Leadership and teamwork are integral parts of the Kellogg experience. Describe a recent and meaningful time you were a leader. What challenges did you face, and what did you learn? (450 words)

This is your classic “achievement” essay but with a leadership and teamwork spin. For Kellogg, teamwork is a crucial value – so it would be wise to highlight your achievement in terms of your leadership actions and the way you brought your team together. The main idea is to show what it was that you did to drive results and how you enlisted your team and got them motivated to contribute to the task.

When describing your achievement, you should follow the SOAR structure: Situation (10-20%). Obstacle (10-20%). Action (40-50%). Result (10-20%). “Situation” asks you to give the context of the project or situation and describe what you were expected to do. “Obstacle” is your opportunity to show the difficulties between what needed to be done and getting there. It’s your time to show the blood, sweat, and tears of your project. After all, if there are no obstacles, you imply that anyone can do what you did, rendering your essay unremarkable. The obstacles are what show that it takes certain skills to accomplish the task – so really make sure you’re doing yourself justice here. “Actions” is the main meat of the four elements. It is weighted most heavily because you are judged by your actions more than anything. It matters less whether you were part of a small or big company – it matters much more how you went about overcoming difficult situations. Lastly, conclude by describing the results. Try to stay away from wishy-washy, overarching theories, and stick to quantifiable results. Numbers, if they are available to you, speak for themselves.


Pursuing an MBA is a catalyst for personal and professional growth. How have you grown in the past? How do you intend to grow at Kellogg? (450 words)

This question is your classic career question. Kellogg wants to know what you’ve done in your career so far and what your short, mid, and long-term goals are. This is your opportunity to briefly tell the admissions committee what your professional history has been and where you hope to end up with the help of an MBA from Kellogg. You have 450 words to show that you know where you’re going, that your path is sound, and that Kellogg can help you achieve your goals.

When building your career path, your experiences should have some relation to what you want to do, even if at first glance it seems indirect. We created a “Function x Industry” matrix to help you test the legitimacy of your short-term goals.


Career Matrix

Here’s how it works: each position you hold has both a function and an industry. If you’re a software engineer, engineering is your function and tech is your industry. Now, when you think of your short-term goals, you should align your desired position in one axis: either function or industry. For example, if your short-term goal is to be a product manager in a startup, you’ve shifted functions, but maintained an industry. This makes your overall professional story coherent, sound, and feasible. If your goals are in line with your experiences and follow a reasonable track, the admissions committee will be excited to help you take your next step. However, if you write your short-term goal to be a consultant in McKinsey, you’ve shifted both industry and function. This jump is too big and makes you seem unreasonable. If you notice that your short-term goals have jumped both industry and function, revisit your career path and hone it back to something that is more in line with your professional history. Furthermore, note that shifting an industry can be a little trickier. If you want to shift industries, you should be able to draw some tangential connection of skillsets or work styles that make sense within both industries. Emphasize these similarities to soften the jump so that it isn’t too jarring. Let this matrix serve as your sanity check.

As for your mid-term goals, they should be a logical step forward from the position you intend on holding at the short-term level. Long-term should be a both realistic and ambitious. In other words, your long term goal should be something that would take a while to build up to, hence the short and mid-term goals, but it should also seem reasonably achievable considering your professional experience and past successes, your passions, and your career strategy.

The last part of this essay should address the question “how do you intend to grow at Kellogg?” Your answer to their question should reflect the fact that Kellogg has all the available opportunities to serve as a bridge between your current situation and your short-term goal of your career path. Thus, your answer should be tailored to the courses, clubs, recruitment opportunities, professors, programs, and any other offering at Kellogg that will help support your career path. Leave nothing to the imagination of the admissions committee regarding how Kellogg’s program can be beneficial to you. You should also show that you will take advantage of the more socially oriented opportunities at Kellogg. This will demonstrate that you also understand the importance of campus life and that you will be a good fit for the social student body.