Version: 1 Client Name: Jennifer Target School

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Version: 1

Client Name: Jennifer

Target School: Columbia University

Essay Question:

What are your short-term and long-term career goals? How will the Columbia Business School MBA help you achieve these goals?

Essay Type: Future Goals / School Fit

Actual Word Count: 791

Target Word Count: 1000

First Submission of Essay with Editor’s Comments:

My diverse professional experience since college has included financial brokerage, commercial banking and defined contribution consulting. My goals have evolved through experiencing in those diverse settings, and my goal now is to obtain my MBA from the Columbia Business School and to join a prestigious finance organization with the eventual goal of owning my own consulting firm. [Comment 1]

In selecting a career I have always been told to figure out what you like to do and then make a career out of it. [Comment 2] Eight years ago, armed with this bit of philosophy, I set out to find out what I like. Before entering college, I came to the realization that my interests lay in business. My courses in business were the ones I always looked forward to, and my business projects and presentations were the most challenging and rewarding of all my undergraduate course work. Upon graduating, I interviewed with, and was offered several enviable positions with well-known firms in New York City. I forewent those offers and decided to join Anderson & Stevens as defined contribution analyst.

As a defined contribution analyst with Anderson & Stevens and The Johnson Companies for the past two and a half years, I have developed a solid foundation in teamwork, analytical and problem solving skills. I work in a group that currently has four members. [Comment 3] The success of the group relies on the extraordinary amount of cooperation from each of us. As a junior member of the team, I am able to contribute to the group in several ways including, managing and accurately completing multiple requests with short turnaround times, gathering and conveying information from client, collecting and calculating data, maintaining databases, and strengthening my own foundation of knowledge to be used as a resource. However, while I am an excellent team player, these experiences provide expansive career opportunities in consulting, I have reached a plateau in developing the analytical and management skills necessary to achieve my goal.

Being a successful leader of an organization, I have to learn all aspects of organization outside of defined contribution such as marketing or system administration. [Comment 4] I have found that I need to overcompensate for my “soft” appearance in order to get my point across. [Comment 5] By attending Columbia Business School, I will gain exposure to both theories and practices in the world’s financial center. I will attain a deeper understanding of management concepts and be able to apply those concepts to real life situations on the job. [Comment 6] I hope to improve my negotiating skills and to gain more experience in getting group members to carry their own weight. At the same time, I do not want to be a tyrant. To be effective, it is important for a manager to maintain the proper balance of power and compassion. Only in this way, will I be able to lead a team of people to realizing the goals of the firm.

Following a successfully completion of my MBA program, I would like to seek a position in a prestigious finance organization. [Comment 7] Because of the excellent preparation of the basics Columbia will have provided me, I will excel among my peer and eventually climb up the corporate ladder. [Comment 8] After excelling in all aspects of the defined contribution, I would like to start with consulting in the area of retirement services and eventually expand my business to other areas of consulting such as actuarial and life insurance. Initially, I would like to concentrate my clients within United States. Eventually, I would like to expand my client base overseas starting with the Asia market where the foundation of the defined contribution is still very weak and unfounded. With my ability to converse in Chinese and my understanding of Chinese and American culture, I will have an advantage to building my business in the Asia market. [Comment 9]

Furthermore, an effective manager in the 21st century must be well-versed in international business. Unfortunately, my desire to gain this broader understanding of the increasingly interdependent global economy remains unsatisfied in my current position. [Comment 10] Columbia Business School is located in the heart of the New York City. The students of Columbia Business School have the advantage of being able to study in one of the top schools in the dynamic and cosmopolitan city where most of the multinational corporations are located. [Comment 11]

My professional experiences thus far have enabled me to gain much confidence in my ability to set very high professional goals because I know I will maintain the personal dedication and hard work necessary in achieving them. I feel that these diverse experiences have prepared me well to receive an education from Columbia just as a MBA from Columbia will undoubtedly help me reach my short-term goal along the line proceeds to that end point.





Overall, there are three positive aspects to the content of this essay:

You attempt to answer the specific questions asked;

Your finance related career goals fit well with Columbia’s finance focus;
The international aspects of your future career plans fit well with Columbia’s profile.

