ISB Essay Analysis – 2013-14

Attitude, skills and knowledge differentiate people. Elaborate with two examples on how you would differentiate yourself from other applicants to the PGP. (300 words max)

A: ISB has been asking applicants a question on their differentiating factors for many years now. This year, they have added a slight twist to it. They have specifically asked applicants for differentiating attitudes, skills and knowledge, and unlike last year, when this question was an open field for the number of examples you could quote, this year there is a limit of two examples. We think it is justified, because in 300 words, you can do justice to only about two examples.

So what could these attitudes, skills or knowledge be?

 Your attitude can be of sincerity, perseverance, creativity etc. Your skills could be related to communications, problem solving, organizational, networking etc. And you could be knowledgeable about anything under the sun (the context has to be relevant to your application).

How should you structure the essay?

Besides mentioning the two differentiating factors, talk about supporting incidences where you demonstrated these qualities. Roughly, these are the pointers you can include in your answer:

1. The situation.
2. What was your role in this situation?
3. What were the challenges?
4. How did you overcome them applying the mentioned attitudes/ skills / knowledge?
5. What was the end result?

 MBA Decoder’s tip: Oftentimes applicants assume that their description of the situation is enough for the reader to decipher the attitudes/ skills / knowledge in question. However, this is not the case. As the essay is yours, you would want to have control over the impression it creates on the reader. Therefore, do not leave it for the reader to draw their inferences about takeaways from the story.

For re-applicants: do not write about the same differentiating factors as you did last year.

How does the ISB PGP tie-in with your career goals? (300 words max)

A: Until last year, ISB had asked just for the short term career goals.  This year they have asked two main things, which are: 1. Your career goals, and 2. How will ISB PGP help you achieve them?  You can structure your answer along the following points:

1. Looking at this essay from a career vision perspective, it would be appropriate for you to start with a short description of your career so far, highlighting any changes brought about by you- for example, selecting a particular project because it exposed you to a certain skill set, or change in job, because it gave you opportunity to do something of your interest.

2. What to you want to do going forward in the:
a. short term (3-5 years after MBA);
b. long term (5 years after MBA).

3. What skills and knowledge are you lacking in order to get to your career goals?

4. How will an ISB MBA help you?

Advice for Re-applicants:  From our experience of doing reject analysis on PagalGuy, we know that more often than not, the dinged applicants have gone horribly wrong with their career goals. This can be prevented by doing some research to further refine your goals by reaching out to: 1. your desired industry circle to find about post MBA roles and career progression; 2. ISB’s currents students or alumni.

Pick the most significant achievement (professional or personal) you have had and elaborate on the key learning you took away from it. (300 words max)

A: Obvious as it may seem, some applicants tend to miss answering the complete question. Therefore we emphasize, this essay is split into two parts: 1. Your most significant achievement, and 2. the learning you took away from it.

The structure of this essay can be:

1.  Describe the situation.
2.  What was your role in it? Who were the other members involved?
3.  What were the challenges faced?
4.  What did you do to overcome these challenges?
5.  What was the end result?
6.  What led you to think this was your greatest achievement?
7.  What did you learn from this incidence? Think through this last part well, because the admissions team would want to see a matured answer here.

Advice for Re-applicants:  Don’t churn out the same essays as last year. We hope you have had another achievement since the last ones, or have another strong, untold story from the past.

Please provide additional information, if any, that will significantly affect the consideration of your application to the ISB. (300 words max)

A: The optional essay is typically meant for informing the admissions committee about and red alert areas in your profile. These could be low GPAs (that happened because of a valid reason), gaps in academics or profession, or any other circumstances that were out of your control. Keep your description short and to the point.

 How has your profile changed from the time you last applied to the ISB? (300 words max)

A: Talk about 1-2 significant improvements in your professional/personal profile, in this essay. These could be related to more responsibilities at work; a change in job, possibly to help you move in the direction of your intended career (this can be very useful if you had fuzzy goals last year); a change in designation or position or an international assignment. On the personal front, please mention if you got involved in volunteering or if you picked up a new hobby, and got seriously involved in it.

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