April 29th, 2007
5. What is your career vision and why is this choice meaningful to you? (400-word limit)
As opposed to other schools’ essays about this topic, this one’s pretty vague and open-ended, and does not include the infamous ‘Why HBS’. It actually been claimed by some that HBS are so sure you want to go there, they don’t bother asking why. Which is kind of nice, I guess – I mean, being a self confident person, if someone wants to date me, I don’t ask ‘Why Me? Why Date? Why Now?’
So I don’t recommend on writing “Why HBS”. As I described in my analysis of Essay 4 (Ethics), I indirectly discussed my deep interest in HBS there, but if they don’t explicitly ask “Why Us”, save yourself the effort. They know why them – ’cause they’re HBS, duh!’ (kidding, right)
Also, in contrast to other schools that ask for a short-term, mid-term and long-term career goals, HBS is much more vague. I did structure my essay in the form of four sections: the past, post-MBA goal, long-term goal and a slightly longer “why is it meaningful to me” section.
A few words about the entire topic of future plans: most people know this is somewhat a “game” between the school and the applicant. The minute you’re in, and it’s no secret, the school tells you that they know you didn’t necessarily mean what you said in that essay. And it’s OK. And they’ll help you decide. And hold your hand. Of course there are also the people who really know and mean each and every word they write in this essay, and indeed execute in the short, mid and long term. But I don’t think they’re the majority, to put it mildly.
So why the game? Tell you the truth, I’m not completely sure. Maybe the next couple of years will give me a better understanding. I guess the school wants to know you’re possible of future planning and clear thinking, but still, they also know you might not really mean the amazing strategy you outlined in the essay… Anyways, right now that’s the game and you need to play along.
My opinion is that you do need to think about what you want to do after the MBA – and why are you doing the MBA for. Hey, I certainly hope you gave that a lot of thought regardless of this essay!
But in the essay, you need to clearly outline your goals, and also demonstrate how you’re going to get there. Preferably it should be obvious that with your previous experience, including your undergraduate degree, and the MBA, your future goals are just a natural continuation.
Don’t forget “and why is this choice meaningful to you?” – again, to showcase how the career vision connects to your qualities and what has been important for you so far.
Though the question is a bit fluffy, make sure your answer is structured and to the point. Your career vision should make sense by being connected to your past, and not come ‘out of the blue’.