However, there are many areas of improvement to be made, including:

  • Your goals, as stated in the first paragraph, are far too vague. It is unclear exactly what your short-term goal of working in a “prestigious financial organization” means. You need to be more specific about the type of career you want to pursue and why you want to do it, and de-emphasize the “prestigious” aspect (it adds nothing). This will also give you an opportunity to differentiate yourself from what is likely to be a large pool of applicants with similar backgrounds;

  • The link between your career goals and how Columbia will help you achieve those goals could be much more compelling. For example, you could mention specific courses at Columbia that will assist you in achieving you career goals;

  • The second and third paragraphs, which discuss your college and work experience, are not really that relevant to the question asked. It seems as though you may have borrowed these from another essay that you’ve written. You could summarize your background experience more concisely, or leave it out altogether and discuss it in another essay (e.g., a “three greatest strengths”-type essay);

  • One potential weakness of your application is your quantitative GMAT score. Even though you have quant-related work experience, you may want to address the need to strengthen your overall quantitative skills (as it relates to your future career goals);
    Finally, you have not fully utilized your available words (791/1000). This is giving away an opportunity to further sell yourself to the admissions committee.

Content Rating: 2 (out of 5)


Parameters / Structure:

There are many structural improvements that could be made to this essay, including:

  • Several areas of the essay are not concise. For example, the final sentence in the opening paragraph is 41 words long and sounds quite clumsy. It is also repetitive, with the word “goal” mentioned three times. Another example is the final paragraph. The two sentences that make up this paragraph are extremely long-winded and confusing (not to mention full of grammatical errors);

  • The overall structure of the essay does not flow as well as it could. For example, career goals are discussed briefly in the first paragraph, and then in more detail in the fifth paragraph. These could be detailed upfront, followed by a more persuasive set of reasons for why Columbia is the place that will help you achieve those goals;

  • There are also some unusual sentences that do not enhance this essay. For example, the sentence in the fourth paragraph that mentions your need to overcompensate for your “soft” appearance is a mystery. I’m not sure what that sentence means. Additionally, the sentence in the second to last paragraph stating that Columbia is in New York City is pointless.

Parameters / Structure Rating: 2 (out of 5)



This essay is full of grammatical errors and typos that greatly detract from its readability. The following list is not exhaustive, but highlights some of these problems:

  • Paragraph one, first sentence: “have included” refers to the professional experience, which is stated in the singular, but then discussed in the plural. To avoid this confusion, you could simply say “…experience since college includes financial…”;

  • Paragraph two, fourth sentence: “…I always look forward to…” is incorrect as you are talking about the past. You should change this to “…I always looked forward to…”;
    Paragraph three, fourth sentence: the “the” in the following should be deleted: “…I am able to the contribute…”;

  • Paragraph four, third sentence: I think you mean to say NYC is the “world’s financial center”, not “world’s financial centers”;

  • Paragraph five, fifth sentence: “oversea” should be “overseas”;

  • Paragraph six, second sentence: “increasing” should be “increasingly”. “…at the…” should be “…in my…”;

There are many more mistakes throughout the essay. I would strongly encourage you to have some friends proof read for you before the next draft.

Grammar Rating: 1 (out of 5)


Use of “Situation, Action, Result” format (if applicable):

While the SAR method (“Situation – Action – Result”) is a good method to follow, it is not as appropriate in this type of essay. However, I am generally concerned about the level of specificity throughout this essay. So, in the more outcome-focused essay questions (such as “describe your three greatest achievements”) Make sure that you use this method in those essays.

Reflection on Target School:


With its finance focus, Columbia looks like a good match for you. Since you are interested in entrepreneurship down the road, also take a look at Columbia’s Lang Center for Entrepreneurship, and think about what value you could get out of that program (and what you could add to it, as well!). This could be a good opportunity to demonstrate your sincere interest in Columbia’s program.

Reflection on Background:


You have a fairly standard looking background, which is not that helpful. While I have no doubt that you are talented and capable of earning your MBA at a top school, you will need to focus on differentiating yourself to be seriously considered for admission. There is not any aspect of your background information that reveals how you are unique, so you need to draw this out in your essays.

In addition, your weak quantitative GMAT score is a potential problem. If you can afford the time, I would encourage you to retake the GMAT and aim for a much higher quantitative score. If you don t have time, I would encourage you to proactively address it somewhere in your application and provide a reason for the score. You clearly have a quantitative background, so you needs to emphasize your comfort with numbers in other parts of your application (e.g., ask a recommender to specifically highlight this as a strength). Good luck!

  Rating Descriptions






The essay adequately answers all elements of the essay and utilizes a fitting experience / example for the question at hand.


The essay does not completely address the essay and / or the experience / example used is not compelling.


The essay fails to adequately answer a critical portion of the essay and does not use a fitting experience / example for the question at hand.



The essay has minimal grammar flaws, including syntax, sentence structure and use of idioms.


The essay exhibits grammar flaws that should be addressed, but do not affect “readability”.


The essay exhibits grammar flaws that detract from the essay and do affect “readability”.



The essay flows well, is concise and meets the word limit criterion.


The essay surpasses the word limit by a noticeable margin and the essay would benefit from structural improvement.


The essay is difficult to follow and the main points of the essay are difficult to extract.

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