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Following up on the release of the Cambridge Judge MBA essay prompts for 2017-2018, we wanted to provide some guidance for applicants targeting Cambridge this admissions season.
Judge has maintained its request for candidates’ career goals, spectacular failure and teamwork scenario. Because each Cambridge essay is a relatively short one, applicants must make judicious use of the available space to highlight their industry-specific knowledge, preparation for business studies and general strengths.
Let’s take a look at each of this year’s prompts:
What did you learn from your most spectacular failure? (up to 200 words)
While the topic of failure is a common one when it comes to MBA applications, the very tight word limit of this response makes this a relatively unusual task. With only 200 words to work with, applicants will need to summarize the failure itself in a very high-level manner, devoting the majority of the response to a treatment of the lessons they learned from the experience and perhaps a mention of the sorts of situations to which this learning has subsequently proven applicable.
The “spectacular” scope of the question adds a further layer of complexity, as applicants should aim to discuss lessons that will be relevant to future experiences on the Judge campus and in their future careers. Failures from the personal realm are technically fair game here, but candidates will likely want to give first consideration to professional or academic examples, or to those from structured extracurricular activities.
Describe a situation where you had to work jointly with others to achieve a common goal. What did you learn from the experience? (up to 200 words)
It’s a good rule of thumb to avoid highlighting a failure unless specifically asked to do so; hence, especially with the need to discuss a failure in Essay 1, candidates should be sure to choose a situation with successful results here. With such a tight word limit, context will have to be established concisely by defining one’s goal followed by the context of one’s team. Working with others can take on many forms—coordinating with teams overseas, collaborating directly with a colleague for a challenging consulting project. What’s important is the objective you faced and the challenges you overcame—together—to achieve it. Given the focus on teamwork, it would make sense for lessons to stem from communication, motivational or leadership skills. However, given Judge’s focus on career readiness in the next essay, it could work to highlight an industry lesson that aligns with one’s career goals.
What are your short and long term career objectives and what skills/characteristics do you already have that will help you achieve them? What actions will you take before and during the MBA to contribute to your career outcome? If you are unsure of your post-MBA career path, how will the MBA equip you for the future? (up to 500 words)
Cambridge once again includes a fairly standard career goals essay of the sort featured in many MBA programs’ applications. Applicants are asked to outline their immediate post-MBA professional objectives, as well as their longer-term plans. Meanwhile, the explicit request that applicants inventory the existing skills and characteristics that will help them along their chosen paths is a somewhat unusual one, so candidates will need to reflect on their qualifications and take care in addressing this element of the prompt. This can stem naturally from a brief career summary, as one would be able to point to one’s past actions as proof of their current skills/characteristics.
In regards to the second part of the prompt, discussing concrete efforts, such as additional projects at work, engaging Judge’s MBA Careers team or participating in an MBA career trek, would best support Judge’s request for actions. While the adcom does allow for some ambiguity in one’s career plans, keep in mind that leaders are expected to be decisive and have vision, so we strongly recommend having a clear career plan from the outset. Especially given Judge’s one-year program, it will also be best to hit the ground running in terms of pursuing a career. That said, the essay is not binding for one’s career upon admission and the school does anticipate that candidates are looking for a change, as 94% of the recent class changed country, function or industry sector. Should candidates still be at a loss for a specific career path, responses to the final question should be kept brief, with broad reflections on how the skills acquired during the MBA could apply to an industry in general.
As is the case with most schools, demonstrating an understanding of the unique merits of Judge’s program is crucial to an effective response to this question. Taking the time to learn about the school’s curriculum, special programs, and extracurricular activities—whether through a visit to campus, conversations with alumni, or reading the Clear Admit School Guide to Judge—will pay dividends here.
Clear Admit Resources
Thanks for reading our analysis of this year’s Cambridge / Judge MBA essay topics! As you work on your Judge MBA essays and application, we encourage you to consider all of Clear Admit’s offerings:
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