One of the biggest opportunities to set yourself apart in the application process is the personal statement. After being out of school for a while the thought of writing an essay is groan inducing. Add on top of that the idea that you’re supposed to have your future perfectly mapped out with all the answers. In reality, if we all knew exactly what we wanted to be doing, and what we needed to get there, we would be doing it already. Instead, treat this section as a thought experiment and use the following guidelines to help you along the way.
A major component of the orientation program is creating a coherent story- an elevator pitch about yourself. The personal statement section is like a written version of your pitch. It should have a common thread that ties your past experiences (primarily the skills you’ve acquired along the way) to what you’re looking to do and how an MBA fits into it. The thread may not be obvious at first. Dig deeper to see what commonality the major career decisions you’ve made so far all share. Say you are trying to get into logistics but your experience is only in marketing. A thread may be that the reason you love marketing is understanding consumer needs/wants and finding the most efficient way to deliver them. You can carry over the skills of creating efficiency and understanding complex systems to logistics.
People get tripped up when they are trying to make a shift (either in their role or their industry) or if they aren’t sure what they want to get into. While you don’t need all the answers right away, the personal statement is a great opportunity to really sit down and start the work of narrowing it down. The more thought and effort you put into this statement the further ahead you will be in professional networking and internship hunting.
The best advice is to be realistic in your expectations for the future. Nobody expects you to be the CFO of a Forture 500 company a year or two after getting your MBA. The statement is not the place for grandiose plans of world domination. Be practical and logical in developing a reasonable plan. As much as you can, be specific. Knowing the first role you want, or a niche in an industry you want to be working in, coming out of the program will help you shape the steps to get there. Finally, don’t be afraid to show your personality! This is the first opportunity you have to come to life and be more then an application number. Use it to show all of the interesting things you bring to the table as a person and not a robot reiterating their resume. Good luck and happy writing!