July 20, 2019

Texas McCombs School of Business MBA Essay 1

University of Texas McCombs

McCombs MBA Essay 1

We will learn a lot about your professional background through your resume and letter of recommendation. We want to get to know you further. Please introduce yourself.

Select only one communication method that you would like to use for your response.

  • Write an essay (250 words)
  • Share a video introduction (one minute)

Introductions can take place in a variety of ways. Standing in a circle of a few at a cocktail party. In a one-on-one interview. First day on the job.

The version we’re after here is much different. McCombs just handed you a mic, dimmed the house lights, and threw a spotlight onto you. This is your time not just to introduce yourself, but to perform. A performance is artful. And requires a special type of messaging. Your challenge isn’t to hold the attention of the guy sitting across the desk who is usually forced to tune in. Your challenge is to capture and sustain the attention of a room full of people, whose magnitude (by itself) tends to make it an uphill battle from minute one.

Golden Rule:

Dullness is deadly.

Don’t be dull. Don’t be quiet. Don’t be average. Don’t be monotone. Don’t be… safe.

Now’s your chance to tap your inner Louis CK. Your inner MLK. Your inner Seth Macfarlane. Charm. Wit. Risk. Energy. A deviating from that safe, straight, center pathway.

Whether it’s an essay or a video, the very first thing you need to do is grab your audience’s attention. There’s no real room for a slow burn here. If this were a two hour movie, and you had a proven track record, maybe an audience would spot you an unceremonious beginning, trusting in a future payoff. You have no such luxury here, my friend. Your cohort doesn’t know you. You need to be spectacular and attention-worthy from second 1.

What makes for a good opener? Well, practically speaking, “it” can be absolutely anything, which is to say it can take the FORM of just about anything. But what most great opening moments have in common is this: they knock the reader/audience off balance. For most of you, that may sound great, but it still may not mean much. “How the hell am I supposed to throw the reader off balance?” Well, one way to think about it is to leave some stuff OUT. The more buttoned up your opening is, the more likely your audience will feel secure. And secure—for now—is lethal. Bad.

“My name is Craig Blodgitsnick. I am 27 years old. And I’m a banker.” Great. Super clear. And therefore… too clear? It’s all buttoned up. The audience needs a reason to hear more. With an opening like that, however, we’re left with no such desire. Here’s an alternative.

“I make people cry for a living.”

Um, say what? What the hell does that mean. Did he just say that? I have no idea who this guy is, I have no idea how I feel about him, I have no sense of whether that’s a good or bad thing. What I do know… is that I’m dying to hear more. Success. This speaker has the audience in the palms of his hands.

“Pond. Cigarette. Abandoned BMW. These three things almost got me arrested, led me to my future wife, and ultimately set me on a path of world domination.”

Huh? I mean, I couldn’t be more in. Who the hell says that? How on Earth are those three things connected? After everyone gives their boring standard speech, I can bet you money I’m gonna remember the person who said THAT.

Throw your reader off balance. Give them a reason to want to read more. Now, not to scare you, but this isn’t easy. It is a touch risky, and it requires some finesse. But it is absolutely worth working toward. But just for a moment, let’s talk about the downside…

If you can’t quite pull it off, and it seems forced and inauthentic, then you run the risk of seeming like you’re trying too hard. And that’s a liability. So, get a gut check from a second set of eyes (doesn’t have to be a pro, could be anyone—see if they buy it). If it’s just not passing muster, there is recourse. Which is to tell a very honest, earnest story. Your story, a personal story. But, it’s gotta be a cool story. If it’s a straightforward, you are toast. There’s gotta be some GRIT in there, some adversity, some uniqueness. That can be equally compelling.

“Hi, my name is Glenda Crevitz and I became an adult when I was five years old when I was separated from my parents and grandparents. My first job was…”

Yah, I’d listen to that person. (But did you notice how even here, the author has thrown the audience off balance? This is not happenstance.)

Whichever medium suits you best, take advantage of it. Don’t choose the video if all you do is read an essay. If you use video, it has to be because there’s something about your look and body language and visible energy that communicates something a written essay can’t quite capture. If you choose an essay over video, it’s gotta be because there are certain things you’re able to do with the written word that would be MORE effective than a video version.

Keep your audience on the edge of their seat, though, by throwing them off balance.

Now that we’ve handled that, onto Essay 2?


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