It has been a common experience for me to review essays filled with technical terms of the applicant’s industry. Whether it is ‘leadership’ essay, ‘setback’ essay, ‘goals’ essay, ‘ethical dilemma’ or even ‘background’ essay, some applicants inadvertently provide lengthy technical details that are comprehensible only to their industry people. In their enthusiasm to showcase their technical expertise, they often omit relevant information (e.g. ‘What were the main challenges?’ “How did they deal with the situation?’ or ‘How was the experience meaningful?’ etc.). The use of excessive jargon makes it challenging for the readers to comprehend your story and distracts them from the ‘real story’. In order to create effective essays, you should aim at using only as much jargon as is required to convey your story.
Let’s look at the following example from the ‘teamwork/challenge’ essay for Schulich:
In October, we got the first sampling. It worked fine without leakage, but the assembly manager complained the bailer was difficult to assemble because the washer did not quite fit with the opening. Although he was sure about the 0.5 mm difference during the meeting, there was still a gap between assumption and reality. In order to save the tooling cost and time, I did not ask for tooling amending of the washer but asked Mr. Liu to decrease the hardness of the washer by 10 degrees and send me a washer sample immediately. The sample came two days later, and the assembly manager was satisfied with it. It also passed the water leakage test. Since the sample was ready much earlier than METS, we sent it by FedEx to Lindemann for the test and got the sample approval during the meeting with Lindemann at the international METS.
Here is the revised version from the essay that was ‘accepted.’
Finally, in mid-October, we got the first sample; however, the assembly manager found it difficult to assemble. A tooling amending might have solved this problem, but it would have taken the time and the second sample might be worse. I certainly could not afford time for failures. So in order to save time, instead of inquiring tooling amending, I substituted a softer washer from the supplier which satisfied the manager. Thus, in spite of all the issues, the sample was ready much earlier than the METS (Marine Equipment Trade Show).
Now, look at the following example from the ‘Why MBA’ essay for Kellogg and notice the jargon used by the writer.
I am currently working on a project to leverage historical buying data of the 4 largest advertising holding companies in the world to forecast the pricing of online media inventory and provide valuable insights to the media buyer during negotiation with publishers. The results of this project could have huge implications on how the inventory is priced in the digital marketplace, providing the holding companies with a tool to truly unlock the value of their data. Right now, different operational workflows, absence of standards and fragmentation of data prevent most of the holding companies in the advertising industry to get the true value of scale. My experience of providing solutions to such industry issues will complement the academic knowledge that I will gain through the part-time MBA program at Kellogg and will accelerate my career growth.
Here is the revised version minus technical details. And yes, it was accepted:
I am currently working on a project to leverage historical buying data of the 4 largest advertising holding companies in the world to forecast the pricing of online media inventory and provide valuable insights to the media buyer during negotiation with publishers. I believe that my experience of providing solutions to such industry issues will complement the academic knowledge that I will gain through the part-time MBA program at Kellogg and will thus accelerate my career growth.
To sum up, whether you are writing goals essay, accomplishment essay, self-revelation essays (passion, cross-cultural, failure/mistake, or ethical dilemma, etc.) or leadership/teamwork essays, your objective should be to keep the technical details to the minimum and instead focus on how you dealt with challenges, how you communicated with people, how you processed information, how you made decisions and took actions, and lastly and most importantly, how you grew from your experiences to emerge a better person, personally, and professionally.
Stay Tuned for Tip #9 of crafting compelling essays J