What are your short and long-term career goals? How will the MBA help you achieve them? (500 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)
If there’s such a thing as a garden variety MBA application essay, this is it.
Start with getting our BUY IN. On what, you ask? On the importance of your idea; on the opportunity itself; on your will to succeed. You’ve got some options here, but for us to engage, we need to buy in.
Part 1 – Generally, it’s best to establish the opportunity at hand or the thing that needs to be fixed or improved. There are two sides of the same basic coin. In your opening, explain the status quo (how things are today). Then sell us on why there’s a cooler version of this. Either a solution to a problem or a game-changing result that comes from exploiting a ripe opportunity. Once you’ve done that, give us a big picture taste of your long-term vision, the peering-into-the-horizon-one-liner version. This sets the stage, gets us excited, provides a frame, and compels us to lean forward a bit and root for your success. (75-100 words)
Part 2 – Take us through the battle plan now. This should read like a recipe with several steps or a military combat strategy. It should be utterly logical and it should seem achievable. We should develop a sense along the way that each step builds on the prior one, or at the very least, is progressing toward something. And it should be evident that you know what you’re talking about and that you’ve researched it. You’ve got to show that you’ve done enough homework to have a sense of what’s required for success, before claiming your ability to succeed. That’s the crucial point. Being realistic and sober here will count far more than issuing lofty-SOUNDING goals. We want success to feel inevitable based on the “calculations” you’ve laid bare here. (100-125 words)
Part 3 – Move from the short-term into the longer-term aspects of your aspirations. Try to avoid naming the job or the job title in your dream vision. Instead, focus on what the RESULTS will be. If and when you succeed at the thing you’re hoping to succeed at, what changes? Who is affected? What does that “After” picture look like? And why does that inspire you? This will help you cut to the “what’s powering you” aspect of your long-term goals. Again, don’t try to impress us with the idea itself. Instead, impress us by convincing us that it’s meaningful to YOU. Sell us on THAT. (There’s a difference.) (75-100 words)
Part 4 – Briefly establish what’s required in order for you to start achieving success toward your short-term goals. Then (also briefly) convince us that you have MOST of that stuff, but not all of it (because if you had all of it, why waste time with an MBA?). Clearly, something is missing. There’s a gap somewhere. There are skills that need sharpening. You’re LACKING something. Make us HUNGRY for you to fill those gaps because you’ve done such a good job here laying out that you’re oh-so-close for success but not-quite-there-yet. (50-75 words)
Part 5 – Now that we’ve laid THAT groundwork, walk us through specifically how aspects of a certain kind of MBA training will meet YOUR needs specifically. Be smart here. Talk about how not just ANY MBA will be helpful toward your goals (that isn’t true is it?), but that only an MBA that has A, B, and C specific traits will help your specific X, Y, and Z needs. Then, for bonus points, cite very specific ways in which NYU meets those needs in particular. But don’t dwell on them because they haven’t asked for that here. They want to know – instead – that you “get” what an MBA is, and why it’s important for YOUR success given YOUR goals. The person who “gets that idea” is the one who is likely to succeed over the person who can write the best love letter to NYU.