How to describe your career aspirations in your MBA application

By Jenny Clare

Many of us think about and set goals for each new year. Goal-setting is important for moving forward in life, relationships, and career. If you’re thinking of starting an MBA program this year, you'll need to learn how to define your goals when writing an application. With a thorough application, you can get one step closer to your ultimate professional dreams.

The following tips will help you define and describe your career aspirations and stand out from other MBA applicants, whether you’re applying to the Berkeley Haas School of Business, or elsewhere.

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Appeal to your audience

Before investing significant time and money into an MBA, you’ll want to know if it’s a good fit for you academically and culturally. Admissions committees see a large number of essays throughout the application process. To stay committed to the MBA program's core values, admissions officers are trained to look for specific elements in an application that deem you an academic and cultural fit to the school. Appeal to these needs by assessing yourself as a fit first.

Get a feel for the school’s guiding principles, academic approach, campus, and culture before beginning your Berkeley Haas application.

Get to know the prompt

MBA application essays help the admissions committee learn about who you are as a person and how you will fit with their academic community. Admissions officers look for students who can concisely describe their career aspirations. If this isn't an exercise you've performed in the past, you may quickly realize how difficult it can be to express your dreams.

The following exercises can help you understand and write to the prompt when crafting essays for your Berkeley Haas application:

  • Read the prompts several times to understand what the essay should accomplish; for example, are they asking you to defend, persuade, inform, inspire, or otherwise?
  • Brainstorm to reflect on your accomplishments and life lessons, then narrow down your ideas.
  • Think about how the prompt can apply to you personally and weave specific examples into your narrative.
  • Don’t tell your whole life story; instead, choose a relevant story to tell within the context of the prompt.

Make it personal

Every applicant has a unique background, interests, and personality. The essays are your biggest chance to let your voice shine through in your Haas application. Don’t be afraid to include your personal experiences when describing your career aspirations for your MBA application essays.

  • Reference your background – include specific accomplishments or struggles you’ve overcome to show how you approach challenges and give the admissions committee a picture of who you are.
  • Include your experiences, values, and passions so that your essay is both authentic and demonstrates your fit with the program – culturally, academically, and professionally.
  • Don’t forget to tie those experiences back to the guiding principles of Berkeley Haas.

Explain your career aspirations

Admissions committees look for indicators that show how you will add value – both to yourself and the overall program. Use precise language and real-world examples to show how an MBA is a bridge to the next step in your professional life.

  • Share your passion, enthusiasm, and excitement for the program and your career trajectory.
  • Include one or more of the following: What would you like to achieve by earning an MBA, or from the MBA experience? Where do you see yourself heading after graduation?
  • Within the context of the prompt, explain where you have come from, where you are heading, and why an MBA is critical for getting you there.

Additional tips for your Berkeley Haas application essays

In addition to the content of your essay, the admissions committee will be looking to see that the candidate follows directions. Here are some best practices to follow when writing your MBA application essays:

  • Create an outline to give your essay structure before writing
  • Write several drafts before submitting your essay
  • Have someone else edit and proofread your work
  • Following directions is important; for example, respect the suggested word count
  • Use the optional essays only if you need to explain a gap in work or education, a low GPA, or another extenuating circumstance

Your essay is a critical piece of your MBA application and your chance to stand out from other MBA hopefuls. These tips will help you nail it and begin the next step in your career progression.

If you're planning to apply to the Full-time MBA program, check out Application Bootcamp. It's our eight-step guide to preparing and submitting your application. 

If you're planning to apply to the Evening & Weekend MBA program, you'll want to utilize Application Toolkit. It's our six-step, self-paced guide geared towards helping busy professionals complete their MBA applications.

Not sure which program is the best fit for you? Compare Berkeley MBA programs.

Posted on January 5, 2021
Themes: Applying
Jenny Clare
Jenny is Senior Associate Director of Admissions for the Berkeley MBA Programs for Working Professionals. She hopes these blog posts provide you with useful insights into the Berkeley MBA experience and answer questions you may have about the MBA in general.