It wasn’t so much about not having an answer as much as it was choosing which career and life stories to talk about.
If you think about it, this question is so open-ended, you could approach it from various angles. This gives you a chance to be creative and really think about the last several years and how you’ve evolved over time.
This question is all about WHY you’re constantly in motion and WHY you’re able to learn from one experience and apply what you learn in the next episode of your life.
Let’s go over three stepping stones to help you gather your thoughts and start writing.
1) MANY MATTERS: We’re human beings, a lot matters to us. Realize that in order to start writing effectively, you need to understand that you don’t have to write about only one thing that matters to you.
We’re a lot more complicated than that and you’ll find that in order to write a successful essay, you’ll see that what matters most to you is a culmination of many things that have happened to you over time.
For example, having a professional background in public health, health care, and the non-profit sector, I discovered what mattered most to me at the time was building healthy communities wherever I went.
From my mom’s cancer diagnosis, my role as a paramedic, my hospital job as a grant writer to being a diabetes program coordinator, I mentioned all of these experiences in my essay.
You need to be strategic and choose experiences that connect with your resume, your personal brand, other life experiences, and overall application.
It may not be the MOST important thing that matters to you, but it’s up there and it’s pretty darn important.
One of the things that really helped me start answering this question is thinking about things in my life that fascinate me.
Remember, your application is a chance for you to connect the dots in your life, how one event, career, or experience is connected to the rest.
In my opinion, a good place to start is why you chose your industry and career. If you’ve had multiple jobs, that’s okay.
Pick ones that stand out in your resume and are meaningful to you.
Be sure to pick out experiences in those fields and jobs that TAUGHT you something meaningful and it’s something you carry with you wherever you go.
2) DURING/AFTER COLLEGE & FIRST JOB: This is a good way to segue into the paragraph after your introduction because this stage of your life is sometimes where it all began.
Briefly talk about a passion that flourished in college and how that connected to your first job right out of college.
What was this position all about? What did you see? What are some of the challenges that you faced and eventually overcame? Most importantly, what did you love about this job?
Even if you weren’t so gung-ho about this job, find something that you took away from it! Then talk about a success story and the impact it created.
As you write more and more, you will see that you are painting a picture for admission officers on what you’re all about and what matters most to you.
3) CURRENT JOB: Even if you’re still at the same company or are somewhere else now, your next paragraph should be about what you’re doing now.
Briefly talk about your position, what are some projects you’ve worked on or even created, who or what you’ve changed for the better.
What are you realizing about yourself? About this industry? How are you changing into a different person? Are you more aware about something that you weren’t quite aware of when you first started working there?
Show an example of how you gained this realization. What are some secrets you learned? Remember, this essay is all about you, not Stanford. This is just a way for admission officers to get to know YOU!
Your conclusion should briefly sum up the experiences you mention in your essay.
Talk about what your obligations are as a person. Admission officers love to see someone who is constantly moving forward and that is following their own personal mission to be the absolute best – with or without that Stanford MBA.
If you’d like to learn more about writing effective MBA essays, feel free to sign up for my new essay guide called ‘MBA Essays Exposed’ – a guide with real successful essays to schools like Stanford, Harvard, Wharton, and others.
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