When we recommend applicants to follow the fundamentals of storytelling, most of them look at us with suspicion. The admission team has to go through at least twenty essays before they can find a genuine narrative that looks honest and interesting. Story format in itself will not guarantee you admission. You have to meet the entry criteria (GMAT, GPA, and Experience) for the program while differentiating from other similar profiles, but storytelling by itself can act as a differentiator if your profile is weak or your achievements have a low recall within your profession.
Before you study extensively about Storytelling for MBA Application Essays, understand that every story answers the four fundamental questions:
1. Who is the protagonist?
2. Where is he going?
3. How will he achieve the goals?
4. How will he be transformed after achieving the goals?
The difference between movies/novels and storytelling for essays is that in essays one more question has to be answered explicitly.
1. Who is the protagonist?
2. Where is he going?
3. Why is he going?
4. How will he achieve the goals?
5. How will he be transformed after achieving the goals?
In movies, the storyteller has a 90-minute window while in novels a 60,000 word count to slowly unravel the why part with the SHOW don’t tell approach. In essays, you are dealing with word count in the 250-500 range, a space that constricts you from indulging in dialogues or describing the scenery of the event.
1. Who is the protagonist?
The resume is the introduction that informs the admission team about you. Make sure that you cover the most impactful events and achievements in the 1-page format. Use our services to edit the resume. If you spend, any words on revealing who you are through the essays, you would already take up at least 100-150 words from a 500-word essay. You can’t afford to do so.
Exposition without killing the narrative
In superhero movies, there will be a character, who assembles the heroes (Avenger) or a mentor who recognizes the power of the protagonist (The Matrix), reveals the superpowers of each hero, defines the goals and set the stage for action. In thrillers, the detective either will reveal in one monologue about what happened (50s and 60s movie) or split it out in a sequence of monologues interfered by action sequences that keep interrupting his findings or posing harm to the detective to avoid the revelation. In bad movies, one character will explicitly reveal the motivation in a dialogue.
So what format should you follow?
The character that mentors the superhero is the Recommender. The equivalent of bad movies is a recommendation letter where the supervisor lists out all the qualities without using the SHOW Don’t Tell Approach. Let the recommender reveal your superpower through your previous actions, backstory, and your potential while setting you up for the sequel – the post-MBA career path.
2. Where is he going?
The “Why MBA” question tries to find out the answer to this question. Your journey towards a bigger goal – something that you cannot achieve with your current skillset, should not deter you from trying. Superhero movies perfectly capture the essence of this narrative. Peter Parker is the dork that seems not to get anywhere in life without the power of his web-shooters, but his heart is in the right place. He sees injustice, understand his limitations, but aspires to achieve something that is bigger than what he is. If you can explain where you are going with a balanced narrative on your skills, demonstrated through your achievements, and what you don’t have, ‘the superpower’ that the MBA program (specific new skills, network, and confidence to take on your goals) will offer, the Essay reviewer will root for you.
Predictability of the Path
In movies and stories, the characters can create an illusion that the path they traverse is unique, but if you cut out all the bells and whistles, the motivation for the path will come down to justice, love, and immortality. In a post-MBA world, there are only limited career paths: Consulting, Finance, Technology and Non-Profit, but when you combine the industry and job function, the path multiplies.
The admission team has a comprehensive awareness about the possible career paths. If you divert from the path too wide, it will not register within the storytelling narrative. Humans have evolved with a superior BS detector. The intuition has helped us outlive Neanderthal, Homo erectus, and Homo Habilis. The Admission team has one additional responsibility other than selecting promising and qualified students - to guard the brand of the Business School. They have developed a keen ear for exaggeration and spins.
Unfortunately, we have seen too many applicants creating a brilliant narrative but mentioning career paths that seem impossible or does not require an MBA. Use a third-party service to review your essay and evaluate the feasibility of your plan.
3. Why is he going?
“What you have done is an indication of where you are going.”
You might not believe in this statement, but a vast majority of the admission team does. You can’t say that you would like a post-MBA role where extroversion is valued when you have not demonstrated the quality in your professional life or extra-curricular. It is unfair that you are stuck in a persona defined in your teen, but if you hate a job function, you will most likely find the actual calling, initially as a hobby, and then slowly as a full-time gig when the market rewards you for the effort.
