他们就是去年得到录取，今年秋季刚刚入读哈佛大学商学院的 MBA 学生中的 3 位。
他们都曾经回答了哈佛大学商学院那个如今还在向 2017 年的申请人发出的问题：在审核你的申请，决定你是否会成为哈佛大学商学院的一名 MBA 候选人时，你还希望我们知道什么？
这三位申请人，都在他们的申请中写出了清楚明确，令人信服的 Essay。随着今年哈佛商学院和其他顶尖商学院 MBA 的申请截止日期迫近，这些 Essay 无疑会给正在申请商学院的学生一些方向性的参考。不过更重要的是，这 3 篇 Essay 能够告诉你，在申请中，任何一个问题都没有解答公式，没有独一无二的解决方案。
3 篇成功文书，3 个截然不同的思路
在第一篇 1130 字的 Essay 里，这个美国陆军申请人将自己在阿富汗前线作为一名士兵的经历与军队后勤的工作人员联系起来，描绘了一个勇于献身的，以人为核心的领袖图像。
第二篇 Essay 的灵感，来自申请人只有九岁的学生的一次无私的行为。这位管理咨询顾问决定挑战自己，为医疗保健领域作出积极的影响。在这篇 937 字的 Essay 里，她使用了一个极为艰难的转圜情境，并在其中体现和加强展示了自己建立关系、联结共同目标等最强的管理技能。
而在第三篇 1358 字的 Essay 中，一个程序工程师在他早年的生活里经历了一系列的失败。通过表现脆弱和诚实，他把这份毫无结果的努力，转化成为一个可信的“荣誉勋章”，这是他坚韧、决心和力量的证明。很明显，尽管上半场看起来失败了，但事实证明，只要有足够的时间和毅力，就可以成功开辟新的机会。
一个申请者写了 25 份草稿
然后提交了其中的 1 份
每一个 MBA 申请的背后都是一个人和一个故事。在这三篇具有代表性的 Essay 中，每个申请人所采用的写法，都和他们提交给哈佛大学招生委员会的 Essay 一样截然不同。
程序工程师在 2 个月时间里经历了 8 稿以上的修改。“我想过自己想要分享给招生录取委员会什么样的个人特质，以及该如何寻找和锁定我过去的经历里，那些能够佐证这些个人特质的故事，”他说。在两到三篇草稿之后，他终于找到了最好的表达，并不断地加以改进，花了一周的时间最终定稿。“我最好的建议就是要诚实，一定要早一点开始写作，寻找理解录取委员会逻辑的人，和你一起阅读和分析你的 Essay 草稿，并得到他们的指点。
管理咨询顾问则说，在 Essay 的最终版本之前，她经历了25 篇草稿。她建议说，“Essay 写作最重要的，就是要迭代(to iterate)。”“因为这个问题是一个十分开放的提问，所以重要的是要尽可能充足地思考，并给自己时间走上探索自己最在乎的是什么的一次旅程，我的这个旅程，花了两个月。另外，找到一个能够诚实地给你建议和反馈的人，这件事的重要性再怎么强调也不过分。”
3 篇 2017 年哈佛商学院录取文书
An Engineer-Trained Manufacturing Manager
Home Country: USA
Industry: Process Engineering and Operations Supervision
解析 / 作者开篇便叙述了自己一系列的失败经历，十分引人入胜。他用一种真诚并且毫不避讳暴露自己弱势的方式，把这些徒劳的努力描绘成了光荣的象征，表现自己人格坚毅的痕迹。
Analysis: In the essay, the author captures the reader’s attention straight away in the first half by opening up to a long series of failures in his life so far. By showing both vulnerability and honesty, he is able to transform this list of fruitless endeavors into a credible “badge of honor,” evidence of his resilience, determination and strength of character. The second half of the essay provides further details about each failure. It quickly becomes apparent that what appeared to be failures in the first half, actually proved to be successes or openings for new opportunities, given enough time and perseverance. The author’s willingness to fail in order to eventually succeed¨ motivates his application to HBS. Not because he believes an MBA will prevent all failures, but because it will empower him to make the right decisions and avoid, in his words¨ “preventable missteps.”
A wise woman once told me that I have had an extraordinary number of failures for someone my age. I’d never thought about it that way before, but she’s got a good point.
