When it comes to rankings, INSEAD is on a roll. INSEAD kills it when it came to “international course experience,”. INSEAD offers one of the shortest MBA programs available: students graduate in less than a year. Having a strong global mentality, INSEAD prefers applicants who intend to work in a multi-national, multi-cultural environment. More than half of all students have already worked outside of their native country.

INSEAD is a rigorous program that draws motivated, determined students from around the world. INSEAD sees this vast cultural mix as a vital learning experience. The international environment makes for many opportunities for students to share and learn from one another about different cultures and business practices.

Good Things:

  • It is a 1 year MBA and costs only 84K Euros. You can get the brand name and an amazing alumni network at half the cost and time of any Ivey league US B-schools.
  • More than 40% of MBA end up in consulting world with an average salary of $103K.
  • INSEAD prides itself on diversity of the batch and on average students have 2 years of international exp.

Things to Consider:

  • Of course being at the top of the ladder, puts INSEAD out of reach and makes it tough to crack, and ofcourse it boast a very low conversion rate of 10-15%.
  • INSEAD focuses a lot on diversity and international exp. Unless you have either of these, better save yourself and your recommender the effort of going thru 9 personal essays and 12 recommendation essays.

INSEAD Class Profile

INSEAD Placement Report

INSEAD Winning Sample Essay - 2

Briefly summarise your current (or most recent) job, including the nature of work, major responsibilities, and where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, clients/products and results achieved. (short answer) *

After graduating from UNIVERSITY I began working as a manager in a unique cultural and geographic setting: interfacing with industry, the military and the Inuit community in the Arctic. At COMPANY I led large-scale environmental remediation and clean-up activities.

Every year I spent four to six weeks on site, where I worked twelve hours per day, seven days per week. My team’s end results were quantifiable and straight forward: Cleaning up 6k tons of soil polluted with petrol or 300k litres of water tainted with lead for the CLIENT 1, CLIENT 2, Mining Industries and Inuit communities. Yet managing these projects was more art than exact science – I often found myself improvising solutions as challenges arose from the physical environment, local employees and the Inuit community. For example, after some scheduling misunderstandings I ensured that Inuit employees’ cultural traditions were respected, scheduling the projects around important dates such as the Arctic Winter Games.

When at COMPANY headquarters in LOCATION, my focus was on new business generation. Over the course of my tenure I’ve worked alongside COMPANY’s COO and with colleagues on bids valued up to $100 million. Early on I was put in charge of the budgeting section for COMPANY’s largest proposal to date and afterwards I was invited to take a team leadership role on other major bids in excess of $10 million. For smaller contracts, up to $500k, I’ve been the team lead in charge of tendering, scheduling, client relationships, as well as on-site supervision of the work, reporting and budget management. Overall 50% of the bids I’ve worked on have been successful – a track record I’m proud of considering that there are usually 6 or more competing firms.

Were I to remain at COMPANY rather than pursue an MBA, I would continue as a project manager, gradually taking on more leadership opportunities and eventually being promoted to Team Leader. Given my penchant for big picture thinking and global work, my next step would be to get involved in one of COMPANY’s international projects in COUNTRY or COUNTRY.

Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. describe your career path with the rationale behind your choices. (short answer) *

Upon graduating I wanted a position working in the environmental remediation field which would allow me to challenge myself mentally, physically and culturally. The opportunity at COMPANY fit the bill with remediation activities in the Arctic! After all, how many engineers can tell stories of polar bear attacks and hail storms in summer?!

When I began at COMPANY my department was in difficulty. By the end of my first year all but one of my seven team members had left the company. This situation presented me with an opportunity to take on more senior-level responsibilities than someone in my position had in the past. I was able to shine professionally by demonstrating maturity and resilience to my supervisors. After a year, they asked me to oversee a million dollar proposal which I presented to COMPANY’s CEO and CFO. Soon afterwards, that proposal was accepted by the CLIENT. After just twelve months, I received positive feedback and a substantial pay raise in recognition of my increased level of responsibility within the department.

