Sample Business School Essays
Since many business school admissions officers encourage applicants to “write less, say more,” it is important to communicate your background and career ambitions in a concise and clear way. The essay gives admissions officers an opportunity to learn who you are, where you're going, what you have done and why their school is right for you. Use this small space to give the admissions officers a deeper sense of who you are by answering the prompt with brevity.
This section contains three sample business school essays:
- Business School Essay One - The Business of Recovery
- Business School Essay Two - Leadership in Action
- Business School Essay Three - Repair and Restore
The Business of Recovery — Sample Essay One
Prompt: What are your career goals? What skills do you expect to gain from studying at ABC Business School and how will they contribute to your professional career? (500 words).
Watching my brother transform from a man who had lost his ability to walk to a man who can play basketball with my father kindled my fascination of the physical therapy world. The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates the field of physical therapy to grow faster than average in the upcoming years. I hope to join this field during an exciting time of growth, furthering the rehabilitation of those who have been injured.
Following graduation from ABC Business School, I intend to serve a marketing team in a local physical therapy company, such as Ridgeview Physical Therapy. My short-term goal is to lead a team, furthering success in the Ridgeview area. Due to the popular physical therapy company thirty miles from Ridgeview, much of the local population is unaware of the quality services Ridgeview Physical Therapy has to offer. I hope to increase visits by 40 percent in the first 5 years of my employment. My long-term goal includes extending the company’s reach into surrounding cities, and eventually beyond national barriers, becoming a global marketing manager.
I expect to gain skills and experiences from ABC Business School that will propel my short and long-term goals. I hope to develop an experiential and diverse learning experience and have the opportunity to interact with different groups of people to learn from their business insights and endeavours. From ABC Business School, I seek the tools and resources needed to further engage in my marketing knowledge, perform professional strategic analyses, and re-evaluate my past work experiences. I look forward to taking courses from Professor Jim. W. Reid, who has published the research of the success of Matthews and Marketing in his book, “Matthews Commerce,” which has helped me continue my career this far. I also look forward to taking the unique classes taught by Professor Rachel E. Davis, introducing me to the physical therapy world and enriching my business skills in that area.
When my brother’s car accident in 2011 caused immobility in his left leg, he never thought he would be able to play his favorite sport again. David Andrews, a 1994 graduate from ABC Business School, ensured that that would not come to pass. I spoke with Andrews about his journey, and he told me that it was through the opportunities and education he received from the professors and students at ABC Business School that helped him open his own practice. I hope to follow in Andrews’s footsteps. With the passion I have for the success of Ridgeview Physical Therapy, and the determination I learned from watching my brother, all I need to complete my goals is the knowledge available to me through an MBA at ABC Business School. I look forward to completing my career aspirations using the tools received from ABC Business School to contribute to my professional career.
The world of physical therapy is growing, and with my skills in marketing, I hope to grow the local Ridgeview services across the globe.
In this essay, the applicant is assigned to answer the prompt in approximately 500 words. The admissions officer expects a clear and concise essay that does not veer off the question and exemplifies quality writing, grammar, and punctuation. In questions similar to these, the admissions officers are looking for:
- Student’s understanding and knowledge in answering questions: The writer explains his short and long-term career goals, referencing the future of the career (Bureau of Labor Statistics) and quantifying his goals (Increase by 40 percent within the first 5 years).
- A deeper look into who the applicant is: Writer shares personal information that also relates to answering the question (brother in physical therapy). Make sure that any personal information you share does not veer off of the question that needs to be answered.
- Proper research on the school to adequately answer the second question: Student mentions names of professors who have demonstrated help in the past (professor’s business research book) giving credibility to the student that he believes they will be able to help him in the future. Avoid flattery and only speak of the school in a way that shows proper research and answers the question presented.
Leadership in Action — Sample Essay Two
Prompt: Present evidence of your leadership capacity and/or potential. (Approx. 550 words)
Nancy, the CEO of Jasmine Publishing House, bought me a coffee and told me I should invest in warm gloves as we sat down at a corner diner for what would be a game-changing business meeting. As the leading publishing house in Europe, Nancy informed me that JPH was interested in closing a multi-million dollar deal with our fashion magazine, Zoelle, provided we changed the magazine's appearance to attract a broader European audience.
As production manager, my job was to lead and supervise a staff of 30 to match Nancy's vision, working closely with the design team, photographers, production staff and marketing team. After three weeks of heavy brainstorming, we developed a fresh appearance for the magazine.
I invited Nancy to a meeting with me and three of our executive producers. I shared with her the strategy we had created in order to solve our appearance problem, as well as estimated costs and complications. Nancy agreed that the direction our magazine was going fit well with her vision and audience, and that JPH would be happy to work with us within the next week.
