Whether you’re applying to Michigan Ross or a host of other MBA programs, and even a few universities around the country, you’re tackling the ‘introduce yourself to your future classmates’ essay. Of all the essay topics out there, this is consistently one of the most vexing for applicants. Why?
Few people savor the prospect of a personal introduction. However, this essay is a precursor to the hundreds of conversations you’ll have with your classmates (“What do you do?”) and also the elevator pitch you’ll likely deliver over the course of your chosen career. So, what are some key considerations to keep in mind when introducing yourself in essay form?
-Keep it authentic. This is a consideration not only your content, but also the style of your prose. This isn’t the place for your street vernacular, but DO allow your personality to shine through your prose. Contractions and some colloquialisms are ok in this context.
-Be bold but likeable. You’re not going to conquer this essay question without taking some chances. You might open with an icebreaker, but be careful not to alienate your audience. A comic who opens his stand-up routine with a bad joke should be prepared for a no
-Keep it focused. You don’t want to tackle every dimension of your identity or explore philosophical beliefs. If there’s one way to make a good first impression in person, it’s through showing you’re a good listener. How do you accomplish this in essay form? You keep your prose succinct, and find ways to make your reader feel like they’re having a conversation.
-Don’t apologize. We’ve all met the person whose first impression is a little too brazen. So, how do most of us guard against coming off that way? By apologizing or not confidently asserting who we are and what we ‘do.’ As a result, we imply we aren’t proud or self-assured, core qualities that all admissions committees seek. Here’s a fabulous blogpost on the subject.
Finally, a simple but effective tool is to actually speak through what you’ve written. Your voice is a great arbiter of authenticity. Where are the cringe-worthy moments, or the interstices that seem to cue the sounds of crickets? If you can make it through your essay averting these moments, congratulations–you’ve conquered a notoriously difficult essay prompt!
Best of luck, and as always, please visit www.ivyeyesediting.com for a free critique of your ‘introduce yourself’ essay.
Ivy Eyes Editing