After gaining a solid foundation in headquarters LOCATION and the Arctic for two years, I accepted a position with COMPANY affiliate in COUNTRY.  I wanted exposure to the different working style and technologies prevalent in the COUNTRY. While there, I gained experience in the management of hazardous waste material, notably asbestos. It also allowed me to gain an appreciation of the UK team’s unique risk management approach, which is still being developed in home COUNTRY.

Post-MBA my goal is to impact environmental problems on a large scale. Companies such as COMPANY X and COMPANY Y are at the forefront of the industry in terms of their cutting-edge technology and working methodology. Future industry leaders must be mindful of balancing economic and environmental interests if they are to achieve long-term sustainability. An MBA would mean a broad understanding of business coupled with the solid leadership skills I’ll need as I transition to a role as an Internal Consultant or Senior Project Manager in a global environmental consulting or operational firm.

Discuss your short and long term career aspirations with an mba from insead. (short answer) *

In the future I see myself playing a leadership role shaping the internet revolution. With the long-term ambition to found my own global internet company, in the immediate-term I plan to leverage my passion, drive and business acumen to make an impact as a team member of a Technology Practice Group at a global consulting firm like Bain or BCG. I am especially interested in advising businesses on online strategies to reach consumers, reduce costs or expand their market share. Gaining practical exposure to international businesses through consulting would help me to reach my entrepreneurial goals later in my career.

I believe that success in life as well as business, is built three foundational pillars: the analytical, creative, and social.

Analyzing and solving complex business problems with INSEAD classmates from a diverse set of backgrounds, I hope to both share and grow in my ability to analyze business decisions from a multi-faceted point of view.

My genuine desire to apply my creativity is most evidenced through my founding of .COM COMPANY, but I have likewise endeavored to bring a fresh perspective to issues like childhood poverty, in response to which I created the charity CHARITY NAME. I believe that I will further develop my ability to generate creative solutions alongside practitioners, professors and the alumni in the INSEAD community.

Finally, success is a result of the relationships we build and our awareness of the world. I am excited at the unparalleled opportunity to mingle with people from 80+ nations at INSEAD. Working, studying, and socializing with INSEAD classmates who bring a unique perspective to the table, by virtue of their origin and experience, I will be challenged to think beyond my current horizon, cultivate trans-cultural leadership skills and build an international network of life-long friendships.

I faced challenges in discovering the right marketing techniques, correct price points and managing financial matters at .COM COMPANY, I also became aware of several gaps in my skill-set.  To grow professionally and achieve my career aspirations, I need first-rate business skills in the areas of sales, marketing and finance. INSEAD’s flexible curriculum appeals to my desire to build a portfolio of courses tailored to my needs and interests. [email protected] is of special interest to me as I endeavor to deeply understand value creation and competitive advantages in the digital economy.

I am convinced that INSEAD is an excellent fit for me and that a year within your community would mean the opportunity to continue to develop myself analytically, socially and culturally to achieve my goals of consulting and eventually building a global e-business.

Give a candid description of yourself (who are you as a person), stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary (maximum 500 words). *

Growing up, an only child in a family of entrepreneurs, immersed in COUNTRY’s nature, my mother often pointed out my self-reliance and confidence – two characteristics that have helped me develop a strong internal compass, a sense of what I want to achieve as well as the drive to follow through on my objectives.

I’ve always been one for setting objectives. I believe that natural inclination allowed me to challenge myself socially, culturally and professionally. For example, having set a goal to work internationally, I took positions outside my comfort zone in both the Arctic and COUNTRY. At 18, I dreamed of travelling the world, in recent years I pursued opportunities to do so, visiting ten countries on three continents in the last two years. A more everyday example might mean taking the initiative to improve my excel skills by adapting a spreadsheet to reduce the time my colleagues spend recording budget information every week. In my personal life I set myself a goal of learning to balance on a tightrope and juggle.

