Columbia MBA Application Essays
Short Answer Question: What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (50 characters maximum)
Essay 1: Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next 3-5 years and what, in your imagination, would be your long-term dream job? (500 words)
Essay 2: Why Columbia? (250 words)
Essay 3: Tell us about your favorite book, movie, or song and why it resonates with you. (250 words)
Columbia MBA Winning Sample Essay – 1
Columbia MBA Essay 1: Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next 3-5 years and what, in your imagination, would be your long-term dream job?
I have over seven years of experience in the investment banking and private equity domain, and over the next 3-5 years, my goal is to grow as an investment banker in the Technology, Media, and Telecom division preferably at a bulge bracket investment bank.
I started my career at TresVista (a financial services firm for private equity and investment banking clients) when there were only 60 employees. From 2013 to 2019, TresVista grew from 60 to 500 people and I grew from an Analyst to an Assistant Vice President role. This high growth journey allowed me to gain cross-functional expertise where I learned how to engage with clients, build rapport, and manage expectations. Each transaction helped hone both my technical and managerial skills. I developed an analytical approach to breaking down the plethora of problems that accompany each transaction. The global client base gave me international exposure and taught me the nuances of working with cross-cultural teams.
Later at Unitus (a social impact-focused investment banking firm), I have witnessed first-hand the potential of Technology to bring about tremendous societal change. My first mandate at Unitus was a fundraiser for an Ed-tech firm catering to affordable schools in Kenya. In the short span of a year, we helped the firm finance over 150 schools to develop infrastructure and enroll over 10,000 additional students. Such experiences of leading engagements with fintech and ed-tech companies that are taking forward the mantle of financial and educational inclusion are what inspires me. To push the boundaries of innovation these companies require access to capital – a goal I would like to champion.
My rather unique experience while working on impact-focused investments made me realize that there is a dearth of innovative financial products in the impact investment sector. Products such as green bonds and impact bonds have found limited traction in recent years despite the tremendous potential. Investment Bankers can provide insights and champion regulatory changes required to provide the much-needed impetus to the sector. That is why I want to upskill myself via an MBA to be a full-fledged investment banker, where I can pursue such causes and create a real impact in society.
An MBA from Columbia Business School would be an ideal stepping stone to help me achieve goals. I strongly believe with my prior experience in the investing space and armed with a business education from CBS, I will be ready to succeed as an investment banker and then pursue my long-term vision of a career specializing in ESG or impact investing.
Today most of the major private equity funds have added ESG as a core focus. Firms like Carlyle, KKR, Blackstone, and others have dedicated funds to impact investing. In the long term, I would aspire to lead engagements where I can help deploy capital to sustainable and impactful business models. Funding businesses that can empower communities, tackle climate change, bridge the divide between the markets and the “real economy” would be a dream come true.
Columbia MBA Essay 2: Why Columbia? (250 words)
For the last 7 years, I have led multiple engagements but my investment banking experience has mainly revolved around fundraising, with limited exposure to Mergers & Acquisition (M&A). In order to achieve my short-term objectives, I need to enhance and fulfill gaps in my knowledge of the investment process.
CBS, with its core courses and specialized electives covering M&A, and value investing programs, would fulfill the theoretical gaps in my understanding. The courses would help me build on my knowledge of the investment process, and set me up for success in my endeavors.
Other than academics, I would like to leverage the offerings at the Tamer center to expand and refine my understanding of impact investing. I am eager to engage and participate in the Investment Banking and Private Equity club events to gain hands-on exposure and mentoring from industry veterans.
My mentor and managing director of TresVista is also based out of New York. He has time and again stressed the importance of networking and that there is no better place than New York for my career plans. It is with his encouragement that I am applying to the MBA program at CBS.
CBS’s location provides a unique opportunity to be at the “Center of Business”. During my time at TresVista, I worked closely with several funds and investment banks based out of New York. The close proximity would allow the opportunity to leverage my existing network as well as expand it to unearth employment opportunities for myself.
Columbia MBA Essay 3: Tell us about your favorite book, movie, or song and why it resonates with you. (250 words)
The Harry Potter series introduced me to the world of fantasy fiction. Since then, while I dove into the works of JRR Tolkein (LOTR), Paolini, Amish, Martin, and others, Harry Potter always held a special place. With each reading of the books, I identified with different characters, and a different message resonated.
Harry taught me the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity. At 13, my family went through a period of extreme financial turmoil. We were forced to vacate our home and liquidate our savings. My parents worked tirelessly to restore our lives and at an early age, I learned the value of money. The story served as an inspiration to keep going despite tall odds.
Hermione taught me that perceived disadvantages can be overcome through diligence and intellect. As an engineer starting in finance, I invested considerable time and effort in mastering concepts and building a strong base of fundamentals. Consistently working towards excellence helped me build my own brand at both firms, enabling me to achieve multiple fast-track promotions.
Today, my hobbies and travel choices, and experiences are all driven by a strong sense of adventure, cultivated by my love for fantasy fiction. My fondest memories include scuba diving off the coast of Indonesia, sailing in the pristine waters in Thailand, or cliff diving off the rocky expanse of Dubrovnik. Harry Potter makes me believe that magic was just around the corner and gave hope for a better tomorrow.
