Application Breakdown Part 4: Essays, Personal Statements, and Interviews
Blog Post #7: Essays, Personal Statements, and Interviews
My personal favorite part of the application, and for others, the dreaded: the essays/personal statements/interviews. I personally love this part of the application because it's the most malleable portion of the application and you're essentially telling your own story! However, although this is a lot of fun to me as I LOVE storytelling, I've noticed that for many of my clients they struggle in telling their own story. And so, I want to give a few general pointers on how best to approach this.
1) Reflect/Brainstorm - An exercise I like to have all my clients do before starting the personal statements and essays is to take some time to reflect. Think about your accomplishments and your goals. What is is that brings you to this moment in applying for an MBA - what will the MBA do to help you reach your goals? This reflection should be very free form but written down so you can review it at any point. At this moment just brainstorm a bit, jot down what's on your mind and don't overthink how it flows together yet. Just take a moment to think and remember what is motivating you to go after your MBA
2) Structure/Outline - After completing the reflection, this is when we want to start structuring everything. Think about how we can tell a story with all these elements - your accomplishments, your motivation, your goals, and etc. Outline it and see if the narrative makes sense. Again, you should be thinking of this as a story because this is the story of why you want to get a MBA and why the particular program you're applying for is the right fit for you.
3) Write/Execute - This should be pretty self explanatory but after structuring your story it’s time to bite the bullet and write it or practice delivering that interview. This should be addressed with the outline, but make sure as you go through your essay or mock interviews, the story flows by checking in with yourself. Remember this doesn’t have to be the perfect delivery; at this moment just do your best to put your story into words because there will be time to review and go through many drafts, and with that, the next step is…
4) Edit/Reiterate/Practice - This. Do this multiple times. I can’t stress enough how important it is to edit and reiterate as much as needed. No one, and I mean no one has a perfect first draft or interview so don’t be discouraged if you feel your first time isn’t enough. Solicit friends, peers, or professional advice (from a coach like me) for feedback and use their feedback to keep reiterating. You'll know when it's in a good place.
5) Deliver - When you finally feel that your story is in a good place - it’s time to deliver. For the essay/personal statement, do one final sweep of ensuring that it fits with the narrative of the rest of your application. For interviews, have your notes available for review and remind yourself that you’ve practiced multiple times. At this point you’re ready to deliver your story. Be proud of yourself - it’s your unique story and while it is nerve wracking, just remember as you wait for admissions, the right program will resonate with your story - go you for telling it!
For more info and guidance on how to best tell your story through your essays or interview please reach out to me for a free 30 min. chat where we can further discuss your MBA application journey.