Introduce Yourself Mba Essay Topics
Here is a sample HBS application essay reviewed by our consultant Shana! To help you get the most out of it, she has added comments indicating the strongest areas of this essay for those who decide to apply to HBS. We made things easy for you: the gray boxes below contain the essay content, and all of the text in-between the boxes are Shana’s comments for the text.
It’s the first day of class at Harvard Business School. You are in Aldrich Hall meeting your “section.” This is the group of 90 classmates who will become your close companions in the first-year MBA classroom. Our signature case method participant-based learning model ensures that you will get to know each other very well. The bonds you collectively create throughout this charged experience will be lasting. Introduce yourself.
NOTE: This essay was written by one of our consultants—not an actual applicant. It’s meant as a demonstration of the kind of content we believe should go into the essay itself. This essay is copyrighted by The Art of Applying, and should not be copied. Plagiarism is when you present someone else’s work as your own. It is a serious issue; please don’t do it.
Here is the essay!
I’m thrilled to get to know each of you and hear your stories. But more than that, I’d like to publish them! As a writer at heart, I have a vision of how to market books in the rapidly changing landscape that is twenty-first century publishing.
Comments from Shana: Here, I can feel the applicant’s excitement jump off the page! I love how she is immediately showing interest in the other students. This is a good job explaining what her goal is in the very first paragraph.
My story begins in high school, where I served as editor of our school newspaper, The Green Light. Each week I had the opportunity to work side-by-side with the editor of our town’s newspaper, as he reviewed my work and offered suggestions to improve the articles written by my staff. When I got to college, not only did I join the newspaper, but I began to write fiction and poetry, and I was the only freshman admitted to an upperclassmen poetry seminar. Right after college, I moved to New York and took my first job as associate to the managing editor at Time Warner Books. My jaw dropped when I realized that the publication of a book requires so many more people than an author and an editor. I was amazed to discover the extensive team that included marketing staff, sales representatives, cover artists, publicists, and company executives.
Comments from Shana: She mentioned “story” in the first sentence in this paragraph. This is an interesting choice to extend the metaphor of writing stories/publishing throughout the essay.
I’ll never forget the day our CEO met with Madonna before he offered her a million dollar contract. Who knew that it wasn’t only the quality of the publication that determined its success, but like a tail wagging the dog, the decision of how profitable a title would be was often made in-house before the words were even written! In fact, I discovered that the marketing dollars were invested to yield the desired results. I was very curious about how the marketing and sales departments would ensure that Madonna’s book earned out the enormous author advance.
Comments from Shana: I’m glad that she going to tell us a fascinating story (the CEO meets Madonna!) that brings us into the action with her. In the beginning of the second sentence, she began with “Who knew.” When she uses this kind of unexpected sentence structure, she is really showing us her fun personality! Nice.
With the endorsement of the managing editor, I made a lateral move to work as a marketing assistant. Quickly I learned about how the marketing team plugged in metrics—such as comparable titles, an author’s following, and previous sales—in order to estimate likely revenue that would be generated by the new title. I gradually assumed responsibility for managing these estimation models for all book titles in the action-adventure genre. After a steep learning curve, my estimates routinely landed within 3 percent of actual sales, when the department average was 7 percent. People joked that I was psychic and should become a fortune teller. One day the VP of Marketing brought in a giant jar of jelly beans and announced that I was going to tell them exactly how many pieces of candy were in the jar. (I guessed 10,864 but was off by 231. I won the whole jar!)
Comments from Shana: So, I see that she wasn’t passively moved from one position to the other, but her questions and curiosity drove this move to become a marketing assistant. It’s good that she is showing us she is a person of action. In the last sentence, I can relate to her here as a human being. I can tell she has a good sense of humor along with excellent predictive skills. The writing paints her as very friendly, and relatable. That’s one thing that you want to accomplish through your essay—you want to come across as a likable person and not just deliver a list of achievements.
Two years later, I was thrilled to be offered a marketing position at Random House, but it was only six months later that Random House merged with Penguin, and in the process, there were hundreds of layoffs. There was more work for everyone, and we were scrambling to keep up with competition from new publishers like Amazon.com. In the middle of a marketing blitz for bestselling author TD Calhoun, the author’s agent informed us that Calhoun was going to go the nontraditional route and self-publish her next books; she felt she could market her own work through social media and keep a greater percentage of the process.
Comments from Shana: The admissions committee along with cohort peers are eager to hear about how you deal with adversity and make decisions in challenging situations. Here, the writer sounds like she is an innovator with a vision. When writing your essay, make sure to highlight your most valuable assets.
Employees in traditional publishing throughout New York were in despair. But as an avid user of social media, a passionate writer myself, and an experienced professional in the traditional publishing world, I was secretly excited about the possibilities. What if I could help merge the best of what the digital age offers authors with the best of what the big houses provided in order to create a new publishing format? Not only would I like to create a publishing house that is lean yet builds in marketing, sales, and editing, but I’d forgo the traditional advance for my authors and offer a commission-based model that would enable authors to keep at least forty percent of their profits. Although I have many ideas for how this new hybrid publishing model could work, I have even more questions, especially about the marketing and operations aspects. That’s why I’m so excited to be here at HBS. I hope to find answers by taking Marketing Segmentation with Professor Jones and E-commerce Productivity with Professor Allen.
Comments from Shana: This sentence is critical: “Although I have many ideas for how this new hybrid publishing model could work, I have even more questions, especially about the marketing and operations aspects.” She has to make it clear that although she has ideas for her career, there are absolutely missing pieces that can best be found at HBS. You never want the admissions committee or your peers to think you’re already a complete package and you’ve already got all the skills, knowledge, and experience you need.
