom, they make little to no sense, and definitely don’t leave a lasting, confident impression.
So how can you spin that super niche long-term goal so that its derring-do is clear and you are recognized for the rockstar that you are?
The key is to speak a language the adcom can understand—a language that ANYONE, regardless of industry or background, can understand. That means speaking in terms of impact. Your goal will be much more relatable, comprehensible, and admirable if you can convey WHY you want to achieve what it is you want to achieve.
There are a couple of ways to go about this: dig in to your motivation, or dig in to the impact you’ll have if you reach your goal.
Let’s start with your motivation. Often, those long-term goals come about because of something you’ve experienced or witnessed in your own life. Perhaps you have worked in major West African ports and saw first-hand just how much wastage there is because of inefficiencies that can be fixed with the right know-how and position of influence.
If that’s the case, then the KEY to making this niche long-term goal relatable is to SHOW us that problem. Give us insight into your experience, and not just by telling us that there is waste, but by illustrating the problem–give us examples, anecdotes, stories that will shock us. This will bring the reader into the fold, and give them the background knowledge they need to understand the complexity and importance of your goal, and will be ROOTING for you to achieve it.
Spend a few lines at the opening of your goals essay showing us this major problem in your industry, and then, when you tell us how you are going to fix it, your long-term goal won’t seem niche or un-relatable to the adcom, it will seem vital and ambitious!
The second way to approach this is by focusing on the impact you will have. This is similar in effect to demonstrating motivation. The idea is still to translate this goal into concrete effect that the adcom can see and relate to. Perhaps you don’t have some key motivator in your background driving you to fix this problem and shaping your long-term goal. That’s perfectly ok.
If your long-term goal really is worthwhile, however, it MUST HAVE some kind of projected impact. By telling us what that is, and how it’s about more than just, say, a particular kind of battery, you make the long-term goal larger-than-life. So, reveal to us how streamlining lithium-ion cell battery production and making these cheaper and more efficient makes electric vehicles cheaper and more efficient. BOOM. There’s your impact. It’s hard not to see how THAT has more to do with just batteries.
In both these cases, the BIGGER PICTURE is key. Whether by sharing your motivation and revealing the industry-wide problem you are going to solve, or walking us through the major impact your goal will have, the key to spinning your niche long-term goal is to make it relatable.
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