If you are reading this blog, It’s likely that you have encountered at least one instance where you have been required to write a personal statement. If you are considering graduate study as your next step, our career coaches at the Career Center can help you think through this important decision and create an action plan.
What is a Personal Statement?
Personal statements tell reviewers about an applicant’s story regarding their interests and desires to pursue a career path. Whether you are applying to graduate school, a fellowship, or even some internships, personal statements have one aim, that is, for application reviewers to know you more. In this blog I will discuss specific topics to address in personal statements and who should review your statement.
Personal statements typically tell your story about how you arrived at the decision to pursue a particular career path or field of interest. Specifically the story leading to that (Aha) moment when you decided to pursue a field of interest and apply to the program in question. This should be your introduction. Your introduction should pique your reader’s interest and should make them want to read your story further.
Skills and Experiences:
Another important area to touch on should be the skills and experiences that you have honed over the years, which would be beneficial to your class or team. This is where you cast your mind back to your experiences at Boston College and then figuring out what skills you have honed during this time and how your future grad school or employer can benefit from your experiences. You can draw from internships, research and work experiences, class projects and student engagement activities. Here are some examples of skills to discuss in your personal statements.
You should discuss your career goals, and your motivation for pursuing this career path. Discuss where you see yourself in both the short (right after the program) and longer (5-10 years out) terms, and how the program will set you up for success. Also, are there any areas within that career field you are most interested in? Briefly discuss the issue stating some facts and figures that show the need in that area.
What You Hope to Gain From the Program:
Is there any particular reason why you want to be a part of the particular program? What sets the program apart from others? You usually will find the answers to this question on the program website. Reviewers like to know that you did your research on the program. Don’t forget to include how that particular program will help you to achieve your career goals.
Finally, after you have written a draft of your personal statement, I would encourage you to have at least 5 different people review and provide comments and feedback. These include a:
- Cluster coach at the Career Center. Note that your cluster coach is there to review and provide comments and not to edit grammatical errors and sentence structure. If you are a pre-med student, I would encourage you to include a member of the BC Pre-health Office to your list of reviewers.
- Professor: If you are using a professor as a reference, it doesn’t hurt to have them review your work.
- Professional in the field of interest. This person will be able to give professional advice in the field. You may reach out to an alumni via Eagle Exchange in the profession too!
- Current student in the field of interest or someone who has been awarded the fellowship prior.
- Peer whom you know is a great writer, to help you to edit your writing.
Once you have satisfied all these suggestions, I bet your personal statement will look nothing like your first draft and will be ready to go. Now go ahead, and give the 1st draft for your personal statement a shot. You will be glad you read this!