In my decade-plus of experience assisting MIT Sloan Fellows applicants (successes every year), I have seen that the adcom values applicants who, among other things, demonstrate consistent, outstanding impact and are on track to become leaders in their company and even industry (“high performing” per the MIT SF website). While your application, as a whole, will convey these points about you, the essays are an ideal opportunity to make the case affirmatively, directly, and vividly, with example and detail.
Use your essays to convey fit with MIT Sloan’s enduring emphasis on admitting students who will be proactive, innovative leaders and agents of change – as the Sloan Fellows’ website says, “individuals who aren’t satisfied with the status quo and have demonstrated their ability to effect change.”
The essays all together should create a vibrant, multifaceted view of your candidacy:
• The cover letter serves as a lens and sets the context for understanding your candidacy.
• The essay delves into your experience – it’s a close-up of you in action, so consider what you want to show the adcom in that context.
• The video essay focuses on (for most applicants certainly) a non-work aspect of your life and shows how you engage people personally.
As you select your essay topics and prepare the essays, keep this holistic picture in mind – especially important given the expectation that each MIT Sloan Fellow will contribute substantially and distinctively among highly accomplished peers.
This global leadership development program is a 12-month, full-time executive MBA program designed to prepare an elite group of global mid-career managers with the management skills necessary to magnify their impact as leaders and innovators. Our guiding principles are to help you develop critical skills essential for future leaders; to instill a spirit of innovation through exceptional opportunities at Sloan and across MIT; to foster a deep spirit of community among fellows; to provide a breadth of electives and depth through one-on-one relationships with senior faculty; and to offer flexible curriculum to allow you to tailor the program to meet your specific professional objectives. We accomplish this by maintaining a foundation in our three pillars of: leadership, innovation and global perspective.
Taking the above into consideration please submit a cover letter seeking a place in the MIT Sloan Fellows Program. Please share what are your immediate and long term professional objectives and, how the MIT Sloan Fellows Program will help you to achieve them. Your letter should conform to a standard business correspondence, include one or more examples that illustrate why you meet the desired criteria and be addressed to Mr. Rod Garcia, Senior Director of Admissions. (500 words or less)
Let’s break this question into three parts:
First, your professional objectives. Be specific about position, company/industry, expected scope of responsibilities, and vision for what you want to accomplish. Give more detail for the short-term goals; for the longer-term goals, show direction, but they need not be detailed.
Second, your objectives’ fit with the program. Identify and describe specific aspects of your professional objectives that align with the program’s offerings and resources. Focus on the 2-3 key elements of this fit, and discuss them thoughtfully. Avoid a “laundry list” of fit points.
Third, example(s) that you meet the desired criteria. MIT is always interested in what you’ve done (action, not talk) as evidence of what you’ll do – so forgo the temptation to laud the criteria and instead present 1 or 2 brief, specific examples (at least one fairly recent) of your actions that show how well you meet the stated criteria.
Essay: Please tell us about a time you were recently on a team which had competing priorities. What challenges did you face, how did you approach the challenges and what did you learn from this experience? (500 words or less)
In selecting a story for this essay, keep the focus on the core phrase, “a team which had competing priorities.” Ideally your selected story will be: relatively recent and involving significant stakes (giving strategic benefit), and relatively straightforward and hence not needing much background explanation (given the brevity of the essay, of which the story is only a part). Further, if possible, use an impressive story that shows an aspect of your work that is particularly interesting and/ impactful, and ideally also reveals diversity.
Use a story-based structure, which is both efficient and engaging for the reader. First, set the scene briefly – what, where, when, who – and clarify what was at stake for the team. Next, narrate the story, clarifying your specific role – your actions should be clear; indicate why you did what you did (or didn’t do). Conclude the story with the team’s results.
Using the approach above, the story itself will portray the challenges you faced and how you approached them. After the story, add a short paragraph reflecting on what you learned from the experience. I recommend 1-3 points derived specifically from the story. Avoid generic lessons here. And ideally add a sentence noting how you applied one of those lessons subsequently.
Video Statement: Please introduce yourself to your future classmates via a brief 60 second video statement. (This video will be used for application purposes only and will not be shared.) Videos should be a single take (no editing) lasting no more than one minute and consisting of you speaking directly to the camera. We recommend using an application such as QuickTime or iMovie to record yourself.
This is a chance to round out your profile while also demonstrating high social IQ and communication skills. In terms of content: your future classmates will not know your resume, so you should include a professional sketch, but keep the facts short (as they are redundant of other application info) and leaven them with the “why” behind the story – what propelled you onto this path. Include also a couple of key non-work points, and these topics will vary person to person – they could be a compelling formative experience, unique geographic or cultural background, important avocation or activity, etc. For this latter part, think about (a) what will differentiate and distinguish you, and (b) what will represent a contribution in some way (even of perspective).
If you aren’t accustomed to doing video presentations, practice and expect to put some effort into visual elements like background and lighting. Keep the background simple, clean, and uncluttered. Have the light behind the camera and shining on you. Dress professionally.
Additional Information (optional): You will have the option to provide any additional information you would like the Admissions Committee to know that may be helpful in evaluating your candidacy (i.e. choice of recommenders, areas of concern in your academic record, other extenuating circumstances, etc.). This information should be provided in a written format (200 words or less).
If needed, use this space to address a weakness in your profile or qualifications. You can also use it to explain things that are not weaknesses but still need clarification (lack of recommendation from a boss or gap in resume for a perfectly understandable reason). This question also allows you to discuss a diversity element in your personal background or simply some unique – and relevant — area of interest — succinctly.
If you would like professional guidance with your MIT Sloan Fellows MBA application, check out 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 Fellows application.
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***Cindy Tokumitsu has advised hundreds of successful applicants, helping them gain acceptance to top MBA and EMBA programs in her 15+ years with Accepted. She would love to help you too. Want Cindy to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
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