Learn from the First Moon Landing: Avoid Using Technical Details in Your MBA Essays

ToBoldlyGoThe new movie, Hidden Figures, rightly shines light on the roles played by the mathematicians who helped the United States catch up to Russia in the Space Race and eventually land on the moon in 1969. This accomplishment was politically significant at that time as it was a show of technological prowess between the bitter Cold War rivals.

“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Most of us are familiar with this quote and can still hear the words clearly in our heads. We can also vividly recall astronaut Neil Armstrong taking his first steps on the moon and planting an American flag.

These iconic words and images are what the general public recalls of this event, and what inspires young kids growing up today to dream of becoming astronauts or scientists. The breakthrough mathematical, technological, and research milestones that were necessary to reach this point, however, are only recalled by a limited audience (even though they created the foundation for this defining moment).

Just like the mathematical accomplishments highlighted in Hidden Figures were long forgotten by society, technical details that you mention in your business school essays may be hard for the Admissions Committee of your dream school to grasp. Let’s examine two key ways you can avoid this problem:

Create interest with highlights that appeal to the senses.
Applicants from technical fields are often so immersed in their specializations that industry jargon litter their essays; they forget to write these terms with context that non-industry readers will be able to appreciate.

One way to avoid this issue is to quantify this technical language in terms of monetary equivalents (e.g. dollar amounts), percentages or ranks to show scale of responsibilities and accomplishments. However, making the leap towards using imagery in your writing that complements these achievements will make your essays even more powerful. Always use the opportunity your MBA essays give you to show how your work has impacted other people. For instance, you can share how your accomplishments in the workplace have helped people learn new skills, save time, or be safer, rather than simply listing your technical day to day activities.

Make your story more relatable by sharing your relationships.
No matter what blockbuster movie you see – whether it’s about an inter-galaxy war or an animated underwater adventure – interpersonal relationships always drive the story. Even historical accounts of world events or biographies take cinematic license to play up personal aspects of the protagonists’ life stories. Thus, when you write your essays, be aware that mentioning relationships is one way to make your stories come to life.

Readers are interested in humans, so detailing relationships you have made while in the workplace will help your profile become more relatable and display empathy towards others. This can be done by describing the way you have handled challenges on projects or how you have collaborated with others towards shared accomplishments — these stories should not be ignored. Rather than utilizing all the essay space you are given for the financial details of the deal you executed or the legal intricacies of the contract you negotiated, make sure you share how you grew from these experiences. You could also include the lessons learned and how these experiences have helped you become a better leader, or simply a better person.

Follow these tips and your MBA application essay will become a more compelling and relatable piece to read.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD. You can read more articles by him here