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Georgetown / McDonough Essay Topic Analysis 2011-2012

Georgetown’s MBA application essay questions  for the 2011-2012 admissions season consist of four required responses totaling a maximum of 3.5 pages of text.  The topics covered in these question focus largely on the applicant’s career goals (and require a high level of specificity and reflection on this subject), and also touch upon community service and the core of the applicant’s professional and personal identity.   Georgetown specifies that all essays should be double spaced and written in 12pt font.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the program’s questions:

Essay 1: State your short-term career goal immediately following graduation from the Georgetown MBA program.  What skills have you developed on which you will build?  What skills will you need to develop? (1 page)
While it’s fairly typical for MBA programs to inquire about a candidate’s post-MBA plans, it’s a bit unusual for a program to isolate the applicant’s short- and long-term objectives in separate essays. Further, McDonough’s inquiry about existing and to-be-developed skills requires a very high level of clarity about the exact job function they are hoping to work in after graduating from business school.  Candidates would therefore do well to provide an example job title and even to name one or two organizations for which they would like to perform this job, as this level of specificity will facilitate the inventory of skills that Georgetown requests in its follow-on questions here.   And of course, though the prompt doesn’t explicitly ask for it, a few comments about the ways two years in the McDonough MBA program would help to bridge the gap between your current and needed skill sets would be highly appropriate here.

Essay2:  State your long-term career goal.  How does the position you describe in Essay One serve as a building block for your long-term career goal? (1/2 page)
This prompt asks applicants to carry their response to the previous question forward, to what should be a logical and cohesive conclusion. By structuring its essays in this manner, the McDonough adcom may be aiming to weed out applicants who aren’t completely clear on what they hope to do with their careers, or trying to help candidates think through their plans and articulate the thinking behind their intended post-MBA trajectory. Either way, applicants should set out to frame their short-term position as a direct stepping stone toward their ultimate professional objective, explaining what they hope to learn and which skills they hope to gain, and linking these to their job activities in the long-term. Space permitting, it would also be beneficial to explain the ‘why’ behind this long-term objective, specifically with respect to the impact you wish to make on an organization, sector, group, or region.

Essay 3: Describe the essence of who you are both personally and professionally. (1 and 1/2 pages)
This is a very tall order for a 1.5 page essay, and there are a number of ways that one might approach this response. For example, an essay detailing the candidate’s actions in a single situation that exemplify his or her values and goals may be just as effective as a more reflective response touching on a number of influential experiences. Further, an applicant could conceivably arrive at a single description that fits both her professional and personal paths, or arrive at separate but complementary descriptions of her essence in each of these realms. Whichever approach you ultimately decide to take, it will be important to develop a detailed and memorable self-description, ideally in a relatively concise manner that leaves room for elaboration. After all, it’s better to ‘show’ than to ‘tell,’ and effective essays will include at least a few examples – from the workplace, classroom, community, or personal realms – that offer evidence to back up and your claims and illustrate the implications and impact of these essential characteristics.

Essay 4: Service and community engagement are a way of life at Georgetown, following the University’s tradition of women and men for others. How have you demonstrated service to others? (1/2 page)
This required response signals a strong interest in applicants who have devoted their time and/or skills for the benefit of others in some tangible way. If you don’t have anything that comes immediately to mind, don’t be discouraged; while direct community contact may be the most obvious sort of service to discuss, this topic also extends to activities like informally mentoring a colleague, organizing events that allow people to connect around a common interest, or advocating for a cause that is important to you.

Whether you have a long history of volunteerism at your disposal or just a few instances of service, the relatively short length of this essay will require that you summarize these involvements in a concise way. A brief example of a time you’ve engaged in service and a comment on its result would also help to ground this essay in the details of your background. Finally, given that community engagement is a “way of life” on the Georgetown campus, it would be prudent to conclude with a comment about the ways you would continue (and, if applicable, deepen your involvement in) this sort of service during your tenure in the MBA program.

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