Essay Question: Describe your short-term and long-term career goals. How can the UCLA Anderson experience add value to your professional development? (500 words maximum)
Folks, this UCLA MBA essay prompt is as “bog-standard” as it gets. But (and we hope this is the case?) assuming you’re applying to several business schools, you may find slight variations on this question. So let’s zero in on the THREE elements you need to pay attention to here, along with the 500-word frame the MBA Admissions committee at Anderson has given us.
1. Short Term Goals
The name of the game here is “how good is your plan.” Put differently, “how good are you at conceiving of an objective, and then mapping out an action plan to getting it done?” There’s ONE additional layer, which is, “does this plan make sense given who you are, your background, strengths, weaknesses, etc. or… is it a stretch?”
Those are the only things that matter, folks. Notice how we didn’t say “is your actual goal interesting, or good?” Why? Because it’s actually irrelevant. No one’s going to follow-up on you to make sure you’re continuing along “the path you set out in your business school application.” This is a test. “Do you have a business school mind? Can you plan smartly? Are you logical? Is your brain efficient? are you connecting the right dots?” You get the picture. As long as you pass that test, the actual goal is immaterial. Those of you who can wrap your head around that will relinquish that vice-like grip around needing to SELL the idea itself. Again, no one cares about your idea. They ONLY care about that other stuff.
2. Long Term Goals
The long term vision – by contrast – can be a little more eye-popping. If you have a cool idea, or if there’s a contagiousness to your aspirations, it can rub off on everything else you touch. Now, that doesn’t make this a contest for “come up with the coolest-sounding idea you can, therefore.” Because VIABILITY continues to matter.
Better to have a B+ long term vision that you seem 100% likely to achieve than an A+ idea that you’re 10% likely to achieve. (Can you feel the difference? And understand why?) In a nutshell, any couch potato can come up with an amazing idea. But the person who can execute on it ALSO… that person is a diamond in the rough. Show us that you’re THAT person, and the best way to do that is to ooze that sense of “this is not a pipe dream, this is all doable” at every turn.
3. How can UCLA add value to your professional development?
Standard stuff. But don’t just point out things that appeal to you about Anderson. Don’t just name drop classes and organizations and professors and suggest that you’re going to engage with them. It’s the equivalent of reminding us that you’ll also be remembering to breathe in and out during yours days at UCLA, and that you’ll also be eating meals and showering on occasion. “We assume all that, and this tells us nothing new.” The trick is to reveal the precise way that some aspect of UCLA will propel you forward/up toward your goals. Think about attempting your goals in three different ways:
- Without an MBA from UCLA Anderson.
- With an MBA from ANY OTHER BUSINESS SCHOOL.
- Specifically WITH an MBA from UCLA Anderson.
Like, actually do it. Go through that exercise. The answers should all look DIFFERENT. Isolate the specific ways in which the UCLA version is different from numbers 1 and 2. Then convey them here, the way you would explain in almost-scientific terms, the impact a chemical has on another chemical, causing it to react or respond in this way and that way, etc.
Think of certain aspects of UCLA as being chemicals that will cause YOUR PROGRESS TOWARD YOUR GOALS to “react” (positively) in a certain way. Walk us through it. Be specific. Is Los Angeles a character here? Are there certain professors at UCLA who will impact you in a specific way? Are there UCLA offerings that no other school has that will make a meaningful dent in your progress?
With each example, it must be evident how the UCLA component has nudged you further along on your career goals trajectory. If it isn’t, you haven’t done your job here. Here’s a cool test. Leave us with the sense that, even if you were to be admitted to UCLA alongside a few higher-ranked MBA programs, you may still elect UCLA MBA because of the case you JUST made for how UCLA specifically, impacts you in a particularly tasty way.
The 500 words in your UCLA MBA Essay should go something like:
- Establish the Problem/Opportunity/Lay Out the LT Vision (50-75 words)
- Relevant Background Highlights, Significant Milestones that show us a trajectory (125 words)
- Leading up to Short-Term goals – Create an ACTION PLAN, be specific, convince us you’ve thought this through from every angle (100–150 words)
- Muse Briefly on the Long-Term aspects of the overall plan, explain the significance, reveal your passion (75 words)
- Connect the dots between UCLA and Pushing You Forward (two or three solid examples) (100 words)
As an additional resource, check out this blog post we wrote about addressing the “How will our school help you?” question (in general). You can also read another blog post (from the same four-part series) that covers the “of all the B-schools on earth, why are you interested in ours?” question. You can also learn more about UCLA Anderson’s essays and additional MBA application requirements here.