I was greatly influenced by my father, a very even-keeled man I respect, who encouraged me to be more competitive with myself than with others. While some look for affirmation externally, I tend to look internally – using personal goals as a means of one-upping myself or topping my personal best. Rather than competing with others, I’m much more interested in a slow and steady race against myself: most recently I’ve been training to run my first marathon after completing two half-marathons last year.

Is it possible to be overly efficient? In theory the answer should be no, but in practice I’ve found that my penchant for productivity has been problematic on occasion. While it is a great strength when working on my own, when leading a team, I’ve learned to redefine the question of ‘what constitutes efficiency’. When volunteering with the Boy Scouts or while at work I’ve often run up against the following scenario:  I’m trying to lead a group to consensus. The discussion is sidetracked by a team member. My impulse is to quickly move the conversation back on topic…but I’ve learned that what might seem like ‘lost time’ is actually necessary for group cohesion. Allowing individuals to contribute their opinions is important to their own self-esteem and promotes out-of-the-box thinking. I’m constantly trying to improve on my ability to facilitate individuals expressing their ideas while simultaneously moving the group towards our end goal.

I feel that my involvement in the Boy Scouts organization, my travels and work in remote areas have instilled in me an extremely adaptive and creative approach to problem solving. At COMPANY 1 my creativity was recognized by management when I developed new tools to simplify the regular tasks my team performs. This included the introduction of free drafting software to easily estimate surface area of plan and shorten our proposal work from one or two hours down to 15 minutes.

Describe the achievement of which you are most proud and explain why. in addition, describe a situation where you failed. how did these experiences impact your relationships with others? comment on what you learned(maximum 400 words). *

Picture it: Situated in the Arctic wilderness, at the Canadian Armed Forces’ relay station. Our protagonist doesn’t suspect that over the course of his sojourn: The client site supervisor will quit. He will battle days and days of fog which dash any possibility of moving equipment. Renegade shipping companies will lose critical samples. 300 metric tons of water will be discovered frozen solid. But the final coup de grace will come when the on-site team is attacked by a polar bear with an appetite.

Is this a) a trailer for the next Hollywood blockbuster or b) the most complex project I’ve ever encountered?

You guessed b? That’s correct! An end to the string of disasters came when I identified a common thread among the issues we encountered: Bad communication. I realized that good communication would be critical to preventing problems and low morale. During the project, I manned the phone from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm when I concluded my daily call with the client. On-site, I led daily stand-up meetings ensuring the team shared what they were working on. As a result everyone had an understanding of the project’s progression.

Clear communication and dedication from every team member, resulted in the project coming in on time and helped us secure three additional contracts with the same client! My boss was over the moon to have a new partnership with CLIENT, one of the biggest service providers in the Canadian Arctic!

John, the Boy Scout, was a complicated case. He rebelled against authority and had difficulty controlling his emotions. Recently he had insulted other teenagers and I felt that he no longer had a place in the troop. After much discussion, my team agreed to let him go – a decision that engendered tension among the troop leaders. One troop leader reluctantly agreed with us but harbored resentment because he felt he might calm down as time went on.

In retrospect I regret not exploring alternative solutions and feel that I pressured my colleague to go along with what I and the other leaders wanted. Later on I spoke with other troop leaders who had been in similar situations and learned of resources we could have leveraged. It was too late and I realize now that instead of remaining cool-headed I had allowed myself to make a decision under emotional duress. I continue to work on separating my feelings from my decision making both as a troop leader and in my professional life.

Describe all types of extra-professional activities in which you have been or are still involved for a significant amount of time (clubs, sports, music, arts, etc). how are you enriched by these activities? (maximum 300 words) *

While at UNIVERSITY I was involved in several clubs and activities. I was a student government member at large for the ASSOCIATION and co-President of my department’s delegation at the REGIONAL COMPETITION for two years.

