The ISB essay topics for 2015 are as follows:
Essay 1: If we were to admit just one more student, make a compelling argument as to why that student should be you by describing an (only one) achievement in your personal / professional life that you are most proud of. What did you do that sets you apart from others? What did you learn? (400 words max)
This question requires you to focus on that aspect of your application that makes you exceptional. Hence, pick the most unique situations and impacts. The main objective of this essay is to gauge what value-add will you bring to the ISB community that will enhance the value of both in-class and outside classroom experience for your classmates. Hence, before you start writing this essay it is important that you list down all professional and personal accomplishments.
Look at your resume and identify how you have differentiated yourself: What were some of the most challenging projects you have been part of? made significant business impacts? built teams of unprecedented success? a challenge you overcame, or an event in your life that highlights something unique about your background. Identify the top achievement that best demonstrate your achievements and impacts.
The focus here is not just on the achievement but also on “why the achievement is so meaningful to you”. It is important to note here that achievements comprise not only awards and laurels but also significant contributions to teams or organizations by overcoming challenges. While a big accomplishment is exhilarating, it is important to highlight on how the situation helped you grow as a person. Keeping this aspect in mind, analyze each accomplishment on various parameters – impact, challenges, learning, et al and pick up the most significant achievement.
Essay 2: Describe a (only one) defining moment in your personal / professional life when you had to make a risky decision, and explain what you did, why and the outcome? (300 words max)
A risky decision is a decision with the possibility of failure or loss and no certainty of the outcome. This essay offers applicants an opportunity to demonstrate their risk taking ability. Also, what is important is to highlight on the thought process behind the risky decision – was it based on some research, gut, or some other analysis? An impactful essay will be the one wherein you can highlight on some successful outcome basis the risk taken.
Describe a (only one) situation in your personal / professional life when you had to interact with people from diverse backgrounds. How did it affect you and what did you learn? (300 words max)
B-schools give a lot of consideration to any international work experience. Working with people from different backgrounds is an integral part of the B-school culture and hence showing an ability to work with a diverse team is important here. Hence, this essay is a great opportunity for those with international work experience to highlight on the cultural diversity they have experienced and the learning from the same.
Essay 3: What are your post ISB career plans and how will your past experiences and the Post Graduate Programme in Management (PGP) contribute to taking you there? (300 words max)
This is a clear goals question with focus on how an MBA from ISB will help you achieve these goals. The idea behind such a question is to judge candidates from the perspective of clarity of goals and purpose of an MBA.
This is an extremely important question and hence it is important to have a clear and well-researched answer in place. Whether your goal is to continue in the same industry/function or to make a switch, there should be a clear identification of gaps between one’s previous professional experiences and goals for the future and it should all be knit very logically with an MBA from ISB serving as a bridge.
A great essay is the one that manages to clearly link the three aspects – 1) career progression, 2) career goals, 3) why/why now MBA and why ISB.
• Career Progression: AdComs are seeking applicants with clear paths behind and before them. You may have worked for a few companies and held different roles, but it is important to clarify “why you made these moves” and “how each one added to your professional knowledge”.
• Career Goals: It’s good to be realistic about your goals and hence it would be great if you talk to alumni and do research on school website to align your goals with the positions offered at ISB. To discuss the development of your career you should emphasize briefly on how did your experiences shape your goal and how do they reveal the appropriateness of your goal. It should highlight on how you developed this goal, why it appeals to you and how an MBA from ISB will contribute to your goals.
If your goals are very different from what you currently do, devote space to explaining how you have prepared for the career change, why you are suited for this work, and how you have discovered that it is a fitting career for you.
Imp: Many candidates are given the feedback that they got rejected because their goals were very broad and generic. Hence, it is critical to explain your goals in detail getting into the depths of the industry scope, role, etc.
• Why ISB: Finally, this essay demands that you explain how ISB – better than any other business program or career move – will help you prepare for those goals. The purpose is to convey the message to the AdCom that you are making an informed decision in applying to ISB. The underlying theme of this essay should clearly convey that an MBA from ISB at this stage in your career is very important. Explain how specific learning from the ISB PGP will enable you to attain your goals – make a mention of specific courses, clubs etc at ISB. In case you have interacted with ISB alumni or attended ISB information sessions or scheduled an ISB visit – mention how your decision to apply to ISB has been influenced by these events.
Essay 4 (Optional): Please use this space to explain any career breaks / provide any other information not covered elsewhere in the application that could significantly impact your candidature at ISB. Note: It is not necessary to write this essay. Please use this space only if there is something really significant that you would like us to know. (200 words max)
Use this essay to highlight something significant not covered in the previous essays. Use this space to explain any gaps in your career or to share an extracurricular or professional experience that further demonstrates your exceptional qualifications and ability to contribute both to ISB and a recruiting company in the future. Instead of giving justifications for a low score in a particular academic year, use this space to highlight on your strengths.
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