Everybody has a reason for switching careers. A few common ones we have seen are:
Engineering -> Creative (Entrepreneurs/Writers/Media Personality) (An inexplicable thirst to create, find an audience and leave a legacy)
Engineering -> Finance (MBAs) (Engineering professionals who find Finance as a natural extension of their skills in reasoning, numerical analysis, and logical deduction)
Finance -> Marketing (Professionals who are fascinated by the propagation of the message more than the product and those who found the repetitive task of quantitative analysis boring)
Marketing -> Finance (Rare few. Those who survive in marketing are extroverts. Unless an increase in post-MBA salary is the motivation, very few professionals make the switch)
Finance -> Consulting (Finance restricts the mastery to one particular aspect of the Business while consulting, despite the travel demands, is a satisfying career path for most professionals)
Consulting -> Finance (Professionals who mastered an industry, feel disillusioned with the process- centric role that a consultant experiences and looks at Finance as a much better alternative with superior pay options)
Finance/Engineering/Consulting -> Non-Profit/Government (Professional who have earned financial stability often feels disillusioned after reaching the goal and seeks to find meaning from their work. Non-profit and Government offer roles that would have a much direct impact on the society)
The reasons for switching are equally important as the demonstrated skills in the new job function or jobs that require similar skills. Your ability to learn, adapt and work with people from diverse background is an indicator on whether you will achieve what you have aspired. Learning is not limited to grades and performance in a National Aptitude Test or a Math Olympiad. Any experience where you came out of your comfort zone and learned the vocabularies of a new job function while working under uncertainty is a valid evidence of your potential.
Supervisors strategically affirming your ability through recommendation letters should reinforce the idea that you are an ideal candidate for career switching.
Motivation -> Skills -> New Career
Motivation is a pre-cursor to skills, and if you cannot articulate, why the new career is important, you would not stick with the aspiring job function for the next 5-10 years. For the MBA Admission team, recruiting a candidate, who is fickle with the career choice, is risky. The recruiters want some form of guarantee that the applicant will go on to play a major role in the company, and not switch ships at the first opportunity.
Hooking the candidate through debt is a strategy that has worked for Employers. If you have a $200k debt, would you go for a start-up with an unpredictable future or an established Consulting or Finance role where the 150k+ annual salary is guaranteed? We noticed that despite a large majority of candidates citing unique motivations, they often work 1-3 years in traditional roles, to pay off the debt, before venturing out on their real post-MBA goals. So articulating unique goals is not bad in itself. It is much better that quoting the most likely short-term post-MBA career path.
4. How will he achieve the goals?
The MBA program has a fixed assembly line of learning: core, electives, experiential learning, speaker series, and student clubs. Most applicants will touch ....
Download Winning MBA Essay Guide for the Complete Chapter (Foundation of Effective Storytelling for Essays: Transformation Matrix)
Includes: How to create the Transformation Matrix with Examples for Professionals from Technology and Marketing
80+ Sample Essays + Essay Writing, Review & Editing Tips + 15 School-Specific Tips = Winning MBA Essay Guide
Only 1 in 900 gains admission to Harvard MBA program. If you write your essay focused only on your achievements, post-MBA goals, and your pre-MBA experience, you will be among the 899 rejected applicants.
ATTENTION is the secret ingredient. How will you get the attention of the essay reviewer?
You know why parables shared 1000 years ago are still shared among us?
Yes, the art of storytelling has won presidency for Obama, transformed Apple from an unknown start-up to a brand synonymous with Quality, and gained admission for the average MBA Applicant.
F1GMAT's Winning MBA Essay guide will teach you how to transform your essay to an epic life journey with trials and tribulations that will move the admission team.
Who Should Buy The Winning MBA Essay Guide?
If your essay looks too bland, our Winning MBA Essay Guide will show you, with examples, on how to use the elements of Storytelling like Incorporating "The Struggle", Using Emotional connectors, narrating the Journey and the use of Chronology, Vividness and Active Verbs to transform your essays.
If you are stuck in the Writing process, our Winning MBA Essay Guide will show you how to silence the Analytic Mind and overcome mental blocks.
If you feel that the essays are not persuasive, our Winning MBA Essay Guide will teach you how to use the W-Pattern narrative, Contexts, Turning Points and "The Show Don't Tell Approach" to write a Winning MBA Essay.
If you don't have enough leadership experience, our Winning MBA Essay Guide will show you how to highlight non-obvious qualities like Trust, Focus, Listening Skills, Personal Responsibility, Humility, Self-Knowledge, and other secondary traits to prove your leadership.
If you don't know how to review your essays, our Winning MBA Essay Guide will demonstrate how to improve readability with the power of iteration, and maintain your original voice by removing review biases.
