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Write a Strong MBA Career Interests Essay

by Stacy Blackman Consulting, Feb 1, 2024

One piece of the MBA application puzzle that candidates often overlook but that holds a lot of weight is the MBA "Career Interests" essay. This isn't just another checkbox to tick. Think of it as an opportunity to showcase your professional dreams, career journey thus far, and strategic approach to success.

First, think carefully about your post-MBA goals. Your gut reaction to this question might be, "I want to be a successful entrepreneur" or "I want to leapfrog up the corporate ladder." Sadly, that won't cut it with the admissions committee. These folks read thousands of applications each season. They're most interested in candidates who embody Merriam-Webster's "Word of the Year": Authenticity.

And that starts with an extended self-reflection session. Where did your career ambitions begin? Did a childhood experience or role model set you on a particular path? You may have had an aha moment in college or on the job. Whatever that career origin story is, the next step is to illustrate how you nurtured and developed those ambitions over time.

Common examples include pursuing internships or volunteer work that supported those interests. You may have found mentors to guide you or took courses or certification programs to bolster your skill set. No matter what happened, describe your journey in a clear, detailed way. Talk about the difficulties you faced, what you learned from them, and the essential goals you reached.

But don't limit yourself to the highlight reel of past experiences. The AdCom team wants to know how you plan to leverage those experiences to propel yourself forward. To succeed, research industry trends. Connect with relevant professionals. Identify the knowledge gaps you need to fill.

"We don't need a detailed roadmap of your future professional life," notes Yale SOM's assistant dean of admissions, Bruce DelMonico. "But we do hope that you've thought directionally about how your graduate management studies will launch you into your desired post-MBA career."

The Golden Rule of the MBA Career Interests Essay

Above all, you want your MBA career interests essay to have concrete and tailored goals. Specificity is your friend when the task at hand is to create a convincing narrative. Remember that you also want to highlight what you bring to the table that differentiates you from the competition.

Every one of us has unique strengths, experiences, and values. Whether it's your knack for problem-solving, your leadership potential, or your passion for social impact, weave these elements into your essay to showcase why you would make an excellent addition to the class.

Rest assured, you don't need to present yourself as a "perfect" MBA candidate. The roadblocks and detours on your journey forced you to become resilient and adaptable when facing challenges. Admissions committees seek applicants with these qualities. Whether you had to navigate a career transition, overcome setbacks, or embrace ambiguity, taking ownership of your vulnerabilities is a testament to your character.

Listen to B-Schooled Podcast #161: Write the Essay that Scares You

Finally, wrap up your MBA career interests essay with optimism and passion. Your enthusiasm for your chosen career path will leave a lasting impression on admissions officers. After all, they're not just looking for qualified candidates but future leaders who can't wait to make a meaningful impact on the world.

And remember, "Your career interests will likely come up again in your interview," says Yale SOM's DelMonico. "Your interviewer will ask you more about your interests in an MBA and what you hope to accomplish post-MBA, so you will have another chance to expand on some details that you might not have been able to include in the written parts of the application."

In the end, it's not just about what you want to achieve; it's about the journey that brought you here, the strategies you've employed to get there, and the unique value you bring. So, unleash your inner storyteller and craft a narrative that leaves admissions committees clamoring for more.

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Stacy Blackman Consulting is the only MBA admissions firm with a complete panel of former Admissions Officers from every M7 program and the elite European MBA programs. We offer multiple services to meet your MBA application needs, from our All-In Partnership to hourly help with essay editing, interview prep, and MBA resume review. Contact us today for a free 15-minute advising session to talk strategy with a Principal SBC consultant.