Although the team was excited to accept the offer, I was concerned that we were not prepared to complete the project so quickly. Though the executive producers did not understand, as our production team was to begin work on the next issue the following day, I explained that there may include deep financial consequences if we rush into the process. I wanted to ensure that JPH received a consistent layout from Zoelle magazine. Nancy agreed to wait until the upcoming issue was complete before beginning work on the new look.
We began work the following Tuesday, after the latest issue was produced. I collaborated with an eight member marketing team to develop new branding for our magazine and mediated this branding with the design team, ensuring that it was able to blend well with their ideas and insights based on the first meeting with Nancy. I led the operation of the first issue to be published via JPH, supervising 30 employees.
After the issue was published, our sales increased by 42 percent in the first week. After leading the Zoelle team to a business deal close and a fresh start, I learned that with the proper leadership, a staff of varied talents, insights and opinions can work closely together to produce a magazine that continues to increase its sells each issue. My initiative helped provide Zoelle with its largest new contract that year, a $2 million deal. Customers from Europe and the United States commented with positive remarks on the new look, showing interest in the replacement of the former look, which had been being published for seven years.
After this leadership experience, I was able to see my potential as a leader. I can communicate effectively with all members of a group and help connect them with one another to make a larger picture. I protect my business discernment even against an upset crowd, and am able to properly persuade others to understand other perspectives. Through learning more about leadership every day with my work in Zoelle, I hope to continue to strengthen these abilities and witness the success they can bring to media production.
In this essay, the applicant was asked to detail her leadership abilities through the application of a relevant example. She was asked to do this in approximately 550 words, using concise language and proper grammar and punctuation. In questions similar to these, the admissions officers are looking for:
- Applicant's ability to share leadership qualities with a relevant example: This writer shared leadership qualities of communication (brainstorming with different staffs and helping them connect their ideas together), listening (brainstorming and understanding staff concerns), delegating (ensuring each team did what was supposed to be done), and managing (managed and supervised a staff of 30) through the use of an example from her work with Zoelle Magazine.
- Proof of a potential growth in these leadership skills: The writer hopes to “continue to strengthen” her leadership skills. She provides examples of how she learned from previous leadership roles.
- How these skills will help further your career: The writer used an example from her current career and concluded her essay with a look into the potential of leadership in her field.
Repair and Restore — Sample Essay Three
Prompt: Describe a challenging situation you have faced in the past. How did you overcome the challenge? (450 Words)
I looked across my celebratory cheesecake and beamed up at my new coworkers. I couldn't believe I had finally landed my dream job. All of the senior editors were having lunch in the cafe across the street from the bakery where the finance team and marketing team shared dessert. I had been hired as a budget analyst at my favorite magazine. My job was to work alongside the business manager to help create a more healthy marriage between the finance and marketing departments, thus improving our sales and workplace environment. On my way home, I reflected on my relief in finally having an exciting and secure career.
Just three months later, we met at the same bakery where I had celebrated my new job. Every department from our small, close-knit staff was present. As the publication manager began to tell us the news, I remember how our faces fell. Our publication company was going out of business, and every publication was to be shut down. She explained that they had tried to find another publishing company without success.
Not only did I feel as though I failed the company, I also knew that I, as well as the other 17 employees, was out of a job. We went back to our offices and packed up our things. Writers and designers were frantically calling around, asking for open positions. An employee from the finance department began tweaking his resume, and the marketing department apologized to the publication manager and editor-in-chief, who responded graciously.
I had to leave my apartment not long after losing my job. I stayed with a friend on the north side of town as I tried to find a job in a shrinking economic suburb. It took six months to find a position, and though I had to move and leave behind my dream, I found a new way to work toward my new dream.
From this experience, I learned the importance of adaptability. Only through my ability to embrace the change happening around me was I able to find a new job and start a new life with new visions and goals. Applying for my MBA would have sounded bizarre to the disheartened, homeless idealist who lost her dream. But now, after finding in me the strength to persevere, I am able to take what I learned from my previous job and pair it with what I learn from the university. This knowledge will help me ensure that the future companies I work with will not have to endure a similar fallout.
However, if there comes a time when I am again involved in a lost company, I know how to repair. I know how to restore.
In this essay, the applicant was asked to recall a challenging situation to which the writer overcame the boundaries. The writer was asked to do this in approximately 450 words, using concise language and proper grammar and punctuation. In questions similar to these, the admissions officers are looking for:
- Applicant's ability to identify a challenging moment in her life: This writer uses a relevant example of a challenging situation, describing the challenge of losing a job, losing housing, and having to move to a different city.
