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Writing An Essay About Yourself Summary

A “Me in 30 Seconds” statement is a simple way to present to someone else a balanced understanding of who you are. It piques the interest of a listener who invites you to “Tell me a little about yourself,” and it provides a brief and compelling answer to the question “Why should I hire you?” 

What Should it Include?

When well crafted, your “Me in 30 Seconds” statement will include:

  • A brief personal introduction that includes your career objective or the type of position you want.
  • Three or four specific accomplishments that prove you meet or exceed the requirements for that position.
  • A few character traits or adaptive skills that set you apart from typical applicants.

When networking, finish your “Me in 30 Seconds” statement with probing questions that cannot be answered with a “yes” or “no” to start a conversation that may lead to referrals or job opportunities.

For example:

WHO do you know who works in _______________?

WHAT businesses are in the area that _______________?

WHO do you know who knows a lot of people?

Other Points to Consider

Keep your “Me in 30 Seconds” statement brief. People generally listen effectively only 30 to 60 seconds, and they appreciate concise responses to questions. This indicates that you are clearly focused and waste no time getting to the point.

  • Speak in the present tense to show that your skills are current and applicable in today’s market.
  • Remember your audience. Adjust the level of detail and industry jargon you use according to the interest and experience of the person you are addressing.
  • Avoid common claims such as: “I’m trustworthy, loyal, helpful, courteous, kind,” and so on. Not only are these claims made by most job seekers, but without detailed examples, they don’t convey your value to a potential employer.
  • Make your “Me in 30 Seconds” statement natural.

It is a genuine form of communication that will help you organize everything you are into brief, coherent thoughts. 

Sample Statements

Sample “Me in 30 Seconds” statements for networking: 

“My name is Randy Patterson, and I’m currently looking for a job in youth services. I have 10 years of experience working with youth agencies. I have a bachelor’s degree in outdoor education. I raise money, train leaders, and organize units. I have raised over $100,000 each of the last six years. I consider myself a good public speaker, and I have a good sense of humor. “Who do you know who works with youth?”

“My name is Lucas Martin, and I enjoy meeting new people and finding ways to help them have an uplifting experience. I have had a variety of customer service opportunities, through which I was able to have fewer returned products and increased repeat customers, when compared with co-workers. I am dedicated, outgoing, and a team player. Who could I speak with in your customer service department about your organization’s customer service needs?”

Sample “Me in 30 Seconds” statement for an interview: 

“People find me to be an upbeat, self-motivated team player with excellent communication skills. For the past several years I have worked in lead qualification, telemarketing, and customer service in the technology industry. My experience includes successfully calling people in director-level positions of technology departments and developing viable leads. I have a track record of maintaining a consistent call and activity volume and consistently achieving the top 10 percent in sales, and I can do the same thing for your company.”

“I am a dedicated person with a family of four. I enjoy reading, and the knowledge and perspective that my reading gives me has strengthened my teaching skills and presentation abilities. I have been successful at raising a family, and I attribute this success to my ability to plan, schedule, and handle many different tasks at once. This flexibility will help me in the classroom, where there are many different personalities and learning styles.”

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Below is a pdf link to personal statements and application essays representing strong efforts by students applying for both undergraduate and graduate opportunities. These ten essays have one thing in common: They were all written by students under the constraint of the essay being 1-2 pages due to the target program’s explicit instructions. In such circumstances, writers must attend carefully to the essay prompt (sometimes as simple as “Write a one-page summary of your reasons for wanting to pursue graduate study”) and recognize that evaluators tend to judge these essays on the same fundamental principles, as follows:

  • First, you are typically expected to provide a window into your personal motivations, offer a summary of your field, your research, or your background, set some long-term goals, and note specific interest in the program to which you are applying.
  • Second, you are expected to provide some personal detail and to communicate effectively and efficiently. Failure to do so can greatly limit your chances of acceptance.

