Early Career

Two Strategies to Jump-Start Your Essay Writing Process

Write Great Essays While Preparing for your Internship Search

MBA orientation is different than undergrad orientation in only one way: it is incredibly job focused. Orientation made it clear to me that much of the preparation for my internship search could have been accomplished while writing my admissions essays. Many of you are preparing your applications for the first round of MBA admissions in October. The application process, much like your MBA program, makes incredible demands on your time, so working smart is key. Here’s how I propose you leverage interview logic and company research to write better admissions essays and prepare for your internship search at the same time.

Develop 10 core stories about yourself and your experience.

Hanna Morgan, writing for US News, likens interviewing to improvising and says that most improv performers“adapt pre-rehearsed stories based on the responses from the audience.” If you draft ten pre-rehearsed stories you can adapt them to almost any interview question; you’ll also have 10 stories to insert into your admissions essays.

The key to a great story is its structure. I recommend the STAR structure. When you first start outlining or when you’re stuck with an essay going nowhere fast, force yourself to identify 10 situations (S) were you were given a task (T) and took actions (A) to complete the task, producing tangible results (R). If you can do this when you’re brainstorming your essays then you’ll have no problem selling your experience during an interview.

Do company research.

Check out The Two Hour Job Search by Steve Dalton. It is a quick and organized way to identify your dream companies and companies that hired alumni from your program (or future program.) Force yourself to compile your list while writing your essays. Not only will your personal statement become clearer, in combination with your 10 stories, this list will help you see connections between where you’ve been and where you want to go – a key component of a strong essay’s structure.
Hindsight is 20/20 and looking back I wish I had had a comprehensive approach to essay writing. If you approach your essays as an extension of your job search preparation you’ll save a lot of time your first semester. If you have other suggestions for how to work smart I’d love to hear your strategies!

Amelia Crist, Forté Fellow
MBA 2014, Michigan State University (Broad College of Business)

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