Also, I’d like to start my own publishing industry club on campus. I know each of us has our own fascinating story to tell, so I hope you’ll join me as a marketer, sales rep, or business executive of our own HBS Publishing Club and turn everyone in our cohort into authors. I can’t wait to publish your titles and share your wise insights and experiences with a wide audience.
The Art of Applying team agrees that this is a great essay! One thing you may have noticed is that the essay writer didn’t include any information on her personal background or what family life was like growing up. This was a choice this particular author made, but it doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t include information on your personal background. It just depends how you want to tell your story. We hope that this sample essay guides and inspires you as you work on your HBS introduction essay.
If want us to help you tell your own story, reach out and contact us at email@example.com. Feel free to leave questions or comments below. Share this article with your friends if it helped you!
The Baker Library at HBS
HBS changed its essay question this year and made it no longer optional.
At MBA Admissions Advisors, we thought that it would be useful to provide our readers with fresh recommendations to tackle Harvard’s new question. We also tried to summarize what the web is saying about it.
Here is the new Harvard Business School’s essay prompt:
“It’s the first day of class at HBS. You are in Aldrich Hall meeting your ‘section’. This is the group of 90 classmates who will become your close companions in the first-year MBA classroom. Our signature case method participant-based learning model ensures that you will get to know each other very well. The bonds you collectively create throughout this shared experience will be lasting. Introduce yourself.”
Answering the Introduce Yourself question:
You should consider these five pieces of advice when tackling the HBS essay:
1. Don’t repeat yourself: this essay is only one part of your application, use it to share information that can’t be found elsewhere (e.g. in the applications form or on your resume). Think about what professional and personal experiences you would like to highlight and what additional elements you would like to share with the admissions team.You shouldn’t approach this essay much differently than in the recent years, when HBS was asking applicants:
“We can see your resume, school transcripts, extra-curricular activities, awards, post-MBA career goals, test scores and what your recommenders have to say about you. What else would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy”
2. Write as if you were speaking to your classmates: this is one of the main difference from last year’s essay: you are not writing to the admissions committee, but speaking to your classmates instead. It should influence your essay structure in two main aspects.
First, you need to think about a set of stories or anecdotes that you would want to share with your classmates. You may not want to write about things that are very personal in nature and you certainly want to avoid coming across as over-confident or pretentious. After all, you will be pretty much living with your classmates for the next two years, so don’t be annoying.
Second, your story needs to be concise, and easy for your classmates to follow. Your style should be impactful yet simple, as your section mates will not be reading your essay; you will be speaking to them.
3. Don’t be boring: Imagine that you are the last one of your section of 90 students to speak. What are you going to tell your peers that is interesting enough to keep them awake. You will need to find a story that sets you apart from your colleague, one that has the potential to intrigue them. There is no magic formula here, but think about experiences, connections, or unique achievements that might make them want to know more about you. Put yourself in their shoes: if you were listening to a classmate’s introduction, what would you be interested in hearing? This is your chance to deliver a mini-TED talk.
4. Show that you’ve done your homework and know what HBS is about: When they published the new essay question (“Introduce Yourself”), the HBS admissions team also posted a video depicting the HBS case method. This highlights the importance for you to know HBS and its emblematic case method. We don’t recommend that you explicitly address the “Why HBS” question directly in your essay, but you should make sure that your essay highlights the contributions that you will make to your class: what unique experiences and perspectives will you bring to the case discussions. Answering this question may actually take some honest introspection.
5. Be VERY concise: The essay has no word limit, but you need to remember that there are 90 people in your section who will all introduce themselves. If everyone were to take 5 minutes for their speech, it would take 7.5 hours in total… You get the point! Overall, we recommend keeping your essay between 600 and 800 words, and certainly avoid going beyond 1,000 words. When done with your essay, read it out loud and see how long it takes you. Your presentation shouldn’t exceed two to three minutes.
Around the Web: What others are saying about Harvard’s new essay question
To help you start think about ways to Introduce Yourself, we’ve also summarized the web’s best posts on the topic. Here is what we’ve found :
- The admission committee has already seen your resume, data forms, and recommendations so you should build on them rather then reiterate content already covered in your application
- Don’t be too cocky, try to strike a balance between impressive stories and salient interests you would typically share with your classmates
- Leverage the case method video the admission committee shared to emphasis your points and mention what role you would play in the collaborative environment of the case method
- You should aim for 750-1,000 words for your essay
Poets & Quants
- You need to prioritize meaningful aspect of your life, but present the content in a style and tone suitable for your future classmates whom you just met
- You need to remain disciplined and refrain from making a laundry list
- Focus on showing maturity, accomplishment, and leadership through your stories
- Focus on clarity and be concise, max of 1,200 words
- Know yourself, know HBS and demonstrate your fit with the school
- Use your essay to fill the gaps from your application
- Show diversity and leverage professional and personal stories
- Don’t try to answer why HBS
- Read your essay out loud and see if it makes sense, it really needs to feel like you are presenting yourself to your classmates
- It shouldn’t be too long. When you read it out loud it should be between 1 and 3 minutes, 5 being the absolute max.
- Simplicity: it needs to be easy to understand
- Don’t overstate your accomplishments, it needs to be believable
- You need to be different and make sure your story is interesting
- Don’t replicate information from your application
For more advice on how to approach your essay, we encourage to read some of our past posts, including our HBS essay tips from last year. Many are still relevant.
Finally, it helps to have someone who doesn’t know you well read your MBA application essays. They’ll be far more likely to spot gaps or inconsistencies that, while they make sense to someone who knows you well, stand out to someone who does not. If you’re interested in having one of us take a look, or if you want to brainstorm about potential essay stories, then reach out through our free consultation service. And of course, stay tuned to this blog for more posts on how to write effective MBA applications.