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Failure Essays - Which failure??

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Failure Essays - Which failure?? [#permalink] New post 12 Aug 2008, 17:55
I'm working on my failure essay. (Describe failure, what have you learned?) I have a few failures/setbacks I'm deciding between and wanted to get your opinion.

1. Freshman Year - Didn't get into UG I wanted (ironically the school this essay is for) and settled for local state school. Therefore didn't try very hard freshman year (3.2 GPA) and didn't get involved much. Turned around college experience sophomore year with 5 4.0 semesters and got heavily involved on campus. Lesson - make the most out of everything

2. Sales Failure - First career, second position I started calling on a customer. I initially didn't listen and just tried selling. I learned to listen and be collaborative and developed great relationships and turned the business around. Lesson - Listening is critical for relationships/teamwork/collaboration

3. Project Management - Second career, new to project management. Got behind on first project and missed deadline. Subsequently worked to be more organized and aggressive with project management and executed record number of projects. Lesson - Organization and aggressiveness key to project management.

I'm leaning towards 1 or 2. My concern with 1 is that it could look like I was just lazy my freshman year so they may question my motivation. However it's a good story as the background for it was that I didn't get into the ungergrad for this school. I'm hesitant to use 3 because it's very recent so there may not be enough time between my failure and application.

Thanks for the help!
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Re: Failure Essays - Which failure?? [#permalink] New post 12 Aug 2008, 18:58
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I don't think I'd go with #1. It could be construed as an attitude problem, whereas the others show things that are pretty common learning experiences. I'm also not sure having applied to the UG and not gotten accepted works in your favor. Plus I think #1 kind of reads like a fortune cookie - the lesson is live life to the fullest. Though I guess you could use your experiences to show how you'd get involved at school and how you'd help make an impact.

I think you could get more out of #2, you could talk about having to rebuild that relationship, regain trust, how you accomplished those things, etc.

I think you could write a good essay on #1, it just didn't sound quite like the right one to me.

I haven't even started applying yet though, so take it with a grain of salt...
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Re: Failure Essays - Which failure?? [#permalink] New post 12 Aug 2008, 19:31
That's what I've been thinking about #1. It just seems too risky. I'm probably leaning to #2 right now.
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Re: Failure Essays - Which failure?? [#permalink] New post 12 Aug 2008, 20:23
I agree with your inclination towards #2, there's a lot more in terms of "learning experience" material in that scenario and allows you to delve into wider themes such as how you've matured, come to appreciate team play more etc. etc.
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Re: Failure Essays - Which failure?? [#permalink] New post 13 Aug 2008, 05:06
I'd go 3, if any. I'm not sure that the 3 you listed are actual "failures." They seem more like slight struggles that everyone goes through.
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Re: Failure Essays - Which failure?? [#permalink] New post 13 Aug 2008, 06:07
Hi cpgmba,

note that a failure has to be just that. Talk about the failure briefly Talk about your weaknesses and what you learnt in detail. Lots of introspection needed here.

Don't glorify it by saying that you learnt X,Y,Z and tell another story of success. This is a failure essay, not a success essay. I don't think Ad-com are looking for that.

so out of 1,2,3 i'd choose none. 1) is not a professional failure which is important here. 2) and 3) have a success story ending.

if you can remove the success story ending then 3) is better than 2)

my 2c

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Re: Failure Essays - Which failure?? [#permalink] New post 13 Aug 2008, 18:39
I would argue that both 2 and 3 are failures. At #2 I failed at a presentation to my customer. For #3, I missed a deadline for a project. I'm still leading to #2 because I feel I can tie more back into it with collaboration and teamwork.

I'm disagree about not including a learning/success story. What's the point of a failure if you don't learn from it and correct your mistakes to achieve success the next time you encounter a similar situation???
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Re: Failure Essays - Which failure?? [#permalink] New post 14 Aug 2008, 01:52
Agree cpg. The 65 successful Harvard essays book has a few examples on this topic. Check it out. Most if not all essays do talk about how they have turned it around since the failure happened. However, here is the thing - if this essay is for Harvard you may want to stick with 3 because they prefer examples where you have failed in a leadership role. I am not sure if this is true in your case, but if you could turn your PM failure into failure because of lack of communication on your part or the right style of leadership required for the situation that could be used to talk about how you have turned it around in team/project situations. This will especially work for Harvard if you were 23/24 in your first PM role having to work with senior management clients.
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Re: Failure Essays - Which failure?? [#permalink] New post 14 Aug 2008, 02:42
definitely rule out 1.. (no point delving into 1 sem of poor gpa when your track record clearly shows you turned it around)

i think schools want to know what your weaknesses are/were from this application..

between 2 and 3..

id think hard..and say : which one did i learn more out of life from ? which experience impacted me more ? which experience moulded my present psyche ?

from your post..it seems as if 2 was a bigger defining moment for you..would go with 2..
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Re: Failure Essays - Which failure?? [#permalink] New post 14 Aug 2008, 04:01
[quote="cpgmba"
I'm disagree about not including a learning/success story. What's the point of a failure if you don't learn from it and correct your mistakes to achieve success the next time you encounter a similar situation???[/quote]

Hi cpgmba,

i am not saying that do not include a learning story. Thats the whole point about this essay. All I am saying is that you shouldn't end it by a glory ending, eg. "since then i have overcome my weakness and I did X which proves I have overcome my weakness".

I'd end it by using this angle..
" I realise my weakness is X, and i have done Y,Z to address it and I continue to work on it..."
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Re: Failure Essays - Which failure?? [#permalink] New post 14 Aug 2008, 04:42
cpgmba wrote:
I would argue that both 2 and 3 are failures. At #2 I failed at a presentation to my customer. For #3, I missed a deadline for a project. I'm still leading to #2 because I feel I can tie more back into it with collaboration and teamwork.

I'm disagree about not including a learning/success story. What's the point of a failure if you don't learn from it and correct your mistakes to achieve success the next time you encounter a similar situation???


Looks like you already know what you're going to do.
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Re: Failure Essays - Which failure?? [#permalink] New post 14 Aug 2008, 17:46
I'm still not sure on which one I'm going to do. I've already started writing essays for both #2 and #3. I do see the point of not making it a glory story but still showing what you learn and what you've done to correct your mistakes.

By the way, this essay is for Wharton if that makes a difference.
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Re: Failure Essays - Which failure?? [#permalink] New post 14 Aug 2008, 17:55
I would focus on the failure rather than the turnaround, and talk about the lessons learned. The results of the lessons learned need only be mentioned briefly, if at all. in my opinion. Personally, I would pick 2 rather than 3, because I disagree that aggressiveness is key for effective project management. It is only one trait needed amongst an arsenal and being consistently aggressive can impact motivation of team members.
Re: Failure Essays - Which failure??   [#permalink] 14 Aug 2008, 17:55
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