July 20, 2019
McCombs MBA Essay 2
Picture yourself at graduation. Describe how you spent your time as a TexasMcCombs MBA, and how that experience helped prepare you for the post-MBA world. (500 words)
Start thinking about this essay with a very specific (and crucial) premise: “I am not able to achieve or even pursue my short-term goals effectively today because…” Because what? Generate a list. Are they skills? Is it a lack of certain experience? Is it a lack of plain, hard knowledge? Is it a lack of network? Got that list ready? Proceed…
Let’s play pretend one more time. Let’s say you’re like most MBA applicants and are applying to 7-10 programs. Pretend that three of those are ranked in the Top 10, and that 3-5 of those are ranked below #20. UT Austin is right smack dab in the center of it all. Admit-time rolls around and you receive invites from 100% of the schools on your list. Now YOU are in the driver’s seat. What is it about two years at McCombs that might address the items on your list in a particularly appealing way? This is the part where you need to dig deep. (Mind you, we haven’t done a THING toward writing a response to this essay yet; this is all crucial prep work.) What extracurricular offerings does McCombs have? What is it about the campus culture? What is it about certain professors? What about folks who recruit there? What is it about Austin? What is it about…. anything and everything you have researched and know about this program that has convinced you that MCCOMBS IS THE ONE to advance your objectives powerfully? This is the part where you make a second list. And even better, a second list that’s connected to all the specific items on that first list. Once you have these elements secure in your mind, now you’re ready to generate a draft because the essay has already – by now – written itself.
This essay should read a lot like a military battle plan. (You’ll hear us say that a lot, and there’s good reason for it.) This should NOT come across wide-eyed and dreamy and speculative and wishy-washy and general. It should instead feel like the result of someone with laser focus, with ultra-clear objectives, a well-thought-out plan of attack. Bonus points if there’s dried-up drool on this sheet of paper. McCombs wants feral beasts who are salivating at the opportunity to ATTACK the program, and EXTRACT. And that only happens when people have real INTENT. “Motive.” A battle plan. This is your chance to lay out that plan.
HOW TO ORGANIZE THIS ESSAY
PART 1 – ESTABLISH THE GOALS
First up, we need to understand your goals, your existing skill set, and therefore, those GAPS. Best thing to do is start off with a VERY brief overview of where this WHOLE thing is headed, your overall vision. Within a sentence or two or three, we should have a decent sense for where you hope to be in twenty years. Now, walk us through what you need to do in the VERY near-term (first five years after your MBA, say), in order to get you on that overall/LT path. Remember, think militaristic. Step A leads logically to Step B which then leads to Step C, which then enables us to consider and pursue Step D. That kind of thing. Explain the stuff you need to do, and the skills required to pull that all off. (100-125 words)
PART 2 – EXPLAIN YOUR GAPS
First explain BRIEFLY some of the “thus-far” achievements that have brought you to 80% of the way there. Give us a sense for the stuff you already HAVE, skills-wise. Be efficient here. Now explain the stuff you need. This is that GAP section. From that first list you generated. Don’t just explain these gaps in a vacuum, explain each one within the context of why they’re relevant specifically to your goals. This context is absolutely key, because now you’re not just generic-MBA-person, you’re salivating-feral-beast-person with lusting after PREY, locked in your sights. I needed “X in order to then pursue Y aspect of my short-term goals for Z reason.” That kind of thing. (125-150 words)
PART 3 – HOW YOU TOOK A BITE OUT OF MCCOMBS, SPECIFICALLY
This is the part where you catalogue your experience at McCombs (as though in retrospect, as though it actually happened, etc.). Take us through experiences with specific classes, professors, clubs, off-campus activities, internships, socialization opportunities, anything and everything you can think of that might advance you from your 80% starting point on Day 1 to the 100% version at graduation. Explain what you did to narrow that 20% gap, bit by bit.
