Law School Discussion

Personal Statement - Interesting Read Hopefully

Personal Statement - Interesting Read Hopefully
« on: July 03, 2006, 05:08:51 AM »
My mother came to America with few personal assets and developed a successful retail jewelry business based on meager resources. Unfortunately, work has taken its toll on her and she now depends on me to perform many of the functions that she used to perform herself. Although my interpersonal skills are reliable, sometimes I encounter problems due to a lack of experience in the jewelry trade.

Once, she sent me to a wholesaler to secure silver with my cousin, whose mother also managed a jewelry store. Since she only told me that I would be going the morning of the transaction, I did not have enough time to research the market. When I suggested that it might be a bad idea to send two inexperienced persons to secure such a large amount of merchandise, my mother reassured me that my aunt had already checked the prices and that our judgment would be reserved for simply picking the merchandise.

When we arrived at the wholesaler’s warehouse, I grew nervous. Although my cousin went through all the motions of conveying confidence, the wholesaler’s age suggested that he was an experienced negotiator who could see right through the inexperience of my cousin. Although he appeared warm, the corner of his lip betrayed his smile for a smirk. We were only there to secure silver, but he pressured us to take additional merchandise with a slight expectation that we would deviate from our original purpose.

We picked out the silver, resisting his offers, and when it came time to calculate the prices, my cousin began negotiating. My earlier fears were realized: my aunt had not checked the prices previously and the wholesaler was not taking my cousin very seriously at all. Our bargaining position was weak and my business would suffer as a result. We already spent hours picking out the merchandise and it appeared that we had to choose between leaving empty-handed and being taken advantage of.

When it was time to calculate the prices for my merchandise, I told the man that I did not feel comfortable carrying so much merchandise back at such a late hour. (I hoped that my mother would come back the next day to re-negotiate the prices.) In response, the wholesaler offered to send hired help to my store to deliver the merchandise. Seizing this opportunity, I suggested that he come down to my store himself to meet the owner and negotiate future transactions. In addition to establishing a better relationship, he would also have the opportunity to discuss the purchase of his other, more expensive merchandise. We set a time for his arrival and I returned home relieved.

When the wholesaler arrived the next day, he realized that my mother was a more powerful presence and that our company was large enough that we could build a profitable long-term relationship. It became evident to him that what he lost in the short-term by offering us lower prices could be more than made up for by what he gained in the long-term. My mother re-negotiated the prices based on her extensive knowledge of jewelry and my business saved a lot of money. In addition, I researched the silver market the night before so that I would be able to assist my mother. Rather than relying purely on my own abilities as an inexperienced trader, I was able to quickly and swiftly assess my strengths and weaknesses and I used my strengths to overcome the difficulties that would have been raised by my weaknesses. In the end, I helped both my family and the wholesaler by realizing and managing the interests of all parties. I discovered an innovative solution, had the ability to implement it swiftly and saw benefits for both the people I represented and the people I interacted with.

Re: Personal Statement - Interesting Read Hopefully
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2006, 11:06:14 AM »
This is a very interesting story, however, your PS needs a lot of work for a few reasons. First of all, you seem more like the catalyst in this story than an active participant. The bulk of the essay is "my cousin was nervous and began to negotiate. then my mom forged a bond," etc. You suggested a way to get out of negotiating with a guy who would take advantage of you, which, while it shows you have good instincts, and aren't afraid to ask for help, also communicates that you are possibly averse to challenges. You need to showcase your involvement more than your mother's or cousin's. How did you help your mother during negotiations, don't just tell me -- give an example. How did you overpower your cousin's desire to negotiate? Is there a part you left out?

Secondly, you come off as extremely arrogant. You make it clear that your mother started this business and that you help her out. It bothers me every time you call the business "my business" because your mother clearly still is involved in it, and clearly knows more about jewelry than you do.

And because you call it "my business" my BS detector goes off. (Obviously I don't know you, so this is just what I get from your essay). You highlight your interpersonal skills in the first paragraph, which makes me believe that you are a cashier, runner, or phone guy, based on your knowledge of jewelry. It is also strange that you weren't sure of fair prices for jewelry if it is your business and that you had to read up on silver. I don't know the jewelry business at all, but if you were doing as much for your mother as you insinuate, it would seem to me that she would have taught you, or you would have previously researched, jewelry prices. And you would have had at least enough knowledge to haggle.

Anyway, it's a really interesting story, but if you can't put more of your own direct involvement into the essay, I would suggest considering another topic.


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Re: Personal Statement - Interesting Read Hopefully
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2006, 11:27:47 AM »
This is an interesting style of personal statement, and could be a great format for you to showcase your strengths.  At the moment, though, I agree with Paige84 that your mother and cousin benefit more from the story than you do.  Make it more about you (but be humble), and perhaps add more reflection. 

While you explained that you only found out about the transaction that day, it seems surprising that you wouldn't know more about a fair price for the merchandise since your mother has been relying on you to be more involved with the business.  Also, in the 5th paragraph you mention that you hoped your mother would come back the next day to essentially do what you and the cousin couldn't.  I'm not sure that this portrays a positive image -- it kinda sounds like you're trying to avoid doing what you went to do.

Maybe clean up the last paragraph a little.  Not everyone is too concerned with grammar, but the very last sentence ends in a preposition.  Ending with a preposition can be best sometimes depending on the complexity of the sentence, but I don't recommend ending your final sentence with "with."  A stronger finish would add a great deal to the statement.

Good luck!

Re: Personal Statement - Interesting Read Hopefully
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2006, 10:57:42 PM »
I sound like a broken record to say this, but never post your essays on a public discussion board.  pm it to people if necessary.


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Re: Personal Statement - Interesting Read Hopefully
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2006, 11:50:40 PM »
I also agree that you should probably PM people your PS instead of just posting it online.

Anyway, I believe your PS is interesting, but I need to see more of you in it.  After all, that's why they call it a personal statement.