However, the organization I’ve been most deeply involved with has been the Boy Scouts. At the age of eight I began with the organization as a Scout and continue to actively work with the Scouts to this day. I’ve been in a leadership role since YEAR, leading the guide troop, which consists of a group of 12 to 14 year-old boys with a group size varying from 12 to 16.

With weekly meetings, camping weekends, various fund raising endeavors, leadership training and other social activities, the Scout movement has been personally fulfilling. I estimate that in each of the three years I’ve led a Scout troop I’ve dedicated more than 600 hours of my time.
Throughout my years with the Scouts I’ve had the chance to work with many other NGOs: organizing blood drives, collecting food for the needy, cleaning the river shore and many other social engagements.

Leading a scout troop has been a way to give back to the community and the movement which taught me so much about teamwork, individual accountability and self-discipline. As a leader it’s been my privilege to pass along these core values to the next generation of Scouts. After all, how many 13 years old boys can claim they survived for 24 hours in the woods with nothing but a few matches, a rope and a tarp? Or that they slept outside in igloos when it was -30 degrees Celsius?

INSEAD Winning Sample Essay - 1

Essay 1 : Give a candid description of yourself, stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors, which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary. (400 words approx.)

I work for Company ABC in India as a software engineer in the Gadget technologies group. I am responsible for the development of some of Company ABC’s new products as well as for creating new modules for existing products. Besides, I also investigate the feasibility of executing certain projects and interact closely with the product management to decide features for some products. I also have to interact with Gadget Manufacturers such as Ricoh and Epson which are Gadget Group’s customers.

I am currently working on next release of Product 1, Company ABC’s flagship product. In this project, I work very closely with Senior Product Development Manager based in Company ABC Norwich (United Kingdom) for my day to day engineering activities. I also have the added responsibility of coordinating issues with the Quality Engineering and other Product 1 teams all over the world for the smooth completion of this project. Along with the Senior Product Development Manager, I report to the Senior Engineering Manager, one hierarchical level above what my peers with similar work experience do.

It is worth noting that every copy of Company ABC Product 1 will carry my name in its credits. On occasions, I represent Company ABC or Gadget Group at international conferences and meetings. I also act as Company ABC India Gadget Group’s link to APPLE. Here I oversee how Gadget Group’s products are affected by APPLE’s products and technologies and vice versa. In addition to all these activities, I mentor and train new recruits at Company ABC.

Job Essay 2 : Please give us a full description of your career since graduating from university. If you were to remain with your present employer, what would be your next step in terms of position? (250 words)

My career progression so far has been highly rewarding. During campus placements I was offered job by Company ABC and Trilogy. I joined Company ABC because I wanted to work on best technology and products. Initially, I added new features to Company ABC’s PostScript. In November 2005, I was invited to deliver a presentation on Image Processing at IEEE conference in Frankfurt. My paper was published by IEEE and my work was greatly appreciated by delegates from all over the world.

In January 2006, because of my exceptional performance, I was selected to work on Product 1, the most important Company ABC product. I started reporting to the senior management. Interaction with product management helped me in understanding the processes involved in bringing a product to the market. My expertise on Macintosh was growing every day and I represented Company ABC at Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference held at San Francisco in August 2006. This was a crucial conference because future of certain Company ABC products was dependent on the outcome of my talks with domain experts. Through these trips I learned the art of negotiating and networking. Recently, I filed a patent for a solution that will make some Company ABC and non-Company ABC products more efficient. Due to these accomplishments I am now rated as one of the top talents at Company ABC India.

If I were to remain in Company ABC, I will be promoted to the post of Lead Developer (senior role in product engineering) in the next review in May, 2007.

Essay 1 : Give a candid description of yourself, stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors, which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary. (400 words approx.)

I have consciously endeavored to grow positively as a person with each passing day. I am a person of varied interests, ranging from the technical research (papers) to the business (website and Company ABC products) to the artistic (painting) to the altruistic (community service). I always integrate my diverse interests so that my skills and activities complement each other. My self-conviction and ability to make powerful determinations has facilitated my journey from a humble beginning to a successful professional life.

