Harvard Career Vision Essay

Almost any top professional school, whether an MPP, MBA, MPH, M. Ed, or MSW, is going to ask you to describe your career vision—your professional plans and goals.

Why do they ask me about my professional goals?

Top professional schools ask about your career vision and your professional goals, because they want to make sure that you have a clear, confident, well thought out reason for attending their schools. Top schools want high-achieving graduates who do great things in the world, bring prestige to the school, and attract funding to the school in the form of donations (from you—and other proud alumni.

If they let in a bunch of people who don’t actually know why they are going to school, they end up with a bunch of wanderers who may or may not find their footing in their careers.

Admitting you would be a disservice to you, your peers, and the school’s brand as a whole. So the stakes are high to get this right!

What if I don’t really know what I want to do?

The beauty of applying to a top professional program is that you can gain further clarity about what you want to do through the process of writing, revising, and polishing your essays. Ideally, you will have worked for 3-5 years in a variety of roles and organizations so that you can better understand what kind of organizations and roles are best suited for you.

But this is real life, and things don’t always turn out that way. So if you’re applying with an unclear sense of what you want to do, the best thing you can do for yourself is give yourself plenty of time to write, research, revise, and polish your essays and convey a sense of confident and clear direction in your essays.

What if I change my mind?

Changing your mind about your professional goals is totally okay and completely expected of a portion of the class. Our interests evolve and shift as we learn more about various industries, problems, and opportunities—as well as the disparate income potential involved with various career paths.

Your essays are not a contract between you and the admissions committee; they are more like a cover letter for your job as incoming Ivy League student and community member. Just like you can’t know exactly what a job will be like before you’re there, it’s nearly impossible for you to know exactly how your professional career path will play out.

Your “career vision” essay is just that: your ideal vision for your career and the change you hope to make.

What’s an example of a “career vision” essay prompt?

The requirement to write about your career vision may come as part of a statement of purpose (as in the case of this year’s Columbia SIPA MIA/MPA Essay 1) or it may be an entirely separate essay on its own (as in the case for the HKS MPP Essay 1).

Here’s the HKS Essay 1, which is completely dedicated to writing about your career:

Harvard Kennedy School MPP Essay 1 (2014-2015):

Essay 1: The Harvard Kennedy School motto, echoing the President for whom the School is named, is “Ask what you can do.” Please share with the Admissions Committee your plans to create positive change through your leadership and service. (500 word limit).

Here’s the Columbia SIPA MIA/MPA Essay 1, which includes a portion during which they want you to write about your career:

Columbia SIPA MIA/MPA Essay 1 (2014-2015):

Question 1: (400 words maximum): Why are you interested in pursuing your MIA or MPA degree at SIPA? How will a degree (and intended concentration/specialization) from SIPA enable you to achieve your career goals? Describe your academic and research interests and career objectives. Be sure to include details regarding the features of SIPA that you believe are integral to helping you in your career pursuits.

What are some tips for writing career vision essays?

  • Show us your career over time. What is your immediate post-graduation career plan? 3-7 years out? 7-10 years out? What is the ultimate dream position?
  • What kinds of organizations do you want to work for? Give specific examples of leaders / companies / nonprofits / intergovernmental organizations that you’re interested in working for.
  • What kinds of roles do you want to have and why? Give real job titles if possible and explain why particular roles appeal to you.
  • What kind of impact do you want to make—and for whom? Be as specific as possible. Saying “China” is better than just saying “Asia,” and saying “rural China” is more specific and thus more helpful than just saying “China.” Even better: Rural villages in coastal China. No, Adcoms don’t have a preference for people interested in rural villages in coastal China; it’s just that this is much more specific and clear than simply “Asia” or “China.”

Help! I don’t know how to start.

If you can’t answer those questions above, it’s time to do some research. Make Google and LinkedIn your best friends. Ask people about their careers. Search through old articles in your favorite news sources. Listen for job titles that appeal to you and figure out the issues that you are most invested in.

Once you have the answers to the above questions, write it out without trying to make it sound nice or link together well.

Once you have something to work with, do your best to make it all flow well and connect to one another.

If you still can’t get it to flow well and be within the word limit, get some help!

As always, we here at The Art of Applying are here to help. You can purchase our essay editing service, send us your near-final drafts as a part of the Good to Great package, or go big and get comprehensive coaching.

Time to get to writing! (or Googling!)

 

career, essay structure, harvard kennedy school, hks

Harvard: Founded in 1908, Harvard Business School is the graduate business school of Harvard University in Boston, USA and is probably the most famed business school of them all. The Harvard name has a cachet across the business world which has only increased with the success of it's case study based learning methodology. With an MBA student strength of 1750+ it perhaps also has the single largest body of MBA students in USA.

Class Profile: The Harvard full-time MBA class has an approximate strength of 940 students. The Harvard MBA class has a 42% female composition and 58% male presence. The average student is 27 years old. The median GMAT score is around 730. 35% of the Harvard MBA class has international background.

For help with your Harvard MBA application explore how we can help you

Round 1: 06 Sep 2017

Round 2: 03 Jan 2018

Round 3: 02 Apr 2018

Harvard Essay

“As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA Program?” essay tips

No word limit and no right answers. It’s all yours.

