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IESE Essays: Tips & Strategy

IESE Barcelona

IESE’s application includes one required essay, one optional essay, and a new video essay.

IESE Business School is forward-focused and career advancement-driven, so  the application aims to understand your career development and growth, your career aspirations, and how the MBA aligns and what are your career aspirations. The required essay focuses squarely on that topic.

How to Tackle the IESE Essays

Essay Question 1: What are your short-term and mid-term post-MBA goals? How will the IESE MBA program help you achieve them?  (300 words max)

Career progression and leadership impact are considered critical in the IESE application. This question aims to capture who you want to be and what you want to do.

Too often applicants focus on their dream job in the distant future, without designing a realistic path to reach it. By defining the timing in terms of just after graduation and 5 years out, IESE is aiming to gain insight into the specific stepping stones that will support your career journey. It will be important that your career aspirations be ambitious, yet attainable. It can be tricky to find the right balance; however, keep in mind that unrealistic career goals can be a red flag to admissions professionals. Be sure to consider your previous experience and connect the dots between what you have done and where you want to go.

The admissions committee wants to be confident that you can envision how the IESE MBA will add value to your career goals and support your professional growth. Your ability to articulate a coherent, compelling career vision is an indication of the quality of work — and clarity of thought — you’re capable of producing. This kind of clarity is also evidence you possess the abilities to develop a savvy job search strategy, even as your ambitions evolve. Do your research and speak to current business school students and alumni to learn more about what kind of career opportunities are available to IESE business school graduates and how the job recruiting process works.

For more guidance on crafting post-MBA career goals along with some great examples, view this terrific article by Fortuna’s Heidi Hillis.

Essay Question 2 (optional): What would you like to highlight about yourself or your journey which may have not been captured in your application? (300 words max)

This open-ended question is an opportunity to showcase your interests and passion and this opportunity is not to be wasted! Reflect on a part of your story that you have not yet conveyed and that provides insight into who you are and what you value.

IESE looks holistically at candidates, aiming to attract global citizens who care about social impact. This is your opportunity to show how you align with those values. This question could be used to provide insight into a less professional element that might have shaped who you are, such as the perseverance learned in playing the piano, the cultural awareness and perspective gained from traveling, or the joy and gratitude of service. Your response should align with the core themes of the application and your first essay, and provide additional insight into who you are.

As always, the essays and application should be coherent and professional, and it is recommended all essays and applications be extremely polished. Given the personality of the school, the attention to detail, appreciation of the network and career growth, and your professionalism could add subtle value.

Video Essay Component (NEW in 2023-2024)

Once you submit the written application and pay the application fees, you will receive a Kira Video Essay link (within 24-hours) to be completed by the application round deadline. The link will expire in 48-hours after receipt. To provide yourself with adequate time to complete the videos, we recommend submitting the written application  a few days ahead of the deadline.

There will be two video essay questions that you will be required to complete. IESE will consider your application as complete and ready to be reviewed only once they have received your answers to the video questions. All instructions for this section will be shared with you along with the link.

For more insight on IESE within the context of other top international MBA programs, view this invaluable video strategy session with Fortuna directors Matt Symonds and Caroline Diarte Edwards. See also Caroline’s recent article, Why Now Is A Good Time To Pursue An International MBA.

Want more advice on Applying to IESE?

Lisa Bevill is a Fortuna Admissions expert coach and former MBA Admissions Director at IE Business School. She has extensive experience guiding international MBA applicants and is practiced at helping MBA hopefuls understand what IESE and other top European programs are looking for, as well as how to tell your unique story in a way that speaks to your fit with the program. For more free advice and a personal, candid assessment of your chances, you can sign up now for a free consultation.

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