This article offers general guidance for crafting your Wharton MBA essays and features essay examples from past applicants. While the essay examples may be what brought you to this page, I urge you to delve into the essay overview and analysis sections as well. If you’re considering applying to several MBA programs, explore additional MBA essay examples and topic analyses available on mbaSTORY.builders for a comprehensive understanding.

I Overview

The Wharton admissions committee has two goals a) to select the best applicants and b) to balance the skills, aptitudes, backgrounds, and experience of individual participants to create a diverse incoming MBA class.

Any top-20 MBA admissions committee can take half of the applications it gets and throw them in the proverbial poubelle (that’s French for garbage). They can do that right off the bat because at least half of applicants won’t meet their baseline criteria (at Wharton baseline criteria = 710+ GMAT). Other criteria include ‘insufficient work experience,’ ‘lackluster recommendations,’ ‘low GMAT/GPA,’ ‘too old,’ etc. For the admissions committee that’s the easy part. The challenge is in what to do with the other half of the applications – the ones that aren’t in the garbage.

Now the admissions committee needs to distinguish the super-excellent candidates from the merely excellent ones. But if the admissions committee were to take the academic and file data from all competitive c

The problem is that candidates with ‘good numbers’, ‘good jobs’ and proven abilities are all astonishingly similar to one another. What makes one stand out from the pack are a) a great, story-based resume (the backbone of any application), and b) good essays.

II Analysis Wharton MBA Essay 1

Essay 1: How do you plan to use the Wharton MBA program to help you achieve your future professional goals? You might consider your past experience, short and long-term goals, and resources available at Wharton. (500 words)

This is a classic Career Goals/Why MBA? essay. There are five main components to a Career Goals/Why MBA? essay:

  • The Past: Personal and professional experience that have brought you to this moment in your life and have planted the seed for your future ambitions.
  • The Present: Why do you want an MBA at this point in your personal life and professional career?
  • The Future: What are your short and long-term goals/vision and how will you leverage your experience as a student, your MBA degree and the alumni network to achieve those?
  • Why an MBA?: Why an MBA and not another kind of degree or why not forego a degree altogether in favor of just working and networking your way towards your goals?
  • Why Wharton?: Why do you want an MBA from this school in particular?

What I like about these five components is that you can start off by answering them one by one. Then you can mix and match the components into paragraphs that flow well together. You don’t necessarily have to begin by talking about the past.

Here is an example of how you might leverage the five components to create your own, unique outline. You could lead with your short-term goal to transition from consulting into non-profit strategy (The Future). Then you might give us some of the backstory: What you’ve done in the past (work or personal experiences) and how that led you to be extremely passionate about the non-profit world (The Past). Next you might talk about how an MBA from Wharton will enrich you on a personal and professional level such that you’ll be uniquely prepared to take on future challenges (Why an MBA?). Finally you might circle back to your future vision and paint a picture of where you hope to be in 10-15 years time (The Future).

In this essay you need to discuss your professional goals and very briefly contextualize why those goals are realistic for you within the context of your career progression to date. You then need to aboard how you will leverage and engage with the resources at Wharton in order to pursue and reach your goals. You can do that by showing the Adcom that you understand the school’s offering and have given thought to how you will engage with the Wharton community and all the school has to offer. Don’t just rattle off a few course offerings, but look for deep connections between your goals and interests and the activities you plan to participate in. If you’re a bit stumped, take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the left list resources at Wharton that will benefit you. On the right list resources at Wharton that you can impact upon and benefit through your knowledge, experience or interests. Basically you’re breaking things down into take and give relationships.

When thinking about the personal growth aspect of this essay I would encourage you to have a good think about what your true weak points are and how you might leverage your two years at business school to work on them. Would you like to be just a bit more extroverted? You’ll have plenty of opportunities for public speaking and voicing your opinion in the classroom. Has your leadership experience been limited to superior/subordinate type situations (with you leading from the front as the superior or you leading from the middle as the subordinate)? Think about how you might gain experience you don’t have by leading peers in your study group or being the president of a club? Do you just want to get outside of your comfort zone? Think about how a trek to a foreign country or the Wharton Follies might help you do just that. The idea here is to simply demonstrate a certain level of maturity and self-awareness.

