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Notre Dame / Mendoza Essay Topic Analysis

Notre Dame / Mendoza MBA deadlines

The following essay topic analysis examines the Notre Dame / Mendoza (Mendoza) MBA essays for the 2020-2021 admissions season. You can also review essay topic analyses for all of the other leading MBA programs as well as general Essay Tips to further aid you in developing your admissions essays.

Notre Dame / Mendoza MBA Essay Topic Analysis 2020-2021

Applicants to Notre / Dame Mendoza need to respond to a short answer, one of the MBA essay topics and then provide a slide presentation.  The essay may be no longer than two pages.  Let’s take a closer look at each of the Notre Dame MBA essays. 

Statement of Purpose 

Please share your short term professional goals. What role does a Notre Dame MBA play in helping you achieve these goals? (100 words or less)
Given the short length of this response, you’ll want to be clear and direct about your short-term goals, identifying industry, function and even a few target firms. Then, forge specific connections between Notre Dame’s offerings, whether courses, clubs, projects, etc., and your plans. You’ll want to stay focused on the skills you hope to gain through your education that would help you pursue your goals.

Notre Dame MBA Essay Option 1

Cardinal O’Hara established the Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame in 1921, firmly committed to the idea that “the primary function of commerce is service to mankind.”  As the world economy continues to grow and change, how do you see business acting as a positive force in the world? (maximum 2 pages, 12pt font, double-spaced)
The admissions committee is looking for students who have really synthesized and internalized the Mendoza program, and who have a good understanding of their fit with its values. While the core of this essay should be one’s past experience of demonstrating related impact, this is also a forward-looking prompt, as Mendoza asks for your vision of the positive influences business will have.  While you may envision broader impact—say, what Elon Musk’s next project may be—keep in mind that the adcom wants to get to know you.  So, when accounting for your vision of how business can be a positive force, ensure that you are a part of it.

With respect to structure, it will probably make the most narrative sense to open this response by identifying what you have experienced and can see being a positive result of business.  You can then touch on how you have lived by this idea in your own past, and then explain how you would carry this forward into your own career. Details of your anecdote would ideally convey one’s leadership, communication skills and teamwork abilities, as well as reflection on how these efforts connect to a positive force. This can then flow into an introduction of your long-term goals—you will, after all, be a part of the business world after graduating and, ideally, carrying forward the ideals of your alma mater.  In describing your long-term goals, aim to comment on what draws you to the role as well as the larger impact you hope to make on an organization, category, sector, or region. This long-term impact element of the response seems a particularly logical place to address fit with Mendoza’s guiding principle.

Again, applicants should attend to the prompt’s description of the Mendoza tenet as they develop this discussion, drawing out ways they would support the greater good in the course of their engagement with the Mendoza MBA program.

Notre Dame MBA Essay Option 2

The University of Notre Dame was founded in 1842, by Father Edward Sorin, C.S.C, with a mission to become “one of the most powerful means for doing good in this country”. In 1879, Father Sorin’s vision for Notre Dame appeared to be at a sudden, abrupt end. A massive fire destroyed the building that housed virtually the entire University. Instead of giving up, Father Sorin interpreted the fire as a sign that he had dreamed too small, and decided to rebuild, bigger and better than ever. That Main Building still stands today, topped by the gleaming Golden Dome, not only as an iconic campus building, but as an ongoing symbol of perseverance and vision.

Tell us the story of a time in your own life or career when you had to overcome an obstacle, start over, or rebuild. (maximum 2 pages, 12pt font, double-spaced)
This prompt is rather open ended, as candidates may choose from their personal or professional lives. While candidates are ultimately asked to account for overcoming a challenging experience, the situation should have some weight to it, as the preamble details a rather devastating loss—but also a powerful comeback—for one of the most important people in the school’s history. Hence, for example, this should not detail one’s struggles with time management or a minor setback in a project that was easily overcome, but rather a major hurdle that inspired an even greater change. Given the preamble, there is also a hint that the adcom will be looking for a sense of vision in executing one’s ultimate goal.

Overall, this essay is a good place to highlight instances of resourcefulness and persistence, and to provide insight into one’s personal and professional maturity over the course of a narrative. An effective approach might be to describe the initial obstacle and its broad implications in a few sentences, followed by a discussion of how you dealt with it—along with a brief illustrative example—before concluding with a reflection on the lessons you’ve learned and impact that you’ve had. Ultimately having a long lasting impact would also parallel the elements of the preamble anecdote. To conclude, it could work well to account for how you would bring the lessons forward as a student at Mendoza or even in one’s future career. Accounting for specific ways in which you would contribute to Mendoza based on this experience would not only support one’s sense of vision, but also understanding of one’s fit with the program.

Slide Presentation

Effective communication is a central skill for managers and visual presentations are an important method of communication. Demonstrate your ability to clearly and concisely communicate by telling us about yourself, using a short slide presentation.

Please consider the following guidelines when creating your presentation:

  • Please submit four slides.
  • You may create your slides in any software that works for you, but you must save and upload as a .pdf.
  • Do not use audio or video files.
  • You are free to share anything about yourself that you think would be of value to the Admissions Committee. You can have some fun and be a bit more lighthearted in this portion of your application. Your tone should reflect your personality.
  • Please be assured that the Admissions Committee will read your essay, your resume, and your transcripts in detail. Your slides are an opportunity to go beyond your academic and work history and show the Committee who you are as a person.

This does speak to Notre Dame’s interest in a candidate’s passions and personality. An easy way to approach this process is to ask oneself a few simple questions.  What new and important information about yourself can you introduce to the adcom through this slide presentation?  In terms of organization, are there four separate topics to which you would like to devote a slide each?   Or would you prefer to use the four frames to create a sense of progression through a current activity, past experience, “day in the life,” etc.?  We’re hesitant to provide too much guidance given the free-form nature of the task; the best advice we can offer is to think about who you are (and how this might be of interest to the Mendoza adcom), consider how you could translate this into words and images, and then give it a try.  Showing the initial result to someone who knows you well could be a great way to determine the effectiveness of a working draft.

Optional – Personal Statement / Additional Information

If there is information that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee that does not appear elsewhere in your application, you may choose to submit a personal statement. This statement can provide additional context for any part of the application that you feel requires more explanation. (Optional, 1 page maximum)

Review the rest of the application first, to ensure you are not repeating material. If you need to address issues such as gaps in employment, a weak academic record or other potential issues, applicants should keep their responses brief and to-the-point, offering explanations without making excuses and humbly bringing mitigating factors to the reader’s attention. That said, it’s possible that there are other elements of one’s background that would be appropriate and not covered elsewhere in one’s application, for example an anticipated promotion or an element of one’s identity not covered in the program’s data forms. While applicants should make an effort to fully represent their candidacies within the required elements of the application, this leaves a bit of room for short exceptions.

Clear Admit Resources
Before you start writing your responses to the Notre / Dame MBA essays, check out some of our Mendoza College of Business resources:

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