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Writing an Effective Personal Essay

Personal essay writing

Are you thinking of applying to a MBA program? Writing a personal essay to show your colors is one of the important steps in the application process. Top business programs require a personal essay anywhere between 400 to 1000 words. The subject of the essay may vary — it could be about your professional job experience, something you did well or something you wish had done better. So you want to do your best when writing a personal essay.

Let’s look at an example of the beginning of an essay a manager used in applying to a top MBA program. What’s good about this essay? What does the writer do well?

As I am going through a career transition, I have been reflecting deeply about the career path to follow after having worked with Yorkey Associates for over twenty years.  So I am applying to your online MBA Executive program.

I held challenging and fulfilling positions within the company and made significant contributions to its growth. Three experiences had significant impact on the development of my managerial skills and abilities. First, at the start of my career at Yorkey Associates I held various positions.  I was an assistant project leader within the R&D department doing product development. I quickly moved up the ladder to senior project leader. I successfully managed multiple projects in the innovation pipeline, while leading technical teams within the organization.

The maternity leave of the departmental director gave me a boost in managing people and leading administrative functions . . .

Second,  after following advanced management, marketing and finance executive training programs at New University, I ventured into the marketing department.  I became an assistant product director for the company’s line of digital imaging products, where I successfully launched new product upgrades in the marketplace . . .

Third, I then moved to the scientific affairs department where I experienced many important accomplishments . . .

Why is this a good piece of writing? Three reasons jump to mind:

  1. It clearly states the main idea in the topic sentence: describing “significant contributions” the writer made to the growth of the company.
  2. It effectively supports the main idea by describing three specific experiences that contributed to the company’s success.
  3. It successfully engages reader attention by the keeping the paragraphs short and the sentences active rather than passive.

For more about effective writing, see Using Appropriate Writing Style.

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