- Examples of how the applicant overcame these challenges: The writer cites her “adaptability” as the reason why she was able to overcome this challenge. Instead of giving up, the applicant tells of applying for other jobs, even ones that were out of her comfort zone and in another city.
- Brief insights to what the applicant learned from the challenge: This writer learned how to maintain strength, perseverance and adaptability in challenging situations. The applicant tells of continuing the learning process in her MBA program and allowing it to help future companies.
Here are our top five tips for writing a business school admissions essay:
- State specific reasons as to why you are a good “fit” for the school, rather than simply stating “I am the ideal candidate for your program.” Why are you the ideal candidate?
- Use real life examples in your essay. This will help to bring your essay to life.
- If you’ve taken an unorthodox path to business school, don’t be afraid to play that up. Business schools appreciate those who are unafraid to take risks.
- Thoroughly research your target schools in order to have a clear idea of how to appeal to each of them. Every school is looking for something different in their students.
- Avoid flattery. A good school knows that it’s good, and telling them so just wastes valuable space in your essay. Use that space to talk yourself up, instead.
The executive summary is arguably the most valuable component of any proposal, but most people are confused about its purpose. It’s actually not about summarizing at all; it’s about selling. Here’s how to write an executive summary that seals the deal.
I have written, edited, or managed the creation of what feels like a gagillion business proposals in my career, and 90% of the time I had a feeling of dread throughout the whole process (this was obviously in the dark ages before Proposify existed). But nothing compared to the feeling of writing an executive summary.
There is so much dissent about the function of the executive summary — what it should say, what it should do, how long it should be, and whether it be written before or after the body of the proposal — that it can add to the already stressful task of getting a winning proposal written, designed, and out the door to the client on time.
It’s time to change all that. The executive summary is arguably the most valuable component of any proposal. Its purpose is clear, its potential is huge, and putting it together can be straightforward if you change your approach and follow a few simple steps.
I’ll share what I’ve learned about writing an effective executive summary for client proposals. Hopefully, it will make the proposal process less painful, and help you convince anyone on your team who might disagree to follow your lead. Resistance is futile.
The purpose of an executive summary
First of all, the executive summary needs a rebrand. To me, the name itself speaks of stuffy suits, boring, jargon-filled reports, and boardrooms filled with cigar smoke and people ready to say no. But that’s my hangup.
In all seriousness, the word “summary” can be misleading, and this is the first mistake people often make when it comes to writing their executive summary. They think that this is where you explain the entire proposal in 250 words. That you literally ‘summarize’ the proposal by rehashing everything from page one forward.
But in fact, the purpose of the executive summary is to sell your solution to the client’s problem. It should be persuasive, outlining why the client should choose your company. It should be specific and focus on results.
The executive summary needs to be persuasive and highlight the benefits of your company/product/service, rather than being descriptive and focusing on the features. You can save the features for the body of the proposal.
The executive summary needs to grab the reader’s attention and pique their interest. Even though you and your team spent painstaking hours writing this proposal, selecting just the right graphics, and coming up with the best solution for your client’s problem, they may only read this one page and then flip to your pricing table.
The executive summary helps the client decide quickly whether they're going to read the rest of the proposal, pass it on to other decision-makers, or if it's destined for the recycle bin.
So you better make it good.
When to write the executive summary
This issue of whether you write the executive summary before or after the rest of the proposal is as divided as the issue of what’s better about a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, the chocolate or the peanut butter.
Some people feel you should write the executive summary first because it can help you outline your concept and organize your thoughts for the entire proposal. That way it acts as a guide to members of your team who are tasked with preparing sections of the proposal, ensuring that everyone’s on the same page, that the big idea is consistent throughout, and that all necessary components are included.
Others feel strongly that you should write the executive summary after you’ve prepared the rest of the proposal because then you’ve had a chance to work through the objectives and the solutions, and you’ll have a better idea of what you want to say and how you want to say it. Plus things may have changed since you first started the proposal so you might need to adjust your approach.
My suggestion is chocolate AND peanut butter.
I like to write the executive summary first because it helps to filter all the ideas our team had during the brainstorming process about the best way to pitch this client.
With an executive summary written, or at least outlined, I’m more confident about delegating parts of the proposal creation process to different team members because they’ll understand the approach and what they need to do to contribute to a consistent, cohesive document.
Once the body of the proposal is finished, I then go back to tweak the executive summary as needed. Sometimes new ideas rose to the top as we worked through the proposal, or early ideas turned out to be impossible to execute due to the client budget or timeline.
I used to leave writing the executive summary to the end, and since inevitably we were always in a time crunch to deliver the proposal to the client, I would feel anxious and rushed to get it done. But once I started writing a draft of the executive summary at the beginning, it was one less thing to worry about. I could edit the executive summary as needed and I knew there would be no huge surprises in what other team members had prepared.
