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If you are thinking about applying to the Yale School of Management (SOM) this year, you had better make sure your resume is clear and compelling, your recommendations are replete with examples and showcase your distinctiveness, you offer your best and most comprehensive self via your interview and you carefully consider each short-answer question. These are all important tasks with any application, of course, but why do they merit extra attention with respect to Yale? Because Yale is offering you just one essay and only 500 words with which to make a memorable impression, and that is simply not enough room to reveal all your diverse achievements. In writing your one essay, you have a very important choice to make, because those few words will shape much of your initial qualitative impression. Our analysis follows…
Essay 1: The Yale School of Management educates individuals who will have deep and lasting impact on the organizations they lead. Describe how you have positively influenced an organization—as an employee, a member, or an outside constituent. (500 words maximum)
As we have noted, you are quite limited with the Yale SOM application essay this year, so you will have to think very carefully about which experience to showcase. As the question makes clear, you need to show evidence of positive influence and enduring impact. This does not mean, however, that you must have reshaped an entire organization. If you helped revamp your firm’s hiring function, thereby influencing future hiring, or shifted a key thinker’s strategy, thereby triggering a ripple effect that yielded positive results, or added an important feature to a product, thereby making it a revenue driver, then you have doubtlessly had an impact. In other words, Yale is not expecting CEO-level influence from you, but it is expecting that you have made a mark of some kind within your sphere. Of course, if you actually have led the overhaul of an entire organization, that is great, but again, it is not a requirement.
To create a strong essay, put your reader in the middle of the action quickly. With 500 words, you will not have enough room to expound on your organization’s background and its failures/needs. Instead, launch immediately into your narrative, presenting the problem you worked to solve or the opportunity you tried to seize. Then focus on how you conducted yourself on your way to positively influencing affairs and making an enduring impact—how you ultimately solved that problem or seized that opportunity. And, as regular readers of our essay analyses know, you must show that the path to your victory was a bumpy one, because if the whole thing was a slam dunk from the beginning, your story will lack dramatic tension—your reader will finish with a “big deal” shrug.
Be very clear to show “lasting impact,” which means you should not be afraid to carry your story through to its end. For example, revamping a firm’s hiring can have many ripple effects in terms of attracting employees who are better fits and leading to improved performance for both a team and the firm overall. Do not brag, but do not be too modest, either. Be fair to yourself and present the full story of your accomplishment, all the way to its logical conclusion. If your essay is humble (because of its narrative approach, it has to be!), your reader will gladly follow you there.
For a thorough exploration of the Yale SOM academic program, merits, defining characteristics, crucial statistics, social life, academic environment and more, please check out the mbaMission Insider’s Guide to the Yale School of Manangement.
What has motivated your decision to pursue an MBA at this point in time? (250 Words)
Within the Yale SOM application is a question that asks you to explain “Why now?” with respect to your desire to earn an MBA and demands that you respond in just 250 words. Before you rush to answer, stop, take the time to truly consider the question, and identify your honest reason. Many people get overly anxious about this question and struggle with it, often thinking they must determine the “right” answer, but not only does a “right” answer not exist, but the authentic answer is truly the most compelling one.
You do not need to argue that starting your MBA studies next summer is absolutely imperative; you just need to show that you have purpose in applying now—that you have grown to a point at which the experience is necessary in some way, that you would benefit from the accelerant, that your firm is pushing you to get the degree, that you feel you lack certain skills that would enable you to succeed or have gaps that indicate you need more education. What is even more important than your stated reason is how you personalize it. You will need to truly “own” your answer to ensure that it is effective and convincing, and that is entirely possible, even with just 250 allotted words. Relate your past and your future in a detailed but concise way, relying on events in your professional life to support your point, and your final essay should naturally be a persuasive one.