Winning MBA Essay Guide Includes
Sample Harvard MBA Essay – Gratitude & Giving Back (318 Words)
Sample Harvard MBA Essay – Entrepreneurship (Influence of Childhood) (667 Words)
Sample Harvard MBA Essay - Volunteering (Mental Health Awareness) (776 Words)
Sample Goals Essay 1: Enterprise Technology to Consumer Marketing (496 Words)
Sample Goals Essay 2: Healthcare (Finance to Consulting) (499 Words)
Sample Goals Essay 3: FinTech (Product Manager to Strategy) (482 Words)
Sample Columbia Good Fit Essay 1: Value from NYC (237 Words)
Sample Columbia Good Fit Essay 2: Entrepreneur Mindset (237 Words)
Sample Columbia Good Fit Essay 3: Teamwork and Learning (242 Words)
Sample Columbia MBA Leader I admire Essay #1 (Elon Musk) (250 Words)
Sample Columbia MBA Leader I admire Essay #2 (Father) (244 Words)
Sample Columbia MBA Leader I admire Essay #3 (Mother) (243 Words)
Sample Columbia MBA Leader I admire Essay #4 (Math Teacher) (242 Words)
Sample Columbia MBA Leader I admire Essay #5 (Co-Founder) (250 Words)
Sample Wharton MBA Essay:Gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (482 Words) (VC to Consulting (Healthcare))
Sample Wharton MBA Essay:Gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (497 Words) (Business Development to Finance (Non-Profit in Energy))
Sample Essay #2: Math Tutoring and Experimental music’s (388 Words)
Sample Essay #2: Non-Profit – Obesity Epidemic and Healthy Lifestyle (399 Words)
Sample Essay #2: Non-Profit – Energy Efficient Offices (395 Words)
Sample Why Stanford MBA Essay (Consulting)(400 words)
Sample Why Stanford MBA Essay (Tech Entrepreneur) (390 words)
Sample Why Stanford MBA: Finance to Green Energy Consulting (389 Words)
Sample Why Stanford MBA: Private Equity to Operations(399 Words)
Sample Essay A: What matters most and why? (740 Words)(Balance in Life)
Sample Essay A: What matters most and why? (750 Words)(Vulnerability and Learning)
Sample Essay A: What matters most and why? (748 Words)(Freedom and Commitment)
Sample Goals Essay #1: Oil & Gas to Consulting (475 Words)
Sample Goals Essay #2: Social IMPACT to Marketing (Non-Profit) (472 Words)
Sample Goals Essay #3: Accounting to Entrepreneurship (Fashion)(495 Words)
Sample Goals Essay #4: Technology (Programming to Product Development) (493 Words)
Sample Leadership Experience & Choices Essay #1 (492 Words)(Father’s Restaurant Business and Leadership)
Sample Leadership Experience & Choices Essay #2 (639 Words) (Teach for America and Leadership)
Sample Leadership Experience & Choices Essay #3 (496 Words)(Opioid Crisis and Healthcare Innovation)
Sample Leadership Experience & Choices Essay #4 (500 Words) (Disrupting the Food Supply Chain)
Sample Essay: Candid Description, Strengths & Weaknesses (Marketing Lead) (499 Words)
Sample Essay: Candid Description, Strengths & Weaknesses (Consulting to Product Development) (492 Words)
Sample Essay: Achievements and Failures (398 Words) (Technology Consultant)
Sample Essay: Achievements and Failures (395 Words) (International Relations) (Negotiations)
Sample Essay: Extra-Curricular and How enriched you are (272 Words) (Hiking and Vlogging)
Sample Essay: Extra-Curricular and How enriched you are (298 Words) (Improv Acting)
Sample Haas What Makes you feel Alive (Design as a tool for Change) (294 Words)
Sample Haas What Makes you feel Alive (Flying and AI in Healthcare)(299 Words)
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Sample Haas MBA Enhance Leadership Profile (Need-based Leadership) (Non-Profit for working Mothers) (300 Words)
Sample Yale Committment Essay: Business Development (Mobile Phone Start-Up)(485 Words)
Sample Yale Committment Essay: Investment Banking (IB)(404 Words)
Sample Yale Committment Essay: Consulting (447 Words)
Sample Yale Committment Essay: Technology (448 Words)
Sample Yale Committment Essay: Marketing (491 Words)
Sample Yale Committment Essay: Entrepreneurship (496 Words)
Sample Yale Committment Essay: IMPACT Investing (495 Words)
Sample Yale Committment Essay: Oil & Gas to Clean Energy (Consulting) (464 Words)
+ Ross MBA Essay Tips (2020 Entering Class)(NEW)
