Check out all of the blog posts in this series:
- Identifying the Ingredients of a Winning Essay
- Finding a Theme for Your Statement of Purpose
- Writing Your Career Goals Essay
- How to Start Your First Draft of an Application Essay
- Revise and Polish Your Application Essays
All effective essays have a distinctive theme. Referring back to the essays we examined in the previous post, we might say that was her passion for finding answers to significant public health issues. Our law school applicant’s theme was his yearning for greater intellectual challenges while remaining in the healthcare field.
It might take time and introspection to identify your theme. The questions below are designed to help you define your essay’s main message. Your answers will also help you express your goals, values as they relate to your career choice, motivations for pursuing a graduate degree, and professional dreams. While introspection isn’t as popular an activity as, say, yoga or streaming TV and movies, it’s an important part of this process. Give it some time; your essay will be much better for it.
- Why are you passionate about – or at least committed to – your career choice?
- Diving deeper into the previous question, what experiences in your life (personal, educational, professional) have most strongly influenced your career goals?
- Has any individual played a major role in helping you discover these goals or values?
- What do you hope to achieve in your career?
- What would career success look like in five years? Ten years?
- What personal strengths (e.g., communication skills, empathy, persistence) do you bring to this career?
- What professional skills (e.g., organizational abilities, clinical knowledge, teaching, mentoring) do you bring to this career?
- What experiences can you write about that will showcase these strengths?
- After the admissions committee reads your essays, what three words do you hope they would use to describe you? Would you like them to consider you “driven,” “intelligent,” and “creative”? How about “dedicated,” “a leader,” and “focused”? No matter what image you want to create, think about experiences that will illustrate those qualities.
Once you begin to think about these questions, some of the answers will come to you quickly. Others will require time to percolate. Write down your ideas, memories, and insights as they come. Eventually, they will build into a satisfying little inventory, and you will be able to identify the ones that are colorful or dramatic enough to become your essay introduction.
If you are writing multiple essays, such as for different MBA programs, each one must have its own theme. The admissions committees want to see you as a multifaceted individual and have therefore crafted their essay prompts accordingly. These questions provide you the opportunity to display different aspects of yourself, your values, and your personality.
- Carve out some time for introspection about your career goals, values, and motivation. (That means your phone is in another room or at least in “Do Not Disturb” mode.)
- Develop a distinct theme for each essay required by any program that demands more than one. Use each essay as an opportunity to show yourself as a multifaceted individual.
In the next post in this series, we’ll share insights into how to write an exemplary MBA career goals essay.
Work one-on-one with an expert who will walk you through the process of creating a slam-dunk application: Our admissions consultants have read thousands of essays and know the exact ingredients of an outstanding essay.