SAMPLE - 'TEAMWORK/CHALLENGE' ESSAY

PROFILE OF THE APPLICANT

  • Bachelor of Engineering, Computer Science, from a top rated Indian university, 2002
  • Masters in Science, Computer Science, from a renowned US university, 2005
  • Programmer at an Indian IT firm, 2002-03
  • Senior Programmer at a US IT firm, 2005-07
  • Technical Architect at a mid-sized US IT firm, 2007- present

ESSAY QUESTION

Describe an instance where you encountered resistance in a professional team setting. How did you address the situation? (300 to 500 words) Kellogg-2013-14

BAD EXAMPLE OF APPROACHING THIS QUESTION

The biggest challenge I faced in a professional team setting was when I was working for a project at XXX (name of the company). I not only faced resistance from the client, but also my own team members. At the end, it took commitment and perseverance for me to get the work done.

The writer makes two mistakes by starting off in this manner. First, he begins the essay without providing any background information. He needs to make his beginning more engaging in order to build the reader’s interest in his story. Second, he communicates the end of the story in the second sentence itself and thus fails to keep the reader interested in the challenges he faced.



Please look at the example below.

GOOD EXAMPLE OF APPROACHING THIS QUESTION

"Don't try to re-invent the wheel." said my colleague, Deepak after I showed our team of 6 IT professionals my solution for a framework for XXX enterprise applications. The solution was a re-engineered process to build a framework for the foundation services for the XXX enterprise applications (name of the company) that is the heart of our client’s $30 Billion multi-industry business. I had developed a similar solution to several other major clients before, so I was confident that my solution was efficient and versatile enough to handle the upcoming product upgrades. I, therefore, expected no resistance from the team. Deepak was wary about the changes to the framework as it is utilized by many client applications, whereas I knew that the existing framework will not support the future product upgrades and is bound to fail.

The author starts off with a dialogue explaining to the reader the challenge he encountered from his team during a project. He also shares with us the gravity of the situation, saying the change could paralyze the entire business. Then he goes on to provide further details of his story explaining how he proposed a particular solution and introduced a counter argument provided by his colleague.

The next day, I approached my client manager and told him how confident I was about my solution and explained to him the benefits of adopting it. But he said that he and the team were not confident about my solution. He also told me that since I was dealing with a system that was an important part of XXX IT infrastructure, it required more than just a presentation to convince the team.

Next, he narrates that he reached out to his client manager to demonstrate how his solution was the most apt for this situation. He also explains how he encountered resistance when he tried to convince him (the client manager), who was not interested in his proposal and discouraged him saying that a presentation was not enough to convince the team.

Disappointed, but confident, I decided to prove my results by gathering the supporting data and demonstrating the team with sample prototypes. Over the next one month, I worked on building application prototypes, developed a presentation to demonstrate the benefits of using my framework, and collected few case-studies to support my theory.

In this paragraph, the author explains how he approached the problem. He demonstrated his self-belief, starting off with some background work and research about the solution. Also, he developed a prototype to support his claims.

A month after the last meeting, I approached my client manager and proposed him my plan. I also showed him few case-studies and explained to him how the new solution could help the client cut down 20% of maintenance cost that is spent on supporting the applications. Then I addressed some of his concerns related to security and code migration. Impressed with my analysis, the client manager agreed for the presentation.

Next, the author says that he did not give up and organized another meeting with the client manager. He demonstrated the benefits of implementing the solution and also addressed the apprehensions of the client manager. Finally, he succeeded in persuading the manager, who authorized him to present the proposal to the team.

A couple of days later, I presented the solution to the team with a complete analysis on the benefits of the solution. I also demonstrated the prototype that I developed using my solution. After multiple rounds of presentations and discussions, the team was convinced that my solution offered greater benefits, so they agreed to adopt it. We later presented this solution to the IT directors from other XXX divisions and showed them the benefits the solution offered to their enterprise IT applications. Six months later, this framework was established as a standard for enterprise IT applications across all divisions.

Then the writer goes on to discuss his next course of action after he got permission to present his proposal. In his proposal to the team, he unfolded the advantages of implementing the solution. He not only demonstrates his perseverance by conducting multiple rounds of presentations, but also showcases his prototype, assuring the team of the success of the solution. Finally, he shares with us the outcome of his persistent efforts by stating that the solution was successfully implemented across all business verticals.

Personally, overcoming this challenge is significant to me in terms of my confidence. Challenging the client team at a client location and winning my proposal made me more confident in speaking my mind about the project issues at work. Since then, I have never hesitated in expressing my opinion, and it has helped me provide many valuable contributions to the projects.

The author concludes by stating his key takeaways from this experience. He gained a lot of confidence by proving his mettle. He also learned to speak his mind, which has enabled him to contribute effectively in future projects.


SUMMARY

In summary, the key to answering this question well is to make sure that the story contains all the four components: situation/ challenge, action, outcome, and significance.

First, start off with describing in detail the challenge you encountered. You should also mention the circumstances (hostile/high pressure etc.) and the scale and impact of the situation. Next, introduce the proposed solution and provide an argument to substantiate your claims.

Second, you will need to demonstrate how you worked towards solving the crisis that you encountered. By explaining how you navigated through the situation, what actions you took, and how you processed your thoughts, you will be exhibiting your leadership and team working skills, your decision making ability, perseverance, initiative, and confidence. Third, you need to indicate the final outcome of the situation.

Finally, list the key takeaways from this experience and show how this experience has helped you evolve into a better individual.