The career goals essay–a close cousin to the graduate school statement of purpose–also demands a laser-like focus. Unlike personal statements that may discuss 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 questions may contain several questions in one, so make sure to address each of them.
For example, in 2022 Kellogg asked applicants in their 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 question has three parts: the underlying question of why is the 1Y program appropriate for you; what do you want to do post-MBA; and what experience has so far prepared you to do it? What in the 1Y program will enable you to achieve that goal?
Drill down to ensure you are answering all the questions-within-the question.
3 ingredients of a successful career goals essay
In addition to having a theme, your essay should also do the following:
- Highlight specific career achievements.
Choose among the most notable or defining experiences you have had either at work or through a community or extracurricular activity. These should showcase your leadership, 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 demonstrate your knowledge about industry trends and point to how your particular abilities can help make a contribution 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.
Based on the last two steps of this article, 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 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. In such a rush of activity, we can practically feel her heart pumping as she races toward her flight.
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 this field, her bilingual abilities, and specialty area as an auditor. This is her springboard to explain why she is pursuing the 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.
Your career goals essay isn’t a list or CV
Outstanding career goals essays go beyond listing an applicant’s roles and achievements and convey real enthusiasm for 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 CFA examinations.
Connecting your goals essay question with your “why this school” question
Many essays, especially MBA essays, will ask why you have chosen that program. Be prepared to answer this 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 or watched videos of students speaking about their experiences, communicated with current students or recent alumni, and otherwise done your homework. 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; 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 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!