Masters degree application essays

Essay 1 (1,000 words)

Describe your career progress to date and your future short-term and long-term goals. How do you expect an MBA to help you achieve these goals, and why is now the best time for you to join our program?

Content:

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After graduating high school, and having worked for two summers in a large investment bank, I started my own investment management firm at the tender age of 19. With the help of a few angel investors who entrusted me with $50,000 each, I not only significantly grew their investments but the profits from my business were sufficient to fund my four years of university studies AND finance my travel to several countries mentoring high school children and visiting mentoring programs outside of the USA.

In my travels I raised money for the university which I attended. During and after my tenure in the university I was served the role of their European ambassador. I have also done the same work for several non-profit organizations such as ABC, DEF, and GHI, all of which focus on the mentoring and training of leadership skills to high school students for them to become better community leaders.

My leadership in a community oriented NGO is different from the type of leadership I exercise at work. In my business the objective is to maximize the value of our investor’s money. Success is measured by the growth in their investments and the increased trust this generates. By comparison Ulpan is about giving educational opportunities to predominantly Jewish high school students. ORT is very similar in its goals. My hard work is rewarded by seeing our beneficiaries motivated and eager to take the path of higher education as a means to success. The drastically different metrics of my community service broadens my horizon as a leader.

My current job trading at an investment firm, I improved their existing procedures for monitoring our market positions during volatile periods and developed a “pop-up” system to handle trades more efficiently and make decisions faster. I made an immediate impact. We are now able to monitor approximately 10% of our daily volume and take property risk management decisions in a fast and volatile market where time is of the essence.

Using my native insight I found an opportunity for growth in the company. However, I faced the inertia associate with any kind of meaningful change. Despite the cost of lost, personal, man hours. I pushed my plan past the bureaucracy offering potential benefits that far outweighed the costs of the project. Taking responsibility for my unpopular stance, my assumption of leadership led to my taking the risk of losing my job if the project failed. With a lack of popular support a failure to improve profits or a net loss would severely afflict my reputation in the firm and in the industry. However I stood my ground and pursued what I knew was a good idea. As a result, I was now looked upon as a leader that brought positive change to my firm.

Even in my early youth I understood that my current level of learning was not enough. By practicing what I had already learned and working in the field of my choice I was able to expand my practical knowledge. However, I also believe that practical experience must go hand-in-hand with expanded theoretical training. Hence, I desire to obtain an MBA.

My ultimate goal is to head a financial firm which will manage wealth for non-profit organizations to help them grow at a faster pace and be able to focus more on their advocacies in their respective communities rather than struggling to raise funds and managing assets, tasks that are far from their competencies. An MBA will help me achieve this dream by expanding my horizons and making me even more capable of competing for marginal gains and derivatives that have become harder and harder to obtain.

In the United States, this is more common with university endowments and major non-profit organizations which have asset managers steering the funds to competitive investment returns. However, in Europe and Asia, this almost doesn’t exist. As a result, most European and Asian NGOs are in quandary trying to husband their funds effectively but at the same need to disburse it for their projects.

I want to bridge this gap and bring financial management expertise to global non-profits and help them become even stronger. By my efforts, I will allow the non-profits to bring better service to the community, faster, and more efficiently. An MBA will enhance my skills and improve my ability to maximize the wealth of these organizations and spare them from the having to worry about raising funds.

I take personal pride as I have been involved in my own community, mentoring high school students, helping them make decisions about their future, whether it be academically, professionally or personally. My work with several non-profits, coupled with my financial expertise as a trader can bring tremendous change to both the financial and non-profit industries.

I want to create this new niche, a new service and make the non-profit sector even more influential. This is my dream. This is my goal. And this brings my two passions, the financial market and community service, into one, gratifying job. With an MBA, the skills learned, the network I have access to, I can realize this dream. Now is the time to go for it. My hopes are high and my time is neigh. I am young, eager and hungry for wisdom, wisdom I will gladly put to good use.

Essay 2 (500 words)

Tell us a situation in which you were an outsider. What did you learn from the experience?

Content:

When I first joined my current firm an archaic system was used to monitor trades. Everyday there were orders passed through our desk. This resulted in too much effort diverted to time consuming monitoring work and we ran the peril of having to make risk management decisions on the spot. Often we would have to wait until the end of the day to review our book and take action on hedging ourselves.

