Anyone can spout a few platitudes (and trust us, many people do), but sounding like a greeting card is a surefire way to avoid making an impact.
Take this sample:
“Since the age of 5, I have hoped to help others on a global level. While the spirit of this dream has remained, my personal, professional and academic journeys have refined my goals to focus on the development of infrastructure and renewable resources in Sub-Saharan Africa. Despite the immense amount of attention devoted to both energy and emerging markets development, the issues affecting these areas continue to persist.”
This clearly isn’t working. The first sentence is almost certainly a lie, since no child would actually think that way. And, to make matter worse, it’s sugary in a way that makes the writer seem disingenuous. Furthermore, it’s a MASSIVE leap from this saccharine introduction to the writer’s next sentence about his goal of African development. Finally, this final sentence doesn’t have value since it’s too general and doesn’t relate the situation back to HIS goals.
Because the author wants to tie his current goals to his childhood ambitions, his opening line needs to be MEANINGFUL – overly sentimental clichés will only make him seem disingenuous. He also needs to make sure the content following that opening line not only ties into his childhood ambitions NATURALLY, but also works as a confident statement of intent for his career.
After a few re-writes and some questions from our editors, he sent us this updated version:
“The most important value I learned as a child was to share: whether I had a lot or a little, I knew it meant nothing unless everyone could partake. It’s this underlying principle that drives my personal, professional and academic focus on clean energy development, a field with more have-nots than haves. For billions of people across the world, clean energy is considered a luxury so rare, that its utility is not readily apparent: I intend to change this through the development of personal turbines.”
Much better! First, his childhood story makes a lot more sense: children don’t yearn to “help on a global level,” but they ARE taught to share. This value ties directly to his current goal of clean energy development, as current energy policies tend not to favor developing nations. Finally, he introduces his direct goal as a consequence of these actions, setting up his essay for a more detailed explanation of his goals and ideas. From a disingenuous and empty statement to a powerful examination of his values and goals… in just a few easy edits.
- AVOID overly sentimental, disingenuous material.
- CONNECT your introduction to your content.
- BE SPECIFIC about your goals.
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