Examples of Successful Statements
Below are samples of personal statements. You may also select "Sample Statement" in the Media Box above for a PDF sample.
My interest in science dates back to my years in high school, where I excelled in physics, chemistry, and math. When I was a senior, I took a first-year calculus course at a local college (such an advanced-level class was not available in high school) and earned an A. It seemed only logical that I pursue a career in electrical engineering.
When I began my undergraduate career, I had the opportunity to be exposed to the full range of engineering courses, all of which tended to reinforce and solidify my intense interest in engineering. I've also had the opportunity to study a number of subjects in the humanities and they have been both enjoyable and enlightening, providing me with a new and different perspective on the world in which we live.
In the realm of engineering, I have developed a special interest in the field of laser technology and have even been taking a graduate course in quantum electronics. Among the 25 or so students in the course, I am the sole undergraduate. Another particular interest of mine is electromagnetics, and last summer, when I was a technical assistant at a world-famous local lab, I learned about its many practical applications, especially in relation to microstrip and antenna design. Management at this lab was sufficiently impressed with my work to ask that I return when I graduate. Of course, my plans following completion of my current studies are to move directly into graduate work toward my master's in science. After I earn my master's degree, I intend to start work on my Ph.D. in electrical engineering. Later I would like to work in the area of research and development for private industry. It is in R & D that I believe I can make the greatest contribution, utilizing my theoretical background and creativity as a scientist.
I am highly aware of the superb reputation of your school, and my conversations with several of your alumni have served to deepen my interest in attending. I know that, in addition to your excellent faculty, your computer facilities are among the best in the state. I hope you will give me the privilege of continuing my studies at your fine institution.
(Stelzer pp. 38-39)
Having majored in literary studies (world literature) as an undergraduate, I would now like to concentrate on English and American literature.
I am especially interested in nineteenth-century literature, women's literature, Anglo-Saxon poetry, and folklore and folk literature. My personal literary projects have involved some combination of these subjects. For the oral section of my comprehensive exams, I specialized in nineteenth century novels by and about women. The relationship between "high" and folk literature became the subject for my honors essay, which examined Toni Morrison's use of classical, biblical, African, and Afro-American folk tradition in her novel. I plan to work further on this essay, treating Morrison's other novels and perhaps preparing a paper suitable for publication.
In my studies toward a doctoral degree, I hope to examine more closely the relationship between high and folk literature. My junior year and private studies of Anglo-Saxon language and literature have caused me to consider the question of where the divisions between folklore, folk literature, and high literature lie. Should I attend your school, I would like to resume my studies of Anglo-Saxon poetry, with special attention to its folk elements.
Writing poetry also figures prominently in my academic and professional goals. I have just begun submitting to the smaller journals with some success and am gradually building a working manuscript for a collection. The dominant theme of this collection relies on poems that draw from classical, biblical, and folk traditions, as well as everyday experience, in order to celebrate the process of giving and taking life, whether literal or figurative. My poetry draws from and influences my academic studies. Much of what I read and study finds a place in my creative work as subject. At the same time, I study the art of literature by taking part in the creative process, experimenting with the tools used by other authors in the past.
In terms of a career, I see myself teaching literature, writing criticism, and going into editing or publishing poetry. Doctoral studies would be valuable to me in several ways. First, your teaching assistant ship program would provide me with the practical teaching experience I am eager to acquire. Further, earning a Ph.D. in English and American literature would advance my other two career goals by adding to my skills, both critical and creative, in working with language. Ultimately, however, I see the Ph.D. as an end in itself, as well as a professional stepping stone; I enjoy studying literature for its own sake and would like to continue my studies on the level demanded by the Ph.D. program.
(Stelzer pp. 40-41)
You know how great you are, but expressing it officially in a statement is not simple. Employers often ask for a personal statement because they want more insight into who you are and why they should hire you. The job application is standard and asks for objective facts and details that allows them to evaluate candidates against job requirements. A personal statement, though, gives applicants a chance to express themselves through essays and highlight anything in their background that is helpful for the employer to know but not obvious on applications.
1. Envision your audience. Before you begin, take a moment to think about who will be reading your statement and what they might be looking for. Think about the job description and the industry for which you are applying. Review the company's mission statement and vision. Acquaint yourself with the company's culture.
2. Write down a list of of achievements that are not evident anywhere else in your application and explain why these achievements are of value to this employer. Make a list of skills you have, including soft skills such as communication skills and people skills.
3. Write down your career goals and why you want the job. Think of anything in your life that has been unique and has prepared you for this job. Have you had opportunities or experiences, such as time spent abroad or extensive volunteer experience, which other applicants might not possess, for example.
4. Answer any questions the employer asks you to address in your personal statement. Prepare answers that are specific and detailed. The employer will not assume anything in your favor, so be sure to specify exactly what you did or how long you have done something.
5. Start writing the first draft of your personal statement and incorporate the achievements you have identified, your career goals and your answers to the employer's questions. Maintain an essay style and use the five-paragraph essay model, which includes a first paragraph as the introduction, followed by three paragraphs as the body and a final fifth paragraph as the conclusion -- unless you can justify making the letter longer. Use a consistent tone and make sure each paragraph focuses on one point and is backed by supporting evidence.
6. Revise your personal statement. Ask a peer or colleague to edit it and provide feedback. Proofread it yourself. Evaluate the importance of each point you make. Analyze the essay to make sure it is easy to read and understand and that it supplements your resume appropriately.
- A personal statement should never reiterate your resume. The employer wants to know what else there is to know; they are not looking for another way of saying the same thing you have already told them.
About the Author
Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Suggest an Article Correction