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Monday Morning Essay Tip: Overrepresenting Your Overrepresentation

Many MBA applicants worry that they are overrepresented—male investment bankers and Indian software engineers, in particular. Applicants cannot change their work histories, of course, but they can change the way they introduce themselves to the admissions committee. Consider the following examples:

Example 1: “As an investment banker, I….

Example 2: “Managing a team to code a new software product for ABC Corp., I….”

In these brief examples, each candidate introduces the very overrepresentation that he/she would like to minimize. Many applicants feel they must start their essays by presenting their titles or company names, but this approach can immediately make the reader pause and think, “Here we go again.”

Overrepresented business school candidates should therefore consider the opening lines of their essays especially carefully. Rather than stating the obvious, an applicant might instead immerse the reader in a situation or present a special aspect of his/her position:

Example 1 (launching into a story): “At 5:30 pm, I could rest easy. The deadline for all other offers had passed. At that point, I knew….”

Example 2: (stand out): “While managing a multinational team, half in Silicon Valley and half in Pakistan, I….”

In the first example here, the banker candidate avoids drab self-introduction and instead plunges the reader into the midst of a mystery that is playing out. In the second example, the software engineer candidate introduces him-/herself not as a “coder” but as a multinational manager. Of course, every applicant’s situation is different, but with some effort, your story can be told in a way that avoids the pitfalls of overrepresentation.




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