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An Special Report
by Cindy Tokumitsu
Copyright 2011 -

Why MBA?
An Special Report

Table of Contents
Why Write a Blog Post Series on Goals?............................................................... 3
Exactly What Are Goals?........................................................................................ 4
Goals on Steroids.................................................................................................... 5
Goals Essay-Writing Nitty-Gritty........................................................................... 6
Final Miscellaney Plan B, Research, Professional Support................................. 7
About the Author.................................................................................................... 8
Epilogue.................................................................................................................. 8

-2Copyright 2011

Why MBA?
An Special Report

Why Write a Blog Post Series on Goals?

A few years ago, in the good old days when Wharton1 still offered feedback to rejected applicants, I
talked with a potential client who happened to be reapplying to Wharton. I asked him whether hed
obtained feedback on his application, and he said yes. Well? Actually they said they really liked
my application. They said I was well qualified, and I would be a good fit for the school. Pause. The
problem was my goals. Venture capital. They said it wasnt a feasible goal for me.
Like many people, this person dreamed of going into VC he surely could do it, given the chance, and
it would be wonderful for him just that his chances of getting a VC job post-MBA were about zero.
The adcom knew that, and he should have known it too.
Inappropriate goals, ineffectively presented goals, and impractical goals can get otherwise well
qualified applicants dinged from top MBA programs.2 This story is not an isolated case. I have heard
similar ones every year for thirteen-plus years.
How do you avoid this scenario? Effort. Thought. Research. Many people start their MBA application3
process with their goals sort of sketched out in their head. But sketched out wont cut it, and if you
focus only on what youd like personally without figuring out how youre going to make it happen, you
might not realize that there are a few obstacles, as the person in the above story belatedly discovered.
Its not that you should never present complex or difficult goals in an MBA essay,4 but rather that if
you do you should acknowledge that fact and have some concrete sense of how to achieve them. If the
above applicant had said in his original essay that he knew how hard it would be for him to land a VC
job and heres how he was planning to go about it, and if it still didnt work out, heres what hed do
instead that would also take him to his long-term goals, he might have been admitted, considering how
positively the adcom viewed the rest of his application.
So what exactly are well-articulated, credible, engaging and ideally exciting goals, and how do you
craft them in the goals essay? This special report will walk you through that process step by step.


-3Copyright 2011

Why MBA?
An Special Report

Exactly What Are Goals?

I want to move from the buy side to the sell side.
I want to shift from technology consulting to investment banking.
Not goals.5

An engineer once really said to me, I want to go into either finance or consulting. Not goals.
A goal isnt something you want, its something you do, something you want to achieve, an impact6
you want to have, and the process of getting there. Therefore, it needs to be specific. Start with two key
1. Industry
2. Function
A third key component for many people is geography, if it is integral to the goal (e.g., developing solar
energy in northern Africa).
Then add the do part what the work will actually consist of, and what you hope to accomplish.
Here are some examples that incorporate the above elements:
I plan to return to operations but work at a higher, decision making level, such as Senior
Operations Manager in an East Asian semiconductor firm or a related industry. In this
role I would, for example, oversee $XXX operations, a global high-tech supply chain,
and manage a diverse range of technical and business professionals.
Currently Im a BPR consultant; I plan to shift to strategy consulting at a top global firm
such as Bain or McKinsey, ideally focusing on clients in the pharma/biomedical space,
and help them setup operations in Eastern Europe.
To wrap up this section, Ill add a couple of cautions about this phase of the process, developing core
1. Your short-term goals are naturally a stepping stone, and hence people often focus
solely on what they will learn, experience they will gain, and people they will meet.
Short-term goals should also include the elements noted above what you want to do,
accomplish, and contribute.

-4Copyright 2011

Why MBA?
An Special Report

2. Ensure that your goals really require the MBA education. Of course any learning is
helpful for almost any endeavor; but the adcoms want to see that you really need the
resources they offer, which they view as precious and not to be squandered. (And
theyre right!)

-5Copyright 2011

Why MBA?
An Special Report

Goals on Steroids
First, I must thank Linda Abraham for this wonderful phrase. I had previously used the blander
designation, goals plus.
By following the advice in the previous post you can create goals that are clear, credible, and convincing,
but they wont necessarily be exciting. They wont make the adcom reader think as she reads, Wow, it
would be great if he could do that! And this latter reaction is really what the goals essay should aim for.
As all my clients have probably heard me say, you want to make your reader your cheerleader.
To generate such a response, deliver goals plus show how goals developed from experience, and
describe motivation and vision for goals.
Experience7 means when, where, and how your goals developed.
Motivation is the pivot point when something gained traction with you; when you
became engaged and captivated in some way so that you want to pursue a given path.
Vision is the broader impact of achieving the goal, beyond your own immediate efforts.
These three elements are separate words but in actuality will likely be intertwined. Here is a brief example,
slightly modified from an HBS goals essay I wrote for a hypothetical applicant in Consultants Guide:8
Last year, when I was in Taiwan advising a global financial services company on consolidating
its Asia strategy, I found myself thinking what a shame it was that my relationship with the client
proved responsive rather than proactive. With my knowledge of the regions changing demographic
and logistical realities, I could have recommended strategic opportunities a year ago to prevent the
client from getting bogged down in redundant acquisitions and incompatible markets. Following that
experience, I envisioned a new consulting paradigm resembling primary care medicine, based on a
long-term, prevention focused relationship between the consultant and client.
Adding experience, motivation9 and vision turns the goals from static to dynamic. There are three

other advantages of goals plus:

1. The experiential basis enhances credibility.

2. They create a story,10 which is more engaging and memorable than pure exposition.
3. Your goals inherently differentiate you, because its your story, its naturally unique.

