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August 1, 2022

MIT Sloan School Of Management MBA Optional Essay

Additional Information (Optional)

Please provide any additional information you would like the Admissions Committee to know that may be helpful in evaluating your candidacy (i.e. choice of recommenders, areas of concern in your academic record, other extenuating circumstances, etc.). This information should be provided in a written format; (200 words or less).

Read our team’s complete take on the idea of the 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 through our team’s analysis of the rest of MIT’s application essays.

Read more and explore each step of the MIT Sloan full-time MBA application process here.

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August 1, 2022

Video Prompt

Introduce yourself to your future classmates. Here’s your chance to put a face with a name, let your personality shine through, be conversational, be yourself. We can’t wait to meet you!

Videos should adhere to the following guidelines:

  • No more than 1 minute (60 second) in length
  • Single take (no editing) 
  • Speaking directly to the camera
  • Do not include background music or subtitles

Note: While we ask you to introduce yourself to your future classmates in this video, the video will not be shared beyond the admissions committee and is for use in the application process only.

How on Earth can you prepare for something so open-ended!? Well, lots of ways:

Step 1: Know Your Greatest Hits. What are the absolute best stories you have, lifetime, ever? Get acquainted with them according to category. Stuff like, what are my one or two best:

  • Leadership Stories?
  • Failure Stories?
  • Funny Moments at Work Stories?
  • Funny Moments Outside of Work Stories?
  • Stories That Capture the ESSENCE of who I am?
  • Business Ideas that would change the world?
  • People I admire?
  • Favorite Movies (or books or songs or bands)?
  • etc.

Step 2: Get a feel for what 1 minute is.
In fact, get a feel for what 50-55 seconds is. Answer some of these questions within that timeframe. Write out a response, look at it on the page. How many sentences is it? Get comfortable with 1 minute.

Step 3: Record yourself ten times, answering ten different questions.

How do you look? Are you looking at the camera? Or are you looking AT YOURSELF ON SCREEN WHILE RECORDING? Are you fidgeting? Are you moving your hands too much? Are you stumbling over words? Are you reading from a script?

Step 4: Get comfortable to the point where you no longer need to feel rehearsed, or nervous.

How do you look? Are you looking at the camera? Or are you looking AT YOURSELF ON SCREEN WHILE RECORDING? Are you fidgeting? Are you moving your hands too much? Are you stumbling over words? Are you reading from a script?

Copy a list of “interview” questions, keep them hidden, and then test yourself by revealing a question, give yourself 60 seconds to come up with a response, and then record a response in 60 seconds. Do this enough times, and you’ll start to develop “IQ” for “this kind of question.”

The worst thing you can do? Seem overly rehearsed. Meaning, don’t rehearse and deliver exact sentences. It will defeat the purpose of the ENTIRE experiment. The point is to relax the bad kind of nerves to allow your free-est self to SHINE. For some folks, this comes utterly naturally, and honestly, they can skip maybe all those steps. Others might benefit from some dry runs just so that there’s a better chance at real assertiveness and confidence on “the big day.”

So, once you’ve got the presentation down, on to the prompt. You’ve only got sixty seconds to introduce yourself, “include a bit about your past experience” (given the time constraint we’re almost certainly talking ONE fact/story) and explain why you’re picking Sloan. If that sounds challenging—yes, it very much is! But not to worry, you’ve got the written components of the application to convey all your accomplishments. Here, we want to establish a VIBE.

Do NOT try and shove a bunch of different stories in here—instead, focus on the ONE greatest hit that will get the adcom to LIKE you and WANNA GET TO KNOW YOU MORE because you come across irresistible in some way shape or form. This is 90% about personality, and 10% about resume. If we watch this video and say “wow, what an impressive person!” that’s a start. If, however, we say “holy crap I would KILL to meet that person” or “Man, I’d like to invite THAT person to a dinner party,” then congrats, because that’s the best possible reaction.

If you’re not naturally gifted in extemporaneous speaking, then there are things you can do to develop some of that swagger. Those steps above may be worth considering as a starting point.

August 1, 2022


Please submit a one-page resume. This will help us easily track your academic and career path. Try to focus on your work results, not just your title or job description.