III Analysis Wharton MBA Essay 2

Essay 2: Taking into consideration your background – personal, professional, and/or academic – how do you plan to make specific, meaningful contributions to the Wharton community? (400 words)

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IV Example Wharton MBA Essays 1 + 2 Example - Associate Consultant

Wharton MBA Essay 1: How do you plan to use the Wharton MBA program to help you achieve your future professional goals? You might consider your past experience, short and long-term goals, and resources available at Wharton. (500 words)

As a member of Accenture’s Transfer Pricing Team, I helped multinational organizations determine the price at which goods and services ought to be ‘sold’ between internal business units. An economist by training, over the course of many interviews with client-side managers, I developed an appreciation for the technical and political complexities of corporate operations as well as a deep understanding of GAAP accounting practices. More recently, as part of the Data First Advisory Team, I find myself leveraging creativity and economic research methodologies in equal measure to solve for unique and often unprecedented business problems: for instance, estimating the present-day value of land confiscated from the Sioux First Nation 160+ years ago or working out whether cannabis legalization in the State of Wisconsin will negatively impact Pabst beer sales.

In 20XX I was invited to join Accenture’s nascent Global Warming Advisory Team thanks to my track record of creating innovative environmental evaluation analyses such as a tool that helps communities identify environmentally sustainable infrastructure projects. Convincing clients to embrace progressively-minded ideas is extremely satisfying. In the future, I want to continue in that vein by helping companies to build profitable business strategies that are not just ‘sustainable’ but that proactively benefit the environment. Post-MBA I plan to do that as an Associate with a consulting practice like McKinsey Sustainability or the Bain Center for Climate & Sustainability. In the long-term I see myself transitioning to a client-side corporate strategy role with a focus on marrying sustainability and profitability.

I’m drawn to companies like Whole Foods which now give customers a choice between electric vehicles and conventional ones when using their grocery delivery service. This appeals to consumers’ desire to embrace green businesses and supports electric vehicle manufacturers. It’s a win-win scenario for Whole Foods, its stakeholders, and the environment. While most climate change news one reads about in the Wall Street Journal centers on the challenges it presents to businesses, there are likewise opportunities to ideate, innovate, and ultimately, profit.

Over the next two years, I hope to develop a better understanding of the environmental and financial issues and the complexities around operations, design, and communication that are key to crafting good business strategy. At Wharton I hope to combine traditional business courses such as Professor Allon’s Operations Strategy, with elective courses such as such as Professor Kousky’s Environmental Sustainability and Value Creation. Wharton’s Global Immersion Program will expose me to best practices in sustainable strategy from leading countries like Germany and Costa Rica. There are just a few of the many opportunities at Wharton that will equip me to drive business transformation that leads to long-lasting climate action.

Wharton MBA Essay 2: Taking into consideration your background – personal, professional, and/or academic – how do you plan to make specific, meaningful contributions to the Wharton community? (400 words)

Cost-benefit analysis is a technique that weighs the pros and cons of each variable involved in a decision. For example, in choosing to pare down its product portfolio, a company may weigh an initial decline in sales against the benefit of a product offering that is easier for consumers to understand, lower marketing costs, a decrease in the number of parts held in inventory, etc. At Accenture, I use cost-benefit analysis to help clients make decisions ranging from public transit investment to regulatory design. I also host presentations to internal teams and clients on the power of this technique which forces a person to document how they assign relative importance to each variable; something that people generally do subconsciously (without realizing it).

I would love to share my knowledge with the Wharton community; exploring new ways to use the technique. I could do that by hosting workshops for students who seek to enter sectors where decision prioritization is critical – namely the energy or transportation sectors via the Energy Club and Future Mobility Club. Hopefully other classmates might find the topic interesting as well, integrating the approach into their own decision-making. I would also like to engage with the Business, Climate, and Environment Lab to share my experience in evaluating the financial and non-financial impact of sustainability programs and to discover new ways in which this technique could be used in my own future, sustainability-centric professional journey.

My significant other, Andrea, is a fan of those personality quizzes one runs into online or in magazines and since meeting her in 20XX, I’ve completed enough to know that ‘inquisitive’ and ‘good listener’ are two of my defining personality traits. Besides making restaurant ordering tricky (as a foodie I always have too many questions for the server), being inquisitive and a good listener has facilitated conversations with stakeholders which have in turn allowed me to successfully lead complex client projects. I’ve come to appreciate the fact that there is almost never just one right answer or one path to it.

At Wharton, I will no doubt be working alongside incredibly accomplished and smart peers. In small team settings I hope to use my listening skills and ability to respectfully question ideas to help my team refine its ideas. Outside the Wharton classroom, I look forward to participating in the business school’s annual Innovation Challenge where I would likewise help facilitate brainstorming sessions while sharing my knowledge of frameworks from Deloitte such as the ‘Playing to Win’ framework, a playbook to develop and execute ideas.

In conclusion, I look forward to benefitting from and contributing to the dynamism that is the hallmark of the Wharton community – both as a student and as an alumnus of the school. I thank you for your time in reviewing my application.