The key isn’t to actually write your future accurately, no one’s gonna ever check. The key is to indicate that there’s CLARITY in the way you can establish an objective, and then design a plan of attack to achieve it. Generally that comes from a plan that is detailed, and rooted in logic. As long as it makes sense, and seems achievable, the admissions committee is going to buy it. Now, if you can do that, and also let slip your passion for the program, bonus points. (200 words)
PART 4 – NEXT STEPS
The best way to send this sucker home is to give a brief description of what happens immediately after graduation. No need to spend too much time here because you’ve already laid SOME of this out in previous sections when establishing your short-term goals. You may just want to close with a hypothetical “I will be starting as an X at Y company this fall, where I will notch Step 1 toward my short-term goals.” You can even have fun with what you plan to do in the few weeks between graduation and when you start your job, or some other character-revealing fun reveal, like marrying one of your b-school cohorts named Z that you met along the way, yadayada. (50-75 words)
Now that we’ve handled that, need to look back at Essay 1?
Read more and explore each step of the Texas Mccombs full-time MBA application process here.
July 20, 2019
McCombs MBA Optional Essay
Please provide any additional information you believe is important and/or address any areas of concern that you believe will be beneficial to the Admissions Committee in considering your application (e.g. gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, academic performance, or extenuating personal circumstances). (250 words)
Read our team’s complete take on the idea of optional essay, including a brief (recent) history of b-schools’ relationship with it, and how our recommendations have evolved over the years, right here.
You can also read our team’s analysis of the rest of the Texas McCombs MBA application essays.
Read more and explore each step of the Texas Mccombs full-time MBA application process here.
July 20, 2019
McCombs MBA Essay 1
We will learn a lot about your professional background through your resume and letter of recommendation. We want to get to know you further. Please introduce yourself.
Select only one communication method that you would like to use for your response.
- Write an essay (250 words)
- Share a video introduction (one minute)
Introductions can take place in a variety of ways. Standing in a circle of a few at a cocktail party. In a one-on-one interview. First day on the job.
The version we’re after here is much different. McCombs just handed you a mic, dimmed the house lights, and threw a spotlight onto you. This is your time not just to introduce yourself, but to perform. A performance is artful. And requires a special type of messaging. Your challenge isn’t to hold the attention of the guy sitting across the desk who is usually forced to tune in. Your challenge is to capture and sustain the attention of a room full of people, whose magnitude (by itself) tends to make it an uphill battle from minute one.
Dullness is deadly.
Don’t be dull. Don’t be quiet. Don’t be average. Don’t be monotone. Don’t be… safe.
Now’s your chance to tap your inner Louis CK. Your inner MLK. Your inner Seth Macfarlane. Charm. Wit. Risk. Energy. A deviating from that safe, straight, center pathway.
Whether it’s an essay or a video, the very first thing you need to do is grab your audience’s attention. There’s no real room for a slow burn here. If this were a two hour movie, and you had a proven track record, maybe an audience would spot you an unceremonious beginning, trusting in a future payoff. You have no such luxury here, my friend. Your cohort doesn’t know you. You need to be spectacular and attention-worthy from second 1.
What makes for a good opener? Well, practically speaking, “it” can be absolutely anything, which is to say it can take the FORM of just about anything. But what most great opening moments have in common is this: they knock the reader/audience off balance. For most of you, that may sound great, but it still may not mean much. “How the hell am I supposed to throw the reader off balance?” Well, one way to think about it is to leave some stuff OUT. The more buttoned up your opening is, the more likely your audience will feel secure. And secure—for now—is lethal. Bad.
“My name is Craig Blodgitsnick. I am 27 years old. And I’m a banker.” Great. Super clear. And therefore… too clear? It’s all buttoned up. The audience needs a reason to hear more. With an opening like that, however, we’re left with no such desire. Here’s an alternative.
“I make people cry for a living.”
Um, say what? What the hell does that mean. Did he just say that? I have no idea who this guy is, I have no idea how I feel about him, I have no sense of whether that’s a good or bad thing. What I do know… is that I’m dying to hear more. Success. This speaker has the audience in the palms of his hands.
“Pond. Cigarette. Abandoned BMW. These three things almost got me arrested, led me to my future wife, and ultimately set me on a path of world domination.”
Huh? I mean, I couldn’t be more in. Who the hell says that? How on Earth are those three things connected? After everyone gives their boring standard speech, I can bet you money I’m gonna remember the person who said THAT.
