University of Chicago (Booth) Essay Analysis 2011-2012
1. What are your short- and long-term goals, and how will a Chicago Booth MBA help you reach them? (600 words)
This is a standard career goals essay question. Admissions committees are looking for applicants that have been out in the workforce long enough to “know” what they want to do professionally. When answering your short term career goals, we tell our clients to be as specific as possible. You need to talk about your interests along 3 major facets: industry, function/role, and platform or specialization area. For example, it is not specific enough to say that you want to go into consulting upon graduating with your MBA. A better response would be that you want to work with Industrial clients to help define growth strategies in emerging markets. Or, you would like to go into brand management for a major consumer goods company like Kraft or General Mills helping them to leverage social media for brand extensions. These are just a few short examples, but the admissions committee will expect applicants to have a solid understanding of what they want to do in the short term.
When answering your long term career goals, you can feel free to be a bit more “visionary” since this is 5-10 years out in the future. However, your long term career goals should link to your short term career goals in some way. Continuing with the marketing example above, a realistic long term career goal is becoming a major brand or division manager with complete profit and loss responsibility.
Considering your short term and long term career goals, you now need to communicate how an MBA from Booth will help you reach your goals. We tell our clients to think of this as a gap analysis. You have a current skill set from your present work experience and you need a future skill set to reach your short and long term career goals. Explain the gap in your skill set and how the MBA will bridge that gap. Again, be careful not to be too generic. Don’t say general things like: alumni network, school’s location, leadership and management experience, brand name, etc. Instead, be specific and tell the admissions committee what skills you are seeking (e.g. financial statement analysis, change management practices, entrepreneurial skills). Lastly, you need to demonstrate that you’ve done your research by showing how Booth specifically will help you get these skills. Dig deep here! Think about the specific classes, clubs, research areas of which you will participate. Maybe there is a specific competition or conference or professor that you hope to learn from. The key is to be specific to Booth and only Booth.
2. At Chicago Booth, we believe each individual has his or her own leadership style. How has your family, culture, and/or environment influenced you as a leader? (750 words)
Notice that this question does not ask you to describe your leadership abilities. Therefore, do not simply provide a recount of all your leadership accomplishments. Rather, this essay question is looking for you to analyze how your leadership style has been influenced by other situations. The question is fairly wide open since it allows you to explore family, culture, and/or environment. Applicants can either pick one significant area that influenced their leadership style and go into depth – or they can pick 2-3 areas to cover more broadly. Focus the essay on what influenced your leadership style, how it influenced you, and most importantly, how you applied it. For example, if growing up in your family taught you to be a consensus leader, then provide an example of how consensus leadership helped you to be successful in a real leadership setting. As a final note, try to be creative with this essay. Many applicants will write about common leadership traits – leading by example, delegating, etc. Try to come up with unique ways that your leadership style was influenced, or unique ways in which you demonstrated this style.
3. Considering what you've already included in the application, what else should we know about you? In a maximum of four slides, tell us about yourself.
Question 3 Guidelines
- We have set forth the following guidelines:
- The content is completely up to you. There is no right, or even preferred, approach to this presentation.
- There is a strict maximum of four pages, though you can provide fewer if you choose.
- Acceptable formats for upload in the online application system are PowerPoint or PDF.
- The document will be viewed electronically, but we cannot support embedded videos, music, or motion images. Additionally, all content MUST be included in the four pages; hyperlinks will not be viewed.
- The file will be evaluated on the quality of content and ability to convey your ideas, not on technical expertise or presentation
Even though this is a very open ended question, applicants need to really stop and think before writing. This is a good opportunity to “round out” the rest of your application with a topic that was not mentioned elsewhere or to provide more “depth” into a particular subject that is of interest to you. Beware of the trap that many applicants fall into by creating four slides about your friends and family with pictures. Booth has personally told us that they value applicants that can demonstrate “intellectual curiosity.” So if there is a subject area that you hope to explore while getting your MBA, you can consider creating your four slides around this topic (e.g. the evolution of the healthcare industry, sustainability, green energy). Try to be different with these slides while still showcasing aspects of your candidacy.