V Example Wharton MBA Essay 1 Example - Business Intelligence Scientist

Wharton MBA Essay 1: How do you plan to use the Wharton MBA program to help you achieve your future professional goals? You might consider your past experience, short and long-term goals, and resources available at Wharton. (500 words)

“I don’t think we’ve seen the tip of the iceberg. We’re on the cusp of something exhilarating and terrifying.”

“It’s just a tool though, isn’t it?”

“No, it’s not, no. The actual content is going to be so different to anything that we can really envisage at the moment. The interplay between the user and the provider will be such that it’s going to crush our ideas of what (communication) mediums are all about.”

This was a 1999 interview with the BBC. The medium in question was the internet. Journalists were still printing articles questioning whether the worldwide web would truly catch on. At the same time, the interviewee, David Bowie was clear-eyed and prophetic in his assessment of its potential. As a musician, Bowie was an expert communicator and therefore knew a thing or two about mediums; songs being the primary way people got news prior to the internet’s precursor (i.e. Gutenberg and his printing press).

Like Bowie, I also feel (even in 20XX) that the internet and emerging technologies such as Chat GPT, are full of unrealized potential. One lesson I’ve learned during my career is that technology can’t be understood in isolation. It must be studied in conjunction with its human user. Together the two create a sort of Gestalt, which is larger and more complex than the sum of their parts. I mention this because a great deal of my work at T-Mobile has been at the intersection of technology, data, and human psychology.

At T-Mobile people are likewise at the heart of my work as a Business Intelligence Scientist. I’m currently working with a talented group of contributors on our new 5Ghome internet product line, a top priority for senior leadership. In its first year (20XX-XX) home internet drew 32 million home new subscribers, a figure that continues to grow. Lately I’ve been deepening my understanding of what drives a customer to entrust T-Mobile with their business by creating marketing ‘personas’ and dialoguing with end users. Their input is a luxury that can help the team quickly home in on an issue or a previously overlooked area for improvement, but it’s a luxury that we don’t always benefit from. Sometimes, oftentimes actually, we must work independently, with incomplete information, to identify and deliver on client needs.

That was the case a few months ago when I was asked to assess whether our network could deliver reliable data transmission for Boeing’s fleet of TU2SU drones. A multimillion-dollar contract was at stake, and while the sales team had only requested a yes or no answer, I felt that it wasn’t sufficient to really sell Boeing on partnering with T-Mobile. Instead, I imagined I built a drone prototype over the weekend so that I could walk into that Monday morning meeting and show rather than tell. The sales team was surprised, my boss was pleased, and Boeing signed on the dotted line. Although I consider myself to be first and foremost a team player, I’m equally comfortable thinking and acting independently and will successfully navigate the demands of the online MBA program by drawing on professional experiences like this one as well as the self-reliance I developed as a new immigrant to the U.S. in 20XX.

I’m looking forward to leveraging my lessons learned in conjunction with the formal business and leadership education offered through the Wharton MBA to transition to a product management role overseeing T-Mobile’s network infrastructure.

While a background in both engineering and product is a net strength, I lack formal training in accounting, financial analysis, human resource management, and business strategy; to name just a few areas where an MBA would shape me into a more well-rounded businessperson. To that end, the Fundamentals of Business course with instruction in financial accounting, microeconomics, and statistics, would serve as the perfect foundation for electives. I’m also eager to enroll in Managing Inside the Firm which delves into topics like employment law, operations, and organizational behavior as well as Strategic Planning for Growth and Technology and Information Systems Management. Improving my leadership skills is another one of my goals in undertaking an MBA hence my interest in Wharton electives such as Management Communication for Leaders and Business Environment and Leadership.

Reading about Timor Smith’s experience as a Wharton MBA, and how the program helped him transition from programming to product management, I was even more convinced that Wharton is the right place for me to pursue my own goals while contributing to the business school community. I look forward to connecting with you and thank you for your time in reviewing my application.

VI Example Wharton MBA Essay 1 Example - Public Sector Consultant

Wharton MBA Essay 1: How do you plan to use the Wharton MBA program to help you achieve your future professional goals? You might consider your past experience, short and long-term goals, and resources available at Wharton. (500 words)

I wanted to let you know that my client came in today upset because we still cannot process her case.  She’s raising three grand kids, and her only income is her RSDI.  The food bank near her won’t have boxes until Wednesday.

In early March of 20XX, e-mails like the one above flooded my inbox. The issues stemmed from the implementation of the California Integrated Eligibility project, a computer system responsible for administering government assistance programs including food stamps and welfare. The personal stories of these individuals hit home, reminding me of the challenges my own family had faced in the past and the importance of my current work for the citizens of California.  Back in 1992, my family had emigrated from the Ukraine, penniless and escaping impending war. The U.S. government helped my parents feed our family while they learned English and secured employment.

