July 12, 2019

NYU Stern School Of Business MBA Essay 2

NYU Stern

Personal Expression (a.k.a. "Pick Six")

Describe yourself to the Admissions Committee and to your future classmates using six images and corresponding captions. Your uploaded PDF should contain all of the following elements:

  • A brief introduction or overview of your “Pick Six” (no more than 3 sentences).
  • Six images that help illustrate who you are.
  • A one-sentence caption for each of the six images that helps explain why they were selected and are significant to you.

Note: Your visuals may include photos, infographics, drawings, or any other images that best describe you. Your document must be uploaded as a single PDF. The essay cannot be sent in physical form or be linked to a website.

It’s three sentences to tee the whole thing up and then a single sentence for each picture to help explain and bring them to life. Let’s figure out what they’re looking for here.

“Describe yourself.” To succeed at this exercise, one should be able to GLANCE at your six images (without ANY accompanying words) and be able to make some accurate predictions about who you are as a person. The closer that viewer’s “guess” is to what you’re actually like in real life, the better the execution. In fact, imagine that’s the challenge in itself. An adcom member reviews your six pictures and then says, “Okay, when I meet this person they’re going come across THIS way; they’ll be the kind of person who in THIS situation or would make THAT choice; it’s the kind of person who probably has THIS kind of story; if he were among the Game of Thrones cast, he’d be the ABC character” … Then when you meet, the Adcom member says “Wow, s/he’s exactly as I imagined.” All that means is that whatever you communicated in those six picks was unbelievably efficient and effective in conveying something about who you are, and what you’re all about.

What stuff are we conveying then? It includes hints of your:

  • Personality
  • Character
  • Quirks

Everything else BEYOND that? Is gravy. If you give us other stuff but neglect those things, then you’ve probably shanked it. This is not your resume. This is not a 6-page PowerPoint of your “Billion-Dollar Idea.” It’s six images that allow us to CAST you in the perfect movie role “because we understand who you are so well from the pictures.”

One quick word about drawings and infographics: don’t pack so much stuff INTO a single image that it defeats the point of the exercise. The whole point is to try to reduce you to your essence through an ECONOMY of expression. Otherwise, you could write an essay in really small font, take a picture of that essay, and include it here. See how that’s missing the point? It would be like watching a movie where it was just a continuous scroll of the screenplay, rather than a picturization OF the screenplay. Embrace the medium here folks. Understand the intention behind limiting it to (A) images, and (B) only six of them, total. It’s about high yield. That’s where the creativity comes into play.

What series of six images SUM to complete the most complete (and compelling) HINT about who you are? They don’t all need to interconnect on an individual level. Meaning, if Picture #1 is a photograph you once took of a SCENE IN NATURE that you really love, it doesn’t mean that Pictures #2–6 all need to conform to that general rule. The key is that they need to “sum” to something coherent. Even if the conclusion is that you’re a completely chaotic and random person, it’s possible for your six pictures to tell THAT story. Whatever it is, it needs to “work” though. If multiple people walk away with multiple impressions, chances are, it is weak. There are no points for the “everyone’s opinion is equally valid” nature of admiring abstract art. If anything, it’s the exact opposite challenge here. Your task is to make it so that multiple people are forced toward a very similar conclusion about who and what you are. Now, it’s possible that some may LIKE what that is, and others may not… the key is that they can at least all agree on what it IS.

Lots of ways to approach this so we’re just going to give you a taste of a few, but truly, there are many many many solid ways to go about it:

[1] A narrative. If you want to tell us about an evolution of sorts that shows us who/what you are TODAY compared to who/what you were “six iterations” ago, that could be cool. Six shades of YOU, where Slide 1 is You.0, then Slide 2 is You.1, etc. The idea here is that we learn something about you through the CHANGES over time. And the images don’t have to be of YOU, per se. It’s possible we can learn something about you through the evolution of your hobbies, or some other means. Lots of room for creativity here.

[2] Or, it can be a recipe for how to create “you.” Slide 1 is ingredient #1. (Imagine the possibilities, they are endless for what could go here.)

[3] You are what you eat. Six slides of foods that somehow represent every aspect of who you are: Slide 1 – Thai Green Chile Peppers (fresh, hot, unafraid to be scalding when need be). Slide 2 – XXXXX ?

The possibilities really are endless. It could be a hand-drawn comic strip that stitches together a simple story that tells us everything we need to know about who you are through a comical tale. It could be six things you’d spend money to acquire if you won the lottery. See how it’s endless? The trick is, with ANY of these ideas, it needs to convey something very clear about who you are, such that we could make some predictions about you based on those six images (and the accompanying theme/captions).

There’s not really a “wrong” way to approach this, other than the one which looks like a glorified resume, or an attempt to impress us somehow. It says more about your self-confidence, in fact, if there’s a conspicuous LACK of that instinct…

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