ISB Application 2009-10 Essay Analysis

The Admissions for the One Year PGP for the class of 2011 is now open. The application portal is also LIVE. Here is the link for the same.

The application deadlines are:

Cycle 1 Application Deadline September 15, 2009
Cycle 2 Application Deadline December 1, 2009

I had written a note on previous years’ Essays:
* Essay Analysis for Class of 2009
* Essay Analysis for Class of 2010

I did a simple analysis of this year’ essays and provided a personal opinion on the same. Take this just as my personal opinion and ISB has no official connection with the same.

Essay 1: Give 3 reasons as to why you should be selected to the class of 2011. These reasons should ideally differentiate you from the applicant pool and should be backed with some data. (300 words max)

According to me, this is the most simple and at the same time, the most important question of all. You simply have to differentiate yourself but remember: You do not have to be an overachiever to differentiate yourself. You do not have to do something away from the normal to achieve differentiation. Just sit back, reflect on what you have done and you will find the answers. Here are some tips to find the answer:

1. Just imagine that all people from your industry or company are put in a room together. ISB has to pick one person of them. What selling points do you have?
2. Jot down everything that you have done since graduation, be it extra-curriculars, achievements at work, involvement in social clubs, etc.
3. Use post-its: Write one bullet point about yourself on one post-it each. This point need not be an achievement, but can be rather normal (to you). Spread them out. Now make three boxes marked “Personal”, “Professional” and “Community”. You can make different boxes, according to your needs. Now classify each post-it to a box so that you have 3 clusters in front of you. In each box, start removing the least important post-it. Repeat this activity for each box until you are left with only one post-it in each box. Here is your answer.

Some general pointer on the purpose behind this question

The batch strength of ISB is 560 and every B-school wants each student to bring something worthwhile to the community that he/she can contribute. Consider the fact that learning in an MBA environment is not limited to classroom. Peer learning forms an important part of education here. To achieve this, a B-school must ensure that its batch is diverse enough that each person contributes as much to in-class discussions as to outside classroom interactions. These diversity factors can be in terms of international work experience, excellent academics, good leadership initiatives, start-up experience, and so on.

Structure of the essay

In my opinion, do not give any introduction or ending summary. Just come straight to the point, considering 300 word limit. If you really want, just give a one-liner introduction mentioning the three factors that you are going to talk about. This introduction is important if you are blending the three points in the essay and not separately listing them out under different headings. There is no one right approach. Just write it with your heart and make it either a story like essay or 3 points under 3 headings. Both are fine. The important thing to remember here is to be precise.

Essay 2: Describe a challenging assignment you have handled (at work or outside) to date. What were the challenges and how did you handle them. What were the personal learnings you derived from this assignment. (300 words max)

Challenges contribute significantly in developing professional and personal maturity. Answer this essay with a story to describe a challenge that helped you gain a mature approach towards life and work. Just pick one story, keep it simple and short and focus more on the learning part. This is a great opportunity to highlight your resilience and ability to learn from even the most difficult circumstances. Basically, you have to highlight how you grew either because of the experience or in spite of it.

A suggested structure to this response can be

* Story – Describe the initial challenge
* Comment on your thoughts and actions in response. If applicable, comment in internal thoughts as well as external reactions to display the nature of the challenge

It is not necessary to have overcome the challenge. You may still be in the process or have failed to overcome it completely. But the positive change did that bring in you is more important. Remember that your thoughts and response to the challenge should display maturity, and a common theme of sincerity towards improvement should come out.

Essay 3: Briefly assess your career progression till date along with your assessment of your future career goals. Discuss how your career goals will be met by the ISB’s one year program. (300 words max)

This is a very simple factual question. But the challenge here is put your story and future plans in 300 words. This exercise will take a lot of time and effort. In my opinion, the steps to structure this essay are:

* Jot down everything you have done till now in your professional life
* Answer a why to every decision that you took
* This should result in a chronological story with reasons for every step
* You have to tailor some things to show not that your decision was a consequence BUT because of your original plan, you took a decision. Basically, your decisions should be a consequence of your master plan
* Finally justify how an MBA fits into the overall plan regarding the next steps
* Now when everything is in place, put everything together. Make an attempt to bring out an interesting story that answers the reason of all your decisions and brings certain qualities evidently. Make sure that those qualities are coming out clearly and the user should not have to struggle to find those out.
* If space allows, you may also add a line or two about how an MBA from ISB specifically will help you. This answer will require some amount of research from your side regarding what ISB offers and how it fits into your expectations from an MBA program.

All the best for your application.

MBA Journal Writers for has posted requirements for MBA Journal writers. This is a good opportunity for people who want to become part of the team that will share their MBA experience with the rest of the world. They need people who are, or will join, the class entering 2009-10.

For one, I know for sure that there are many good writers out there who are anyway sharing their MBA journey through their personal blogs. This will be a good platform for MBA writers to come in the mainstream. This will also be terrific for any reader who would want to read about MBA experience of various B-schools, all at one place. Sad to see, there is no journal from ISB. So let me see if I get motivated enough to contribute (read: get time out of my busy schedule here at ISB).