I’m all about possibility rather than subscribing to a rigid set of values. Therefore no matter how daunting the situation might be, I am able define a clear roadmap. My ‘out of box’ thinking has made me accomplish more within a specified time period as compared to other people. At 23, I have already filed one patent and another is under process.

I’m the person friends turn to when the going gets rough. I have grown in a joint-family of 22 people and sustaining relationship has come to me naturally. Throughout my academic, professional and community life, I have made friends for life. My constant exposure to new cultures and people and my good communication and presentation skills have made me a good team player.

My self-confidence has been another of my strengths, enabling me to follow my dreams fearlessly. As I believe that there is no alternative to honesty and hard work, I have always worked honestly and diligently to realize my ambitions. I was a merit scholarship holder throughout my under graduate engineering program. My initiative to target Indian automobile market and facilitating the users to make an informed decision has given me the vision to start my own website.

Although I firmly believe in myself but I have always been open to criticism and feedback and I have used this as a practice to constantly improve myself over the years.

Many times, my zeal to complete my task to my best ability affects my performance adversely. While filing my first patent application my attempt to refine the application many times digressed me from the crux of my invention. I kept this in mind while writing my next patent application. It got accepted.

I believe my ability to learn quickly, my focus and diligence, my technical prowess and interaction with people from diverse background has played an important role in shaping my personality and I am still learning.

Essay 2 : Describe what you believe to be your two most substantial accomplishments to date, explaining why you view them as such. (400 words approx.)

Accomplishment 1: Filing a patent

At Company ABC, I realized that there are numerous opportunities to demonstrate my analytical and technical skills. During the second half of 2005 we at Gadget Group at Company ABC came across a challenge to provide Gadget manufacturers a solution to increase the speed of color Gadgets.

After working on this project for about a month, I devised a solution from approaches we had not before considered. The results were far better than what I had anticipated. After a discussion with the top-level management, I submitted this idea and prototype to the Company ABC Patent Review Board. After six months of rigorous investigation, the board gave me a green signal and I filed the patent.

I view this as a significant achievement. The customers who are using this solution have witnessed sales boost, which in turn has strengthened Company ABC’s relations with Gadget manufacturers. This was the first patent filed by the Gadget Group since its inception four years ago. My efforts were applauded by the entire management. Company ABC India’s Managing Director, Naresh Gupta, congratulated me personally as I am also the youngest individual to file a patent from Company ABC India.

Accomplishment 2: Launching Indian cars website

In early 2006, I realized that Indian car market and number of Internet users in India were growing at an unprecedented rate. This made me and my friend conceive the idea of a car website, to provide potential car buyers with unbiased information, reviews and expert opinions and consultancy on cars in India. We successfully launched the website “” .

The venture was divided into four phases. The first phase encompassed an analysis of the Indian car market and car buyer’s practices and reviewing car manufacturers’ websites. The second phase included design implementation. In phase three, we gathered market feedback through demos of the site’s prototype. The final phase involved feedback-based revisions to the designs and simultaneous talks with car magazines and TV shows. We successfully launched the website sometime back. Recently, a leading Indian car magazine evinced interest for collaboration with the website.

I consider this a major accomplishment because it gave me a space to successfully manifest my entrepreneurial side and to turn my ideas into reality. I gained a lot of confidence by establishing something from scratch. I developed new skills and learned some aspects of e-business which complement well what I learn at Company ABC.

Essay 3 : Describe a situation taken from school, business, civil or military life, where you did not meet your personal objectives, and discuss briefly the effect. (250 words approx.)

During the final year of my B.E. course, I started to work on the idea of a real estate website targeting Delhi . Although the resources were limited, I created some interesting layouts and workflows and set up the website. While I was planning to launch it, I came in contact with some experienced people in this domain and realized that I had made some grave mistakes. For instance, I overlooked signing agreements with real estate agents for procuring updated market information from them. In real estate business, without latest deals and information, it is impossible to establish a solid customer base. Lack of advertising and in-depth study of existing real estate websites exacerbated our problem. I realized that I wasn’t able to persuade big interior decorators and furnisher makers to advertise on the site because of the presence of websites that had a much larger penetration.