Columbia MBA Winning Sample Essay – 2
Columbia MBA Essay 1: Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next 3-5 years and what, in your imagination, would be your long-term dream job? (500 Words)
I have 3 years of experience as a lead software developer at Goldman Sachs, and over the next 3-5 years, my goal is to transition into a product management role to lead innovative product development in FinTech, within the personal finance domain.
One of the most impactful experiences of my life occurred in high school when I won my school’s innovation challenge. I designed a music streaming service that promoted the work of aspiring musicians in minority communities. At this moment, I saw the power of technology to drive social change, level the playing field, and open worlds of possibility to new audiences. This piqued my lifelong interest in learning and working at the intersection of entrepreneurship and engineering, which in turn inspired my decision to major in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at UC Berkeley.
At college, my intellectual journey was once again shaped through a technology contest; this time it was the CITRIS Mobile App Challenge, where the task was to design a technology company from the ground up. I researched potential gap markets and designed a delivery application that catered to college students, bagging a spot in the semifinals, which allowed me to present my idea to a panel of judges comprised of technology entrepreneurs. Their feedback provided me important insights into the entrepreneurial mindset required to establish a successful venture.
After graduation from Berkeley, I joined Goldman Sachs, where my experience has strengthened my resolve in the immense potential of technology to revolutionize the financial services industry. On a recent project, I implemented an innovative solution to automate the firm’s trade confirmation system by integrating it with DocuSign. I managed the entire project, gathered requirements, performed cost-benefit analysis, prioritized features, and collaborated with multiple stakeholders. This project made me realize that my true calling was in end-to-end product management.
Thus, my short-term post-MBA goal is to work as a product manager in a personal finance FinTech startup, such as Wealthfront or Chime. I aspire to leverage my technical expertise along with the knowledge of business and finance gained at CBS to develop features for products that make use of the latest technologies to create a positive impact on the consumer journey.
In the long run, I desire to start a technology company that would empower consumers by helping them achieve financial independence. Despite the current technological progress, an estimated 2 billion people globally do not have access to banking, which highlights the existence of a huge gap that needs to be plugged. The lack of access to basics in saving, borrowing, and investing keeps them out of the market, and I see a significant potential to make an impact in this domain through technology. By offering innovative yet simple opportunities whereby everyone would be able to make independent financial decisions, I aim to assist others to achieve their financial goals.
The MBA from Columbia Business School is the ideal stepping stone to help me achieve both my short-term and long-term goals.
Columbia MBA Essay 2: Why do you feel that Columbia Business School is a good fit for you? (250 Words)
Through the MBA program at CBS, I desire to broaden my knowledge horizons outside of my technical experience into the business world and develop my personal leadership skills to achieve my goals.
CBS’s renowned product management courses will add a vital element to my knowledge to succeed in my short-term goal. Specifically, User Experience and Product Management will ensure that I always stay true to “keeping myself in the shoes of the consumer” at the forefront of all product development.
Along with theoretical knowledge, CBS provides avenues such as the Columbia FinTech club and Entrepreneurship Organization, that can give me experiential opportunities to implement classroom learnings. Also, CBS’s strategic location in the heart of New York City will provide me with invaluable access to industry leaders and help me develop my personal network at partner companies. Thus, I believe the practical experiences and networks acquired at CBS will help me lay a solid foundation for my future career in FinTech.
In addition to gaining hard skills and business acumen through the classroom and club experience, I plan to develop my soft skills via the numerous initiatives offered through the Advanced Leadership program at Leadership Lab. I look forward to improving upon my communication, negotiation, and team coordination skills, and will employ these to foster a collaborative culture at CBS and beyond.
Overall, CBS seems to be the complete package and a perfect fit for my desired learnings from an MBA program, both on a professional and personal front.
Columbia MBA Essay 3: Who is a leader you admire and why? (250 Words)
Virat Kohli is a cricket player whom I admired even before he became captain of the Indian cricket team – one of the most coveted positions in the sporting world.
As a player and cricket captain myself, I initially had difficulties coping with the vicissitudes of the game and was upset after a string of losses. So I started watching Virat’s interviews for inspiration, and one of his responses resonated with me: “wins and losses are a part of the game. It is important to maintain a balance – never be elated with your wins, and don’t get demoralized with losses.” I took his advice to heart and ultimately led my team to the finals, and secured the best player award.
I have also implemented this in my professional career at Goldman Sachs, where I uplift the team morale if a release does not go as planned. I believe that this habit has held me in good stead to face challenges without fear of failure.
Moreover, Virat goes to great lengths to support his teammates, mentoring and coaching them to improve, even when the media was castigating them. He believed in them despite everything, and these players have turned their game around under Virat’s leadership. Similarly, through my experiences mentoring students and a summer intern at work, I have come to embrace the idea that true success comes when you empower others to reach their potential, which in turn allows a group to become greater than the sum of its parts.