Advice on MIT Sloan's Pre-Interview Essay

If you were lucky enough to be invited to interview with MIT Sloan, then you have received the following additional essay prompt:

The mission of the MIT Sloan School of Management is to develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and to generate ideas that advance management practice. We believe that a commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity, and well-being is a key component of both principled leadership and sound management practice. In 250 words or less, please describe how you, as a member of the MIT Sloan community, would work to create a campus that is welcoming, inclusive and increasingly diverse?

To streamline its application process, Sloan introduced these pre-interview essays a few years ago, but this topic materialized only last year. (The year before involved a generic leadership topic.)

Though the question appears future-focused, a sterling answer also requires an example from your past, ideally, a time when you made an outsider feel welcome and included. By extrapolating from that experience, you can more confidently express how you would work to create a campus that is welcoming, inclusive and increasingly diverse.

More than any other school, MIT Sloan believes — quite reasonably — that your past behavior and accomplishments are the best predictors of your future behavior and accomplishments. So it is not enough to simply tell Sloan your foreseen contribution, you must show them that you have already done something similar. In this way, the question is not unlike the new Kellogg LOR question:

Kellogg has a diverse student body and values students who are inclusive and encouraging of others with differing perspectives and backgrounds. Please tell us about a time when you witnessed the candidate living these values. (300 words))

For example, maybe you befriended an exchange student and eased their transition into your school. At Sloan, you hope to pair or group interested participants with each other over cultural exchange meals. Or maybe you volunteer with Special Olympics and would like to organize a Sloan student group to do the same.

These are simple examples, but they demonstrate important principles. The first is that in your past example, you should not use the existing power dynamic to exclude or disadvantage someone else, but rather to include and benefit them. The second is that your future contribution should be more than just a vague, “I will treat everyone with respect.” It should be concrete, actionable, and hopefully repeatable.