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darden mba essay exampleIf you’re thinking that there are many ways of making a real mess of this Darden essay, you’re right. It’s also a critical part of your Darden MBA application. There’s only one Darden MBA essay, but it’s definitely not a superficial question: Share your thought process as you encountered a challenging work situation or complex problem. What did you learn about yourself?

You’ll note that the actual subjects are:

  • A challenging work situation/complex problem needs to be defined.
  • Your thought process needs to be described, in context with the situation as it develops from problem to solution.
  • The solution needs to be defined.
  • What you learned about yourself has to be structured in the essay.

Essay Content Issues

darden essayKeep the information content focused, specifically addressing the challenge, explaining your thinking about the problems throughout the essay, and sum up the “learned about yourself” part of the finale.

Essay Content Quality

Consider this essay as a business report, documenting the required information. The essay needs to be well organized for the reader’s benefit.

Ruthlessly remove any unnecessary information. If any text isn’t part of the story, it’s part of the problem.

Essay Samples

The following paragraphs are designed to show how to address the different aspects of the Darden MBA essay question and integrate them:

The most challenging work situation I’ve ever encountered was a case of not recognizing a problem, with a cascade of situations arising from that issue. We were a government department, running a program to recover outstanding money payable on statutory lodgements.

The first thing that went wrong was the database issuing notices demanding outstanding money from accountants and solicitors who didn’t owe any money. Then it reissued more incorrect notices, in an attempt to fix the original problem.

My thinking at the time was entirely wrong. I knew the system well. I thought it was just a few entries on the database which hadn’t been done properly when the first notices went out. I assumed the problems were solved.

Then things got worse. The business community was spectacularly unimpressed. Every accountant and lawyer in the city rang us, demanding to know why they were being charged at all.

We had to manually check data on our live corporate system to get any work done. A series of meetings with IT, pinning down problems, succeeded in creating a new, accurate, database for us.

Our thinking improved with our understanding of the problem and its effects. We undid the damage caused by the incorrect notices. Thousands of phone calls and system entries later, the problem was solved. We collected $5 million of outstanding fees, 50 times our program budget, despite a month of setbacks.

I learned not to underestimate the degrees of difficulty an apparently simple issue can create. I also learned not to assume a problem is solved until I’ve seen proof that it is.

Essay Evaluation

  • Does your essay connect the situation, the challenge, and your thinking?
  • Does it define the issues clearly to make your learning process clear?
  • Does it read well, and is easy to understand?

You can now submit your Stern MBA essay.

Get your Darden MBA essay chances improved!

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