IE’s International MBA application asks you to “express yourself” in a single personal essay. IE states that this essay is a way for them to understand who you are, not just as a student but also as a person, and to help them grasp the value that you could add to their program.
The assignment is very broad, so my fellow Fortuna Admissions coach Lisa Beville and I have put together some tips to get you started and guide you through. IE’s essay asks:
“What is the most important thing that you would like us to know that is not in your resume or application?
Take this as an opportunity to showcase your unique attributes and personality. There are three formats you can choose to express yourself: a video (maximum 3 minutes), a PowerPoint presentation (maximum. 10 slides), or a written essay (between 250–650 words).
This question is extremely open-ended and undefined, which allows you, the applicant, to take ownership for your story and shine in a way that feels most authentic to you. However, you might be wondering: Where do I begin? What do I share? And what format should I use?
Before tackling this, I first advise you to review the entire online application form to help pinpoint what is not said elsewhere. Besides basic data (contact info, academic info, professional experience, etc.), IE does not ask much except under “Professional Experience;” for each role you must briefly describe your responsibilities and achievements in only 250 characters.
So, in the application form and from your CV (using the IE required template), you will already be giving detailed information about your job experiences. Therefore, there is no need to restate these same facts again in your essay. Also, it’s important to note that IE does not ask about your extracurricular activities, hobbies and/or volunteer work. So, what can you share about yourself that isn’t reflected in what you’ve included in the online form and your CV? Here are a few things to contemplate:
- IE states there is no single answer on what their ideal candidate looks like. Though innovation and entrepreneurship are at the heart of the program, they are looking for a diverse range of candidates with interpersonal skills who are very motivated and creative and can successfully demonstrate their individuality.
- The essay is a personal statement and should reflect you and your values. Consider what you want to share about yourself that illustrates a new perspective, beyond academics and professional experience. Consider sharing something you are passionate about. The open essay question allows for you to express your unique self, so consider it an empowering opportunity to showcase who you are and what you value.
- Consider the format as a way to feature your creativity or concise writing abilities. There is no right answer or preferred choice of format. The only requirement is to create quality work that answers the question authentically.
- Have fun! Candidates often feel pressure in applications, yet these are self-discovery processes and an avenue to clarify and communicate what you stand for. So, consider these flexible essay questions as a way to demonstrate the authentic you! I encourage you to enjoy the process!
Here are a few examples of what successful candidates showcased in their Personal Essay:
- An applicant with experience in sustainable development showcased her city and life in terms of sustainable goals reached and how we can all take part in caring for our planet. Via video, she embodied her passion, pride, values and alignment while inspiring and empowering others to consider behavioral change for a greener planet.
- An applicant, in a 500-word essay, showcased how and why he created a new volunteer initiative in his community, what the impact has been and how it continues to grow today.
- An applicant, through a PowerPoint presentation, presented his leadership around a sports team he led in university, taking them to the championships for the first time. And then, to keep his passion alive, he created a company team at his workplace to increase morale, generate team building and to have fun with his peers.
Finally, don’t forget that IE also asks candidates to complete a Kira video component after you’ve submitted your application. During this exercise you will be answering at-random questions to demonstrate why you would be a valuable asset to the IE community.
As you are planning and crafting your essay, remember that you will have an opportunity to address additional skillsets, strengths and stories in your video response.
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