One thing that many business schools look for in their MBA applicants is the ability to collaborate effectively. After all, no business operates in a vacuum, and teamwork is crucial at every level. That’s why it’s no surprise that many MBA application essays include questions about collaboration. MBA admissions committees are looking for candidates who understand this. But how do you craft a personal statement that effectively shows off your collaboration skills? In this blog post, we’ll explore why collaboration is such an important topic in MBA admissions, and offer some tips for how to write a great personal statement about collaboration.
Understand why collaboration and teamwork matter
Before you start writing your essays, it’s important to understand why collaboration is such a big deal in MBA admissions. Business schools want to see that you’re not just a strong individual contributor, but that you can work well with others to achieve shared goals. This is especially important in an MBA program, where teamwork and collaboration are often integral to success. By demonstrating your collaboration skills in your essays, you’ll show admissions officers that you’re a team player who’s ready to contribute to the success of your classmates and the program as a whole.
Highlight concrete examples
One of the best ways to demonstrate your collaboration skills in your essays is to provide concrete examples of times you’ve worked successfully with others. This can be anything from a group project in college to a successful partnership with a colleague at work. Make sure to highlight what specific actions you took to contribute to the success of the team, and what you learned from the experience. This will show admissions officers that you understand the importance of collaboration and have the skills and experience to back it up.
Showcase your teamwork experience
Collaboration isn’t just about working in teams, but it’s an essential part of it. Be sure to mention your team projects that highlight your ability to work with others effectively. Indicate the projects you worked on, your role in the team, and what skills you developed through the experience. Explain the positive impact that collaboration had on the project and the organization.
Stress the importance of building relationships
In the business world, it’s all about relationships. Therefore, it’s important to exhibit that you understand the significance of relationship building, both in professional and personal life. Mention your involvement in extracurricular activities or projects that have helped you build relationships with people from diverse backgrounds. Highlight your communication, listening, and conflict resolution skills that helped you build a rapport with others.
Highlight your cross-functional experiences
The most significant aspect of collaboration is the ability to work with people of different backgrounds and skill sets. Highlight the cross-functional projects or initiatives you have led or participated in, which demonstrated your ability to work across various departments or functions. Emphasize the skills and qualities you have developed, such as creativity, adaptability, cultural sensitivity, and analytical thinking to work in diverse groups.
Emphasize your leadership potential
Collaboration and leadership are interconnected. MBA programs are looking for candidates who can lead and motivate others by creating an environment of teamwork, trust, and inclusivity. Highlight the leadership experience you have demonstrated, whether formal or informal, and how it facilitated collaboration among team members. Explain how your leadership qualities and skills have helped your team achieve its goals.
Discuss challenges you’ve faced
Collaboration isn’t always easy – sometimes there are bumps in the road. Don’t be afraid to discuss times when you’ve faced challenges in working with others in your personal statement. This shows that you’re realistic about the challenges of collaboration, but that you’re also willing to work through those challenges to get results. Be sure to highlight what you learned from these experiences and how they’ve helped you become a better collaborator.
Demonstrate your active listening skills
Can share with us an experience when you demonstrated effective listening during a teamwork or collaboration situation? Please explain how your listening skills helped ease tensions and improve collaboration among team members. This example can showcase your ability to work effectively in a team.
Emphasize motivational and conflict-resolution skills
Have you ever been part of a team where the enthusiasm was low, but you helped to boost excitement? Or perhaps you contributed an idea that strengthened your group, club, or project? These are all examples of teamwork. Additionally, you may have experienced a situation where two members of the group couldn’t agree on the next steps, and you found a way to help them reconcile and move forward together. If you successfully resolved the conflict and assisted two individuals in collaborating, it could be considered an example of teamwork, which is commendable. In general, whenever you took the lead in engaging with others (especially in challenging circumstances), identified more effective approaches to accomplish tasks, found a mutually agreeable solution or came up with an innovative idea, you were engaging in teamwork.
Connect collaboration to your future goals
In addition to discussing your past experiences with collaboration, it’s important to connect this topic to your future goals. How do you plan to use your collaboration skills to achieve success in your career? Be specific about the industries you’re interested in, and how collaboration plays a role in those fields. This will show admissions officers that you have a clear vision for your career path, and that you understand how collaboration can help you achieve your goals.
Keep it personal
Finally, don’t forget that your personal statement is meant to showcase your individual voice and experiences. While collaboration is an important topic, make sure to infuse your personal statement with your unique perspective and personality. This will help you stand out from other applicants, and will make your personal statement more engaging and memorable. One way to demonstrate effective teamwork is by sharing personal experiences. For instance, a client shared how she worked to reconcile her family after her father’s death sparked a bitter dispute over their successful family business. Despite the emotionally charged environment, the client used shuttle diplomacy and active listening to encourage cooperation among the fighting siblings.
Don’t forget to show rather than tell!
Lastly, remember that collaboration is not something that you say you do – it’s something that you demonstrate through your achievements and experiences. Always provide concrete examples in your personal statements that substantiate your claims, rather than using vague, generic statements that don’t explain much. Showcase your collaboration story in a way that demonstrates the impact you made on the organization and others around you.
With collaboration skills being so highly valued for MBA admission, it’s increasingly important to reflect on this essential leadership trait in a personal statement and use storytelling to highlight unique examples of where you have pushed yourself and others. By doing so, not only will you demonstrate your potential as a mentor and team-player, but also show your capability in uniting different stakeholders towards achieving a common goal. If you need more guidance on how to get started with crafting the perfect story of collaboration, check out our MBA essay services today, or send us your draft for an assessment, it’s FREE! As you continue your journey into business school, always remember that great leaders foster collaborative environments that allow everyone to thrive and reach their fullest potential. Ultimately, by embracing the power of collaboration: success is yours for the taking!
With a Master’s from McGill University and a Ph.D. from New York University, Philippe Barr is the founder of The Admit Lab. As a tenure-track professor, Philippe spent a decade teaching and serving on several graduate admission committees at UNC-Chapel Hill before turning to full-time consulting. With more than seven years of experience as a graduate school admissions consultant, Philippe has stewarded the candidate journey across multiple master’s and Ph.D. programs and helped hundreds of students get admitted to top-tier graduate programs all over the world.