Harvard HBS Essays 2016-2017

As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA Program?

Harvard HBS Essays 2015-2016

There is one question for the Class of 2018. It's the first day of class at HBS. You are in Aldrich Hall meeting your "section." This is the group of 90 classmates who will become your close companions in the first-year MBA classroom. Our signature case method participant-based learning model ensures that you will get to know each other very well. The bonds you collectively create throughout this shared experience will be lasting.

Introduce yourself.

Note: Should you enroll at HBS, there will be an opportunity for you to share this with them. We suggest you view this video before beginning to write. There is no word limit for this question. We think you know what guidance we're going to give here. Don't overthink, overcraft and overwrite. Just answer the question in clear language that those of us who don't know your world can understand.

Harvard HBS Essays 2014-2015

You're applying to Harvard Business School. We can see your resume, school transcripts, extra-curricular activities, awards, post-MBA career goals, test scores and what your recommenders have to say about you. What else would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy? Use your judgment as to how much to tell us. We don't have a "right answer" or "correct length" in mind. We review all the elements of your written application to decide who moves forward to the interview stage.

Harvard HBS Essays 2013-2014

Essay: You're applying to Harvard Business School. We can see your resume, school transcripts, extra-curricular activities, awards, post-MBA career goals, test scores and what your recommenders have to say about you. What else would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy?

There is no word limit for this question. Don't overthink, overcraft and overwrite. Just answer the question in clear language that those of us who don't know your world can understand.

Harvard HBS Essays 2011-2012

Harvard's mix of required and choice essays offers excellent scope for presenting a multi-faceted candidature to the admissions committee. This year, the second essay is longer and the options section has been expanded to include absolutely any question you want. These essays can (and should) bring out the best in you. Do your best!

Essay 1: Tell us about three of your accomplishments. (600 words)

Essay 2: Tell us three setbacks you have faced. (600 words)

Essay 3: Why do you want an MBA? (400 words)

Essay 4: Answer a question you wish we'd asked. (400 words)

Harvard HBS Essays 2010-2011

Essay 1: What are your three most substantial accomplishments and why do you view them as such? (600-word limit)

Essay 2: What have you learned from a mistake? (400-word limit)

Essay 3: Please respond to two of the following (400-word limit each)

Essay 3.1: What would you like the MBA Admissions Board to know about your undergraduate academic experience?

Essay 3.2: What is your career vision and why is this choice meaningful to you?

Essay 3.3: Tell us about a time in your professional experience when you were frustrated or disappointed.

Essay 3.4: When you join the HBS Class of 2013, how will you introduce yourself to your new classmates?

Harvard HBS Essays 2009-2010

Except for the two new choice essays the essay questions in this year's HBS application remain substantially the same. An essay package that offers excellent scope to present a multi-faceted candidature to the Harvard admissions committee.

Essay 1: What are your three most substantial accomplishments and why do you view them as such? (600-word limit)

Essay 2: What have you learned from a mistake? (400-word limit)

Essay 3: Please respond to two of the following (400-word limit each)

Essay 3.1: What would you like the MBA Admissions Board to know about your undergraduate academic experience?

Essay 3.2: Discuss how you have engaged with a community or organization.

Essay 3.3: Tell us about a time when you made a difficult decision.

Essay 3.4: Write a cover letter to your application introducing yourself to the Admissions Board.

Essay 3.5: What is your career vision and why is this choice meaningful to you?

Harvard HBS Essays 2008-2009

Essay 1: What are your three most substantial accomplishments and why do you view them as such? (600-word limit)

Essay 2: What have you learned from a mistake? (400-word limit)

Essay 3: Please respond to two of the following (400-word limit each)

Essay 3.2: Discuss how you have engaged with a community or organization.

Essay 3.3: What area of the world are you most curious about and why?

Essay 3.4: What is your career vision and why is this choice meaningful to you?

Harvard HBS Essays 2008-2009

Essay 1: What are your three most substantial accomplishments and why do you view them as such? (600-word limit)

Essay 2: What have you learned from a mistake? (400-word limit)

Essay 3: Please respond to two of the following (400-word limit each)

Essay 3.2: Discuss how you have engaged with a community or organization.

Essay 3.3: What area of the world are you most curious about and why?

Essay 3.4: What is your career vision and why is this choice meaningful to you?

Harvard HBS Essays 2006-2007

Essay 1: What would you like the MBA Admissions Board to know about your undergraduate academic experience?

Essay 2: What are your three most substantial accomplishments and why do you view them as such? (600-word limit)

Essay 3: Discuss a defining experience in your leadership development. How did this experience highlight your strengths and weaknesses as a leader? (400-word limit)

Essay 4: In your career, you will have to deal with many ethical issues. What are likely to be the most challenging and what is your plan for developing the competencies you will need to handle these issues effectively? (400-word limit)

Essay 5: What is your career vision and why is this choice meaningful to you? (400-word limit)

Essay 6: What other information do you believe would be helpful to the Board in understanding you better and in considering your application? (400-word limit)


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