Good writers accomplish these tasks by immediately establishing each paragraph’s topic and maintaining paragraph unity, by using concrete, personal examples to demonstrate their points, and by not prolonging the ending of the essay needlessly. Also, good writers study the target opportunity as carefully as they can, seeking to become an “insider,” perhaps even communicating with a professor they would like to work with at the target program, and tailoring the material accordingly so that evaluators can gauge the sincerity of their interest

Overview of Short Essay Samples

Geological Sciences Samples

In the pdf link below, the first two one-page statements written by students in the geological sciences are interesting to compare to each other. Despite their different areas of research specialization within the same field, both writers demonstrate a good deal of scientific fluency and kinship with their target programs.

Geography Student Sample

The short essay by a geography student applying to an internship program opens with the writer admitting that she previously had a limited view of geography, then describing how a course changed her way of thinking so that she came to understand geography as a “balance of physical, social, and cultural studies.” Despite her limited experience, she shows that she has aspirations of joining the Peace Corps or obtaining a law degree, and her final paragraph links her interests directly to the internship program to which she is applying.

Materials Sciences Student Sample

For the sample from materials sciences, directed at an internal fellowship, the one-page essay has an especially difficult task: The writer must persuade those who already know him (and thus know both his strengths and limitations) that he is worthy of internal funds to help him continue his graduate education. He attempts this by first citing the specific goal of his research group, followed by a brief summary of the literature related to this topic, then ending with a summary of his own research and lab experience.

Teach for America Student Sample

The student applying for the Teach for America program, which recruits recent college graduates to teach for two years in underprivileged urban and rural public schools, knows that she must convince readers of her suitability to such a demanding commitment, and she has just two short essays with which to do so. She successfully achieves this through examples related to service mission work that she completed in Ecuador before entering college.

Neuroscience Student Sample

The sample essay by a neuroscience student opens with narrative technique, telling an affecting story about working in a lab at the University of Pittsburgh. Thus we are introduced to one of the motivating forces behind her interest in neuroscience. Later paragraphs cite three undergraduate research experiences and her interest in the linked sciences of disease: immunology, biochemistry, genetics, and pathology.

Medieval Literature Student Sample

This sample essay immerses us in detail about medieval literature throughout, eventually citing several Irish medieval manuscripts. With these examples and others, we are convinced that this student truly does see medieval literature as a “passion,” as she claims in her first sentence. Later, the writer repeatedly cites two professors and “mentors” whom she has already met, noting how they have shaped her highly specific academic goals, and tying her almost headlong approach directly to the National University of Ireland at Maynooth, where she will have flexibility in designing her own program.

Beinecke Scholarship Student Sample

The Beinecke Scholarship essay is written by a junior faced with stiff competition from a program that awards $34,000 towards senior year and graduate school. This student takes an interesting theme-based approach and projects forward toward graduate school with confidence. This writer’s sense of self-definition is particularly strong, and her personal story compelling. Having witnessed repeated instances of injustice in her own life, the writer describes in her final paragraphs how these experiences have led to her proposed senior thesis research and her goal of becoming a policy analyst for the government’s Department of Education.

Online Education Student Sample

Written during a height of US involvement in Iraq, this essay manages the intriguing challenge of how a member of the military can make an effective case for on-line graduate study. The obvious need here, especially for an Air Force pilot of seven years, is to keep the focus on academic interests rather than, say, battle successes and the number of missions flown. An additional challenge is to use military experience and vocabulary in a way that is not obscure nor off-putting to academic selection committee members. To address these challenges, this writer intertwines his literacy in matters both military and academic, keeping focus on applications of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), his chosen field of graduate study.

Engineer Applying to a Master’s Program Sample

This example shows that even for an engineer with years of experience in the field, the fundamentals of personal essay writing remain the same. This statement opens with the engineer describing a formative experience—visiting a meat packaging plant as a teenager—that influenced the writer to work in the health and safety field.  Now, as the writer prepares to advance his education while remaining a full-time safety engineer, he proves that he is capable by detailing examples that show his record of personal and professional success. Especially noteworthy is his partnering with a government agency to help protect workers from dust exposures, and he ties his extensive work experience directly to his goal of becoming a Certified Industrial Hygienist.

Click here to download a pdf of ten short essay samples.

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