- Essay 1: What makes you feel alive when you are doing it, and why? (300 words maximum)
- Essay 2: At Berkeley Haas, we are redefining leadership. We value different opinions and perspectives, recognizing that we always have more to learn about others’ lived experiences and histories. We encourage speaking up and listening, and courageously use our power to address barriers and drive change for positive impact.
- Essay 3: Tell us how a Berkeley Haas MBA would enhance your leadership profile, incorporating specific examples. (300 words max)
Berkeley Haas Winning Sample Essay – 1
Haas Essay 1: What makes you feel alive when you are doing it, and why? (300 words maximum)
There is a moment when a roller coaster has finally clanked its way to the top of the hill and is about to be dropped (but hasn’t yet). It’s the moment of in-betweens. You’re in-between stillness and motion. In-between terror and joy. It’s the moment you most dread and yet it’s also the moment you stood in line two hours for. It’s the moment in which I feel most alive.
It all started in high school when my best friend at the time – the friend who entered my life when I was in “maximum insecurity mode” and whose boisterous support taught me confidence in myself – dragged me on to a coaster. At first, I was terrified and refused to go – I was too scared of the drops, the uncertainty. She described what she loved about it – that it’s scary if you think of it as “falling”, but it’s exhilarating if you think of it as “flying”. I vowed to be brave, felt the safety harness lower, and tried to see the ride from her perspective: “This is flying. This is flying…OH MY GOSH, THIS REALLY IS FLYING!!!”
Since then, any coaster I’ve encountered has been ridden (usually multiple times), and I’ve found myself facing more “drops and uncertainty” in life than I ever expected: overcoming challenges helping build an orphanage in Ecuador, adapting to a new life in Hong Kong, and gripping white-knuckled through the biggest roller-coaster of all: entrepreneurship.
I also now find myself married to a wonderful but easily-nauseated man who, unfortunately, throws up on coasters.
Even the baby ones.
Fortunately, my young son shares my enthusiasm, and today, amusement parks provide special “mother-son” time, when we leave Daddy at home and spend the whole day together, laughing, screaming, and making memories I’ll cherish forever.
First Published at Applicantlab.com
Haas Essay 2: What are your post-MBA short-term and long-term career goals? How have your professional experiences prepared you to achieve these goals? How will an MBA from Haas help you achieve these goals? (750 words maximum)
Leading international PR efforts for Viapay (Brazil’s PayPal), I’ve been managing the rollout of a new product called “express payment” from Brazil to the Argentine market. In this project, I’ve advised the product team to adjust the offerings to better suit the local needs. I created Viapay’s social media strategy, advised on marketing campaigns and led the creation of an online user tutorial. My leadership in this effort paid off as payment volume in the region increased by 300%.
My first go-to-market experience ignited my passion for product marketing which not only taught me how to think strategically but also follow through the execution process. More importantly, I was excited to notice that a successful marketing campaign can actually make a difference in people’s life.
My post-MBA short-term goal is to work as a Product Marketing Manager at an innovative high tech company such as eBay, Twitter or Apple. I am seeking a role where I will be responsible for outbound marketing activities for my products such as the Android Platform or Apple iPhone to obtain exposure to the best high tech marketing practices. My long-term goal is to become the CMO of a large Brazilian Internet company such as my current employer Miravira Group where I redefine marketing for Brazil’s high tech industry by mapping out refined product strategies and bringing extraordinary value and experience to Brazilian consumers.
I have five years of work experience in Brazil’s high tech industry, and have been exposed to diverse vantage points including accounting, auditing, process improvement, marketing and public relations. After graduating with a criminal justice degree, I chose auditing as my fast track into the business world. It took little time and lots of sweat for me to develop from a complete outsider to an accounting professional. As a criminal investigator, I was taught to look at everything from multiple angles and to relentlessly seek information to corroborate my findings. This has allowed me to develop better problem solving skills and more holistic view than my peers with only business degrees.
Later at a start-up financial service firm, I was in charge of acquiring and serving the company’s foreign clients because I was the only one who truly understands both North and South American markets and could bridge the communication gap. After one month onboard, I landed the firm’s first foreign account and increased the firm’s revenue by 15%. As my portfolio grew, my team increased from 4 people to 8.
At Miravira, I’ve had the privilege of a front-row seat at the most innovative company in Brazil, and have had the opportunity to roll out the newest and coolest things to a global audience. I helped to craft messages for the Brazilian media and coordinated communication among US, Brazil and Argentina teams. I worked closely with the senior management on the messaging of the privatization of world’s largest B2B eCommerce platform which created the largest high tech IPO of US $1.9 billion after Google in 2007. I introduced Brazil’s first cloud-based operating system, which has been running in over 4 million mobile phones, and rolled out Viapay as the first online payment option for small businesses in Uruguay.
These varied positions have prepared me for my long-term goal of being a CMO by teaching me analytical and communication skills, strategic thinking as well as leadership skills. In my career, I envision myself leading the transition from price-driven marketing to a more value-based approach. There is a huge opportunity for Internet companies to better convey the value to users based on a deep insight of customer needs and product positioning which in turn helps to make more great products.