At 16 years old, I proudly started my first business, selling performance aftermarket parts for hobby-class radio controlled cars. I designed my own parts, contracted out the manufacturing, and sold the kits online. Within five years, it failed. In college, I declared my major as Mechanical Engineering and signed up for Calculus III. I failed. I landed a three-semester internship at “Tech Company,” but due to a last minute layoff, I was unable to return for my third and final semester. Expecting to work and not having registered for classes, I scrambled to find a new company for my third semester, got an interview against all odds, and failed to get the job. I started a second business, wiser from my teenage years, this time a real estate investment company. It failed. I ran for student body president, gained significant ground as an independent running against fraternity-backed competitors, and failed to get elected.
With graduation looming on the horizon, I applied to several lucrative engineering jobs in the oil industry. I failed to get an interview. I made it through the second round of interviews in a different energy industry. I failed to get an offer. I interviewed with a smaller, local company. Failed again. Finally, “XYZ Company” hired me and I just tried to be a great young engineer. After being transferred to a new manager and finding myself on performance probation within six months, it became clear that I’d failed at that, too.
I repurposed my real estate business to pursue wholesaling -– selling properties under contract to investors for a modest profit. I saw some early success with my marketing strategy as I received several promising leads and successfully got a few properties under contract. Still, after open houses, endless rounds of negotiation, and all the charm I could muster, I failed to close a single deal. Another swing and a miss. Elsewhere in the community, I was asked to organize a dinner and political fundraiser for a popular Mayor with a national profile, but after working the phones hard, I couldn’t get enough commitments. The fundraiser never happened – I’d failed again.
Back at work, I was both concerned about losing my job in the short term and dissatisfied with the prospects of promotion in the long term, so I began to look for opportunities elsewhere. I landed an interview for a Project Manager job at a $2.7 billion technology company. I secured references from Directors and Managers I knew at the company and even met with the CIO. Leaving nothing to chance, I had a suit tailored, practiced interview techniques, and studied my own background in detail. After multiple interviews for multiple openings at the company, I never got a single offer. Failed yet again.
Upon examination of these facts, one might make a convincing argument that failing is my single greatest talent in life, but I see things differently. This string of failures is a hard-earned badge of honor for me –- irrefutable evidence that I possess both the courage to try and the resilience to persist. I view these failures as guiding lights that are illuminating my path to success. Admittedly, I would have preferred a faster path, but now that these failures are mine, I find tremendous utility in them. Though they torture me –- even now I’m embarrassed at the thought of them –- they also teach me and fill me with anticipation of one day making the same decision differently.
And it is because of my failures that I am ready.
In Engineering School, I passed Cal III the very next semester and never retook a class again. I also landed the third internship on schedule with a new company, learning a new industry and making new connections along the way. I never served as student body president, but I did help launch two organizations that support minority men and women in finishing their degrees. And wanting to utilize the public speaking skills I refined on the student body campaign trail, I successfully used techniques perfected in my businesses to market myself through my blog as a paid public speaker. As a result, I have delivered inspiration messages to high school and college students all across the country on topics including life skills, careers in STEM, anti-bullying, and strategies for success.
When my new manager was critical of my performance as an engineer, I changed the way I did things and eventually earned his respect and praise as a result. We never did raise the money for the Mayor, but as a result of the fundraiser attempt, a prominent community activist invited me to manage his campaign for office, and I was also invited to join campaigns for both a Governorship and a U. S. Senate seat, all in the very next year. I became so well studied and experienced in the art of interviewing that when an internal management job opened up, not only did I get the offer, with the recommendation of the manager who’d put me on performance probation before, by the way, but the hiring manager later confided to me that my interview performance is what put me over the top. I now manage over 100 people in a manufacturing environment and have earned the trust and commitment of employees more than 30 years older than me. On a daily basis, I use the lessons I learned from my failed businesses to be a better manager, negotiator, and communicator.
I am convinced that stepping into the chilly darkness of failure is required to bask in the warm rays of success. I have learned that no matter how hard I try, I probably won’t strike gold the first time that I dig. Because I can never rely on fate alone, it is my lot in life to work as smart as I can, and then as hard as I can.
I see a bright and exciting future waiting for me out there, and I am ready to go find it. I will expend my best effort and put my best foot forward in pursuit of that future, even if I can’t yet see where the next foot will land.
I realize that I wax philosophical as I make this next point, but I see my own success as a debt to my forefathers. A direct descendant of slaves, I come from no bloodline of affluence or nobility. When I think of my ancestors, it is our powerless past that spurs me on to empower others today. Their despair haunts me. Their hopelessness admonishes me. Their memory whispers to me. As a tribute to their lowliness, I seek to lift up others.
So I have a passion for empowering others in my blood. I love people. I believe in investing into the community. I love challenging young people to see more within themselves and inspiring them to reach higher. I believe that good citizenship involves not just voting, but helping the people that you support, holding the powerful accountable, and listening to those with whom you disagree the most. I love the satisfaction of a job well done, and I love even more the satisfaction of empowering someone to do their job well. I’ve found that my passion is so contagious that people will follow me, even when none of us initially knows exactly how we’ll achieve our goal.
As you consider my application, I want you to know how deeply I want to leave a positive impact on this world. I know that Harvard Business School will not insulate me from failure, but rather will help me avoid preventable missteps by giving me the tools to make good decisions and execute those decisions effectively. I want this opportunity, and I am ready to fail until I find my success.
Word Count: 1358
评论 / 这篇文章在两个月修改了八稿。我仔细考虑了哪些个人品质可能是录取委员会所青睐的，然后努力回忆我的哪些故事和经历能够表现这些品质。
Comments: The essay took eight drafts over two months. I thought about what personal traits I wanted to share with the ADCOM and identified stories from my past that identified those traits. After two or three drafts, I’d figured out the right narrative and kept refining it, taking as much as a week to finalize each draft. My best advice is to be honest, start early, and have someone who knows what the ADCOMS are looking for to read through a couple of your drafts and give you pointers.
A U.S. Army Captain
Home Country: USA
Previous Industry Profession: Military
解析 / 在这篇文章中，作者把自己在阿富汗前线作为领导人作战的经历和委派于军队后勤部的协助体验串在了一起，刻画出一位敬业，以人为本的领导人的形象。同时需要平衡家庭成员扩张所带来的压力，自己专业上的义务以及在过程中所遭遇的挫折和挑战，作者的韧性可见一斑。
Analysis: In this essay, the author ties together his experiences of leading soldiers on the front line in Afghanistan together with staff postings in Army Operations Logistics, to paint a portrait of a dedicated and people-oriented leader. By balancing the demands of his growing family, his professional obligations and taking setbacks and challenges in his stride, the author’s resilience is clearly on display. Having achieved his goals in the Military, he states his intent to transition into Consulting via HBS. This objective is further reinforced by his positive experience during the Military Prospective Student Day.
“This would have made a much better backdrop for my wedding than the DMV,” I thought, taking in the scenery as I stood atop my mountain outpost. I was thinking of my wife, (partner’s name), whom I’d married just three weeks earlier in a civil ceremony.
Now, in March of 2012, I was in the war torn northeast province of Kunar, a region filled with snow capped mountains and lush valleys. From the outpost, I could see the locations where the valorous actions of three Medal of Honor recipients took place.
Despite its dangers, Afghanistan was a beautiful country. Seven months before deployment, I was selected to rebuild the battalion reconnaissance platoon. I applied principles learned in (military branch program) to provide combat stress and leadership-focused training. We trained dirty, cold, wet and tired, often walking all night with 80-pound packs, then working for several days conducting reconnaissance missions. I thrived leading small, close-knit teams of professionals focused on achieving goals and overcoming challenges. Soon, our training would be put to the test.
At the end of our first Afghanistan mission, my platoon was hiking, sometimes sliding, down a treacherous mountain slope. We had been observed by the enemy and I received orders to leave in daylight. At the base of the peak, we found ourselves in a boulder-strewn creek bed with high ridgelines on either side. Immediately, I felt vulnerable, recognizing this was an ideal ambush location. My instincts would prove true.
I caught a broken radio transmission that a nearby unit was taking mortar rounds. “We’re about to get hit,” I thought. Suddenly, the silence was shattered with the clamor of small arms fire. It was close, maybe 200 meters. The next instant, the creek bed erupted around me as my Soldiers returned fire. My squad leaders were reacting as trained, giving me the ability to step back and assess the situation. I could not radio the command post, so there was no way to get artillery or helicopter support, let alone tell someone we were in contact. “We’re on our own,” I thought. The firefight seemed to end as quickly as it had begun. Ultimately, we suppressed the enemy and did not have any friendly casualties, save a twisted ankle. Although this firefight and other experiences like it were certainly transformative, they were nothing compared to the challenges that would come later.