Sample MBA Essay: Finance Professional & a former member of a rock band (96 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Marketing Professional with a talent to do Impression (100 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Life Philosophy through an Entrepreneurial failure (94 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Consulting for a Pharma Giant (Made a Difference) (91 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Three-Level Sanitation Campaign (100 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Water Conservation Kit (99 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Losing client (100 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Misreading Market Conditions (93 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Strategic Planning vs. Tactical Dominance in Chess (97 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Out of my comfort zone(extra-curricular) (93 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Out of my comfort zone (Daily Science Show) (99 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Simplifying Operations (extra-curricular) (90 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: I am aware that I am different (Leadership and Culture) (98 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: I am aware that I am different (Technology Project) (98 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: I am aware that I am different (Making Business metrics relevant to a Creative team) (91 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: I find it Challenging when People (Timidity)(98 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: I was challenged when (Change in Scope) (99 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: I was challenged when (Team Failed) (100 Words)
Sample Essay – Short-term Goals and why the goal is the right choice for you (Private Investment as a Tool for Change) (294 Words)
Sample Essay – Short-term Goals and why the goal is the right choice for you (Education to Consulting) (299 Words)
Sample Post-MBA Career Goals (99 Words)(Marketing for FinTech)
Sample Why MBA Right Next Step for you (98 Words)(Engineering to Marketing)
Sample Post-MBA Career Goals (94 Words)(Marketing Consulting firm and Product Marketing)
Sample Why MBA Right Next Step for you (100 Words) (Hobby to Business)
Sample Post-MBA Career Goals (99 Words) (Interior Design Business with AR)
Framework and Examples for Answering Duke Fuqua 25 Random Things with 5 Samples
Sample Duke Fuqua Essay: The Fuqua community and you (784 Words)
Sample NYU Stern Essay 1: Goals (495 Words)(Consulting)
Sample NYU Stern Essay 1: Goals (500 Words)(Product Management)
5 Examples with Images
Sample Darden MBA Essay – Meaningful IMPACT (Fear-based to team-based culture) (199 Words)
Sample Darden MBA Essay – Different Perspective and IMPACT on worldview (Life Experience) (191 Words)
Sample Darden MBA Essay – Different Perspective and IMPACT on worldview (Courage)(199 Words)
Sample Darden MBA Essay – Different Perspective and IMPACT on worldview (Team Diversity) (193 Words)
Sample Darden MBA Essay – About yourself Personal, Professional or Both (100 Words) (Near Death Experience)
Sample Darden MBA Essay – About yourself Personal, Professional or Both (99 Words) (Networking)
Sample Darden MBA Essay – About yourself Personal, Professional or Both (100 Words) (Mountaineering)
Sample Darden MBA Essay: Short-term Post-MBA career goal (150 words) (Technology to Consulting)
Sample Darden MBA Essay: Short-term Post-MBA career goal (150 words) (Product Management)
Sample Darden MBA Essay: Short-term Post-MBA career goal (149 words) (Investment Banking to Private Equity)
Sample Essay – Where you want to go with Darden (47 Words) (Uganda)
Sample Essay – Where you want to go with Darden (49 Words) (Sweden)
Sample Essay – Where you want to go with Darden (48 Words) (China)
Cover Letter Checklist
Sample Cover Letter – Technology to Consulting (284 Words)
Sample Cover Letter – Healthcare Entrepreneurship (297 Words)
Sample Cover Letter – Consulting to Technology (298 Words)
Sample Cover Letter – Wealth Management to FinTech (299 Words)
Sample Cover Letter – Manufacturing to Consulting (Retail) (299 Words)
Sample Cover Letter – Strategy to Consulting (297 Words)
Sample Essay: Demonstrated Leadership, the challenges you faced and what you learned (Technology) (447 Words)
Sample Essay: Demonstrated Leadership, the challenges you faced and what you learned (Non-Profit) (441 Words)
Sample Essay: Values important to you and how have they influenced you? (Changing the Traditional Recruitment Formula)(443 Words)
Sample Essay: Values important to you and how have they influenced you?(Seniority-Based to Performance-based Culture)(444 Words)
Sample Essay: Values important to you and how have they influenced you?(From machine-centric to Human-centric customer support)(446 Words)
London as the Financial Hub
London as the Technology Hub
London as the Consulting Hub
Sample LBS MBA Essay: Post-MBA Goals (493 Words)(Hospitality to Consulting)
Sample LBS MBA Essay: Post-MBA Goals (500 Words)(Government/Non-Profit to Technology)
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+ The Art of Storytelling
+ Leadership Narratives
+ Review Tips
+ Persuasion Strategies
+ The Secret to "unleashing" your unique voice
+ How to write about your Strengths