The rigorous general management training at Haas will equip me with the essential business knowledge to solve all sorts of problems in today’s changing business environment from examining all angles of product strategy to analyzing technology investment to enhancing product P&L. I will definitely bid for the Marketing Strategy elective course taught by Professor Villa-Boas where I get to work in teams in the Markstrat simulation making typical marketing decisions in a competitive market with limited information to win more customers. I am convinced that such an experiential learning will help me develop an understanding, the skill, and experience in formulating and planning marketing strategies for my next product, probably Facebook mobile.
Having been an effective event planner for college graduation parties and company annual conferences, I am excited about organizing the annual >Play Digital Media Conference in 2013. I am also highly interested in becoming a member of the Haas Technology Club where I could contribute my insights about Brazil’s high tech industry, set up trek visits to Brazilian high tech firms and visit innovative companies such as Google and Amazon with my fellow classmates. These companies are the most innovative in the world, and we will be doing our own creating at their doorstep, in their halls and, someday, in their boardrooms. Nearly 1/3 of recent Haas MBA graduates are working in the technology industry, an invaluable resource in my future career.
Most importantly, I love the vibe at Haas. People are not only smart but also down to earth. When I asked Catherine Lu, a Haas MBA graduate from Bain Capital and Jeremy Patola ’13 what they like most about Haas, they both said it was the close-knit collaborative community where everyone is willing to land a hand to help others succeed. I am sure I will not only benefit from such a culture but also contribute to maintain that type of connection.
“I got much valuable advice from Ameer and he inspired me a lot which made me think further about my strengths and weaknesses. He did me a big favor not only for the interview but also for my future learning experience at HEC”.
Dharam Nain Singh
“Ameer helped me in making a list of all the important events in my life, and used them to highlight what skills I have.I think I might not have been able to make the application so precise and to the point without Ameer’s help.”
Berkeley Haas Winning Sample Essay – 2
Haas MBA Essay 1: Tell us a six-word story that reflects a memorable experience in your life-to-date. Elaborate on why it is meaningful to you. (300 words maximum)
SPLASH! And then my heart sank.
I had just given a local Maldivian school group a tour of our resort’s comprehensive recycling facilities. They enthusiastically asked questions and seemed receptive to my belief that we must protect the Maldives’ fragile eco-system. After pledges of how they’ll do their bit for the environment, I waved goodbye to them on the end of the jetty and said to myself, ‘Well done, Anshul. You’ve saved the planet.’ As their boat pulled away, a girl took a sip of water and threw the plastic bottle overboard into the sea. SPLASH. My first reaction? Rage. Followed shortly by crushing despondency. A lively, interactive afternoon of conservation… and she learnt nothing?!
But my melancholy soon made way for more positive feelings: clarity and a renewed sense of purpose. I realised that to protect the environment we require more than voluntary ‘eco-tours’; we need a sea- change in how businesses and society function. I was energised because I knew what needed to be done and how I could contribute.
After the ‘Girl-with-the-Plastic-Bottle’ episode, I co-founded VITRIC: a social enterprise providing much-needed drinking water to Maldivians without single-use plastic, and the first organisation in the country generating revenue as a not-for-profit. We desalinate, mineralise, bottle, and deliver water in receptacles and collect the empties to wash and reuse them. I hope VITRIC serves as a blueprint for other organisations: a better product, powered by renewable energy, creating local jobs, without harming the environment.
Later, in a speech I gave to south Asian hoteliers, I said: “We, the leaders of the hospitality industry, must demonstrate that travel is not about soulless and environmentally destructive products and experiences. It is about quality and responsibility. It is something that betters oneself and that makes the world a better place.” I cannot wait to continue to spread that message.
Haas Essay 2: Briefly describe your immediate post-MBA career goal, and discuss how it will put you on a path to a meaningful and rewarding career. (300 words)
I intend to continue to work in the hospitality industry after completing my MBA. Given my experience with Soneva, a family-owned business, I want to learn about sustainable business development in a more structured and well-organised manner in a larger, expanding luxury hospitality company. Having a Berkeley Haas MBA will make getting such a role possible.
Thereafter, I wish to use my operational and corporate experience to open my own resort with a focus on ecological restoration, conservation, and employing people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
I want to demonstrate that hospitality can add value to local communities and the environment and not simply be a drain. Eventually, I would like the company to have sufficient scale and influence so that the wider industry feels compelled to operate more responsibly. It may take time to reach a level of profitability that allows all my plans to come to fruition, however, with a Berkeley network and education, perseverance, creativity, and learning from others, I am confident that I can be successful.
My previous work bridged the gap between responsibility and profitability and I am applying to Berkeley Haas to learn more about how I can create, lead, and promote responsible business practices in the improvident hospitality industry, and further in the business community. The Applied Innovation courses, International Business Development class, and Berkeley Haas’ strong global focus appeal to my desire to entirely re-think how the quintessentially international industry of hospitality operates. With a philosophy to ‘question the status quo’ and a passion for innovation, I believe that there is no better business school for me to achieve my specific ambitions than at Berkeley Haas.
