In our How to Write Exemplary Application Essays blog series, you’ll learn how to create exemplary essays by analyzing sample successful application essays.
A career goals essay, similar to the graduate school statement of purpose that we talked about in a previous post in this series, demands a laser-like focus. Unlike personal statements, which may discuss career goals but also allow for more flexibility in content, the career goals essay has a specific and packed agenda. In fact, most career goals essay questions contain several questions in one, so make sure to address each and every one of them. (For example, some ask “Why is now the right time for you to earn this degree?” or “What do you hope to gain from the XYZ program?”)
3 ingredients of a successful career goals essay
- Highlight specific achievements
Choose among the experiences you have had, either at work or through a community or extracurricular activity, that will showcase your leadership, creative thinking, and collaborative abilities.
- Explain why your career goal makes sense in light of your experiences and influences so far
Your goal can’t just appear out of thin air; it must be based on something in your past. Of course, you may be a career changer and your future goals may not directly stem from your work experience, but something in your past must contribute to your desired career path, whether it’s a person who influenced or inspired you or a life-changing moment or a series of events that culminated to bring you to this juncture in your career and life. In your career goals essay, you must draw this logical line from past experiences to current and future goals.
- Demonstrate why you are suited to a particular field as a result of your education, experience, abilities, and enthusiasm
Ideally, the material you choose to include in your career goals essay will also allow you to demonstrate your knowledge about industry trends, and point to how your particular abilities can help make a contribution to that field.
Putting these ingredients together to create your goals essay
Let’s see how this was achieved in this sample MBA Goals Essay.
Based on the previous two posts in this series, you’ll easily recognize why the opening is attention-getting for all the right reasons. The writer introduces herself as the supremely busy executive she envisions herself becoming in the future. She trades large amounts of stock, then dashes to a conference, rushing down the stairs, hailing a taxi, and then catching a plane. With all those busy verbs, we can practically feel her heart pumping as she rushes towards her flight.
She establishes her theme in this opening, and then gives the context for her MBA goal. Notice that in writing about her work as an accountant for a major firm, she provides relevant details, including how many years she has been in this field, her bilingual abilities, and specialty area as an auditor. This is the springboard from which she explains why she is pursuing the MBA – her role as an accountant is too limited for her to achieve her career goals as a money manager.
Your career goals essay isn’t a list or CV
Outstanding career goals essays don’t simply list what the applicants have done and what they want to do; they also convey real enthusiasm for the applicant’s career choice. This writer achieved this in the first paragraph and returned to it at the end where she painted her idealized (if frantically busy) future. She also proved her seriousness by registering for CFA examinations.
Connecting your goals essay question with your “why this school” question
Some career goals essays also ask why you have chosen that particular school. If you are faced with such a question, make sure to leave enough room to write knowledgeably and enthusiastically about that specific program. This will be easier if you have made campus visits, attended student recruitment meetings, participated in forums, read school blogs, communicated with current students or recent alumni, and otherwise familiarized yourself with the program and the courses and specializations it offers that are relevant to your goals.
Writing your career goals essay: tl;dr
- Focus on answering each and every question asked (usually there is more than one), and try to balance the amount of content for each. For example, if you have a four-part question, plan to use about 25% of the word count on each of the four parts.
- Be specific when writing about your experiences so that your achievements and motivations are clear and compelling.
- Do your homework about why the school is a good fit for you so you can write about it with genuine enthusiasm.
In the next post in this series, we’ll show you how to take all of this advice and turn it into an exemplary first draft.
Work one-on-one with an expert who will walk you through the process of creating a slam-dunk application when you check out our catalog of application services. Our admissions consultants have read thousands of essays and know the exact ingredients of an outstanding essay.By Judy Gruen, former Accepted admissions consultant. Judy holds a Master’s in Journalism from Northwestern University. She is the co-author of Accepted’s first full-length book, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools. Want an admissions expert help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch!