An MBA Applicant, we reviewed, had a consistent 4-year performance in the advertising industry. He was responsible for some of the best campaigns in a top Ad Agency. As we condensed his performance to interesting narratives using the switching views method, shortlisting conflicts, finding antagonists and adding elements of storytelling, he shared one big secret just two days before the application deadline. Despite being a top 1% contributor, he was fired from two of the four jobs. We felt betrayed that he chose not to share this crucial piece of information while we were sending questionnaires for the life audit session. According to him, Firing was a negative incident, not something that enhances the narrative arc, or adds to the saleability of his profile. MBA Admission team has often found evidence of 'getting fired' during background checks, and had to reject accepted applicants because they chose not to disclose employment gaps contributed by the incident.
What most applicants fail to understand is that any incident can be transformed to a story by adding four elements: Characters, Points of Views, Obstacles, and Resolution. The top MBA program he was applying even had a question - "What is the biggest obstacle you had to overcome,” a 500-word essay that would have been the perfect space to include the 'getting fired' incident. It does not matter if you were fired or you chose to quite a job, the contemplation time to find the next job in addition to the actual search would add at least 1-6 month of employment gap. Before writing about getting fired, you have to decide whether getting fired was the focus of the story or the opportunities after the firing is the turning point in your career. The scenarios are personal, and if you found a job within 1-month of the incident, then 'getting fired' should be the focus of the story, but if you had a 3-4 month gap to consider multiple job roles, let the life after the incident be at the heart of the narrative.
Let's take Getting Fired and explain each story elements.
Characters are the backbone of the story. You are the protagonist, but a story is never engaging without the antagonists. The hell-raising boss, who wants the best; the boss who is blindly egoistic without putting any thought on the outcome or efficiency of the team; the boss who shows open favoritism to the less talented team member and all the weird characters in between makes for an opportunity to explain conflict. Your boss will be the central character in an essay about you getting fired.
When your story is about the incident, you have to be careful not to make a caricature out of your boss. Of course, they were egoistic, and made a quick decision regarding your employability but that doesn't make them a one-dimensional human being. The circumstances under which the characters behaved should highlight the vulnerability of the character. If the boss could not support you due to the non-negotiable company culture, let that be part of the Character study. The worst you can do is to paint your boss as the 'villain' without putting too much thought into how the incident was triggered. It didn't come out of the blue. Perhaps, the boss preferred less dynamic team members who obeyed a certain set of rules all the time, without letting them go out of the rule box.
When the word limits in most essays are constricted to 500 words, you don't have much option to add more than 3 characters. Try writing a 500-word essay with three principle characters. The Boss, You, and the person who was also an equal party in your firing - a colleague perhaps, and you will realize how tough it is to write a compelling essay within the word limits. A 2-character narrative works best in MBA Application essays.
2) Points of Views
Mark Cuban has explained beautifully how he got fired in the book "". He does not create one-dimensional narrative. Although the major portion of the story is spent on what he did, he has the maturity to shine light into the boss's point of view. Most MBA Applicants are defensive about the incident and try to focus exclusively on their point of view without showing any signs of empathy.
We had shared how switching views help you offer context, make opinions sound as facts, and improve the overall readability in MBA Application essays. Essays are our point of views. Even the empathetic representations of the antagonist’s actions are your point of view but by looking at the other person as a multidimensional character, you are transforming the narrative to a believable format.
A non-fiction writer handles the switch deftly by creating a believable environment with the words, and then suddenly including dialogues in the narrative – a technique that we found effective in MBA essays.
Sample Essay Part 1
The 9-5 schedule never applied to us. Initially, it was a challenge adapting to a work environment where productivity was everything, but we understood why hitting milestones in a $50 million project was crucial for meeting deadlines. That evening I had met my daily milestone – “develop the ‘data validation’ module”; a functionality that made sure that customer records were pre-processed before uploading in the database. “Jon, do you have a minute?” the Manager whispered to me with a sense of despair. The HR head, the senior project Manager, and the Manager, who closed the cabin after I entered, were present for the meeting.
In the above example, 40% of the narrative is expressed from a third person’s point of view, 40% from the applicant’s perspective with a dialogue immersed at one point to highlight the moment when the applicant knew something was wrong. By mixing the point of views, the reviewer is immersed in the applicant’s experience without pre-judging. Only during the end of the paragraph will the reviewer ask the question –“Why was he fired?”
Obstacles are what makes the narrative interesting, and gives a peek into the applicant’s strengths, weaknesses, values, and biases. An obstacle creates moments of conflicts resolved through one on one personal interaction. We can’t emphasize it more – what differentiates you from other applicants, who also had led a team, mastered their domain and achieved academic excellence is people skills. Unless you can show how you navigated personal setbacks with maturity, by communicating and understanding the bigger picture, you are just another applicant trying to narrowly focusing on achievements.
Obstacles that create conflict in the narrative are:
1) Personal Conflicts: A feedback that you are not good enough for a job function might seem shocking to you at that moment, but unless you can put to words your insecurities, the reviewer will not understand the internal turmoil.
2) External Circumstances: Maybe the company had a losing quarter for the third consecutive time, and they cannot afford to keep you in the team. The firing might be due to downsizing – not your fault.
3) Politics: Writing about office politics is tricky but what we have observed is that majority of firing happens due to ego clash and favoritism.
Sample Essay Part 2
The HR Manager looked at me with sympathy. Over her shoulders, I could see the performance list for the quarter. My name was on the top of the list. I had developed 3 modules a week with Maggie taking a distant second at 1.5 modules per week. When the boss said, “We have bad news for you,” I knew what the next sentence would be. The company failed to close two major projects where my skills would have been put to optimum use. I showed them the performance board just behind their back. The Senior Project Manager smiled and said, “We know. That is why it is painful to let you go.”