In June of 2012, a fire sparked west of (city in Denver˝ threatening residential areas, including my home. The fire department scanner was broadcast over the Internet, and I listened helplessly from my plywood hut halfway around the world. As the flames encroached, my wife was ordered to evacuate. Though (partner’s name) was safe, we lost our home. I immediately returned to begin the process of starting over, while just weeks later we learned we were expecting our first son, (son’s name).
Shortly after his birth, we made two cross-country moves in six months before reaching (city in Texas). At (city in Texas), I took my first position as a (army) officer. I learned the technical side of Army logistics and determined how to divest over 70,000 pieces of equipment and shut down a brigade, an organization made up of over 4,000 Soldiers.
Nine months later, I transferred to a new unit where I was immediately assigned the toughest project company exercise evaluations. Such a project was typically planned by a major with over twelve years of experience, but I accepted the challenge as a junior captain with only five years in the Army. I adapted to the personality of a demanding boss, energized a team of managers and senior staff, and created a brigade-level exercise from scratch. After six months of work, I supervised as the whole brigade executed my plan. In the midst of this, my wife was pregnant and we welcomed our second son, (son’s name). While we shared the joy of our growing family at home, I was constantly challenged professionally during my two years in staff positions.
In September 2015, I was finally back on “the line” as a company commander, excited to lead and train my own piece of the Army and make an impact on the lives of 160 Soldiers. But I knew I would have a real leadership challenge. Due to the prolonged high pace of operations without recovery, standards of training and discipline had atrophied. Soldiers and families were exhausted, felt their leadership did not care about them, and were mentally or literally checking out of the Army. I was taking command of a worn-down company facing more of the same intense training schedule.
I focused on taking care of people through team building, fostering candid communication with my subordinate leaders, and giving time back to Soldiers and families whenever possible, while reinforcing a culture of doing the little things right. Progress came slowly, but 15 months and two training cycles later, I am proud that the company excelled in its missions with the tireless efforts of my subordinate leaders and Soldiers.
I believe each unique set of circumstances in the Army has given me similar insight that I have a passion to work with and lead teams to solve complex problems, persistence to overcome adversities, and the ability to produce results that make organizations, systems, and people better. I seek out mentors, peers, and subordinates to understand different perspectives when designing solutions. I enjoy leveraging competition to motivate and am committed to mission accomplishment.
I have achieved my professional goals in the Army and am excited to take the next step and pursue my goal of becoming a consultant at a major management consulting firm. A Harvard MBA would be the ultimate catalyst in this career change, strengthening different aspects of my leadership, providing a foundation in business, and allowing me to learn from the perspectives of an incredibly diverse student, faculty, and alumni network. I know this to be true because I had the privilege to visit campus for the Military Prospective Student Day. I was energized watching the Case Method in action as Professor (HBS Professor’s name) facilitated the “Threadless” case and students learned from each other through lively debate.
The amount of emphasis and time that the veteran community and the Business School put into making the day a fantastic experience demonstrated the extent to which veterans are valued there. I know Harvard Business School is the best place for me and my family, a global community in which I will contribute and thrive for a lifetime. If given the opportunity, as alumnus and CEO (name of HBS Alumni) advised in his message to prospective candidates, I am eager to take risks and try new things, invest in relationships, and “show up” fully committed to the experience of Harvard Business School.
Word Count: 1130
A Healthcare Manager
Home Country: USA
Previous Industry/Profession: Consulting
解析 / 在这篇文章中，作者描述了她九岁的受访者的一次无私的举动是如何促使她下定决心挑战自己，在与美国人切身相关的医疗保健领域发挥自己的作用。
Analysis: In this essay, the author begins by describing how witnessing a selfless act from her nine-year-old mentee, led her to decide to challenge herself to make an impact in Healthcare, a field affecting all Americans. She uses a particularly difficult turnaround situation which she was put in charge of as exemplifying her strongest skills: building relationships and uniting people around a common goal. In the process of resolving this turnaround project, she also displays her willingness to speak out across leader-ship levels and companies.
When I originally became a mentor, I thought I understood the impact I could have on someone else’s life but did not believe that someone half my age would have much to teach me. Freshman year at [Private College], I signed up to be a Community Friend and was soon introduced to a nine-year-old named [Female]. She had long brown hair, large dark eyes, and barely said a word that first day. I was proud to witness the kind, smart, hilar-ious girl who slowly emerged through Taylor Swift sing-a-longs and nights out at my favorite pizza restaurant where we soon ate regularly. I was helping to build her self-confidence, but had not fully understood how she was changing me.
