Immediately after the rush of January deadlines, we asked candidates a simple question: What Next? We offered a variety of options: relax, look east (apply to European MBA programs) , look North (apply to Canadian MBA programs), the third round and safety schools.
Today, we continue our MBA Essay Analysis series, with a “look north,” exploring the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Business, Business Week’s third-ranked international MBA program. Our series will continue with additional analysis of Canadian and European MBA programs in the coming weeks.
1. Discuss your personal and professional development over the past five years and describe how these changes have led you to choose to do your MBA at this time. What are your career goals and how will a Rotman MBA help you to achieve them? (Please limit your answer to 500 words)
Again, because of significant overlap from school to school, we have produced a document on personal statements and are more than happy to offer it to anyone interested. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for an electronic copy which will help you approach this essay.
Still, despite some similarities to other schools, it is worth keeping in mind that Rotman’s personal statement has its own nuances. In the question itself, Rotman identifies a five-year span of experiences; you should be mindful not to exceed this limitation. We do not recommend a thorough exploration of each position, but recommend that candidates emphasize their latest and most impressive accomplishments to create a stronger impact. While you may find it tempting to discuss your entire career path in depth, it is important to be selective and not to create an imbalance towards this part of the essay. It is never wise to sacrifice a thorough discussion of the schools merits; a profound “Why Rotman?” is vital.
Also, it is important to note that Rotman opens its essay to a discussion of your personal development, not just your professional development; this will allow you to get beyond the spreadsheets and discuss important transitions (for example, immigrating to a new country) or advanced community leadership, which have has shaped your path. These personal elements can truly bring your essays to life and should not be overlooked.
2. One of the Rotman School’s underlying principles is the value of one; this reflects the belief that each member of the Rotman community has unique needs and talents. What are your greatest talents and/or abilities and how would each enhance the experience of your classmates? (Please limit your answer to 250 words)
Considering the limited word count, it is important that you try not to write about too many different talents/abilities. In this essay, you might explore one or two unique abilities in depth; by trying to list four or five, you undermine the idea that they are unique characteristics and also will not have room to thoroughly develop each idea. A successful essay will not only detail your unique strengths, but also clearly illustrate how they will be in action at Rotman, meaning that you will have an opportunity to show your intimate understanding of and connection to the school.
3. Imagine that ten years from now a colleague is describing you to a new employee. What will s/he say about you that you are not known for now? How will you achieve these new skills? (Please limit your answer to 250 words)
While this question may seem perplexing at first, it is actually relatively straightforward. To paraphrase: “What new skills will you have in ten years and how will you ensure that you will develop them?” In some ways, this question has similarities to Harvard Business School essay four , which discusses how you will develop ethical competencies in the future. Like HBS, Rotman wants to ensure that your learning – in this case professional – will not cease as you complete your MBA; they want to know that you have a plan to continue to grow and push yourself after graduation and it is important that – without being overly technical – you establish that plan.
4. Describe a professional experience when you did not live up to your full potential. What would you do differently if you had to do it again? (Please limit your answer to 250 words)
Instead of asking a typical “failure/setback” question, Rotman offers a twist in which they want to know about a time in which you did not meet your “full potential”. In doing so, Rotman is leaving open the possibility that your endeavor was successful, but that there were still important aspects that were not achieved. Essentially, they make this a “guilt-free” essay, where you can present yourself positively and be certain that you have not harpooned your own candidacy. Still, this essay does not place you above criticism; it is important that you be honest, assess where you went wrong and sincerely consider what you would have done differently.