Soon I found myself standing at a dead end. It was clear that I needed to fold this project. The moment was heartbreaking because this was the first idea I had conceived; I badly wanted to make it a success.

However, closing this chapter allowed me to open a new one. In this respect, James Joyce’s observation that “Mistakes are the portals of discovery” could not be more accurate. My mistakes were costly and painful, but they actually allowed me to refine my understanding of the market, competition, and advertisement. I launched ““ successfully. The benefit has been mine, in the end.

Essay 4 : Discuss your career goals. What skills do you expect to gain from studying at INSEAD and how will they contribute to your professional career. (500 words approx.)

I have always quantified everything in numerical terms besides dealing with everyday situations objectively. Experimentation work during college enabled me to put my ideas into practice and gave me a tremendous sense of fulfillment. Moreover, various responsibilities, roles and projects in the past two years have made my product engineering fundamentals very strong.

My technical prowess and vision was appreciated by Company ABC and I got a steep career growth in a short span. While I have excelled in my work, I have also explored my capabilities as a leader and a manager and begun to understand the value of MBA in my career. I look at a senior position in a product/services company as my short term goal and as a long haul I see myself heading my own product enterprise and turning my ideas into action.

I envisage an enterprise which would tap unique user requirements and develop cutting edge products on a global scale. Working in my present role I would require the experience of years to steer my organization. However, an education in business administration can help me take a jump start and move towards achievement of my eventual ambition of total organizational control.

An MBA can make me well versed with the forces that control the smooth running of an organization besides grooming me as a manager to contribute to the success of my organization. I am painfully aware that my zest and enterprise alone are not sufficient to make my business and the choice of INSEAD as my business school is influenced by my career objectives. Most of my experience has been in product engineering and I need a better insight of strategic management, risk analysis, financial management and marketing techniques which will make me an effective professional.

The INSEAD MBA emerges as a natural choice to me because of the world-class faculty, diverse student community and global curriculum. The diversified peer group at INSEAD will help me learn about business in different countries of the world .The huge alumni base will help me develop networks crucial to launching my own entrepreneurial venture. Another really good thing is that the MBA program is customizable with a good mix of core and electives. I would definitely like to pursue ‘Entrepreneurship & Family Enterprise’ as one of the main electives. Also INSEAD is one of the rarest B Schools which have two campuses in two culturally and economically different parts of the world. It gives the best opportunity to understand business in both Asia and Europe. INSEAD’s ‘Business Venture Competition’ would give me the opportunity to explore and implement my ideas in a real time and risk free environment.

Post INSEAD, I will seek a position in a leading corporation in its business building/growth practice to get an insight into the practical issues of new business creation. I am confident that my work experience, combined with the wisdom and business acumen to be gained at INSEAD, will put me on the path of spearheading my company.

Essay 5 : Please choose one of the following two essay topics:
a) Have you ever experienced culture shock? What did it mean to you? (250 words approx.), or
b) What would you say to a foreigner moving to your home country? (250 words approx.)

A strong inclination to attend conferences and my work experience at a global company like Company ABC has given me the opportunity of traveling to three distinct parts of the world. Encountering new cultures and customs initially shocked me, only to make me embrace those cultures later. Frankfurt, Germany was the first of my destinations abroad. Here I noticed that the locals in less cosmopolitan areas were strongly disinclined to talk in English. Because of the language barrier I had a hard time visiting a suburb near Frankfurt.

Next, I went to San Francisco, California. Here, a close interaction with an Indian taxi driver revealed that the standard of living of a taxi driver in California was better than that of a middle class person in India. Quite a revelation, that. The taxi drivers own cars manufactured by Audi and BMW which are considered dream cars in India and are owned by a handful of people.

