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GMAT Club Essay Review 1: Career Aspirations

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GMAT Club Essay Review 1: Career Aspirations  [#permalink]

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New post 06 Jul 2015, 09:17

GMAT Club Essay Review: Essay 1: Career Aspirations

Project Details: Submit your essay for review


Thanks for reading and welcome to the inaugural post in GMAT Club’s Essay Review Initiative brought to you by Critical Square. Every week or so throughout the summer we’re going to review, comment, and tear apart a real essay from last year. The streets will run red (with ink)! So grab a cup of coffee and read on – this is a great way to see how our admissions consultants, and effectively, an admissions committee looks at your essays. What we like, what we don’t like, and how to avoid mistakes that can sink your application.

We also want to thank everyone who has submitted an essay so far. We truly appreciate your participation.

So, without further ado, our first essay!

Our first essay comes to us from a Stanford GSB applicant. You know the drill. 350 words (or so) focused on career goals and aspiration. An essay prompt as old as time itself. What do you want to be when you grow up? So let’s see what this applicant wrote about.

My Career aspiration is that in the long term, I would like to expand my current business to a state of the art world renowned textile yarn manufacturing unit with production capacity XXXTonns/month.
In the short term, upon graduating from the B School, I would like to work in the operations and supply-chain management function of a globally renowned manufacturing company in India, China or United States.

Picture the average adcom reader. It’s 2PM. This is their 38th application of the day. They’re tired. Their kid is in the musical this evening. They don’t know what they’ll cook for dinner. And oh, look, another career essay. So what do you need? Pizzazz! Oomf! Excitement! A hook! Capture the reader from the very beginning and then don’t let them go. Unfortunately, this essay is missing that crucial piece. The first thing this essay does is put us to sleep.

Don’t fall into the trap of answering the question (in the most boring way possible) right out of the gate. Writing is an art. Woo the reader. Sure, 350 words doesn’t leave you with a lot of real estate, but there are ways to write things interestingly in the same word count. And leave metrics out of it. Even if the reader is from your industry and knows how many tons / month is impressive, they probably still don’t care. Not to mention, this essay doesn’t talk about the current tons / month which makes the target difficult to gauge anyway. But so far at least the longer term goal makes sense. The applicant wants to grow their company. Ok.

But in the short term, they say they want to work for a globally renowned manufacturing firm somewhere in the world. That’s a bit vague. Doing what? Which country? Any particular industry? If not, why? But let’s give the author the benefit of the doubt, it’s just the start of the essay. Let’s see if they answer these questions. (Psst – spoiler alert – they don’t).

In today’s age, consumerism is at its peak due to which, we see waste getting piled up in landfills. I have always believed that an individual should make efforts to give back to the society by making a change, however small. Following this belief, I started my own sustainable business XYZ Company. It is a small medium scale enterprise and one of the leaders in the sustainable recycling business in India. The business revolves around recycling post consumed plastic waste and converting them into Chips. These chips are then sold to be converted to yarn and ultimately cloth. Our client market includes both domestic and international(Asian market). This business model has not only proved to be profitable but it has also contributed to the wellness of the environment. The company has witnessed fast pace growth and has achieved a sales turnover of $XX Million annually.

This is 145 words. So 41% of the suggested word count. So what have we got here? A lot of words talking about the company. What it does. How it does it. Revenues. In other words…stuff that’s in the resume. Don’t get us wrong, if your goal is to grow your company, it’s probably a good idea to talk about what the business is and why you care, but it hardly requires 145 words. And it could be creatively incorporated into the introduction itself. This is the material for your hook right here!

Also, let’s cut the pedantic prose. “I have always believed an individual should make efforts to give back…” is a wonderful example of a sentence that simultaneously wastes word count, doesn’t add value, and makes the reader roll their eyes. If you want to talk about your business, talk about the WHY, not the HOW or the WHAT. In short, it’s great the applicant has a company that is sustainable but so far we’re more than 50% into the essay and all we’ve really done is talk about company.

Working for my own company has given me the flexibility to manage things on my own and exposure to International markets. It has given me the knowledge to tackle the business problems that result in the small scale industry head-on. I have learnt the importance of having a global outlook and realized the amount of growth that one can get.

The first sentence is not exactly value add. We like the sneaking in of “international markets” but, again, this is where the resume should be helping out. The second sentence has circular logic. Their tackling of problems within their business has given them the experience to tackle problems within their own business? To a certain extent, that’s true. But to say exposure to international markets or being on your own has somehow set them up to be a better leader is…not true. The third sentence is equally confusing – of course a global outlook is important if you sell into international markets. And what does realizing the amount of growth one can get even mean?