Here are some pointers on formatting:

-One page limit
-Times New Roman font
-Size 10 font
-Word or PDF formats only

Provide the following information in reverse chronological order:

-Education: Please include relevant awards, scholarships and professional societies
-Work Experience: Please include company name, title, results-oriented bullets that demonstrate your skill set, and dates
-Additional information: Please include extracurricular activities/community service, technical skills/certifications, and special skills/interests, and languages spoken (if applicable)


We have lots to say about résumés… including all the juicy nuggets contained in this entire guide we created specifically to help you write a killer one-pager. But let’s key in on a few CHOICE words from MIT here.

Reverse chronological order is fairly standard, but the fact that they’re throwing a spotlight on it is a hint that either or both (1) some folks incorrectly do it the opposite way and LEAD with earlier stuff, like college, and then whatever comes next, but maybe more interestingly (2) that the truly important stuff is the most recent few years of your life.

The dialogue in the reader’s head probably goes something like “Let me get a quick gauge about where this person is at RIGHT now, what s/he’s up to, and what s/he’s achieving TODAY. Got it, now, let me get a sense of the career ARC. Where did this person start out, what was s/he achieving at any given moment, but also, does his trajectory from one node to the next feel sluggish? Or does this person feel like a juggernaut? Is s/he just blowing out the competition left and right, or is s/he doing serviceable-level work? Where does it seem like it’s all headed?

Anyway, use reverse chronological order to offer up that initial high-level glimpse, then they can dip as far back as they need to get as much as of the story as they care to.

The other neat thing worth mentioning is the list of information they’d like included. On the one hand they’re talking about stuff like community service and volunteer activity, but also, they’re asking you to “unflatten” the 2D portrait of yourself with dimension in the form of skills, hobbies, interests, quirks; in other words “stuff that may be unique to you and/or interesting as hell to read about.” Some folks go to this additional information section FIRST before scanning the rest, to hunt for signs of life. Have fun here folks. Include FUN stuff. Include weird stuff. Cool talents, weird talents, weird anything. You’ll want someone to reel you in because you CAN go overboard. But take a swing. Straightforward and lifeless just puts that much more pressure on the REST of your writing to provide all the personality and color. This is an easy way to INSTANTLY stand out against a person with a similar “résumé.”

August 1, 2022

Cover Letter

MIT Sloan seeks students whose personal characteristics demonstrate that they will make the most of the incredible opportunities at MIT, both academic and non-academic. We are on a quest to find those whose presence will enhance the experience of other students. We seek thoughtful leaders with exceptional intellectual abilities and the drive and determination to put their stamp on the world. We welcome people who are independent, authentic, and fearlessly creative — true doers. We want people who can redefine solutions to conventional problems, and strive to preempt unconventional dilemmas with cutting-edge ideas. We demand integrity and respect passion. Taking the above into consideration, please submit a cover letter seeking a place in the MIT Sloan MBA program. Your letter should conform to a standard business correspondence, include one or more professional examples that illustrate why you meet the desired criteria above, and be addressed to the Admissions Committee (300 words or fewer, excluding address and salutation).

Let’s start by interpreting/translating that opening blurb:

“MIT Sloan seek students whose personal characteristics demonstrate that they will make the most of the incredible opportunities at MIT, both academic and non-academic.”

Basically, they’re saying: “Since résumés flatten a person from 3D to 2D, we’re hoping the essay portion will give us a hint in that direction of what your particular “personal characteristics” are. We are on a quest to find those whose presence will enhance the experience of other students, because the net effect of a single person bettering others will be nonstop betterment in every imaginable direction, the net effect of which is maximal success for the class and, most practically, of the individuals who comprise that class.”

So, MIT is going to look for evidence of two things:

  1. That you have something in your experiences, achievements, personality, leadership style, whathaveyou, that would be beneficial to others.
  2. That you seem like the kind of person who will “lean forward” to have that impact on others, and that you’re not just a taker.

Now, onto the next part of that blurb:

“We seek thoughtful leaders with exceptional intellectual abilities and the drive and determination to put their stamp on the world.”

MIT chose the phrase “exceptional intellectual abilities” on purpose because it goes beyond classic indicators of “intelligence” on a résumé, or through GMAT/GRE scores. “Exceptional” intellectual abilities includes dimensions like “thinking of stuff most other people wouldn’t have” or “questioning long-held truths because something about those truths bothers you” or “succeeding at an attempted solution where countless others have failed.” If you have evidence of THAT kind of intellectual capability, take them on the SCENIC route. They’re saying that the Sloan School of Management welcomes people who are independent, authentic, and fearlessly creative — true doers. In other words, they want to get the sense that where there’s a status quo, you’re the person who has an itch to disrupt it, and has a track record of doing so.

