February 21, 2013
When I was a college English teacher, I regularly warned my students about the dangers of plagiarizing their assignments. In addition to pointing out that plagiarism is simply unethical, I made it clear that plagiarists would be punished, through a failing grade on an assignment, expulsion from class, or even academic probation. Nevertheless, every semester I would catch at least a few students who either missed my warnings or chose to ignore them.
Today, some business school applicants take the same risks, ignoring schools’ warnings about plagiarism and submitting plagiarized essays, despite the steep penalties should they be caught. A recent article in U.S. News and World Report reports that both Penn State’s Smeal College of Business and UCLA’s Anderson School of Management recently rejected over 60 applicants due to plagiarized material. Additionally, Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business has identified 50 cases of potential plagiarism, which are currently being investigated.
In today’s digital world, plagiarism is easier than ever–students can easily buy or copy essays from the comfort of their own bedrooms–but plagiarism is also more easily detected. Penn State, UCLA, and Northeastern are among the more than 100 colleges and universities that use Turnitin, software that checks for original work and flags potential plagiarism. Turnitin compares papers to other student papers within its database, public web pages, and commercial pages from books, newspapers, and journals, making the task of identifying plagiarized essays much simpler for admissions officials.
In short, plagiarism might be easy, but it’s not worth the risk. So, now that you’ve reaffirmed your aversion to plagiarism, what can you do to put together a solid MBA application essay? Here are few tips:
- Start thinking about your essays sooner rather than later. The earlier you start brainstorming and writing your essays, the more time you’ll have for revision and improvement.
- Be specific about who you are, why you want to go to business school, and what your goals are. The best way to stand out is to demonstrate your passion for your career interests and goals. Check out last week’s blog “Add Depth to MBA Application Essays by Owning Your Goals” for suggestions for making your essays more specific.
- Get feedback. Have a variety of people read your essays. Get feedback from friends, family members, AND co-workers so you can revise your essays from several different perspectives. You don’t need to go overboard–commentary from too many people can become overwhelming–but the insights of several different people will help you perfect your essay.
- Most importantly, be true to yourself. Business school is a big investment, and as much as you want schools to accept you, you also want to select a program that is right for you. Putting your true self forward in your essays will help to ensure that the programs you are accepted to will be good fits for you and your goals.
February 29, 2012
By Mona Abdel-Halim
You probably read a lot of resume advice about how to ensure your resume makes it in front of your competition. With all of these rules and guidelines, it can seem like a difficult task to get your document to stand out among the tens or hundreds of other applications. You might wonder, How can I insert my personality into my resume? How can I ensure my experience and skills stand out among everyone else’s?
First, let’s make one thing clear — it is not a good idea to use fancy fonts or formatting in order to stand out. In fact, it can disadvantage you by distracting from your content, the skills and achievements you want someone to remember you for.
So how can you ensure your resume shows everything an admissions team member needs to know about you?
Put your achievements at the forefront. Quantify what you’ve done at previous positions. For instance, if you were in sales, how much business (in dollars) did you deal with while at your position? If you broke company sales records, what were they? If you exceeded personal goals, by what percentage or dollar amount?
Don’t hide periods of unemployment. Schools don’t want to think you’re applying to their program as a last result of forced unemployment. Ensure you address gaps and aim to fill them with relevant experience, whether it’s paid or unpaid. This can be a great way to showcase how you’re transitioning your skills into a new direction that aligns with what you say you want to do post graduation. You can do this through volunteer work, temporary positions, part-time jobs, leadership experience, or project-based work. Other ways to fill resume gaps are with continued education, freelancing or starting a business. Just because it’s not a full-time position does not mean it shouldn’t be included on your resume. Use your resume to show prospective schools what you learned and accomplished at these other experiences and how they benefited you professionally.
Include links to your social media handles or your personal website. While you should still include traditional contact information, such as your phone number and email address, consider providing your Twitter handle, LinkedIn profile link, or the Web address to your personal website or portfolio. This way, if your resume has made it to human hands, they can look at you in more detail on their own. Doesn’t hurt to include these in your email signature, either!
Save personality for your essay. An essay is a great way to introduce yourself and convey passion for the program you are applying to or the industry you want to enter. Your resume should be focused on your tangible achievements.
When you’re evaluating your resume, ask yourself “If there was another candidate with the same positions and work history, would I be differentiated with my resume?” If not, then it’s time to cut out the mundane tasks and responsibilities and do more work on showcasing what you’ve accomplished in hard numbers.
What challenges have you faced while trying to make your resume stand out?