Throw your reader off balance. Give them a reason to want to read more. Now, not to scare you, but this isn’t easy. It is a touch risky, and it requires some finesse. But it is absolutely worth working toward. But just for a moment, let’s talk about the downside…
If you can’t quite pull it off, and it seems forced and inauthentic, then you run the risk of seeming like you’re trying too hard. And that’s a liability. So, get a gut check from a second set of eyes (doesn’t have to be a pro, could be anyone—see if they buy it). If it’s just not passing muster, there is recourse. Which is to tell a very honest, earnest story. Your story, a personal story. But, it’s gotta be a cool story. If it’s a straightforward, you are toast. There’s gotta be some GRIT in there, some adversity, some uniqueness. That can be equally compelling.
“Hi, my name is Glenda Crevitz and I became an adult when I was five years old when I was separated from my parents and grandparents. My first job was…”
Yah, I’d listen to that person. (But did you notice how even here, the author has thrown the audience off balance? This is not happenstance.)
Whichever medium suits you best, take advantage of it. Don’t choose the video if all you do is read an essay. If you use video, it has to be because there’s something about your look and body language and visible energy that communicates something a written essay can’t quite capture. If you choose an essay over video, it’s gotta be because there are certain things you’re able to do with the written word that would be MORE effective than a video version.
Keep your audience on the edge of their seat, though, by throwing them off balance.
Now that we’ve handled that, onto Essay 2?
Read more and explore each step of the Texas Mccombs full-time MBA application process here.
December 19, 2018
Masters Of Science In Business Analytics
Q1: WHY IS THE TEXAS MSBA THE NEXT LOGICAL STEP FOR YOU? HOW DO YOU HOPE TO DEVELOP, BOTH PERSONALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY, DURING THIS ONE-YEAR PROGRAM? (250 WORDS)
250 words is either a beefy two-paragraph affair, or a lean and mean three-spot. That’s for later though, let’s dig into the meat first. There are two key words in here: “next” and “logical.” Let’s translate what each of those means.
“Next” = Why does a one-year stopover, scooping up a Business Analytics degree make sense for your plans, as the very NEXT thing? Why now? Why not wait two years? Or four? Might you not get more out of the program with a few extra years of work experience under your belt? Your future plans a little more fleshed out? The answer has to be no. And you gotta be able to sell it. No, waiting will only delay my ability to. . . what? Achieve X, develop Y, attack problem Z, etc. Your need for a BA degree is now because you’ve pushed yourself as far as you can, and now’s the time you need a boost of “nitro.” Your version, of course, will reveal all sorts of details about your goals and plans that are crucially missing here.
Neat trick: it’s always cool to get the sense that doing it now isn’t do or die. Do or die is actually a really WEAK position. Your posturing should be the opposite. You’ve got plenty of options. Why? Because one way or another, you’re gonna achieve your goal, and barrel forward because you’re a juggernaut. So yah, there absolutely IS a possibility of waiting a little while longer (Path B), or doing XYZ for a little bit and THEN getting this masters (Path C), or… you get the idea. The thing is, while viable, they aren’t as GOOD as Path A which is to nab this sucker NOW, for THIS and THAT and THE OTHER reasons. That argument feels badass and confident.
“Logical” = Okay, let’s say we’re sold that now’s the time for you to do . . . something other than stay on the track you’re currently on. Sell us now on why a degree in Business Analytics specifically makes sense over some alternative? First of all, what ARE the alternatives? Doesn’t have to be a degree necessarily, surely there exist other paths to get you to where you need to go (right? maybe not, you’ll tell us). Neat trick to crush this section: same deal as before, be comfortable with alternative pathways that’ll get you to your ultimate goal. Play them out mentally, and as an exercise, get EXCITED about some of em. Imagine you had to sell someone on one or two alternative paths. Cool, now stack those alternatives against getting this particular degree. And it should be plain that THIS version is way better than those other ones, even they’re all viable. This is an argument that comes from a position of STRENGTH, not weakness. The approach that is beseeching will make the admissions committee wonder if this is an application by way of last resort. Bad. Go the other way. You have TONS of options, but this degree, at this time, makes the most sense, as anyone can plainly see. That’s what we should feel after reading your actual argument.
