How to Write a Career Vision Essay for MBA Applications
You can’t get through an MBA application without being asked about your career goals, but a lot of applicants struggle to answer the question convincingly. This post is dedicated to helping you do just that. I’ll not only be talking about the keys to writing a convincing career goals essay, but I’ll also be using my own career goals essay from my HBS application to illustrate my points.
Ultimately, a good career goals essay is five things: it’s clear, it’s specific, it’s genuine, it’s ambitious, and it’s congruous. Let’s take each of the five in turn.
Be Clear. State your goal unambiguously and immediately. No one ever got admitted to business school for a beautifully written and captivating introduction, but plenty have gotten dinged because admissions committees couldn’t understand what exactly the applicant’s career goal was. My advice to applicants is always the same: lead your essay with a clear statement of your career goal. Here’s the first sentence of my HBS career vision essay:
“My career will focus on launching and managing social ventures that can provide innovative private-sector solutions to public problems.”
It’s simple, straightforward, and most importantly, it isn’t hiding amidst paragraphs of cliche prose and wannabe poetry.
The one ding I’d give myself is that, by itself, it’s a little broad, which is why it’s also important to quickly get very specific…
As Harvard Business School is about to release a new batch of admissions offers, we thought that prospective applicants would enjoy watching this video. It was released by Harvard in Q4 2013 on youtube, but it still provides a pretty accurate of what HBS is about. Kyle and I even recognized some of our classmates… Please do not hesitate to share your thoughts with us after watching it; we would love to hear from you ! Good luck to everyone expecting an email from the school this round.
The coming week will be the busiest of the year for MBA applications. Almost all of the top business schools have their second-round deadline, which tends to be the most popular among MBA applicants. It also tends to be one of the most stressful weeks of the year, as candidates are always understandably hesitant to finally push the “submit” button.
If you’re looking for one last set of eyes to review your application before you submit, we are happy to help. Many applicants take advantage of our Final Application Review package. For $395, we’ll read your entire application from start to finish, proof read it for any errors, and provide written edits on any last-minute tweaks you can make to improve your odds of getting admitted. We’ll also schedule a 30-minute phone call with you to review any questions you have before submitting. And we’ll do it all before the end of the following day.
This year’s MBA applicants face fewer required essays and shorter word counts than any recent class of candidates. But applicants haven’t been the only ones facing the squeeze over the past few years. Recommenders, too, have found themselves with less and less space to make an impact: over the past several years, schools not only reduced the number of recommenders a candidate was allowed to have, it also cut the word count allotted to those recommenders. Many of the top programs have also converged around the same two recommendation questions:
How do the candidate’s performance, potential, background, or personal qualities compare to those of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples.
Please describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response.
What does this mean for this year’s MBA applicants? First and foremost, applicants need to pick the right recommenders to advocate on their behalf. Second, applicants need to make sure they are adequately preparing those recommenders to write great recommendations.
In this blog post, I’ll illustrate the keys to getting great letters of recommendations for MBA applications by revealing a few snippets of a real recommendation from my own business school applications.
The Keys to Getting Great Recommendation Letters for MBA Applications
Each part of your MBA application should demonstrate different qualities to the admissions committee. Your resume is a place to tell your professional story and to illustrate your accomplishments; your essay is a place to show the admissions committee who you are and what you value. Your recommendations, then, must be reserved to demonstrate characteristics that you yourself cannot credibly speak to:
Just a few hours before the first application deadline for Harvard Business School, we thought that MBA applicants could use a checklist for items to review before hitting the “Submit” button.
View of Harvard University and the Charles River
[Author's Note] Although we initially wrote this article with HBS in mind, it has now been edited to meet the needs of applicants to most MBA programs. Please let us know if you disagree with its content or think we missed anything. Thank you!
1. Thoughts About The Introduce Yourself Essay (Specific to HBS)