The third international destination I visited was Hong Kong. The biggest shock for me here was getting acquainted with the food habits of the people. At a restaurant I found people sitting next to my table eating snakes. As much as I appreciate cultural differences, it did take me a while to get over this one.

Each one of these experiences has helped me become a more broad-minded individual. I understood that one needs to be flexible towards practices and customs of different cultures. I am now comfortable with people of different cultures, a trait that’s indispensable in today’s global economy.

INSEAD Application Tips

INSEAD, “the business school of the world,” is a dynamic, diverse and highly international MBA option. Along with the basic MBA questions most other schools ask, INSEAD is looking for significant exploration of your career goals and background. Along with career aspirations and leadership experience, an international focus is important to INSEAD.

This year INSEAD has added a required video interview component to the application process, which will be completed shortly after you submit your application.

Job Essay 1: Briefly summarise your current (or most recent) job, including the nature of work, major responsibilities, and where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, clients/products and results achieved. (short answer)

This question should focus entirely on your current (or most recent) work situation. Though you will want to provide relevant context for your current role, make sure you are devoting most of the essay to describing the details of your day-to-day responsibilities and oversight. If you are lighter on supervising others or managing a budget, you have the opportunity to highlight some key responsibilities and results. When you are composing this essay make sure you focus on what you uniquely have contributed to the role, rather than reciting the job description. What have you done that is above and beyond?

Job Essay 2: What would be your next step in terms of position if you were to remain in the same company? (short answer)

Once you have described what you do at work currently, INSEAD asks for you to imagine what you will do in the future. Because you are ambitious enough to be applying to an MBA program like INSEAD, you are likely on a serious career track in your current company. If your boss has already talked to you about the next step this is an easy question to answer.

If you have not explicitly discussed promotion at work, what would be the next role you would ideally pursue? If you are pursuing an MBA because you want to make a career change or because the next step at your current company is undesirable for other reasons, this may be a place to describe what that next step would be and why you do not wish to pursue it (with more context provided in the long term goal section).

Job Essay 3: Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. Describe your career path with the rationale behind your choices. (short answer)

With this essay INSEAD is seeking to understand your career trajectory and how you have grown and progressed through your career. Think about the choices you have made in your career, and how your past experiences have combined to provide you with your current skill set. If you have a fairly straightforward career path you can take this opportunity to comment on some of the learnings from each position to create the story of your past, present and future plans.

Job Essay 4: Discuss your short and long term career aspirations with or without an MBA from INSEAD. (short answer)

Since you have covered your current role at work, your hypothetical next step at your company and how you arrived at this place, now you can bring the story together to explain what you are pursuing an MBA from INSEAD. While the best candidates for an MBA might be able to succeed without one, typically a top tier MBA like INSEAD is an accelerator for your career – introducing you to a broader network than you would otherwise have, expanding your skillset into new functional areas and exposing you to people from around the world.

Think about how you plan to use your MBA to accelerate your career (or change paths entirely). If you did not attend INSEAD, how would you achieve your goals otherwise? Think of this essay as a thought experiment to show that you can plan two routes to one goal, while perhaps demonstrating the superiority of the MBA path.

Optional: If you are currently not working or if you plan to leave your current employer more than 2 months before the programme starts, please explain your activities and occupations between leaving your job and the start of the programme.

If you are not employed at the moment, you will want to answer this question to show how you are utilizing your time without full time employment. Ideally you are currently involved in an activity that is going to further your career or personal goals at this time. The best answer is one that shows you are self-motivated and do not need paid work to continue developing yourself.

For example, perhaps you are volunteering in a non-profit that is related to your career goals. Maybe you are working with a friend on a start-up. Or you are consulting and building contacts in your industry. If you are out of work only briefly, it’s also perfectly reasonable to be pursuing travel or other activities that develop your international awareness and perspective. However, make sure that your activities can tie back to your long-term goals or other key aspects of your application strategy.

Motivation Essay 1: Give a candid description of yourself (who are you as a person), stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary (approximately 500 words).

