Essay Analysis

ISB YLP 2023 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 2023:

Everyone is inclined towards a particular interest/goal which they are passionate about, be it in the field of academics or extra-curriculars. What is that one thing that you are passionate about? What are your current efforts in pursuing it, and what efforts will you put in the future to achieve that goal? (300 words max)

ISB YLP Stage-1 Essay Analysis & Tips

The question seems to have multiple parts and essentially, we need to focus on addressing these four components of the question through the essay:

  • What is the one thing that you are passionate about?
  • Current Efforts or activities that prove that interest/passion
  • Future vision/plan in the context of your passion
  • Efforts in the future that may be aligned with your plans

The YLP Stage-1 essay question can often be confusing, since, outside the academics, the things we are passionate about as college students, are often not what we want to pursue as a career. Especially when the question allows you to wander in the area of “extra-curriculars”, it may be very misleading to start talking about how you love organizing college the college fest, but don’t intend to be an event planner.

One may be passionate about music, or sports, or other activities, but one may not always have a goal around that passion. The question, therefore, needs to be viewed from the lens of an MBA application, and a correlation needs to be developed between what you are passionate about and what your professional goals might be. 

How do you go about it?

Think about something you really enjoy doing. It can be things like football or sudoku or travelling, etc. The problem is that in an MBA Application context, it is difficult to connect the dots forward, by talking about football, sudoku, or traveling. It will therefore be essential to connect the dots looking backward, and first identify what drives your interests and energy. Recall times when you did something that really got you hooked and that also has a larger applicability to it. 

E.g., Organizing College fest – and how planning, people management, etc. interested you and going forward you would like to work on complex projects that test your people and project management skills. 

 Or, working with data, the knack for which you may have developed in college or internship, etc., and how you are passionate about the power of data to solve complex business problems.

Or, some paper you read on Machine Learning and how you have been intrigued by the idea since then. Talk about the internship that you recently took up in the area and what you want to achieve in the near future. 

Or, some community work that you took up and that spurred your interest in large-scale social impact.

Or, some committee in college that you have been a part of and how that influenced you and your future plans (along with the passion with which you have been serving in the community).

These are just a few ideas to largely communicate that one would rather pick things that may further be relatable with one’s future plans if required – especially while building the YLP Stage 2 essay.

Then talk about your efforts during college, outside of college, virtually, etc. that have been aligned with your passion/interest. This will go on to validate your interest or passion and prove that you are committed to where your heart lies, thus implying that you will do what it takes to achieve your goals. 

Conclude with how you will look to grow in this field, with specific efforts that you plan to put in and in what direction these efforts will help you grow. 

The 300 word limit makes it all the more challenging to answer all the questions, but if you prepare well to include all these details, you will be able to differentiate your essay from the larger pool of applicants really well. 

ISB YLP Stage-1 Sample Essay Structure

  1. Intro – Start with establishing your passion or area of interest (50-60 words)
  2. Provide some more details about your passion and any activities or initiatives that may further prove your passion in that area. (80-100 words)
  3. Build on the current passion to present a logically feasible future plan, preferably in the professional context. It’s ok to present a direction instead of a concrete destination, since all applicants are college students and are yet to explore everything so concretely. (70-80 words)
  4. Talk about how you foresee achieving your plan, any interim steps that you want to take, any milestones that you may have marked for yourself – essentially, any kind of effort that you expect to put in before, during, and after the YLP to help achieve your goals. (80-100 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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