This manner of operations was untenable, in the volatile industry I was in, up to the minute decision making was vital to success or failure. To improve this, I immediately proposed a “pop-up” window function that takes snapshots of all the vital information we would need  to know about the orders passing through our desks. For example, trade size, currency traded and margin level are included in this data. This drastically improved the way the trading desk monitors transactions, especially in times of extreme market volume and volatility.

Regretfully, I encountered considerable resistance from my peers and upper management. Our technical department said it would take months to develop the proposed system because they were overloaded with work and writing the script would take weeks. Stephane, our head of trading appreciated my initiative but failed to prioritize it. Fortunately, our managing director, Nick gave his approval for my leadership in this project.

With his approval in hand, I put pen to paper, outlining the method which I wanted implemented and convinced our technical department to prioritize the project. I wrote them a memo stating very clearly that upper management fully supported my efforts and I emphasized that successful implementation would boost profits on a daily basis. This in turn would put the technical department in the limelight for having developed such a useful tool.

My inspirational leadership conscripted the aid of our technical department and the pop-up was developed in one week and was an immediate success. We are now able to monitor approximately 10% of our daily volume, which amounts to $150 million, and take proper risk management decisions in the fast, volatile market where time is of the essence. Based on my estimates, this results in a cost savings of about 4% a month which redound to increased profits.

Using my native insight I found an opportunity for growth in the company. However, I faced the inertia associate with any kind of meaningful change. Despite the cost of lost, personal, man hours. I pushed my plan past the bureaucracy offering potential benefits that far outweighed the costs of the project. Taking responsibility for my unpopular stance, my assumption of leadership led to my taking the risk of losing my job if the project failed. With a lack of popular support a failure to improve profits or a net loss would severely afflict my reputation in the firm and in the industry. However I stood my ground and pursued what I knew was a good idea. As a result, I was now looked upon as a leader that brought positive change to my firm.

Essay 3 (500 words)

Where in your background would we find evidence of your leadership capacity and/or potential?

Evidence of my leadership potential can be found in my work as project organizer for Ulpan in Warsaw, Poland and The ORT Foundation in Geneva, Switzerland. Ulpan provides educational opportunities for high school students, who are predominantly Jewish, who seek a better education in the United States. The ORT foundation provides mentoring to high school students to help them decide on career-paths and how to go about realizing their professional dreams.

I organized cross-border contact through mail and email correspondence, allowing young people to build and maintain connections with peers in the US. My accomplishments with these two organizations are integrally associated with me and very close to my heart. As a child, I was helped by a mentor, David, and with his help, have succeeded in pursuing my dreams with much confidence.

NGO work requires out-of-the-box thinking and creative decision making. For example, bringing a Jewish teenager from the Warsaw ghetto and providing him with a scholarship to study in a University requires a wide variety of skills. First, the child must be motivated to make the most out of his talents. I must be inspirational and optimistic to provide the necessary motivation. Second, If the mentee still has areas of improvement I may be tasked with nurturing and uncovering his talents.

Third, obtaining a scholarship will require taking with benefactors who may later become potential investors in the child’s future. This requires negotiation skills equal to that of a boardroom raider. Finally, my decisions require reflective hindsight because in many ways I am responsible to the benefactors for the success of their beneficiary. In the end nothing is more rewarding than receiving letters from the student that he is doing well in school and on the way to a bright future.

NGO work is a challenging as any task on the trading floor. It makes the most out of my skills and encourages me to continue learning. My unique background as a trader brings a skill set that is not common in the Ulpan or ORT foundation, making my contributions even more valuable to these organizations. My background and insight have resulted in the foundation taking opportunities it might have otherwise not identified. Finally, because I am constantly learning my leadership in these foundations have given me valuable experiences in dealing with others that I can carry with me back to my day job,

My leadership in a community oriented NGO is different from the type of leadership I exercise at work. In my business the objective is to maximize the value of our investor’s money. Success is measured by the growth in their investments and the increased trust this generates. By comparison Ulpan is about giving educational opportunities to predominantly Jewish high school students. ORT is very similar in its goals. My hard work is rewarded by seeing our beneficiaries motivated and eager to take the path of higher education as a means to success. The drastically different metrics of my community service broadens my horizon as a leader.

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