Several months after we met, [Female]’s mom dropped her off for one of our routine visits and as she climbed out of the car my immediate reaction was one of surprise. Where had her beautiful, long hair gone? [Female] explained, “My four-year-old neighbor has cancer and has been going through chemo, so she lost all her hair. She told me she didn’t feel pretty anymore, so to make her feel better I decided to shave my head.” I was blown away by the selflessness of that gesture. I still am not sure that I would have the confidence to do something as thoughtful as what [Female] did for her neighbor, but she made me want to try.
I have found that I often learn the most about who I am and who I want to become through dedicating my time to those around me. That is why I am a mentor, and that is why I am passionate about healthcare, an industry that impacts every person in the United States.
My work experience has convinced me that the healthcare industry must change in profound ways. I began my career at [Healthcare Non-Profit], where my most meaningful assignment was an IT initiative at the [Healthcare Non-Profit] that transformed how the nation’s largest blood collection organization operates. Inspired by that experience, I joined [Healthcare Corporation] to focus exclusively on healthcare and learn from a company with a passion for innovation.
On a daily basis I witness the difficulty that providers face as they attempt to prioritize patients but are bogged down by outdated systems within their practice that cannot communicate with one another. At [Healthcare Corporation] I have collaborated with other vendors to implement solutions that break down the walls between these systems, allowing providers to focus on patient needs rather than data entry. My greatest strength is my ability to build relationships, through which I am able to unite stakeholders with a wide range of motivations. This skill has played a critical role in my success at driving the complex projects I manage to completion.
Last January I learned that the fate of [Healthcare Corporation’s contracts with twelve practices and its relationship with [Health Care Provider Company], the largest healthcare provider in [Northeastern State], rested on the success of one project. As [Health Care Provider] affiliates, the practices were obligated to transition from doing 14 all of their work in [Healthcare Corporation] to completing certain tasks in the [Health Care Provider] system. The project objective was to build an interface to transfer patient data from computer software systems to [my Healthcare Corporation]’s online system, which would spare the practices from having to enter the same information in both systems. More than a year into the project, the interface was now five weeks from the agreed upon go-live date, behind schedule, and at high risk of failure. My assignment was to turn it around.
Through experience I understood that ensuring an interface works from a technical standpoint often obscures the equally critical mission of training end users on how to leverage the interface to support their needs. While assessing the project, I immediately observed that there was no plan to guide the twelve practices through the significant changes in their daily workflows that would soon occur. This worried me far more than the myriad technical issues.
I insisted that the interface not go live without end user training, and was surprised when [Health Care Provider] leadership maintained there was no time to complete training and no option to delay. I feared the project would fail but was determined to do everything in my power to make it successful. I called an emergency meeting between [Healthcare Corporation] and [Health Care Providers] leadership to draw attention to the existing issues and determine a path forward.
I initially believed that the two organizations had fundamentally different priorities, but during that meeting I realized I had been wrong. As we discussed the motivations behind each organization’s position, it became clear that both [Healthcare Corporation] and [Health Care Provider] sought to make the practices successful; the disagreement stemmed from differing opinions on how best to do so. With common ground established, the tension between both sides quickly subsided. We agreed to keep the go-live date, prioritized key technical fixes, and identified a training plan.
The interface went live on schedule and without major issues. A few weeks later, I received a call from a Practice Manager who had been particularly resistant to the change. She informed me that her practice had mastered their new workflow and appreciated the support that both [Healthcare Corporation] and [Health Care Provider] had provided. Of all the things that we accomplished during those last weeks, I am proudest of that moment.
Word Count: 937
评论：我认为这篇文章最重要的是重复。我可能写了 25 篇草稿，其中一些类似于以前的版本—我试图通过一个完全不同的镜头或一系列故事来思考我想传达的内容。但是因为这个问题是如此开放，所以重要的是尽可能的反思，给自己留出足够的时间（我的情况下是两个月），来考虑你最想传递的价值以及如何有效达到这一目标。找到一个能够诚实地给你反馈的人也是很重要的，但并不是最重要的。
Comments: I think the most important thing with the essay is to iterate. I probably wrote 25 drafts, some of which resembled the previous version and others where I tried to think about what I wanted to convey through a completely different lens or series of stories. Because the question is so open-ended, it is important to reflect as much as possible and give yourself the time (in my case two months) to go on the journey necessary to realize what you care most about communicating and how to do so in the most effective way. I also cannot overstate the importance of finding someone who will give you honest feedback.