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) and consider the third round or safety schools.
Today, we continue our MBA Essay Analysis series, with another “Look East,” exploring the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School. Our series will continue with additional analysis of Canadian and European MBA programs in the coming weeks.
Essay 1: What are your short-term and long-term career objectives? What skills / characteristics do you already have that will help achieve them? How will the Cambridge MBA help you? (Please do not exceed 400 words in total.)
Once again, because of significant overlap from school to school, we offer a document that we have produced on personal statements. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for an electronic copy which will help you approach this essay.
Describe a work project or task that you found difficult or which did not go well. What would you have done differently in retrospect?
While this essay can be interpreted as a classic failure essay, it is also open to experiences that were not complete debacles, but were merely disappointing. Nonetheless, even with this broad interpretation, the key elements of the story remain the same. The best failure/disappointment essays show reasoned optimism and tremendous momentum toward a goal – a goal that is ultimately derailed. The writer will need to show an emotional investment in his/her project/experience, which will enable the reader to connect with the story and vicariously experience the disappointment. If the writer were not invested at all, it is hardly credible to discuss the experience as a failure or learning experience.
Of course, the reflective element is vitally important. It is very easy to offer trite and clichéd statements about “what you would have done differently.” (Note: everyone learns resiliency – consider another key learning) It will take time to truly create a unique statement about the road forward and lessons learned, but the payoff will come in an essay that is much more personal and self-aware than thousands of others.
How would you like to be remembered?
This is quite possibly the most unusual question of all, among the domestically and internationally recognized MBA programs. While many approaches could work as the candidate tries to answer this question creatively, the key will be to imagine a life unfolding and then further ponder ultimate dreams achieved. We would advise candidates to show some altruism and consider their impact on others in various spheres (the magnanimous boss and charitable community member come to mind) as the root of an interesting essay.