Essays!

So is it just me or does it feel like the calendar moves a little faster after your target schools’ essays begin to drop? Suddenly September doesn’t seem so far away…

So far from my target school list that I revealed earlier, only HBS and Keenan-Flagler have released their essay topics (or in one case, topic).

Keenan-Flagler has opted to go with 3 required essays and 2 optional essays. Essay one is your standard current/future strengths essay, while essay two gives you 500 words with which to outline your short and long term goals. Essay three is a little more flexible, and deals with your life experiences and how they’ve prepared you for business school. The first optional essay gives you an opportunity to speak on low standardized test scores or coming from a non-traditional business background (Hello, that’s me). Essay five, also optional, is left open ended for you to speak on anything that you feel you haven’t been able to discuss in your application.

I’m excited. The prospect of writing 4 (for sure) essays for one school may be a bit daunting, but this is the part of the process that I’ve always been most excited about. A chance to put some polish on the ideas that I’ve been kicking around for the past year. Keenan-Flagler has posted a R1 application deadline of October 18th.

HBS, on the other hand, made some waves in the MBA community with their decision to go down to just one essay. It’s prompt is simple: You’re applying to Harvard Business School. We can see your resume, school transcripts, extra-curricular activities, awards, post-MBA career goals, test scores and what your recommenders have to say about you.  What else would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy? (No word limit)

Wow. What an incredible opportunity to differentiate yourself in a way that’s not as formulaic as other prescribed essay topics tend to be. For those of us that can keep a steady ship while doing so, you have an opportunity in this essay to tie many different application threads around and present a holistic picture of yourself to an adcom. For me, I see this as a chance to have the admissions office point to this essay as the central theme to my application. The other pieces provide the instruments, and the essay will show what I can do with them as a conductor. I’m pretty excited about it, as you can tell.

That’s the sunny image of this essay topic. I can just as easily see an otherwise strong application come up lacking here, due to a lack of cohesion. I’ll have to be very careful not to get too wordy, to keep things precise and compact while still keeping a button undone to let some personality show through. This essay topic definitely favors a strong writer who can hit non-prescribed topics while keeping a clear direction in mind.

Of course there are so many more variables than just the essay. It takes a special candidate to gain admission into HBS, and that goes for all of the schools that I’m considering.

HBS has posted a R1 deadline of September 16th.

The early-bird phase is most definitely over. Hopefully all of the prep-work that I’ve done will come in handy during application season.

Accepted.Com Interview

Recently, I was interviewed by Accepted.Com as a part of their MBA Admissions Interviews series. After receiving the interview request I poked around the site a little bit, and they have some great resources available to not only just MBA applicants, but to anyone who is going to be dealing with admissions. They’ve been a great resource for me, and have proven to be a valuable resource for MBA applicants everywhere. Check out their website!

That’s all from me for now. I hope to post more frequently in the coming weeks as my target schools are beginning to publish their essays for my recruiting cycle.

She Said Yes!

No, I don’t mean marriage. Earlier this week I secured my last recommendation writer, and it comes from someone who I highly respect within my organization.

I already have a commitment from my supervisor from a while back, and have been dragging my feet in asking for another recommendation from someone within my organization. The supervisor is a no-brainer for most MBA applicants, as they’re the person that tends to know the most about your work efforts and what you’ve been able to accomplish for the organization. I wanted my second reccommendation to come from someone who can speak to how my work has impacted decision making way up the food chain.

This is not to say that I am pandering for reccomender that wields a big title. I have friends who have gone that route and came back with dull, uninspiring letters that didn’t really speak past generalities and dramatic overtures of how great they are. So it’s a delicate game: looking for someone high enough that they can demonstrate how your work has an impact, but also someone that you deal with enough to where they can speak about you in detail.

In my particular situation, I changed many job functions recently with a sizeable promotion which landed me in a different office (with a different organizational structure above me). Knowing that this MBA application trek was fast upcoming, I began networking like crazy trying to get to know people. For those of you that don’t know, this can be an AGONIZING process in the engineering world.

Luckily enough for me, my work did the work for me. After driving alot of our Big Data initiatives here, I’ve gotten alot of face time with executive leadership. Side note, Big Data is the current buzzword on the lips of management across the country. My new division head is a regular at these meetings, and we got to know each other pretty well from a working perspective.

So I settled on asking my division head, who leads my division statewide and sometimes operates as the third in command of the entire organization. We share many things in common, and through some casual conversations I found out that she was an MBA herself, and is very big into the “spread your wings” methodology of career-making. It was perfect.

She’s very enthusiastic about my MBA process, and has already offered me some incredible advice having gone through it herself. It feels good to have a great recommender on my side, as well as someone who is rooting for my success in general. I’m now crafting a very thorough document for my recommenders on what each school is looking for and how they can help me the most, as well as all the information that they will need on me. I also am looking to have more casual sit downs with them so that they can get to know me even better, which hopefully will reflect in the essays.