In short, this is a waste of 60 words (~18%). In the end, in a short essay, it comes down to EVERY word adding value. None of these 60 words do that. It’s all fluff.

However, I do realize that in order to fuel the next phase of expansion in my company, a formal business education would not only serve my learning needs but also help me acquire the necessary entrepreneurial skills required to deal with real life business problems and managing a team of a large scale business.

At first, the applicant had us fooled. We thought we were finally getting into the meat of the essay – 270 words later. But we were hoodwinked. Hoodwinked we tell ya’! Let’s dissect this bit-by-bit.

The next phase of expansion. Ahh, ok, so what is that? And no, don’t tell us how many tons you wish to produce. But is that growing volume, sales, regions, verticals? And this would be better suited to follow them telling us what they want to do. Remember earlier when they said they wanted to return to their company? That would have been a great place to say WHY. They tried – with the tons – but that doesn’t count.

Next up is the formal business education to serve their learning needs. We’re not entirely even sure what this means. On one hand, everyone has learning needs. On the other, everyone has different needs. Stanford, and any elite school, values SPECIFICITY. So no vague fluff allowed. If you’re going to tell us you have learning needs, you darn well better tell us what those needs are! Is it finance? Is it operations? Is it sales / marketing? Is it leadership? And how, again specifically, will filling those gaps help in the future?

Now we move on to the entrepreneurial skills the applicant needs. What a wonderful way to say…nothing. Entrepreneurial skills, generally speaking, are difficult to pin down. Oh sure, there are a handful but functional knowledge stays the same. How it applies, obviously, differs between an established firm and a growing venture. Perhaps that’s what they meant? Either way, once again, lacking specificity here. Which skills specifically? And how will they apply?

Now comes the contradiction in that the applicant talks about running a large scale company (remember, it is already small / medium with $XM in revenues). If the company is going to be growing larger, then why does the applicant need entrepreneurial skills? Those days have come and gone. And, by all accounts, the applicant has done a wonderful job founding and growing the business from scratch, right? So shouldn’t they be more focused on how big companies operate? Processes? Talent? Strategy?

Moving ahead, I strongly believe an MBA could help me streamline my efforts in the right direction. MBA would help me systematically learn business models to expand in emerging economies through the leadership programs provided.

The first sentence is obvious and confusing all at the same time. Obviously the applicant strongly believes the MBA is the right next step – else why apply? But what does streamlining efforts mean? Remember – 350 words – every word counts. That word doesn’t count. It’s actually just super confusing.

The second sentence uses all the right words and says…nothing. “Systematic learning” is what business schools do. It’s what any school does. Which leads us to business models to expand in emerging economies. Steve Blank calls startups “temporary organizations in search of a sustainable, scalable business model.” By that definition, this applicant has ALREADY found their business model. Hard to pull in millions in revenue without one, right? So, theoretically, the business model wouldn’t fundamentally change as they expand. They could – but the applicant hasn’t really made a case for that. And lastly, we get to leadership programs. That…came out of nowhere. And it’s the last line in the essay.

And on that note, 361 words later…we’re done.


This applicant has the raw material in their experiences for a good essay here but what we have is the classic “leave ‘em confused” execution. We have more questions after finishing this essay than we did at the beginning. That’s a bad place to leave your reader.

Did anyone else notice the applicant NEVER talked about three very important things?
1) Which exact skillsets and knowledge gaps they need to fill specifically

2) Why working for a leading manufacturing is important, what s/he will learn from it, and how it fits into the broader plan

3) How the school, specifically, will help

So remember, when you write about career goals, every piece needs to snap into place together. A leads to B, leads to C, leads to D. And if you talk about A, or B, or C, or D, you need to be specific. You need to be clear. You need to explain to the reader why that particular step deserves to be a part of your master plan. And as you do that, remember to be engaging. Your reader isn’t a robot. Suck them into your story!

Again – thank you to the brave soul who submitted this essay for us to rip into. But hopefully they, and you, picked up some valuable learnings from this essay review. Stay tuned for the next essay!

- The folks at CriticalSquare

If you think your essay or resume could use a review or two, check out our Essay Editing and Resume Review services. Not sure where to start? Sign up for a free consultation instead!
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Re: GMAT Club Essay Review 1: Career Aspirations  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Jan 2019, 04:11
Hello from the GMAT Club MBAbot!

Thanks to another GMAT Club member, I have just discovered this valuable topic, yet it had no discussion for over a year. I am now bumping it up - doing my job. I think you may find it valuable (esp those replies with Kudos).

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Re: GMAT Club Essay Review 1: Career Aspirations   [#permalink] 18 Jan 2019, 04:11
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