Yale SOM MBA Essay Analysis: Essay One
The Yale School of Management educates individuals who will have deep and lasting impact on the organizations they lead. Describe how you have positively influenced an organization—as an employee, a member, or an outside constituent. (500 words maximum.)
So, of course, they wanna see evidence of something you’ve done that has positively influenced an organization. But, this is also quietly a test of “what do you consider to be a positive influence on an organization?” Your response must therefore not only explain what you did, but more interestingly, why you believe this to have been a positive on the organization.
One thing to keep in mind, if this positive impact were an unintentional “bonus” to another objective, it’s not quite as cool. Much cooler if you saw an opportunity, and that became a conscious part of your plan and objectives.
What we’re interested in seeing here is how well can you contextualize an objective. How well do you understand how a piece fits into a whole? How sensitive are you to the ripple effect of any particular objective in isolation to other connected elements? How good is your grasp of the big picture?
The guy that contemplates all of these things, is likely to be a leader. Likely to have the type of socially conscientious and holistic approach that resonates with Yale’s modus operandi.
Practically-speaking, don’t zoom into the details too quickly—it’ll defeat the entire purpose here. Use details only to take us through the specifics of your actions, in a way that allows us to PICTURE it, and “see you doing stuff.” But, your ability to construct a clear picture of … the bigger picture, is the real test here. Show us how well you understand all the moving parts, and therefore, how that understanding influenced your particular actions that led to some kind of positive impact, long-term.
It’s that “zoomed-out” calculation that reveals how you approach problems, how you drink in the stuff that’s important. That’s what CEO’s do. They see “wholes” and not just “parts of wholes.”
If you’re only able to speak to how your actions led to a positive impact within a specific department, sure, you’re technically answering the question—inasmuch as an improvement to a single department “affects the entire organization.” But, take it a step further, and pretend that you’re CEO, articulating the impact at the ORGANIZATIONAL level. This is the hat you need to wear here.
Here’s a potential outline to get you on the right track.
- Set the stage with your role/position, and the task/challenge at hand. Explain the objectives, the stakes, what was gonna make it difficult, all that stuff.
- But before delving into the “what you did” aspect—take a moment HERE to explain how this particular challenge affected something bigger than just this isolated moment in time—but instead became an opportunity to affect something longer-term.
- NOW walk through what you did, and why you did so, having made this bigger picture calculation. Connect as you go, how your actions considered the larger tapestry, and not just what was necessarily in front of you.
- In the final section, explain not just “the impact/positive influence” but why you choose to classify it as such. Pretend someone has challenged you on that point that what you did was in fact an important long-term thing. Prove that it was, showing us why.