Essay Analysis

ISB YLP 2022 Stage 1 & Stage 2 Essay Analysis & Essay Samples

What is ISB YLP? 

The ISB Young Leaders Program (YLP) is an entry channel to the full-time 1-year ISB Post-Graduate Program (PGP), for students still in college. This is a deferred admit program that ensures an admitted candidate a seat at the ISB PGP, after gaining approximately 2 years of full-time experience. Students in their final or pre-final year may apply through the YLP deadlines and secure an admit to the ISB PGP, as they complete college. The admitted candidates may then take up a full-time professional engagement of their choice, before joining ISB.


ISB YLP is a unique opportunity for college students to apply to one of the best business schools in the country. YLP Stage-1 does not require a GMAT/GRE score. Strong academic scores, therefore, are a big plus. Additionally, present a compelling story, that makes the admissions team understand your strengths, and believe that you will be a valuable addition to the class

Vikram Singh, CEO and Chief Mentor at ISBmantra, and a Former Admissions Officer at ISB

YLP Stage-1 is the first step in the application process, which requires the applicants to submit an essay, along with a few details about their profile. Please note that the Stage-1 application does not require a GMAT/GRE score. Applicants selected through Stage-1, move to Stage-2, where they must submit an essay, along with their test score. ISB Application Deadline, check this article to know the deadlines of ISB YLP stage 1 and stage 2.

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ISB YLP Stage-1 Essay Question

The Stage-1 Application Essay remains critical to one’s application, given that the essay is the only key component that the applicant is able to present to the admissions team, to communicate their best stories. 

The following is the Stage-1 Essay Question for YLP 2022:

“Describe a personal incident or achievement which changed you as a person. How did it change your perspective about yourself or about others? (300 words)”

ISB YLP Stage-1 Essay Analysis & Tips

YLP applicants do not have any full-time professional experience. The question, therefore, aptly asks for a “personal” incident or achievement. While you may touch upon any aspect of your life, relating this story/incident/example to a leadership role may further add value, instead of presenting a standard, ad hoc situation, where you may just be an individual contributor. This leadership story can come from a college activity, community engagement, or an initiative beyond college. 

It is possible that you have had incidents/experiences relating to your childhood that transformed your approach to life – but if you had no role to play in that incident (other than being affected by it), then it may not be the best story to pick.

The second part of the question asks how the incident or achievement “changed you as a person”. While this is open-ended, you do not need to take this part too literally. The change need not be too transformational or dramatic. The idea is to present how the experience left you with some crucial learnings. 

“How did it change your perspective about yourself or about others?” – well, at some level, the answer to this part of the question becomes easier if you have presented an incident that involves other stakeholders. This will allow you to demonstrate skills such as teamwork, empathy, humility, etc. Additionally, you may present what you learned from others, as well as from the entire experience, bringing about a positive shift in your perspective or approach. 

The 300-word limit ensures that you communicate the story or incident in brief and touch upon how it impacted you.

ISB YLP Stage-1 Sample Essay Structure

  • Intro – well begun is half done (approx. 50 words)
  • The primary story/incident – the devil is in the details (approx. 150 words)
  • Learning/change of perspective – finish strong (approx. 100 words)

How Can ISBmantra Help?

Every applicant is unique; so is every story. Our team of former admissions officers from ISB, along with a pool of 30+ ISB alumni, works with every applicant in a completely personalized manner to help bring out your unique stories. Further, your Consultant works as your coach, helping you in identifying your strengths, picking the most impactful stories, and presenting them through the essay. Explore our YLP Comprehensive Application Builder with Moneyback.

ISB YLP Stage-2 Essay Question

Business schools are known to ask applicants about their career goals. These could be short-term goals or long-term goals. And generally, these goals are to be linked with one’s professional background or experience.

The following is the Stage-2 Essay Question for YLP 2022:

"What is the ideal career which you always wanted to pursue? Do you still want to pursue the same or has it changed? How do you plan to make your ideal career a reality?"

ISB YLP Stage-2 Essay Analysis & Tips

In this essay prompt, ISB has given an interesting twist to the standard career goal question by asking candidates to relate their future plans with their past aspirations. This is interesting in that, while growing up, our aspirations are driven more by what we fancy doing than by what we may be skilled at. When asked by your parents what you wanted to do when you grew up, you probably picked professions such as pilot, doctor, policeman, scientist, or even cricketer or footballer. If you are writing your YLP Stage-2 essay, chances are high that you have pursued none of these streams. 

  • Why is ISB interested in your childhood dreams then?
  • How does it matter if your dreams have translated to practical career plans or have evolved with time?
  • How important is it to have it all chalked out into the future?

Getting answers to these questions will allow you to present a coherent and a thorough career story. 

The essay prompt has 3 parts – all interlinked, but each part is nuanced in its own way. Let’s dive deeper into each part and understand what you can write in your essay. 

1. What is the ideal career which you always wanted to pursue?

To begin with, it’s completely justified to have fancied flying planes or becoming a scientist, but what’s interesting is that there are certain inherent passions and traits that drive our aspirations.

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward…”

Steve Jobs

This is your time to connect the dots looking backward. While you may not have pursued what you “always” wanted to pursue, talk about your core inclinations and qualities. Back them up with examples that present how you demonstrated these qualities. These stories can be used as the build-up to your future plans. 

2. Do you still want to pursue the same or has it changed?

Honestly, as a college student, you aren’t expected to have complete clarity on your future plans, but “no clarity” isn’t a good idea either! Having pursued a degree program, and studied certain subjects, it is time you start assessing the feasibility of your childhood dreams.

  • Can you define them better?
  • Can you start thinking of industries or functions that you would like to work in?
  • Elaborate why and how you narrowed down your choices. Did you talk to industry professionals?
  • Was it influenced by an internship that you took up?
  • Are there any college projects that you would like to relate your plans with?

Logically present your career plans, without being too particular about them.

You are still in college and are yet to gain good exposure as you enter the corporate world. It’s completely alright, therefore, to also present a Plan B or “similar” options that you would be open to exploring.

A.M.Kannan, Senior Mentor – ISBmantra, Former ISB Admissions Director

3. How do you plan to make your ideal career a reality?

Spoiler Alert: This is the least important of the three-part question.

As long as you have a plan, it’s acceptable to experiment, make mistakes, pick your lessons, and make amends to progress on your career path. Not having a plan is not acceptable! You cannot want to work with Google, not know how to get there, and just hope that ISB does some magic to get you your dream job. On the contrary, you have two important years to shape your career, even before you join ISB. You will, therefore, need to have a plan for the two years before ISB and at least two years after ISB.

  • What kind of roles do you expect to take up now?
  • What kind of roles would you like to take up after ISB?
  • How will ISB equip you to move from role-1 to role-2?

Answering these questions will convince the reader about your clarity of goals – even if they are expected to evolve with time. Do not end up writing a short fiction on your future plans. Nor is ISB looking to read a list of the best courses and professors that the program offers. Talk about what you want to do and what components of the ISB program will remain specifically relevant to your goals.

Be specific, be precise, and be realistic – without trying to connect too many dots “into the future”! 

ISB YLP Application and Interview Assistance

ISBmantra is the only consulting company with a team of former ISB Admissions Officials, along with 25+ISB Alumni.
We provide detailed assistance for your ISB YLP Stage 1 and Stage 2 Application Essays and Interview.
Feel free to reach out to us for any queries. 

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