This 2012 Chicago Booth Executive MBA Admissions tip post is the first in a series of posts providing Executive MBA application and essay advice for applicants to top EMBA programs around the world for the new admissions cycle. My tips for answering Chicago’s EMBA essay questions are in blue below.
The Chicago Booth EMBA questions are challenging because they break up a concept that for many people is holistic: your need for the MBA and your interest in the program – the first question asks, among other things, “Why are you seeking an MBA from Chicago Booth” and the second question asks “what you hope to gain from the MBA.” While the first question is wide ranging and includes what you’ll contribute to the program, the second question focuses on your goals. I suggest doing the second question first, because the goals discussion will provide context for what you hope to gain specifically from Chicago Booth. Taken together, these two questions allow you to create a well-rounded picture, with sharp focus on career in essay 2, and an opportunity to present selected highlights of your career (and non-work activities as well) in essay 1. In both essays, beware of the tendency to present a career summary. That’s the job of your resume. Finally, this year Chicago Booth has added a third required essay, asking you to “zoom in” on a particular experience involving teamwork. It both underscores their emphasis on teamwork and associated skills and expresses a desire to see you in the context of your hands-on work.
Why are you seeking an MBA from Chicago Booth and what do you hope to experience and contribute while in the program? (maximum 2 pages, 12 pt. Times New Roman)
Let’s break this question into three parts. Part 1: why you’re seeking the MBA from Chicago Booth. This section should address the specific education you hope to acquire, presumably dictated by your goals. It can also address other benefits you desire, such as the chance to interact with peers from diverse industries and sectors. In answering this part, be specific about Booth’s offerings and add some insight or reflection, don’t just reiterate points from the website. If you can cite conversations with students or alumni, that’s fantastic; give examples of insights you’ve gained from them.
Part 2: what you hope to experience. This part can be seen in two ways, what you want to experience externally, e.g., intellectual rigor or collaborative environment; and internally, e.g., a broadening of your perspective.
Part 3: what you hope to contribute. This is a chance to showcase aspects of your career and your personal experience that distinguish and differentiate you. You can discuss work points exclusively or work and non-work. Select a few things that complement each other and provide some depth and detail about each. Also, think strategically about what Chicago Booth values and what the rest of your application doesn’t reveal.
You may also be interested in The Art of a Gripping MBA Goals Essay, an on-demand webinar.
Chicago Booth Career Services delivers innovative educational programming, offers one-on-one coaching, provides numerous networking opportunities, and provides access to job search tools in order to support your own career management. We would like to learn more about your career strategy and objectives. Please outline your career objectives, how you hope to achieve them, and what you hope to gain from the MBA to help you achieve them. (maximum 1 page, 12 pt. Times New Roman)
By starting off this question with a listing of its career resources, the Chicago adcom is showing that the program is invested in your career success. You should demonstrate your worthiness of this investment by delivering a thoughtful and detailed portrayal of your career objectives. Discuss not just general aspirations but specifics: industry, likely positions, which company or companies, possibly where, what you expect to do, possibly challenges you anticipate – and as the question says, how. To make the essay transcend competent and become compelling, also show how your goals are rooted in your experience, what motivates your goals, and your vision for your goals. Finally, discuss the learning needs these goals engender that necessitate an MBA.
Please describe the most challenging experience you have had working as part of a team. What made working with that particular team so challenging? What was your role in resolving the challenge and what learning did you take away? (maximum 1 page, 12 pt. Times New Roman)
Since you are focusing intensively on one experience, ideally you can discuss a relatively recent experience to highlight your current level of responsibility and the level of people you interact with and issues you face. Try to make this essay do “double duty” by strategically highlighting qualities, experiences, skills, talents, or other factors that enhance your candidacy. For example, if you work in an unusual industry or one that has unusual demands such as high regulation, try to use a story that will allow you to portray that special environment. Or it may be a unique experience, such as integrating a group from an international merger. A simple, natural structure is to start right in by telling the story. In doing so you will naturally show your role and why it was challenging. Then wrap up with some reflection about the learning.
If there is anything else you would like the admissions committee to know about you, please share that information here. (maximum 1 page, 12 pt. Times New Roman)
This question invites you to present new material that you think will enhance your application, as well as to explain anything that needs explaining (e.g., gap in employment, choice of recommender if not using a direct supervisor, etc.). As far as non-necessary points, keep in mind that if you are making the adcom read more than is required, there should be a clear value to the information you’re sharing. Also, because essay 1 asks you what you will contribute, make sure that any additional “enhancement” topics here aren’t things that really belong there. Finally, keep it short.
Early Deadline December 1, 2011; First Deadline February 1, 2012; Final Deadline April 1, 2012 (Chicago and London) and April 15, 2012 (Singapore).