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What is a story?

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Joined: 09 Jul 2010
Posts: 56
What is a story? [#permalink]

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New post 09 Jul 2010, 12:14
I keep hearing about "telling a story" when writing the MBA essays. However, how personal should one get? My background is that I come from one of the poorest regions in TX and US. I am AA, gay and the first in my family (the youngest of eight btw) to go to college, which was a top public university. I also worked three jobs while in college. How does this play into writing my essays? Is this information even relevant? I am thinking about applying to NYU, Yale and Ross. I have about seven years of w/e working in investments with one of the big four banks. Thanks for your feed back.
Joined: 11 Jul 2010
Posts: 14
Location: London, UK
Re: What is a story? [#permalink]

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New post 12 Jul 2010, 06:24
My 2p.
I think it all depends on the context and what you are trying to tell by mentioning your background or any other information for that matter. Usually, you can add your background in why questions (in my opinion) to build a story i.e. to show how your plan/goals have evolved and how your background has shaped them.
If you have lot of unique things to tell , you are the best judge of whether it is applicable.
Showing diversity is good but too much of it may not leave space for something else that is important.
Joined: 24 Jan 2010
Posts: 12
Re: What is a story? [#permalink]

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New post 16 Jul 2010, 00:08
I would recommend striking a balance between personal/uniqueness and relevance. If the details of your background make you stand out from other applicants in a way that is relevant to the selection of top mba applicants, then weave it into your story. If it is not relevant, don't try to force it in.

If you are just getting started on essays, I would definitely check out this guide: ... your_pitch
It gives a pretty good idea of how to think about the structure of your story.

It also goes into the details of effective story telling tactics and essay format: ... our_essays
Joined: 17 Oct 2009
Posts: 38
Location: TX
WE 1: Engineering
WE 2: Technical Marketing
WE 3: Corp. Strategy/Business Dev.
Re: What is a story? [#permalink]

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New post 16 Jul 2010, 09:36
Look at strengths that you want to "display" (i.e. leadership, community involvment, initiative, ability to adapt to unfamiliar terriroty, etc)...then look at all the antecdotes in your life, and pick the situations that best demonstrate said attributes. That's your story.

Just my 2 cents, and perhaps I'll get flamed for saying this, but I would hesitate to mentioned sexual orientation as part of your story. I don't see how one's sexual orientation is a basis for one falling under the diversity tree, and trying to spin it as such may really back-fire. I would only mention it if you participated in a reputable community organization for LGBT and your involvement illustrates key leadership attributes.

But then again, you may not want to listen to me - I am after all reappying this year :wink:
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Joined: 25 Aug 2009
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Location: New Haven
Schools: Yale SOM Class of 2012
WE 1: Investment Banking Summer Associate (Boutique tech M&A)
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Re: What is a story? [#permalink]

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New post 19 Jul 2010, 22:36
the best advice i've received on telling a story is "don't wave any flags". i.e. - if your essay turns into a sobfest about being X (poor, gay, minority, etc.), then you probably won't get in. however, if you can write a good essay and maybe throw in a sentence or two about how the fact that you're X (poor, gay, minority) helped or hindered you, then your essay and story will be better.

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Re: What is a story?   [#permalink] 19 Jul 2010, 22:36
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What is a story?

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