They want to get the sense that in a situation where others might have played it safe and tried to hit an iron shot into the center of the fairway, you put yourself on the line, took a risk, and reached for your driver, knowing that you might fail, but having the belief in yourself and the courage to follow through on your will. They want people who can redefine solutions to conventional problems, and strive to preempt unconventional dilemmas with cutting-edge ideas, because when someone is uncomfortable with “the way things are,” good things tend to happen from a business perspective. Basically they’re saying “Show us that discomfort with the status quo. We demand integrity and respect passion,” but then again, who doesn’t.


There are two themes that jump out in that intro:

  1. Intellectual Might – No real surprise here, but it’s a specific brand of intellect. The one that’s coupled with that second component:
  2. Restlessness – Sitting around, doing what you’re told to do, choosing NOT to “re-open the case because someone else said that it was unsolvable,” having a great idea, but not having the time to pursue it – these are all the OPPOSITE of the person who’s restless. The restless person is always lusting for some opportunity to improve something, change the game, break the mold.

The smart person alone who lacks restlessness isn’t all that interesting. Similarly, a restless person who isn’t a next-level problem solver is still attractive (and maybe worth taking a risk on), but MIT is lucky enough to have the kind of demand where they can screen for the guys and gals who have BOTH.


Great, so, now we have a couple themes to make sure we’re going to PROVE in our cover letters: (1) I’m as intellectually next-level as it gets, but also (2) my arch nemesis is the Status Quo. Cool so… how does one… execute… that… in a cover letter?

Awesome question. Let’s step back for a second. What’s an actual cover letter like in real life? In first-date terms, it’s the VERY first impression. The first time you LAY EYES on your date. It’s the way that person LOOKS to you. It’s the body language that sends either attractive or unattractive signals. In other words, it’s mostly animal instinct. In fact, let’s run with that. In animal interaction terms, it’s “is this other animal a harmless friend? Or a predator? What cues do I have from the LOOK of this animal, and the WAY IT MOVES to provide an answer to that?”

It’s important to consider this deeply. Because the “impression” we’re talking about happens very quickly and does not tap into the more evolved (and relaxed) part of our brains that care about nuance. Why is this significant? Because it’s different from an essay where the reader is generally poised to spot you that first impression, and “hear what you have to say.”

The cover letter is the moment before all that where you have to EARN that next part. This has implications for STYLE and HOW you write your cover letter. It’s one of the few instances on an MBA application where HOW you attack this is almost as important as WHAT you’re attacking with. You can’t just write your way into seeming like a forward-leaning, restless person. You have to COME ACROSS that way in your actual writing. You can’t take your time proving that you’re intellectually next-level over the course of four or five sentences. It has to be evident right at the beginning in “the way you look” and “in your body language.”

Writing cover letters is a true art form, and in our experience the meek and conventional are almost NEVER rewarded. Boldness, assertiveness, risk-taking, authority, confidence, borderline brazen-ness… these are all desirable qualities in a kickass cover letter. Just shy of being smug (no one likes smugness). This is the part where you smirk to yourself, and find your swagger before you put pen to paper.

Now for the actual 300 words themselves, you need to convey a bunch of things:

  • I understand what your program is, and what you’re looking for.
  • I LIKE your program and I want to be in it BECAUSE (this is the part that most people miss) your program helps me get to where *I* need to go better than any other place.
  • Now I’m going to give you just a taste that will make YOU ultimately want to chase ME, and not the other way around. Let me walk you through an example or two of what it is that I’m all about. You’ll see within these glimpses (1) that I’m a restless m*********er, (2) My intellect has a headache because it keeps hitting the ceiling, and (3) that I understand what an MBA can do for me, and that my energy right now to TAKE FROM and CONTRIBUTE TO an MBA program is a net win for everyone: me, my classmates, MIT, and eventually… the world, once I’m out of here.

That may sound like a lot for 300 words, and in some ways it is. But, if you stay intensely focused on those three bullets, no matter how long your first draft ends up being, you’re going to have EXCELLENT clay to mold. If you have a natural tendency to write in a tone that isn’t too stiff and has some personality, then great. Your work will be easier. If you DON’T have that natural flair for letting personality invigorate your prose, fret not. Stay focused on those three bullets. Try not to deviate. And you’ll end up with something that’s (at its worst) extremely targeted. Targeted = confident. There’s always room to infuse drafts with some personality, but the hard part is getting the core content NAILED.

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