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
The career goals essay demands a laser-like focus. Unlike personal statements that can cover one’s career goals but also allow for more flexibility in content, the career goals essay has a specific and packed agenda. In fact, a career goals essay prompt could actually involve multiple questions, and in such cases, you want to make sure to address each of them.
For example, in 2022, Kellogg asked applicants to its one-year program, “Please discuss your post-MBA career goal, the current experience you will leverage to support the transition, and the Kellogg 1Y opportunities that will help you reach this goal.”
This prompt has three parts: (1) What do you want to do post-MBA? (2) Why is the 1Y program appropriate for you? In other words, what in the 1Y program will enable you to achieve your professional goal? And (3) what experience has so far prepared you to succeed in your target role?
Drill down to ensure that you are answering all the questions within a school’s question.
Three ingredients of a successful career goals essay
In addition to having a theme, your essay should do the following:
- Highlight specific career achievements.
Choose among your most notable or defining experiences, either at work or through a community or extracurricular activity. These should showcase your leadership skills, creative thinking, collaborative abilities, and self-reflections.
- Explain why your career goal makes sense in light of your experiences and influences so far.
- 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 will also allow you to prove your level of knowledge about industry trends and point to how your particular abilities can help you contribute to that field.
That is a very tall order.
Putting these ingredients together to create your goals essay
Let’s see how this was achieved in a sample MBA Goals Essay.
You should be able to easily recognize why the writer’s opening is attention-getting for all the right reasons. The writer introduces herself as the supremely busy executive she visualizes she will become in the future. She trades large amounts of stock, dashes to a Zoom conference, rushes downstairs, hails a taxi, then catches a plane. As she describes this rush of activity, we can practically feel her heart pumping.
After establishing her theme in this opening, she offers 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 the field, her bilingualism, and her specialty area as an auditor. This information is her springboard to explain why she is pursuing an MBA – she’s bursting out of her limited role as an accountant. Her eyes and ambition are set on a larger playing field as a money manager.
A career goals essay, not a list or CV
Outstanding career goals essays go beyond listing an applicant’s roles and achievements. They convey the candidate’s real, palpable excitement about their career choice. This writer’s enthusiastic, dreamy first paragraph achieved this, and she returned to that image at the end, where she painted her idealized (if frantically busy) future. She also proved her seriousness by registering for the CFA exam.
Connecting your career goals to your “why this school” reasons in your essay
Many essay questions, especially those for MBA programs, will ask why you have chosen the particular school you’re applying to. Be prepared to respond knowledgeably and enthusiastically. This will be easier if you have made in-person or virtual campus visits, attended student recruitment meetings, participated in forums, read student blogs, watched videos of students speaking about their experiences, communicated directly with students and/or recent alumni, and otherwise done your homework. And make sure you have familiarized yourself with the courses and specializations that are relevant to your goals.
- Focus on answering each and every question asked in a career goals essay prompt; usually, there is more than one.
- Write about your experiences vividly, so that your achievements and motivations are clear and compelling.
- Learn 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 this advice and apply it to create an exemplary first draft.
Work one-on-one with an expert who will walk you through the process of creating a slam-dunk application. Check out our full 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!