Your "Career Story" is an executive summary of your career thus far. A great Career Story will provide the connections and interrelationships between your jobs and brings your resume to life. To score top marks, you'll need to provide evidence of distinguished academic and career performance in the top 10% of your peer group and demonstrate your potential for future advancement. This Essay Professor lecture takes a closer look at the Career Story Essay and provides you with the insights, tools, and examples you need to succeed.
First, we'll talk about why the admissions committee asks these kinds of questions and we'll share the characteristics of an outstanding answer, which we've summarized for you in an Essay Professor Scoring Chart™.
Second, we will provide you with a set of Content Building Blocks for crafting a unique and powerful response of your own.
Finally, in the self-study materials you'll find an example essay, building block templates, and a scoring chart that you and your essay reviewers can use to evaluate your essay and plan your next draft.
You will have everything you need to create an outstanding essay.
So let's talk about the Career Story Essay.
This Essay Professor Course is about assembling the content for your Career Story -- an executive summary of your career thus far. A resume is a record of jobs and achievements -- a career story provides the connections and interrelationships between those jobs and brings your resume to life.
An effective career story must achieve a number of goals in a very limited amount of space. To score top marks, you'll need to provide evidence of distinguished academic and career performance in the top 10% of your peer group and demonstrate your potential for future advancement.
It can be difficult to summarize a multi-year career in a couple of hundred words or in a couple of minutes of interview time. What should you focus on? To answer this question, we recommend that you define your career goals before trying to pen your career story. A good career story connects the dots between your professional background and your career aspirations. You want to use your career story to feature capabilities you've developed and demonstrated in your career so far. In that way, the career story becomes a kind of proof that you are well-prepared for the career you plan to pursue. Along the same lines, even if you are not explicitly asked to explain how your career story has prepared you for future success, you should find a way to summarize your career story as an element of an outstanding career goals essay.
So what is the admissions committee looking for in a great Career Story Essay? Let's take a look at the Essay Professor Scoring Chart™ for the Career Story Essay.
The Essay Professor Scoring Chart will help you understand the characteristics of an outstanding Career Story essay. You should pause the video, and download the scoring chart for this essay now.
You will use the Essay Professor Scoring Chart™ in two important ways. First, you should use it to help you choose between the various essay topics you are considering. Second, after you've selected your essay topic, you will use the Scoring Chart at each stage of your writing process to identify opportunities for improvement. You should continue your drafting until you've created an essay that you deem to be "outstanding."
Let's briefly review the characteristics on the scoring chart for this essay.
To score top marks, you'll need to provide evidence of distinguished career performance in the top 10% of your peer group and demonstrate your potential for future advancement.
It almost goes without saying that you want to emphasize the experiences and qualities that business schools value such as leadership, teamwork, and creativity.
You also want to give the reader a sense of the depth and breadth of your experience and indicate promotions that led to a growth in your responsibility-level. Your goal is for your career story to convince the admissions committee that you are well-prepared for an MBA.
An effective career story must achieve a number of goals in a very limited amount of space. Your career story must be coherent, concise, and cohesive – it's not unusual to have to tell your career story as part of a multi-part essay question in which case you'll have 200 words or less. Furthermore, in an admissions interview you might be asked to briefly summarize your career story.
Remember to share the reasons for your career decisions and summarize major achievements in each step of your career, including important skills and knowledge you've acquired along the way.
To reiterate what was said in the previous slide, an outstanding career story will clearly demonstrate momentum toward your ultimate career goals by emphasizing expanded skills, knowledge, and business relationships that will be valuable in your future career.
On a related note, always keep in mind that admissions officers will be assessing your "employability" and how well your career story might play with future recruiters.
Finally, keep it positive. The tone of the best career stories is upbeat and enthusiastic. A career story with an unhappy or dissatisfied tone can be a major turn-off.
In the next series of slides, I'm going to show you how to fashion the building blocks for your Career Story. We are also going to show you how another applicant assembled his building blocks into an effective Career Story essay.
In the self-study materials associated with this video, you'll find a Career Story Template that you can use to create the content building blocks for your career story. We suggest you pause the video and download that template now.
Your first step in crafting your career story is to identify the major phases or chapters of your career.
Typically the chapter will begin with your decision to take the job, proceed to the most significant challenges and achievements in that role, and end with a brief accounting of your learning and growth.
The bridge between chapters in your career story is formed by the reason or reasons you decided to take the next step in your career path.
Let's take a closer look at the steps for assembling your career story. We'll also see how "Adam", a private equity analyst, assembled the content building blocks for his career story.
Your first step is to ask yourself "What are the major milestones in my career so far? Answering this question will help you to decide how to divide your career into phases or chapters. Changing companies is an obvious chapter break but a step forward inside the same company such as a promotion, a major increase in responsibility, or being assigned to a high profile project might also mark a new phase in your career.
"Adam" has two major chapters in his career story. Chapter 1 was graduating from college and accepting a 2-year analyst position at Deutsche Bank. In Chapter 2, he accepted an analyst job at a Private Equity shop called Astrix Partners where he's been working for 18 months. For example purposes, we'll focus only on Chapter 2 of Adam's career story.
Each chapter in your career story should begin with your career decision: "Why did you leave your old job and take the new one?" Admissions Officers can read about what jobs you have had by reviewing your resume -- your career story is your chance to explain why you decided to take the job -- or volunteer for a big assignment.
For example, Adam would need to to succinctly explain the reasons he decided to leave Deutsche Bank and join Astrix.
The next building blocks are the significant challenges and accomplishments during this chapter of your career. Identify the most significant challenge you faced; ask yourself: What did I achieve that I am most proud of?
When telling your career story, provide a quick example of a stand out moment if possible.
Adam plans to talk about sourcing a private equity deal at Astrix, which is quite an accomplishment for someone of his age and position.
The third building block is Career Growth. "How did you grow or progress in this chapter of your career?" You could write about knowledge acquired, lessons learned, or perhaps what you learned about yourself -- a new talent discovered, the emergence of a new career interest, or clarity on an existing one.
Adam's learning and growth is fairly straightforward – He advanced beyond the tactical deal making activities he had been focused on as an investment banker and is now developing the strategic point of view required of a private equity investor.
Let's look at the assembled building blocks for the Astrix Partners chapter of Adam's Career Story.
Pause the video for a moment and read through Adam's Career Story building blocks.
I think Adam's career story is a good example case because there's nothing particularly exotic about his career. He has followed a more or less typical path from tier 1 investment banking into a private equity shop. Although his career path is fairly traditional, his career story building blocks provides additional insight into his career progress. He'll be able to score top marks because he will clearly validate his career progress and potential for future advancement, not to mention employability in the Private Equity industry post-business school.
In the self-study materials you will find an excerpt of the essay that resulted when Adam assemble his content building blocks. Review the sample essay carefully and then you should get to work outlining, drafting, scoring, and rewriting your own essay until you and your advisors feel you have an outstanding Career Story Essay for your application.
In addition to our core videos and transcripts, as a free registered member you can:
- Track your progress through each application module;
- Follow our specific "Next Step Actions" to keep you focused on the most critical tasks each step of the way;
- Receive our Essay Writing Bootcamp email course; and
- Listen to recordings from our Premium Member Q&A sessions.
Reference: Lecture Slides and Speaker Notes
Tool: Essay Professor Scoring Chart: Career Story Essays (PDF)
Tool: Career Story Outline Template and Sample Essay (Microsoft Word)