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Leadership Experience Essay ... Dilemma ...

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Director
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Leadership Experience Essay ... Dilemma ... [#permalink] New post 27 Sep 2007, 23:46
Folks,

I have a bit of dlemma here. Im stuck at the following essay

" Describe a situation or experience that demonstrates your leadership ability or potential "

I dont have any unique experience which i can share from my work. I'm a team lead in a IT company, and many of you know the similar roles that team leads play. I dont think if i write my team lead experience even though those in tough er situations, it will make much of a difference. I may be wrong here but i need your opinions on this.

On the other hand, i had a great experiecne while doing community work which i can share . My community works and extra curriculars are very strong parts of my app. I can very well share this. But the problem here is

1. This was 2 years back and
2. I dont get a chance to talk much about my work in other essays and by writing community leadership experience , my package wont be talking much about my professional work.

Do you suggest me to write about work (which i dont think i have great experience, its just the same leadership wihich many others do) or i stick with my communtiy work experience?

Please comment.
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 [#permalink] New post 28 Sep 2007, 01:03
If community work demonstrates your ability or potential you can write about that. That is more entertaining for the reader also.

For example "I headed a team that provided recommendations on upgrading talent and retaining employees in the organization" is boring to read compared to "I taught painting to physically challenged". The second statement arouses emotions in the reader. I think your passion can be seen in your words when you talk about something you really care for. It is passion that moves people. Not our logic.

Leadership and position need not be related at all. A much junior member in the team can lead the team. Leadership is situational and context specific. A true leader rarely uses his authority to move people.
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 [#permalink] New post 28 Sep 2007, 07:28
aurobindo wrote:
If community work demonstrates your ability or potential you can write about that. That is more entertaining for the reader also.

For example "I headed a team that provided recommendations on upgrading talent and retaining employees in the organization" is boring to read compared to "I taught painting to physically challenged". The second statement arouses emotions in the reader. I think your passion can be seen in your words when you talk about something you really care for. It is passion that moves people. Not our logic.

Leadership and position need not be related at all. A much junior member in the team can lead the team. Leadership is situational and context specific. A true leader rarely uses his authority to move people.


While I agree with Aurobindo to a point, I think you should keep a few points in mind:

1. An MBA is essentially about work. If you don't include any work experience, your package will look strange and you won't be doing what you need to do to convince the adcom you're a high achiever at work and will land a stellar job.

2. Most of us are getting MBAs to get higher-ranking positions. Many applicants have no team leadership experience and no direct reports. Don't get hung up on diversity; being unique is good, but telling a good story and a substantive event/role is more important.

3. Watch your timelines. You want to have some things be more recent. If the story is 2 years old, but the activity is still current, that's less noticeable than if the story is 2 years old and you're no longer doing the activity.

Just food for thought. Now back to class.
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 [#permalink] New post 28 Sep 2007, 08:47
aaudetat wrote:
1. An MBA is essentially about work. If you don't include any work experience, your package will look strange


Excellent reminder!
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 [#permalink] New post 28 Sep 2007, 08:51
I lie somewhere between aaudetat and aurobindo.

My question is, how is your application distributed between work and extracurriculars? Since we don't know, I will give you my examples for the three schools I'm currently applying to:

Haas: 7 essays
- All 4 short answer essays are on extracurriculars, even though some are extracurriculars at work
- Leadership Essay is on a work event
- Goals essay is work, of course
- optional essay is about community service

UCLA: 4 essays
- Family Essay is personal
- Leadership essay is work
- Goals essay is work
- optional essay is community service

Stanford: 4 essays (this is the one where I focused mostly on outside)
- Essay A is personal
- Essay B is goals and work
- Essay C1 and 2 are about community service and extracurriculars

So my other essays, word count wise, is roughly 50% work 50% non work. My Stanford essay is a bit different, with 5 of the 7 pages on non-work, and 2 pages on work. Even in those 2 pages, 1 is spent on why Stanford.

I did this for Stanford because they like to see how you made an impact in your personal life, work life, community service, and your hobbies. I fit each of my four essays into one of those bins. The risk is I'm not talking about work enough, but I will leave that to my recommenders to do. Each of them have talking points from me that talk about my leadership abilities at work, so hopefully that's enough.

With that said, you would have to see if the school focuses more on your personal side (like Stanford) or work side. See what your work/non-work distribution is, and make a decision from there.

I generally would lean towards the BETTER story and example of your leadership potential. Yes, b-school is all about work, but if you don't have the opportunities to demonstrate your leadership skills at work, then it'd be better to see it elsewhere and extrapolate that to work.

Good luck!
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 [#permalink] New post 28 Sep 2007, 09:56
I don't agree with the "bucket mentality" (work or not). More often than not, the lines are blurred, specially when you discuss your strengths and weaknesses, etc.

