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Essays: Split of Professional vs. Extracurricular Stories

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Hi,

What do you suggest for a split between professional and extracurricular stories for B-school essays?

I have a fairly unique background in a business setting - basically I do M&A for a software company, but as opposed to being simply an analyst, I am on the ground and involved with operations (so I can talk about at least a couple instances of being in a leadership position to turn around small software companies)

On the community service side, I have a lot of involvement during college and then I picked up again about 8 months ago. I don't have any truly exceptional stories on this end (at least compared to my work experience.)

Is it better to focus on great stories (all in a professional setting) and then bring out extra-curriculars through my resume? Or should I risk including a so-so story about community to provide a better work-community balance?

I would love the opinion of anyone! Please let me know your thoughts.

Thanks,

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by humblebee » Fri Dec 24, 2010 6:21 am
I would probably stick with the stories that show off your qualities, skills and overall story the best.

I'm actually the complete opposite from you in that all my essays are about my extra-cirricular achievements as opposed to my work ones. Businessess schools don't really care that I built a model that impacted the price of a commodity for over 5 million Australians. They do care that I led the effort to secure an extra $30k in funding for a social enterprise I do pro-bono consulting for. Why?

1.) I faced no noteworthy challenge in building that model. I spoke to a couple of people, got data and built the model. Consulting isn't actually that hard...i have absolutely no idea what other pre-mba management consultants write becuase what we do really isn't that amazing and it certainly isn't super difficult. Tedious and frustrating maybe, but rocket science? no way.
2.) I led this initiative from end-to-end and had an impact. In consulting, your efforts go towards the greater team effort. As an analyst, your impact is building a model and making a few slides...
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by skalevar » Fri Dec 24, 2010 6:25 am
Thanks for the reply.

Would you be concerned with (3/3) essays for MIT being all work-related? Would you suggest slipping in a small story about community involvement in the optional essay (<250 words)?

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by humblebee » Fri Dec 24, 2010 7:35 am
skalevar wrote:Thanks for the reply.

Would you be concerned with (3/3) essays for MIT being all work-related? Would you suggest slipping in a small story about community involvement in the optional essay (<250 words)?
Concerned, not really. Because from what I've been able to gather, MIT don't really care that strongly for the 'we save the world' types. If great if you are, but they dont make it an explicit criteria like Chicago i.e. philanthropic tendencies.

Also, you should never use the optional essays for another full essay. They should only ever be used to explain extenuating circumstances e.g. low GPA, low GMAT, second MBA etc. Otherwise you really piss the admissions people off...they already have to read something like 2000 words per applicant. Imagine how much more time they would have to expend if everyone started writing an extra 250 words...don't piss them off.
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