-6Copyright 2011

Why MBA?
An Special Report

Goals Essay-Writing Nitty-Gritty

Short- and long-term goals
Before you start drafting your goals essays,11 work out three levels of goals: short-term, intermediate,
and long-term. It helps to have this whole picture in your mind regardless of where youll zoom in
for a particular essay. Short-term is immediately post MBA to about two years later; intermediate is
about two to five years post MBA; and long-term is the rest. Usually essays ask for short- and longterm goals, but youll need intermediate as the bridge between them.
Short-term goals are the most specific, for obvious reasons theyre closer in time and theyre also
the direct link to the MBA program. As you describe successive steps, use less and less detail in each,
because the further out you project, the less certain things are. Dont go beyond whats practical, e.g.,
describing in detail what youll be doing in twenty years. Adapt each phase to reality too. If your
targeted industry (say, healthcare) is in great flux, that point should be reflected in your goals.

Responding to specific goals questions

Different sets of essay questions12 will emphasize different aspects of the goals; theyll require different lengths

and have different tones. Some are open; other are focused and directed. The key is to read not just the
words but the tone of the question. Anecdotally, Ive noticed a trend toward short, focused goals essay
questions; there are fewer 1,000 word goals essays (Haas13 is an exception), fewer essays asking for your
vision (Fuqua14 is an exception). Most want the facts, straight. Columbia15 asks you to define goals in 200
characters. Wharton gives you 300 words to answer, What are your professional objectives?
Read the question carefully, and emphasize in your essay what the question emphasizes (e.g., shortterm or long-term equal or do they just mention post-MBA goal?). In other words, be guided by the
question.16 That doesnt mean you cant bring in other elements, but they should support your main
points. In the Wharton essay, for example, youd boil down your experience and motivation to a
contextual sentence or two.

Often the question asks why you want an MBA or want to attend the particular program. Link these
points directly to your goals. If you can weave in your school visit17 and/or interactions with students
and alumni, great!

-7Copyright 2011

Why MBA?
An Special Report

Final Miscellaney Plan B, Research, Professional Support

I will wrap up this series with a few miscellaneous points.

Plan B
Think youre done with MBA goals?18 Think again In the current global economic volatility, having a
Plan B for your immediate post-MBA goal can be not only good planning for you, but also enhance your goal
essays credibility. Its particularly important if youre targeting a difficult-to-enter industry (remember that VCdreamer?) or changing careers.19 In fact, adcoms have specifically said that they welcome this recognition of
reality; it gives them more confidence that you can get employed.

The challenge, however, is to discuss a Plan B without using a lot of precious space and without
sounding undirected. In the goals essay, focus mostly on your main short-term goal. Then add one to
three sentences about a reasonable alternative that youd also consider, explaining how it also would
be a good step toward your further goals. Example: an applicant is targeting an IT20 manager role postMBA with the long-term goal of CIO; a Plan B could be a tech strategy consulting post-MBA job.

Preliminary research
Im always surprised at how few people do roll-up-the-shirtsleeves research on their goals before writing
essays. Digging around on the web for a couple of hours or talking to people in careers related to your
goals can yield rich detail for your essays. Moreover, mentioning this research in your essays enhances the
sense of commitment to your chosen path. I suggest reading up on the industry and its current and future
challenges, and conducting informational interviews regarding the industry or business function.
Taking this step will enable you to write sharply and engagingly about your goals. It enhances the interest
factor of the essay. Also it will prevent big mistakes like those of that Wharton reapplicant21 in the first
post in this series. By presenting selected tidbits of your research in your essay youll show youre
resourceful and committed, and equally important youll show you have something to say, i.e., contribute.

Professional assistance
Ive said a lot of do this and do that in this special report. If you feel that having knowledgeable,
experienced, committed assistance22 as you walk through this process would be helpful, please
consider using Accepted.coms MBA admissions consulting & essay editing services23 to help you
perfect your application.

-8Copyright 2011

Why MBA?
An Special Report

About the Author

Cindy Tokumitsu24 is co-author of The Finance Professionals Guide to MBA Success,25 The
Consultants Guide to MBA Admissions,26 and The EMBA Edge27 and is the author of the free special
reports, Ace the EMBA28 and Best MBA Programs.29 Her MBA clients have been accepted at top
programs including Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Chicago Booth, Columbia, Kellogg, MIT, Darden,
Stern, Michigan Ross, INSEAD, LBS and UCLA Anderson.

Thank you for downloading this exclusive special report. We hope you've benefited from
its practical tips on determining your MBA goals.
If you have any questions about this report, or have questions about MBA admissions in general, please
feel free to post them to our Facebook wall,30 MBA Forum,31 or LinkedIn group.32 We look forward to
hearing from you!
However, if youre not sure you can accurately assess and convincingly convey your MBA goals, or if
you want more than simply an answer to a general question, then you should consider working one-onone with an experienced Accepted MBA admissions consultant. While special reports, webinars, and
article are informative, they cant match the personal, custom advice given individually.
Even if you think you can write the MBA essays on your own, a second set of experienced, objective
eyes can add valuable perspective when you've just spent too much time looking at your own words.
Professional writers have editors for good reasons. Shouldnt you, like the thousands of clients who
have worked with Accepted since 1994, have a pro on your side for something as important as your
MBA essays?
Explore Accepted.coms MBA admission consulting33 and MBA essay editing.34


-9Copyright 2011