October 8, 2018

National University of Singapore MBA Essay 1

National University of Singapore

NUS MBA Essay 1

Briefly describe your immediate post-MBA career goal including your industry, function and country of choice and how have your prior experiences motivated and prepared you to pursue these goals? (300 words)

After the admissions committee has finished reading this 300-word response, they can say one of many things:

Response 1: “Wow, that’s an impressive goal, and if he/she were to succeed at that, it would be big, even newsworthy!”

Response 2: “Well, whether or not this applicant pursues these stated goals, it doesn’t matter; this applicant is clearly going to succeed at whatever he/she pursues, period.”

You want Response #2. All day long. You want to convey that you are a planner, a doer, an executor, a strategist, a sturdy force in the face on unexpected winds, a tactician, etc. It’s like having beautiful skin, but a failing skeleton. If there’s nothing holding up the skin, it doesn’t matter how pretty it is. The skeleton is YOUR ABILITY TO SUCCEED, your LIKELIHOOD OF SUCCESS. Once you’ve firmly established that, NOW you can focus on how “attractive the skin is,” that is, the goals themselves.

This is a 300-word essay, not a lot of room. Your attack must be precise and deliberate.

Part 1 – Quickly, clearly, establish your LONG-TERM goal. Yes, the question doesn’t ask for it, but you’ll benefit from laying out your big picture vision because the short-term goal will have context. So, state your ultimate goal, the problem you hope to solve, the opportunity you hope to exploit, whatever it is. Now, immediately, dive into how the first 3-5 years or so after your MBA will be spent building steadily toward that. Your plan should seem sensible and achievable, and above all else… LOGICAL. Logical because it not only makes sense as steps on a ladder we can understand, but also, logical in the sense that they seem like things YOU SPECIFICALLY will be able to achieve. This is key. It may make sense to “win the lottery and therefore be in a position to PURCHASE XYZ asset,” but… winning the lottery isn’t exactly a plan one can bank on. Similarly, whatever your first step is after the NUS MBA, it MUST make perfect sense that you’ll be in a position to secure that offer. Prove it to us.

Now what? What is your plan AT that first position? What skills will you need, what will you need to accomplish in order to position yourself for Step 2? And so on and so forth. Every step you write about should demonstrate a THOROUGHLY RESEARCHED plan. This forward-looking section of what your goals are and how each step will logically lead to the next should take up around 50% of your entire 300-word essay.

Part 2 – If the first half is meant to sell us on the PLAN and the viability OF that plan… then the second half should convince us that YOU are the person who is best positioned to execute it. Prove to us that “you’re the guy who can get it done.” How? By looking BACKWARDS at evidence in your past of how you handled specific challenges that will be similar to challenges that lie ahead. “Here’s Challenge #1 we can expect as we pursue this 3-5-year goal. Well, here’s proof that I have the skills to MEET that challenge, here and here in my past.” Walk through them briefly, highlighting the specific skills that will be common to both past and future. Do that a few times, and generally, make whatever case you need to make to fill us with confidence that you – above all others – are uniquely qualified to pursue these goals we’ve already “bought into.”

If you focus on these TWO specific sections, you’re likely to end up with a compelling, clean, concise argument.


You can also read through our team’s analysis of the rest of NUS’s application essays.

Learn more and explore each step of NUS’s full-time MBA application process here.

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