Berkeley Haas Application Essay Tips
The Haas School of Business at University of California Berkeley is a highly selective school with a small class to fill. Above all, it’s important to stand out from the crowd. Namely, showing fit with the culture and program of the Haas MBA class is key. Berkeley Haas has changed the required essays a bit this season. In particular, they’re more leadership focused, yet still give you the space to be creative. School research will be important. Note that the Haas MBA admissions committee has a series of videos and tips posted on the website that can help you prepare
Required Essay 1: What makes you feel alive when you are doing it, and why? (300 words maximum)
Haas MBA admissions has asked creative and open-ended questions for many years. This essay is a new version of that style of essay. First, brainstorm your favorite activities that are the most engaging to you. Think about what you lose time pursuing, or find completely absorbing. A hobby, sport or an artistic pursuit could work here. Another idea is an activity at work that absorbs you or you find fascinating. Ideally, your activity reveals something personal about you. It should go beyond your resume and recommendations. After you have identified a meaningful activity, then you need to describe why. The “why” is more important than the “what.” The “why” reveals something about your natural talents and skills. For example, maybe you enjoy research projects. You like to solve problems at work, and to have the freedom to pursue the question wherever it takes you. Do you enjoy research because it allows you to be creative to solve problems? Delve into your own motivations and see what is really driving your talents. Being specific about why you do what you do will help you with all of your essays.
Required Essay #2: At Berkeley Haas, we are redefining leadership. We value different opinions and perspectives, recognizing that we always have more to learn about others’ lived experiences and histories. We encourage speaking up and listening, and courageously use our power to address barriers and drive change for positive impact.
Tell us how a Berkeley Haas MBA would enhance your leadership profile, incorporating specific examples. (300 words max)
This essay specifically asks for examples. The admissions committee knows that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. They want to see when you have shown leadership in the past. Specific examples also extend to showing what you know about Haas and demonstrating the specifics that will enhance your leadership profile.Specifically, note that Haas defines leadership in a way that is both inclusive and bold. Think about the times in your work and life that show these qualities. When have you stood up for something you believe in? For example, have you ever used your voice to express an opinion where it was not necessarily safe or welcome? That is a demonstration of bravery.In particular, Haas wants to see that you have stood up for others. Consider describing a time when you have listened to other voices on your team and changed your point of view, or included a diverse viewpoint.Leadership profile directly relates to your long-term goals. As a result, it will be useful to describe those goals here. Haas values people who have a passion for their pursuits. What drives you to pursue your long-term career goals? How are your goals meaningful to you? Perhaps you will be able to impact the lives of others, lead change, or drive innovation. Your motivations are important to explore and describe to the admissions committee.Finally, consider how Haas will help you enhance your leadership skills and style. Research specific classes, professors, clubs and activities that you think will help hone your skills and improve your career opportunities.
Optional Information #1
Berkeley Haas seeks diversity across many dimensions
Berkeley Haas is committed to understanding applicants completely. By seeking deeper background into your family and your life circumstances, your accomplishments can be contextualized. Questions 1-5 are self-explanatory and should be answered honestly.In Question 6 you have the choice to either elaborate on your life circumstances as described in Questions 1-5, or to discuss a new piece of information about hardships or life circumstances. This new information can help the admissions committee understand your background more completely.For example, you might come from a highly educated family and your parents are professionals, but you moved to another country for college or a job. You might have felt challenged while speaking a second language and trying to acclimate to a new culture. Or maybe your parents are fully employed now, but there was a period of unemployment in your family. During that period you learned how to thrive in a different way than you had expected.It’s possible that, while not personally expected to care for an ailing family member, nonetheless a family illness impacted your life. You might have changed course because of circumstances. Think about the areas of your life that asked the most of your resilience and ability to overcome. How have you used those experiences to continue to achieve and impact those around you?
Optional Information #2
This section should only be used to convey relevant information not addressed elsewhere in your application. This may include explanation of employment gaps, academic aberrations, supplemental coursework, etc. You are encouraged to use bullet points where appropriate. By the way, there is a specific place to indicate that you won’t have a recommendation from your current supervisor in the supplemental information section, so you do not need to explain that here in the optional essay. Haas recommends using this space to address any information you could not adequately cover elsewhere, specifically suggesting that any employment gaps or academic issues should be covered here. Of course, candidates with a strong quantitative background like an engineering or hard sciences degree, or with work background in a quantitative field like finance, don’t need to further explain quantitative skills. Otherwise, you can use one or two examples to demonstrate that you have an analytical mind. Use examples to show you take a quantitative approach to problem solving and evaluating data. Alternatively, if you have taken any supplemental coursework to improve your quantitative profile, this is the place to describe and explain that coursework.A short gap between school and a secured job is not necessary to explain. However, an unexplained gap of several months between two jobs should be addressed. If your resume has significant employment gaps you should describe what you did between jobs in this space. Ideally you can point to additional education, training, volunteering or traveling that you engaged in while unemployed. Finally, reapplicants can describe hard improvements to your candidacy such as an improved GMAT score, new grades from quantitative classes, or a promotion. Other improvements might include refined career goals and additional leadership responsibilities at work or within a volunteer activity.