Resolution does two things: it gives a clearer context on what happened from your personal point of view, and shows how you managed the internal and circumstantial conflicts. Two things most likely follows: a feeling of injustice first fills the narrative, followed by the realization that getting fired was for the better. How you put that to words differentiates you from other applicants
Sample Essay Part 3
I sat shocked, and a little insulted when the HR Manager shared that I had to leave the desk immediately. One hour back, I was pumping up the team with new ideas, and here I was leaving the company. I had overstayed my welcome. In early July, when over 100 employees were fired, my inner dialogue blamed their performance. Although I saw some anomaly when even some of the talented creators were let go, I kept sticking to a company whose culture I had despised. I felt I could bring change to the bureaucratic organization by giving autonomy to each team member. I did, and motivated quite a few, but the company believed in the status quo and the rigidity of commands in a top-down flow.
When my style of leadership started disrupting the rigid process oriented organization, the leadership started neglecting the results. The Senior Project Manager who was a stickler for ‘obeying orders’, gave me a sly smile while I was crossed his desk. I pressed the ‘0’ button, and saw my Manager rushing towards the lift. He shared how he had fought for my position; all in vain and how the Sr. Project Manager despised how I dealt with the team. I thanked my Manager, and felt grateful at the opportunity to take a break from the 9-7 schedule that I had worked for the past 4 years.
Next month, I received an invitation as one of the speakers on a software development framework. The pay was hourly, but my name was all over the brochures – an opportunity I was experiencing for the first time. One of the attendees was the CTO of a start-up in Bay area. He stopped by me after the talk, complimented my presentation, and wanted to know how the framework would reduce development time, especially in the App Business. I demonstrated how productivity could be doubled with the new framework. Although there was a 2-3 month learning curve, the long-term impact was huge. The next day I got an email with an offer – be the consultant and trainer for the start-up with a pay package that was 1.5 times my previous salary for 4 month’s work. I had finally found a niche where I could excel, but my heart was always on scaling the Tutoring Business. Luckily, I met Mr. Todd (the Marketing Manager for X MBA program), who shared how MBA students last year have incubated two start-ups in the Education industry through the school’s Entrepreneurial ecosystem. I had finally found my match.
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
+Harvard MBA Essay Tips (2020 Entering Class) (NEW)
Sample Harvard MBA Essay – Gratitude & Giving Back (318 Words)
Sample Harvard MBA Essay – Entrepreneurship (Influence of Childhood) (667 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 (Persistence/Creativity/Opportunity Seeking) (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 Essay #2: Math Tutoring and Experimental music’s value for the Wharton Community (388 Words)
Sample Essay #2: Non-Profit – Obesity Epidemic and Healthy Lifestyle at Wharton (399 Words)
Sample Why Stanford MBA Essay (Consulting)(400 words)
Sample Why Stanford MBA Essay (Tech Entrepreneur) (390 words)
Sample Why Stanford MBA: Career Switching (Finance to Green Energy Consulting) (389 Words)
Sample Why Stanford MBA: Career Switching (Private Equity to Operations) (399 Words)
Sample Essay A: What matters most to you, and why? (740 Words)(Balance in Life)
Sample Essay A: What matters most to you, and why? (750 Words)(Vulnerability and Learning)
Sample Essay A: What matters most to you, 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 in Life Essay #1 (492 Words)(Technologist - Father’s Restaurant Business and Leadership)
Sample Leadership Experience & Choices in Life Essay #2 (639 Words) (Education - Teach for America and Leadership)
Sample Leadership Experience & Choices in Life Essay #3 (496 Words)(Physician - Opioid Crisis and Healthcare Innovation)
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)
+ Haas MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
Sample MBA Essay: Non-Profit
Sample MBA Essay: Technology
Sample MBA Essay: Marketing
Sample MBA Essay: Getting Fired
Sample MBA Essay: Diverse and Inclusive Culture
Sample MBA Essay: Leadership
Sample MBA Essay: Post-MBA Goal & How Pre-MBA Experience will help
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Investment Banking (IB)(404 Words)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Consulting (447 Words)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Technology (448 Words)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Marketing (491 Words)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Entrepreneurship (496 Words)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: IMPACT Investing (495 Words)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Oil & Gas to Clean Energy (Consulting) (464 Words)
+ Ross MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
Sample MBA Essay: Finance Professional who was a former member of a rock band (96 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Marketing Professional with a hidden talent to do Impression (100 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Life Philosophy through the prism of 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 for Manufacturing (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 and Last-minute change) (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 find it Challenging when People (Laziness)(100 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: I find it Challenging when People (Pessimism) (96 Words)
Sample Essay – Short-term Goals and why the goal is the right choice for you (Technology to Marketing)(299 Words)
Sample Short-term Goals Essay – Technology to Consulting (100 Words)
Sample Long-term Goals Essay – Consulting for Government (100 Words)
Sample Long-term Goals Essay – Plan B (89 Words)
Framework for Answering the Duke Fuqua 25 Random Things
Sample Duke Fuqua Essay: The Fuqua community and you (Max 2 Pages)
+ NYU Stern MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
Sample NYU Stern Essay 1: Goals (498 Words) (Finance)
5 Examples with Images
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)
Sample LBS MBA Essay: Post-MBA Goals (495 Words)(Medical Doctor to Investment Banking)
+ Sample Essays
+ The Art of Storytelling
+ Leadership Narratives
+ Review Tips
+ Persuasion Strategies
+ The Secret to "unleashing" your unique voice
+ How to write about your Strengths