July 9, 2018

Berkeley Haas School of Business MBA Essay 2

UC Berkeley (Haas)

Briefly describe your immediate post-MBA career goal, and discuss how it will put you on a path to a meaningful and rewarding career. (300 words maximum)

If you squint, and look very carefully at Haas’s Essay #2, and do your best Admissionado impression (i.e., magically get smarter and cooler just like that), you’ll notice that this is actually a THREE-PIECE question. Let’s examine all the pieces, one by one.

Piece I.

Once equipped with a Haas MBA, whatcha gonna do? But, already, this requires a lot more than just “saying what your goal is.” The best answer here will be some sort of multi-year, multi-stage CAREER PLAN. Every plan will be different and everyone’s timeline will be different, but generally, a short-term plan can be considered within a five-year period, roughly. Maybe yours is shorter or longer but “1 year” is too short, and “10 years” is too long. For argument’s sake, let’s say five.

Presumably, at the end of the fifth year, your progress, your achievements, your skill set, will all look different than they will on Day 1 of this journey, correct? Show us what you’re PLANNING to look like in Year 5… starting from Day 1/Year 1. Step us through it as you would the stages of a recipe. But, much like a recipe, don’t just tell us to “pour 1 cup of flour into a bowl.” We need to know what we’re making first, so that our mouths water, we have a sense of destination, purpose, etc. That’s the “End of Year 5” “meaningful and rewarding career” aspect, and we should put that first. Then show us how your immediate post-MBA steps build toward achieving that goal.

Piece II.

The “invisible” stuff from that prompt… now, this isn’t a separate SECTION, but it needs to be evident while you’re attacking “Part I”: Proof that you’re capable of achieving everything you’re laying out. The plan is only as tasty as your ability to ACHIEVE it, otherwise, who cares. So, as you’re walking through how Step 1 will earn you XYZ skills, and ABC experiences that are crucial to the next step in the chain, be sure to sell on your ability to “get that job in the first place.” It should be evident that you are a well-researched, credible, thoughtful candidate with a sense of not just the plan, but also your ability to follow through and execute on ALL of it.

Recap: give us the confidence that you can PULL THIS ALL OFF. All of this should take up maybe 2/3 of this essay, roughly 200 words. Don’t be short on details, folks. This is the place where specificity is your best friend.

Piece III.

This final section, probably a nice meaty paragraph, is also kind of misleading, or rather, can easily be dealt with… sub-optimally. The wrong way to play this is to view this as an opportunity to make someone ELSE care about your goal as much as you. To sell THEM on the heart and soul of it as though they are skeptics. Decent instinct, but NOT the best way to play it… Here’s a better, cooler way:

All they need to know is that this goal is meaningful enough to YOU (and here’s the key) –– that you are motivated to see it through. It isn’t even so much that you need to be hella committed to THIS goal (because they assume your goal will change the second you begin school)… but that your passion is palpable, and that “you’re the kind of person who –– when properly motivated –– cannot be stopped.” It’s the “juggernaut-ness” they’re trying to get a sense of here.

Why is this an important distinction? Because you wanna explore more how YOU BEHAVE when you’re fired up about something RATHER THAN why “this idea is the end all be all.” If anything, if you take THAT version too far, and you seem do-or-die on the idea presented in your application… it’s actually a liability.

Think about what aspects of this short-term plan of yours FILL you up, give you meaning, all that. But rather than explain that, explain what the RESULT IS: the way you behave toward the pursuit of success. If you do this correctly, it will scratch BOTH itches in one shot: (1) you’ll remain authentic toward your idea, which we hope is actually meaningful to you, but also (2) you’ll be a “low risk, scalable, high yield” potential applicant, who, when put into the Haas environment, and into contact with other spark plugs, has limitless potential along some future career (whether it’s an extension of the one you’re on currently or a new one altogether).

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