Christopher Nolan's 2006 Hollywood hit "The Prestige" opens with the following lines:
Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called "The Pledge". The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course... it probably isn't. The second act is called "The Turn". The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you're looking for the secret... but you won't find it, because of course you're not really looking. You don't really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn't clap yet. Because making something disappear isn't enough; you have to bring it back. That's why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call "The Prestige".
Writing essays for B-school applications may often feel as complex as pulling off a magic trick. After spending hours writing multiple drafts and iterations, you may feel that something is still missing, stopping your essay from becoming magical. Lets follow Christopher Nolan to figure out what can transform your essay from average fare to awesome sauce:
Lets take the essay on challenges you overcame for illustration. You may have cleared IIT entrance in spite of surmounting challenges, or you may have gotten a critical project delivered against all odds or you may have helped homeless families get a roof over their head. Great job!! All other applicants would have done something similar. How do you differentiate yourself?
You stand out by virtually transporting the essay reviewers to the scene of action. Do not just describe what you saw or what you did. Talk about how you felt when you first saw the challenge. Help the essay reviewers visualize the scenario. Elaborate on the emotions you felt when you overcame the obstacles and tasted success. Let the essay reviewers take vicarious pleasure in your achievements, because this would remind them of their own days. Engage them.
You have so many life events to choose from when you are writing an essay but you also have a word limit. For instance, take the essay on achievements. So lets say you are a computer science graduate who became the secretary of the College Debating Club at college, led your coding team to complete a client project before time and got a paid internship to trade renewable energy bonds in Germany.
The essay reviewers can figure out how you might have become the secretary of the College debating club or how you finished the client project before deadline. They have already been through such situations. But they would not be able to figure out how you ended up being in Germany and that too in trading of bonds. To find that out, they will call you for the interview.
When a boy is proposing to a girl, he can be Hercules-incarnate himself, and yet if he does not answer the simple question from that girl “Why me?”, the proposal is doomed. One of the things a B-school usually wants to understand is why you want to do an MBA and why from that particular B-school only. So even as you enchant the essay reviewer, it is important that you mention from time to time how a particular situation could have been handled better, if only you had done an MBA and especially from the B-school in question, because it has a great course on the topic. Lets consider the essay on challenges once again. So for example, when you share how you handled a difficult sub-ordinate successfully, do share that you would be able to handle it even better after you have done a course in “managing teams” from ABC School of Management. It may not be genuine, and the essay reviewer may figure out that it is not genuine. But it would at the very least demonstrate that you have done your research on the girl…err..the B-school.
So engage, mystify and link your way to MBA glory!! Do share your feedback and experiences with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was first published here: Career Preamble
About Career Preamble
At Career Preamble, we assist students and working professionals seeking admission in premier B-schools. We do this by evaluating profiles of prospective applicants for chances of success in admission. Thereafter Career Preamble helps them create effective and succinct essays, SOP and resume to enhance their chances of a successful application. In addition, we help applicants crack the interview round using mock interview sessions with detailed feedback. You can find out out more about us at http://www.careerpreamble.com/.