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Positioning yourself, themes, and all that good stuff

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SVP
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Positioning yourself, themes, and all that good stuff [#permalink] New post 01 Jan 2009, 15:00
So Im going through Montauk's book, and theres a suggestion in there to come up with themes and a positioning effort for yourself. I did a bit of research on the board, and it seems like people have experience with this concept; its totally foreign to me, but hey, I guess I could give it a shot.

Easier said than done, though. Im struggling a little with this concept. The way I approached is to basically select 'qualities' about myself that I'd like to bring up in essays. Keeping in mind that Im an engineer by training, and work in a technical role, I thought that I should highlight some items that would dismiss stereotypes about engineers. So far, I have:

- sociable. I dont really know HOW to demonstrate this, its more of something that is a personality trait and you just notice it when you meet me in person.

- well rounded: hobbies include golf, photography, physical fitness through various mediums, enjoy classical music and World War 2 history

- proven team player/leader

- involved with alma mater community in a leadership capacity

- creative thinker

- excels in challenging roles/situations

- emphathetic and sensitive to other cultures; ability to read people (yes, im a nerd and ive had an interest in body language for a while, lol)

So am I on the right track here, or waaaaay off in left field ?
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Re: Positioning yourself, themes, and all that good stuff [#permalink] New post 01 Jan 2009, 15:55
I think you're on the right track here. Perhaps to balance the picture, you could pick 2-3 soft skills to emphasize, 2-3 unique aspects of your profile (e.g. the ECs)?

Of the qualities you listed, the ones that would be easy to emphasize with examples in the application itself:
- proven team player/leader
- involved with alma mater community in a leadership capacity
- creative thinker

I think the traits like sociability, etc are perhaps better demonstrated during the interview.

Also as fyi, on my apps, I decided instead to just pick 5 (or so) things that would be consistently emphasized in my essays/interviews/etc. My goal was to have someone read my entire app and walk away remembering those 5 things about me.

Some of the 5 I used:
1) Background/interest in healthcare
2) Unique managerial experience
3) Unique ECs (esp in undergrad)

Hope this helps,
ac.
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Re: Positioning yourself, themes, and all that good stuff [#permalink] New post 01 Jan 2009, 17:23
An extremely useful exercise I can quote from MBA application strategy (Avi Gordon) is to prepare an elevator speech. Imagine you are visiting the school and happen to get into the elevator with the Admissions dean and you got 30 seconds to create a memorable impression.

What would you say ?
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Re: Positioning yourself, themes, and all that good stuff [#permalink] New post 01 Jan 2009, 19:05
Thats definitely a good way to think about it; you want to make yourself memorable. What would you say, bsd ? :)
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Re: Positioning yourself, themes, and all that good stuff [#permalink] New post 01 Jan 2009, 19:18
Pemenon,

You've got the right idea about positioning yourself. The package will be your stats (GMAT, GPA, ECs, work experience) plus 3-5 qualities that highlight your strengths.

I think highlighting things that aren't common to engineers is very important. What are the engineer stereotypes? Academic, bookish, poor interpersonal skills, etc. Highlight qualities that bust these stereotypes.

One of the keys to coming up with your list of qualities is come up with good stories to support your claims. You say "creative thinker", why do you say that? Do you have a good story you can tell in 250 words (essay) or 2-3 min (interview)?

I would take your list, come up with examples, then narrow it down to the best 3 to 5. The key is to be holistic about your positioning. Like bsd_lover said, you should be able provide a well-rounded summary of your position in as few words as possible.

Concerning sociability, I actually think it's a worthwhile quality to highlight in your essays, especially for an engineer. However, you can't just say "I'm social", it has to be deeper and more relevant than that. Come up with an story where the reader will think "Wow, this guy will fit in great here" (that is where sociability fits in).

RF
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Re: Positioning yourself, themes, and all that good stuff [#permalink] New post 01 Jan 2009, 20:01
Probably not so important what I said - but think of it this way - What could you possibly say if you are an engineer and you know that your professional background is not so memorable ? You'd start with aims. Better make those memorable (and realistic). Next would be extra-curriculurs and community. How distinctive could you make those ? Also see if you have international experiences (distinctive ones) If you're still struggling to come up with a memorable elevator speech then you're in trouble.

Maybe you can throw some ideas around and we can see what works (pm me if you like).

pmenon wrote:
Thats definitely a good way to think about it; you want to make yourself memorable. What would you say, bsd ? :)
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Re: Positioning yourself, themes, and all that good stuff [#permalink] New post 01 Jan 2009, 20:03
Thanks, refurb. Now, with respect to the 3-5 qualities, are these qualities ones you try to showcase in almost every essay, or just bring them in if they are appropriate for the question ? And how would you go about narrowing your qualities down to just 3-5 ?
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Re: Positioning yourself, themes, and all that good stuff [#permalink] New post 01 Jan 2009, 21:13
+1 rf :)

pmenon wrote:
Now, with respect to the 3-5 qualities, are these qualities ones you try to showcase in almost every essay, or just bring them in if they are appropriate for the question ? And how would you go about narrowing your qualities down to just 3-5 ?


i say narrow down to your 3-5 first . try picking or grouping the 3-5 themes in terms of which will give you the most impactful stories. how they fit into your essays should flow from there.
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Re: Positioning yourself, themes, and all that good stuff [#permalink] New post 01 Jan 2009, 22:48
I don't think you need to relay the 3-5 traits that make up your "brand" in every essay. The advice I was given was to look at your app holistically--after all, this is one of adcoms favorite words, isn't it?

For example, Chicago:
When you've completed both essays and the slideshow, you should feel confident that you conveyed the 3-5 skills that represent your brand. If you haven't represented your unique interest in reading body language, etc. rethink your slides and make one that shows this interest in a creative way.

Ways to represent your social skills: presenting, selling, various methods you use to build/lead teams.

NOTE: if you're really trying to pound home a unique skill or two, ask your recommender to highlight it. I've found that my recommenders can easily "say" things that I can't. e.g. your essays have to talk about interactions with clients, co-workers and directors but your recommender can just say "xxxx's social skills are what distinguish him/her"

Last edited by pguard on 01 Jan 2009, 22:58, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Positioning yourself, themes, and all that good stuff [#permalink] New post 01 Jan 2009, 22:52
TL wrote:
i say narrow down to your 3-5 first . try picking or grouping the 3-5 themes in terms of which will give you the most impactful stories. how they fit into your essays should flow from there.



I agree. And, I think 3 is better than 5. Unless you're giving your "elevator pitch" in the empire state building, it might be hard to convey 5 triats with conviction.
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Re: Positioning yourself, themes, and all that good stuff [#permalink] New post 02 Jan 2009, 06:47
AZCFA wrote:
I don't think you need to relay the 3-5 traits that make up your "brand" in every essay. The advice I was given was to look at your app holistically--after all, this is one of adcoms favorite words, isn't it?


True. You need to tailor each app for the school. You might have 5 traits, but only emphasis 3 of them for a particular school.

For example, if you were applying to Tuck, it would be important to emphasis community. You might talk about ECs that you led. If you're applying to a school with a specialization, say Ross Erb Institute (environmental sustainability), you might emphasis your environmental record.

Since each school has a unique set of essay questions (for the most part), it's a good idea to come up with a set of "traits" that you can pick from so that you can create the strongest app possible for each school. There will be a lot of overlap between schools, but each one should be distinctive.

RF
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Re: Positioning yourself, themes, and all that good stuff   [#permalink] 02 Jan 2009, 06:47
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