That said, I subscribe to AAu's reminder. Make sure you convey that you are an overachiever at work, and then discuss how well rounded and diverse you are by discussing other aspects of your life.

L.
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 [#permalink] New post 28 Sep 2007, 10:22
lepium, yes, the lines are blurred with strengths and weaknesses, but if the essay question asks you for ONE leadership example or ONE greatest accomplishment, then you need to use the "bucket" method. It's either work or non-work.

When it's something that asks about your family, then putting in your work experience probably seems forced.

For what matters most, depending on the thing you choose, you may or may not be able to include work in there.

As for being an "overachiever" at work, not all of us can claim that and some of us have much greater non-work leadership experiences than at work, due to circumstances. I believe business schools are looking for potential leaders, no matter where they apply their skills, not just people who are good at work. Of course, you should talk about your progression at work, but that's what the "goals" essay is for.

My 2 cents.
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 [#permalink] New post 28 Sep 2007, 15:44
aaudetat wrote:
aurobindo wrote:
If community work demonstrates your ability or potential you can write about that. That is more entertaining for the reader also.

For example "I headed a team that provided recommendations on upgrading talent and retaining employees in the organization" is boring to read compared to "I taught painting to physically challenged". The second statement arouses emotions in the reader. I think your passion can be seen in your words when you talk about something you really care for. It is passion that moves people. Not our logic.

Leadership and position need not be related at all. A much junior member in the team can lead the team. Leadership is situational and context specific. A true leader rarely uses his authority to move people.


While I agree with Aurobindo to a point, I think you should keep a few points in mind:

1. An MBA is essentially about work. If you don't include any work experience, your package will look strange and you won't be doing what you need to do to convince the adcom you're a high achiever at work and will land a stellar job.

2. Most of us are getting MBAs to get higher-ranking positions. Many applicants have no team leadership experience and no direct reports. Don't get hung up on diversity; being unique is good, but telling a good story and a substantive event/role is more important.

3. Watch your timelines. You want to have some things be more recent. If the story is 2 years old, but the activity is still current, that's less noticeable than if the story is 2 years old and you're no longer doing the activity.

Just food for thought. Now back to class.


I tend to agree with this...MBA is about work and not community service. A good leadership experience at work will outweigh a good leadership experience in the community. Check with the school and see if they will sway your decision either way...its worth a shot even if they tell it doesn't matter.
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 [#permalink] New post 28 Sep 2007, 16:40
WHile I agree in general with auu and others, I think in this particular case the ad-com is not too concerned about where you derive your experience from. Other schools specifically ask you to cite a professional situation.

trahul4: Because you claim that your non-professional leadership is significantly better, I suggest you to consider it more seriously. But to balance the essays, I suggest you use a professional experience for one of the other essays. The leasership essay is the key essay in any app and you should stick with ur best story for that one. My 2 cents!
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 [#permalink] New post 28 Sep 2007, 20:18
Thanks for the comments guys but im finding it really hard to come out of this. LEt me tell you the choices i have

4 essays

1. Wht MBA (100 words) : Cant speak much about work in these 100 words here

2. Biggest failure in life (200 words) : Dont get much of a chance in this. Well i can still touch few lines about work and somehow try to connect

3. What can you contribute : Again my extra curriculars are bt unique and strong. I would like to tell about this rather than my work.

4. LEadership experience.

I think in one of these i need to strees on work if im going to talk about my community leadership. What do you guys suggest? Should i talk about work in what can i contribute essay even though my community work is strong?
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 [#permalink] New post 28 Sep 2007, 20:45
trahul4 wrote:
Thanks for the comments guys but im finding it really hard to come out of this. LEt me tell you the choices i have

4 essays

1. Wht MBA (100 words) : Cant speak much about work in these 100 words here

2. Biggest failure in life (200 words) : Dont get much of a chance in this. Well i can still touch few lines about work and somehow try to connect

3. What can you contribute : Again my extra curriculars are bt unique and strong. I would like to tell about this rather than my work.

4. LEadership experience.

I think in one of these i need to strees on work if im going to talk about my community leadership. What do you guys suggest? Should i talk about work in what can i contribute essay even though my community work is strong?


In my opinion, you should talk about work in "1. Why MBA"

"4. Leardership experience" can be work or non-work.

"2. Biggest failure" can be non-work I think. Since we are in the beginning stages of career, I don't think we can create blunders at workplace. I agree. It depends ;)

"3. What you can contribute" can be non-work if your extracurriculars are unique.

In all I suggest that you stick to 2 questions on work and 2 non-work as you think your extracurriculars are strong.

Packaging should be on the lines Lepium suggested. Try to position ur self as an "Over achiever with multi-dimensional personality."
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 [#permalink] New post 28 Sep 2007, 21:06
if your community leadership is stronger than work, I would use community service for your leadership essay and work for the "contribute" essay. you do need to have some essay in there that mentions work.
  [#permalink] 28 Sep 2007, 21:06
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