Let’s look at a potential structure for this:
- Good way to start is to paint the scene for where you’re headed, big picture. Why? What’s driving it? Do this quick, couple/three sentences.
- Now, paint a clear picture of what you need to achieve in the SHORT-TERM to get you on the right track, figure a 3-5 year outlook. Walk us through specifics of how each stage logically leads to the next, advancing you along your trajectory. The crispness of this logic (when executed correctly) should reveal how much thought you’ve put into this plan, kinda like an engineer’s step-by-step protocol.
- By now, we should be mostly sold that you know what you’re doing, you’re the kind of guy/gal who’s gonna nail it, even if “it” changes over time. This is the part where you reveal the answer to “well, why are you wasting time writing to us, when you could be out there working on that brilliant plan?” Answer? You’re missing some key pieces. Some skills. Some knowledge. Some. . . thing. Boom, a perfect bump and set to the second part of this essay.
- At this point, probably you’re around 125-150 words in. You’ve established what you need, and where you’re falling short now. Now, simply explain in two or three clear examples, precisely how the Texas MSBA will help plug all those gaps in your particular profile. Don’t just talk broadly about what “anyone” can expect to gain from a program like this. Think of Texas MSBA as an ENABLER that will help you do something you’re unable to do today. How does that work? Take us through it. Find a few specific classes, opportunities, elements of the program that help enable you to get from A à When executed correctly, these examples shouldn’t apply to “any” other applicant, nor should they apply to ANY other Business Analytics program. They should be specific both to McCombs AND to you. If you can pull that off, now you’re playing with the big boys and gals. This should take another solid 125 word or so.
Depending on your goals, this can either be two or three paragraphs. Doesn’t much matter for your first stab it. As long as you nail the above elements, you should end up with a decent hunk of clay to mold.
Q2: IMAGINE THAT YOU ARE IN A JOB INTERVIEW. THE INTERVIEWER ASKS YOU TO DESCRIBE A TIME THAT YOU HAVE HAD TO SOLVE A PROBLEM, AND WHAT THE RESULTS WERE. HOW WOULD YOU ANSWER? (IF APPLICABLE, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE QUANTITATIVE METHODS YOU EMPLOYED.) (250 WORDS)
Let’s start with a basic assumption: so far in your life, you’ve solved more than one problem. Phew. Now we have choices. And now the fun can begin. . .
Okay, so what makes for a good problem to pick here? Or a bad one?
Let’s take a step back. What are they getting at here, ultimately? Obviously, they don’t wanna know that you’re able to solve a problem, “at all.” Lots of people can. They don’t even wanna know that you “got the right answer” even to a ridiculously difficult question. What’s more revealing about your MIGHT is the WAY your gears churned to get you TO the solution. Couple indicators that you’re on the right track:
- Did others attempt to solve it, but couldn’t? (good indicator)
- Was your METHOD of solving it somehow unusual, or unexpected? (good indicator)
- If you revealed your methodology to someone senior to you, would they impressed? If so, why? Assume that they would have gotten to a solution as well, and possibly a BETTER / FASTER one. Would there STILL be an element to your methodology that would impress them? (good indicator)
If you find yourself checking against this list and coming up empty every time, keep digging. By the way, it doesn’t need to be FLASHY. Unusual can also be “unusually” simple and clean: “Whereas others would over-complicate this by doing X Y and Z, I decided to do simply . . . Q, and voila.” Or, unusual can be the opposite: “While everyone else was obsessed with looking for the most elegant solution, I was just looking for … the solution. It was messy, but I got it done. Here’s how.” The key lies in how your brain (how “you”) kick into action when faced with a lock you can’t easily pick. Whatever you do, your story can’t leave the interviewer underwhelmed. You wanna elicit that reaction where the corners of the mouth bend down, eyebrows go up, as if to say “hunh! interesting!” The “Robert DeNiro” face.
Let’s talk structure:
- First, give us the circumstances around how the problem came up in the first place. Don’t just throw us into the problem without any sense of who needed what, and why, and what was at stake. Set it up.