How to write an executive summary:
The Opener: Capture their attention
You need an opener that's compelling. You need to get your client’s attention right away, and you do that by talking about THEM, not about you. Focus on the issue and the result, but be direct, concise, and evocative.
This is the time to hook them in — get them excited about what they’re going to read next.
The Need: We get it
Before a client hires you, they want to know that you get them. You can’t solve a problem that you don’t understand. This section of the executive summary is where you demonstrate your grasp of the situation. You could include a bit of your own research or a brief reference to your agency's experience dealing with a similar situation. You should also talk about how the client will benefit from solving the problem - what will change, the positive outcomes, the results.
Again, the focus here is on the client and their challenge, not on you and your company.
The Solution: We’ve got it
Now you’re in the spotlight. This section is where you talk about the brilliant solution you’re proposing and why it will work. But remember, this is just an overview. They can read all the delicious details in the proposal so keep it high level but still provide enough detail to convince them you have something specific and well thought out for them.
This section should start to provide the client with a sense of relief and get them excited about the result.
The Evidence: We can do it
It's time to show your stuff. Talk about why your company, your team, or your product is not only willing to take this challenge on, but you're qualified to do so.
Maybe this is your niche market and you have lots of experience helping other companies with a similar issue. Maybe it’s a particular skill set your team possesses, your research, your algorithm, or your project management process. Or maybe you’ve won 27 Academy Awards for best picture, and you know you can make this a hit.
Talk about WHY you can make this a successful project and deliver results, but (broken record) keep it brief.
The Call to Action: Let’s do it
Keeping in mind that the purpose of the executive summary is to sell, it’s now time to close the deal.
Make the client feel like they have no other chance for happiness than to hire you because of X and Y that differentiate you from the competition and proves your solution is the one that will make their dreams come true.
Talk about why you want to work with them — a little flattery goes a long way — and about how, as partners, you will be successful.
The Do’s and Don’ts of the Executive Summary
Here are some other important points to keep in mind when writing your executive summary:
Don’t make it too long
Some people recommend a formula that the executive summary is 10% of your entire proposal. I usually try to keep it to one page, two tops if it’s a larger proposal. Be mindful that if you’re working on an RFP, they may already set out a particular length limit, so you’ll want to stick to that.
Don’t use jargon
This rule applies to everything but especially when writing proposals. Jargon can act as a smokescreen to mask the fact that someone doesn’t really know what they’re talking about, or it can confuse clients if they’re not familiar with the same terms. Like, what the hell is ‘next gen’, anyway? Ugh.
Don’t use overly technical language
Unless you are absolutely sure that the only person who will read the executive summary is an engineer or a developer or someone who will understand exactly what you’re talking about, don’t get too technical. Of course in some situations you may need to reference certain details but remember that this is a persuasive document - sell the benefits, not the features. Save the tech stuff for the proposal.
Don’t talk about your company history
The history of your company does not belong in the executive summary, and sometimes I’m not even sure it belongs in a proposal. But if it is appropriate and relevant, put it in the body of the proposal under “About Us” or something.
Do focus on your client
Think about what they want to know, not what you want to tell them. Like any piece of copy, you need to write for your audience so make sure you think about them; what turns them off and what turns them on.
Do mention your client’s company name
People like to hear their names and the same holds true for businesses. Make sure you reference your client’s full company name several times in the executive summary, so they feel like you’re focused on them.
Do use plain language
The regular rules for writing apply to executive summaries. Use simple, short sentences that are clear and can be understood by almost any reading level, especially if you might be writing for people whose first language is not English. Don’t be pretentious - you’ll come off like an ass. Be concise, and persuasive. I’ve found this site helpful for keeping me on track for plain language writing.
Do proofread and edit
This probably goes without saying but you really, really don’t want any typos in your executive summary. Get more than one set of eyes on your document before it goes out, and preferably someone who wasn’t involved in its creation.
Executive Summary Example
Here's an example of an executive summary I wrote using a customizable proposal template from Proposify's gallery. Of course every executive summary needs to be tailored to your specific project, your client's needs, and your brand voice. If you're looking for more inspiration, we have many other business proposal templates that you can customize yourself.
I hope this guide will help turn your ho-hum executive summaries into wicked pitches of excellence. Remember to be persuasive, not pedantic. And if anyone has a suggestion on a new name for executive summary, bring it on.
About Jennifer Faulkner
Marketing manager @proposify, muse for #demoncopyangel. Channeling Maria Von Trapp, Kate Middleton, and my taxi-driving, yard-sale-obsessed grandmother. Professional word nerd and unapologetic disciple of the Oxford comma. Follow on Twitter
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