MBA Essay Tips

Q) Fuqua prides itself on cultivating a culture of engagement. Our students enjoy a wide range of student-led organizations that provide opportunities for leadership development and personal fulfillment, as well as an outlet for contributing to society. Our student-led government, clubs, centers, and events are an integral part of the student culture and are vital to providing you with a range of experiential learning and individual development experiences. Based on your understanding of the Fuqua culture, how do you see yourself engaging in and contributing to our community outside of the classroom?

Tip #1: Hint is in the Question

The first part of the question has clues on what to highlight in the essay: student-led clubs, events, and centers. You should always choose the experiential learning modules and leadership initiatives that would have an immediate impact on your post-MBA career.

Tip #2: Professional + Talent + Passion + Non-Profit + Global Experiential Learning

Not all your potential contribution has to be aligned with a post-MBA goal. Even though almost all engagements require some form of consulting, causes that you believe in can be found in Duke Fuqua’s student organizations.

Duke Fuqua MBA Essay (Short-Answer)

Q1) Why is pursuing an MBA the right next step for you?

Q2) What are your post-MBA career goals? Share with us your first choice career plan and your alternate plan.

Scenario #1: Maximized the career progression

Be careful how you structure this narrative as any form of exaggeration and misinformation could be easily recognized as most competing applicants also use a similar narrative.

Without an MBA, most applicants reach a team lead or equivalent position in 3-5 years. For those who switched jobs 2-3 times, they could maximize their title with a Project Manager role, but the transition is likely to be in a start-up where the years of experience is not a restriction in taking over the managerial position.

The admission team recognizes the nuanced movements in your career. An unnecessary explanation is not required. Just a statement confirming the dynamics is sufficient.

Approach: Pre-MBA career transition influencing post-MBA Goals

The third common theme for the Ross MBA goals essay is the mini transition that the applicant already had undergone within the organization. An MBA becomes the official ‘sign of approval’ for the complete transition.

Those who started their career in software development and later moved into product management or marketing, typically use this narrative arc. Even within this experience, the applicant’s impact in an extra-curricular is essential to highlight the development of the functional skills in a different domain with unique goals.

In this example, the applicant traces his interest in ‘selling’ to an accidental deal he closed while narrating the origins of the annotating feature for the flagship product – DotXYZ. The transition from software development to sales is the first half. The second half is about the contribution in a non-profit, leveraging technology with his storytelling skills.

Approach: Limitations of Pre-MBA Experience

For career enhancers, drafting the short-term career goal might be tricky. Finding the nuanced limitations of the current role requires explaining the inciting incident for the motivation. It could be a mentor’s suggestion, an observation on the lack of traction without an MBA or a trend that requires the fast acquisition of skills in leadership or strategy. The permutations are many.

In this example, the applicant who is pursuing an Entrepreneurial career in offering training services for teachers in charter schools found the limitations. An interaction with an investor is cited as the inciting incident for the transition from a firm offering only training service to expanding into consulting for an educational services company. Ross MBA becomes pivotal support to realize this ambition.

Q) Michigan Ross is a place where people from all backgrounds with different career goals can thrive. Please share your short-term career goal. Why is this career goal the right choice for you?  (300 words)

Q) Michigan Ross is a place where people from all backgrounds with different career goals can thrive. Please share your short-term career goal. Why is this career goal the right choice for you?  (300 words)

Approach: Extra-curricular feeding into post-MBA Goals

The most common but effective narrative is about the extra-curricular feeding into your career. It could be a role in a non-profit that complemented your functional skills or an entrepreneurial pursuit that gave you exposure in multiple functions. With 300 words, the narrative must hook the admission team and sound believable.

Most post-MBA placements in highly competitive functions – consulting and technology requires some form of pre-MBA experience in the function.

The admission team must make a call whether your experience is good enough with an MBA, to switch into a new function.

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