- Now, explain what made this problem not easily solvable. Or, explain simply why it wasn’t getting solved. Maybe it had the appearance of being easily solvable, and yet, people kept failing. Or, it was obviously challenging to begin with, and freaked everyone. . . the hell OUT. Explain what wasn’t quite right.
- Now explain what was going through your head. Did you know how you were gonna get from A to Z from the very beginning? And did you hit a major brick wall at E? Or did you not know how to even get from A to B? But figured it out eventually? Take us through those gears. Let us into your head.
- If there was an “Aha” moment, there must have been time BEFORE that moment that was “Pre-Aha” right? Take us through THAT, a bit. And then, if you’re able, describe that light bulb moment, how it arrived, or how you “arrived it” by sheer will, whatever the case. This is the real key to it all. Showing us all the ways in which your brain works. Btw, the quantitative reasoning piece methods piece will naturally spring forth this way. But don’t rush to get to that stuff. It’s the stuff BEFORE it that counts just as much.
- Finally, have a good answer to the question “why did you choose to tell us THIS story”? You should have an awareness of what made this particular problem-solving episode noteworthy. In a sentence or two, walk us through it.
Q3: VIDEO ESSAY. IMAGINE THAT YOU ARE AT THE MS IN BUSINESS ANALYTICS ORIENTATION. PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF TO YOUR NEW CLASSMATES AND FACULTY MEMBERS AND INCLUDE ANY PERSONAL AND/OR PROFESSIONAL ASPECTS THAT YOU BELIEVE TO BE SIGNIFICANT. PLEASE NOTE THAT THE VIDEO INTRODUCTION IS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED AND PREFERRED BY THE ADMISSIONS COMMITTEE. THE VIDEO INTRODUCTION SHOULD BE ONE MINUTE OR LESS.
Dear god whatever you do, don’t be boring and straightforward. This is your opportunity to sprinkle a little personality into the mix, and make yourself memorable, inside one simple minute. Yah that’s right. One minute. It’s not enough time to spin a serious yarn, but it’s enough to have some fun. Even just a little. Let’s pull back a second though to get a sense of what we’re truly after here.
What would you want to learn from watching a one-minute video of a classmate? What about ten classmates? Would you most wanna know about what cool things these guys have achieved? Would you most wanna know which one of them is cool and approachable? Has a background that complements yours? Is someone you may wanna one-day start a business with? Or work within some capacity? The answer may be a blend of some or all of these. But whether we want to admit it or not, the “cool and approachable” one may just be a necessary conduit to ALL of the others. Maybe it’s best to think about it the other way… imagine someone who scores high on all the OTHER STUFF, but seems very UNCOOL and UNAPPROACHABLE. Taints it, right? Another scenario tends to be possible also: someone comes across kinda cool, but as of yet, you’re unsure of what else that guy/gal has goin on. Doesn’t matter, the groundwork is set to wanna learn more. That’s a positive outcome. That’s kinda what we’re going for. That at the end of watching this video, the viewer should wanna learn more, or wanna hang out with you TO learn more. This is why affability, approachability, sense of humor, a relaxed vibe… are KEY.
Couple things to keep in mind:
- If you’re telling a redux about something you’ve been doing thus far in your career, or something you’ve achieved, it can’t JUST be about that thing. Rather, what will almost always make that approach COOLER is to give it some kind of twist. Could be anything. A hilarious/memorable blunder you made, something like that. Shows you’re able to poke fun at yourself and aren’t just trying to impress others.
- Another approach is to talk about something insane, unusual, super interesting in your personal life that simply must be told. Something you’re sure will get a reaction out of a room listening. Again, the idea isn’t to elicit a “wow, that’s impressive!” It should be more of “wow, I gotta meet this guy/gal!”
Don’t try to be too creative here, after all, it’s a one-minute introduction. If you try to get all “Godard” you’re most likely gonna look like you’re trying really hard, and it’s just not the venue for it. Be charming in a way that’s appropriate with the simplicity of the task. Less is more. It should be 70-80% straightforward, and 20-30% . . . spirited.
Read more and explore each step of the Texas Mccombs MS in Business Analytics application process here.
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