1. (Required) What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words)

This question is your classic career question. Wharton wants to know 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 Wharton. You have 500 words to show that you know where you’re going, that your path is sound, and that Wharton can help you achieve it.

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 “what do you hope to gain professionally at Wharton.” Your answer to their question should reflect the fact that Wharton 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 Wharton that will help support your career path. Now is the time to say what it is Wharton offers that specifically will help you get there. Leave nothing to the imagination of the admissions committee regarding how Wharton’s program can be beneficial to you. You should also show that you will take advantage of the more socially oriented opportunities at Wharton. 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.

cbs Q1 example 1

In previous years, the prompt was phrased “what do you hope to gain professionally and personally.” Although they omitted the word “personally” this year, it is safe to assume that it is of some interest to the application readers. So beyond the in depth professional opportunities you will mention, your essay should contain at least a nod toward the personal traits you hope your MBA experience will help you hone such as leadership or taking initiative. It’s not enough to simply mention these in passing – research the available opportunities that would actually help develop these skills.

 

  1. (Required) Teamwork is at the core of the Wharton MBA experience with each student contributing unique elements to our collaborative culture. How will you contribute to the Wharton community? (400 words)

Like the “Why Wharton” question, this too requires some research. In this essay, you need to show that you will participate in different Wharton programs and show what you can contribute to those opportunities. First of all, we recommend by starting off with what “contribution” means to you. Not a dictionary definition, but how you’ve viewed the notion of contribution through your career and your personal life. Hopefully, you have some personal take on this value.

Once you’ve introduced what contributing means to you, you will talk about contribution through the lens of three main points. Each example will show a particular instance in which you contributed an attribute, a benefit, or an experience, and then you will show how you will transfer this contribution to a Wharton opportunity.

The three-point structure we recommend should engage one professional contribution (should be related to your professional history and accomplishments), one semi-professional contribution (a unique trait you have), and one personal and fun contribution (a specific social event or a cause that is important to you based on past experiences). The structure of each one of these prongs should be “here is a description of an experience in which I contributed, and here is a specific club, course, or event at Wharton where I can implement this professional or personal strength of mine.” The logic behind this structure is to first gain credibility by demonstrating via an experience or an anecdote that you not only have something to contribute but you’ve done so before. Then you specifically name the club, seminar, or annual event where you plan to implement your strengths. Are you going to lead a club? Are you going to bring a guest lecturer as a keynote speaker to an event? Are you planning to start your own initiative based off of a cause that is important to you?

Here is an example of what one of the contributions might look like:

“After serving as a key player in my family business for five years, and as a future leader of the company, the Family Business Club is a natural place for me to give back. I look forward to openly discussing topics such as navigating family businesses during tough times and overcoming second/third generational transition issues. My father has already agreed to speak at club events and share his perspectives.”

 

A few notes on the anecdotes and traits you choose – make sure they are unique to you. Just because you are a consultant, doesn’t mean your professional contribution has to be consulting. It can be a derivative of the skills you’ve honed through your consulting path. For example, you’re really good at gathering and analyzing data, so you believe you would make a really strong president for a certain club, and you hope to help them achieve one or two specific goals that can be attainable with your help. Also, make sure your anecdotes are brief but thorough. That is to say, that they actually demonstrate the contribution you discuss. If you say that you’re a great leader but your anecdote is that you were on a soccer team and you guys won a championship, you haven’t done your part in showing how you contributed to the overall accomplishment or how that accomplishment demonstrated your strength. If your team was depressed and you put together a practice regimen and got everyone back into shape in time for the big game – then you demonstrate your leadership and your contribution to the effort.

  1. (Optional) Please use the space below to highlight any additional information that you would like the Admissions Committee to know about your candidacy. (400 words)

Optional essays can be tricky. The thing to keep in mind in an optional essay is that it is… well… optional. That means that from the first word you put to paper, you are wasting the time of the admissions committee – so it better be worth it. Do not by any means use this section to reiterate anything you mentioned elsewhere in your application. This could be detrimental to your application because it will leave your readers cranky.

In this section, you can talk about gaps in your resume or any particularity regarding your application. The question is asked in such an open way so you are given the opportunity to talk about anything you like – but it had better be interesting as hell. Do not abuse this privilege. The optional essay needs to really seem necessary and not self-serving – is there something that you didn’t have the opportunity to mention that completes the portrait of who you are. You have to be very honest with yourself on whether it is actually interest, or just interesting to your grandma. It is best to consult an advisor as to what warrants a legitimate response to this question. The last thing you want to do is leave the readers with a sour taste in their mouth at the very end of your application.


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