In essays and interviews, MBA admissions officers and alumni often ask how you plan contribute to their school. How should you respond?
In essays and interviews, adcoms and alumni often ask how you plan contribute to their MBA program. Most of you will claim you have "passion" for this particular MBA program. Talk is cheap. The only way to demonstrate true passion is to do your homework. Actions speak louder than words. Have you contacted alumni and current students? It is not too late!
 

The question is - why are you competitive?

  • How much do you understand the student culture at School X?
  • Have your done your homework / due diligence / needs analysis?
  • What do your future classmates need that only you can provide?
  • What needs can you fill? Be as specific as possible.
 
 

  • Q: WHY DO THEY ASK THIS QUESTION?
    • A: TO SEE CHECK YOUR "FIT" WITH THEIR SCHOOL
  • Q: WHAT IS FIT?
    • A: YOUR ABILITY TO BENEFIT FROM AND ADD TO EACH SCHOOL'S UNIQUE STUDENT CULTURE
    • To quote Lou Gerstner, “Culture isn’t just one aspect of the game - it is the game”. Read more about "fit" here
 

Vince suggests you fill out this first matrix (Version A) to help clarify how your contributions add value to you and others. 

Personality → Contribution Matrix Version A

 

 

Example

What personal characteristic are you trying to show with this example?

What will you do at "school X" to build on what you have done in the past?

Why is this special?

How will your actions help you achieve your future goals?

How will your actions benefit others?

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

HOW TO USE THIS CHART

  • When it comes to contribution questions, it is important to tell specific stories that highlight concretec ways you will add value to your future classmates.
  • Sometimes people mention contributions that don't have any really clear added value; these, by definition, are not contributions.
  • Yes, you may love reading Science Fiction in your spare time, but it is only a contribution if your experience of reading Science Fiction can be shown to add value to your classmates (financial forecasting?).

(modified from Adam's post found at http://adam-markus.blogspot.com/2007/09/fall-2008-mba-contribution-questions.html; accessed 11/2010)


 

Next, filling in the chart below might help you think about the context of your contributions.

 

Personality → Contribution Matrix Version B

Aspect

Keywords

Professional Example(s)

Personal Example(s)

Application to MBA Life: Daily

Application to MBA Life: Special

Application to post-MBA Life  (alumnus)

CONTEXT
Where?
When?

 

 

 

  • Class

  • Study group

  • Special Project Team

  • Case Study Competition

  • Business Plan Competition

  • Marketing Competition

  • Event

  • Conference

  • Study Trip

  • Alumni network

  • Recruiting activities for school (school-specific events, MBA Tour, School Panels)

What?
Role

 

 

 

  • Expert / Leader

  • Organizer / Facilitator

  • Enthusiastic Beginner

  • Expert / Leader

  • Organizer / Facilitator

  • Enthusiastic Beginner

  • Expert / Leader

  • Organizer / Facilitator

  • Enthusiastic Beginner

Strengths

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

analytical (head)

 

 

 

 

 

how strength helps you contribute to classmates

 

technical (hands)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

interpersonal (heart)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOT SURE WHAT TO SAY?

  • Dig deeper into School X's special programs / student clubs and culture to find a specific area where you can help them innovate.

  • You can use SWOT or some other framework to analyze what School X needs and how ONLY YOU can provide it.


 

BE SURE TO USE MECE LOGIC

 


 

MORE HINTS HERE

 


 


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Vince's clients
admitted since 2007
 
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"You encouraged me to be genuine, and helped me find the right, true stories that captured who I am. In this way, you offer applicants not only an effective admissions advisory, but also a unique journey of self discovery and empowering dreams."

Harvard Business School Class of 2015, with Fulbright Scholarship (also admitted Stanford GSB)

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"First, you limit the number of your clients so that you can maintain the high quality of your services while many other MBA consultants accept clients almost beyond their capacity. Second, you are really great 'catalyst.' Each question you asked me made me think and thus deepened my stories. Thanks to you, I was able to come up with excellent ideas that I could never come up with alone."

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