For years MIT Sloan asked applicants to create a cover letter as part of its application. MIT dropped that requirement last year, but this year the big news is that MIT is asking you to write your own recommendation. And while many of you write your own reviews at work and some of you may have been asked to write recommendations for your recommender’s signature, which the schools hate, this year it’s from you to MIT Sloan. More on that below.
Please prepare a business resume that includes your employment history in reverse chronological order, with titles, dates, and whether you worked part-time or full-time. Your educational record should also be in reverse chronological order and should indicate dates of attendance and degree(s) earned. Other information appropriate to a business resume is welcomed and encouraged. The resume should not be more than one page in length (up to 50 lines). We encourage you to use the résumé template provided in the online application.
Go beyond mere job description to highlight achievement. If your title is “consultant.” Saying that you “consulted on projects” is redundant and uninformative at best. Writing that you “Led a 6-member team working on a biotech outsourcing project to Singapore with a budget of $X; it came in on time and under budget.” conveys infinitely more. Quantify impact as much as possible. You want the reader to come away with a picture of an above average performer on a steep trajectory.
We are interested in learning more about you. In each of the essays, please describe in detail what you thought, felt, said, and did. Please draw upon experiences which have occurred in the past three years.
1: The mission of the MIT Sloan School of Management is to develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and to generate ideas that advance management practice. Discuss how you will contribute toward advancing the mission based on examples of past work and activities. (500 words or fewer)
First identify examples that illustrate you either “developing others into principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and generate ideas that advance management practice” or practicing your own form of principled leadership. You can choose professional and non-professional examples. Once you’ve jotted down several example , choose between 1-3 that you want to focus on. What should you focus on? The examples that show you transforming an innovative idea into a reality. Remember MIT Sloan’s “commitment to balancing innovative ideas and theories with hands-on, real-world application.”
Show how your leadership and impact in this experience has improved the world in some small way; you don’t need to have cured cancer or ended starvation in Africa. Then tie those examples to future plans. How will you build on that experience at MIT Sloan and beyond? How will you fulfill MIT Sloan’s mission on the job and off?
2: Write a professional letter of recommendation on behalf of yourself. Answer the following questions as if you were your most recent supervisor recommending yourself for admission to the MIT Sloan MBA Program: (750 words or fewer)
• How long and in what capacity have you known the applicant?
• How does the applicant stand out from others in a similar capacity?
• Please give an example of the applicant’s impact on a person, group, or organization.
• Please give a representative example of how the applicant interacts with other people.
• Which of the applicant’s personal or professional characteristics would you change?
• Please tell us anything else you think we should know about this applicant.
Quite the curve ball! You can have a little fun with the first bullet, but then get serious. And yes you are supposed to write this as if you are your manager.
First of all think about the questions. Reflect, how do you stand out in a positive way from your peer? If possible focus on leadership and interpersonal skills and give an example of your ability to lead, to diffuse tension, to listen, to be entrusted with responsibility or whatever way you feel you stand out. And of course reveal impact. You need to show that your attributed made a difference and perhaps allowed you to contribute more and progress faster than most.
The bullet that will make many of you squirm is the second to the last one. It is asking for a weakness and before you tie yourself up in nervous knots about dealing with that point, please see “Flaws Make You Real.” You don’t have to make your response to this bullet the longest part of the essay, but do respond honestly and effectively.
The Admissions Committee invites you to share anything else you would like us to know about you, in any format. If you choose to use a multimedia format, please host the information on a website and provide us the URL.
I discussed this question with someone in MIT Sloan’s admissions office. First of all realize that you can choose an essay or multi-media presentation. The media option is there so you can express yourself in the way you find easiest and most revealing. MIT does not want a recycled essay from another school. The person I spoke to was explicit about that. If you choose the multi-media format, realize it should be something viewable in about a minute — no 20-minute videos or 100-slide expositions or lengthy orations. Keep it short. It’s also fine to link to something you have created for a club, event, or cause that’s important to you.
What’s behind the option? A deep and sincere desire to meet you as a human being. A genuine, animated, real live human being. So don’t regurgitate your resume or spew stuff found in the required elements of your application. Have the confidence to share a special interest or deep commitment. I’m not suggesting Mommy Dearest or True Confessions; use judgment. I am suggesting that you allow the reader to see a good side of you not revealed elsewhere in the application. Let them see what makes you smile, motivates you to jump out of bed with joy, and gives you a feeling of satisfaction when you turn out the light at the end of the day.
MIT Sloan has an excellent video with advice on its optional essay. Here it is:
|Application Deadline||Decision Notification|
|Round 1||September 23, 2014||December 17, 2014|
|Round 2||January 8, 2015||April 6, 2015|
If you would like professional guidance with your MIT Sloan MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the MIT Sloan application.
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.