Working within the public sector over the last three years, I’ve realized that the same fundamental business challenges private enterprise face, such as budgeting and managing changes in policy and technology, are fundamentally the same one stack led by governmental organizations. After honing my business skills at Wharton, post-MBA I hope to return to public sector consulting to deliver strategic and fact-based policy recommendations. In the public sector, our stakeholder is the everyday taxpayer who rightfully demands that their money be spent judiciously. I view managing large-scale projects that improve access, lower overhead, and provide effective government services as worthwhile and gratifying professional endeavors.

I’ve been impressed by the strategy and data-driven policy recommendations developed by firms like McKinsey, BCG, and Bain. In fact, the project I’m currently implementing for the State of California is founded on strategic advice from McKinsey on freeing individuals from a cycle of poverty through effective job training.

One policy issue I’m particularly drawn to is food availability in rural and inner-city areas, where a lack of grocery stores limit access to nutritious food and negatively impacts quality of life. By majoring in Business Economics and Public Policy, I want to learn to leverage analytical frameworks to promote effective policy decisions. To that end, courses like Introduction to Business Economics and Public Policy, Risk Management, and Urban Fiscal Policy would be particularly relevant.

In addition, courses that address policy implementation on the global stage, such as Conflict, Leadership and Change: Lessons from Rwanda, are unique to Wharton and would allow me to stretch myself beyond a purely domestic perspective.

Through case studies and in-classroom discussions I know that my fellow students and professors will challenge me, helping me to question presumptions and expand my understanding of international affairs. That process is crucial for anyone who aspires to develop effective policy in the globalized world. I also hope to build a strong network of fellow classmates interested in tackling similar domestic and international challenges.

I’d like to bring my perspective and experience on governmental policy and my vision for the future of governmental services to Wharton and I’m eager to grow my leadership skills within the Wharton community of distinguished professors and swell as my future classmates.

VII Example Wharton MBA Essay 1 Example - Medical Doctor Intern

Wharton MBA Essay 1: How do you plan to use the Wharton MBA program to help you achieve your future professional goals? You might consider your past experience, short and long-term goals, and resources available at Wharton. (500 words)

While the goal I set for myself when I embarked on medical school – to impact both human health and individual lives in concrete terms – hasn’t changed, after much reflection I’ve decided to recalibrate my career ambitions from practicing medicine as a doctor to working at the intersection of business and science.

Reaching my goal requires curiosity, creativity, and a penchant for innovation – characteristics that I’ve sought to cultivate as a student, medical intern, and active participant in my family company, Lejos Group, and its charitable arm.

At Hospital Universitario La Paz in Madrid, I helped reduce infection spread by collaborating with a team of peers in developing a unique system of flash cards that alert staff to the correct PPE (personal protective equipment) to use for individual patients. As a Junior Board Member at Lejos Group since early 20XX, I’ve tried to be a change agent, advocating for diversification and outside management. Last year I spearheaded the revitalization of our charitable arm – bringing in outside board members and introducing best practices in strategy setting and outcome measurement.

With the benefit of an MBA from Wharton Business School, I plan to pursue a career at the intersection of healthcare and technology. That could mean joining an innovative company such as San Francisco-based Enlitic or Boston-based PathAI, both of which help doctors make more accurate diagnoses through artificial intelligence, or securing a position within the innovation center of a large pharmaceutical company. Johnson and Johnson has four such centers where businesspeople and scientists collaborate to identify investments in promising medical innovations from leading companies and universities.

With a view to the long term, I hope to return to the Lejos Group – a platform from which I hope to either start up or invest in a cutting-edge healthcare company.

While my education in life sciences and my formation as a medical doctor have taught me to be a team player and to use critical thinking to tackle complex problems, I lack the foundational business knowledge that will prove crucial to me in my future professional endeavors. I look forward to participating in core Wharton MBA courses like corporate finance, operations, and marketing before enrolling in pertinent electives. One such class is Managing Health Care Organizations which places special emphasis on measuring performance as a first step to tangible improvement. Professor William Alexander’s course Strategies and Practices of Family-controlled Companies represents an opportunity to think more deeply and strategically about the future of Lejos Group. I believe that honing one’s leadership skills is a lifelong endeavor. Wharton’s Leading Effective Teams is a thought-provoking course that emphasizes techniques that can be used to diagnose and intervene in issues within team settings.

If offered the opportunity to join the Wharton MBA class of 20XX, I plan to bring my optimism, energy and professional knowledge to the community in order to build new and long-lasting friendships and advance my dream to impact others through technology applied to healthcare.

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