Strengths and weaknesses are a common topic for MBA applications and seek to understand your level of maturity and self-awareness. This is a great opportunity to highlight some of your skills and attributes that demonstrate leadership, teamwork or other qualities that will drive your future career success. Examples aren’t explicitly required, but consider that the admissions committee is reading a vast number of essays and concrete examples are both easy to understand and can help you stand out.

When describing weaknesses you will want to focus on those weaknesses that you have taken concrete steps to address, or that have been a route to learning more about yourself. Often strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the same coin, in which case you can even tie your key weaknesses to your key strengths. Because it is often difficult to write about one’s weaknesses this is an especially important essay to share with others to seek feedback on tone and impact.

Motivation Essay 2: Describe the achievement of which you are most proud and explain why. In addition, describe a situation where you failed. How did these experiences impact your relationships with others? Comment on what you learned (approximately 400 words).

This essay is an opportunity to showcase one of your most important achievements. Impressive achievements that stand on their own are great, but you will want to pay equal attention to explaining why these accomplishments are valuable to you. If you concisely explain the accomplishment and how you were able to bring it to fruition, you will have room to provide the context for your personal pride in the accomplishment. If you don’t have an achievement that you think is incredibly impressive on its face, consider an example that demonstrates the activities you value. Remember, not everyone has sold a company or won an Olympic medal prior to business school!

The flip side of achievement is failure, and INSEAD wants to understand how you view both. When approaching any failure essay it’s important to use a real failure that has emotional resonance for you. An accomplishment framed as a failure will be easy to see through and will not demonstrate anything about your maturity or ability to grow. Your failure should be real, and also something that led you to grow or learn. If you can describe how you have changed your approach as a result of the failure that is an excellent outcome.

The third part of the essay deals with how these experiences impacted the others around you and what you learned. Whether you were part of a team or the main impact was on a loved one, this part of the essay encourages you to step outside your own narrative of success and failure and think about how you have impacted other people through your actions.

Most obviously a success led to happiness from a team or a manager, while a failure was disappointing to those around you. However, your particular achievement or failure could have led to a learning experience for your team, an opportunity for someone else, or a chance for you to be closer to another person through a team challenge. Think creatively about this aspect. Note that your application to INSEAD ideally covers both the personal and professional. This essay could be an opportunity in this essay set to bring in a new angle on your profile through describing one of your most substantial accomplishments outside of work.

Motivation Essay 3: Describe all types of extra-professional activities in which you have been or are still involved for a significant amount of time (clubs, sports, music, arts, politics, etc). How are you enriched by these activities? (approximately 300 words)

Nothing is more personal than what you choose to do outside of school or work. What are the most meaningful pursuits you have spent your time on? You should both describe the main interests you have outside of your professional pursuits and explain why they are meaningful to you and why you spend time on them. Ideally you can also explain how you will continue your involvement while at INSEAD and cite some specific clubs or groups where you see your interests contributing to the community.

Optional Motivation Essay: Is there anything else that was not covered in your application that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee? (approximately 300 words)

This essay is 300 words you can use for anything you would like to showcase and that you were unable to work into the rest of your application. Because INSEAD’s questions are quite thorough you may have covered all aspects of your candidacy and personal qualities in the other five essay questions, in which case you can feel comfortable skipping this question (it IS optional). If you did not have a place for an interesting hobby, new aspect of your background to describe, or key accomplishment, it may be appropriate to use this space to tell that story.

It is far better to fully explain any issues in your application than to leave the admissions committee to guess what happened. If you have any challenging aspects to your candidacy like a low GPA or a failing grade in college, this is the correct place to address those concerns. Explain your issue clearly and focus most of the essay on the correction for the issue.

For example, if you had a disciplinary issue in college, spend most of the essay demonstrating that you learned from the experience and have been an ideal citizen ever since rather than focusing on the negative. Avoid blaming anyone else for your issue, and relentlessly show why this one incident is in your past and will stay there.

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