Seven UT-Austin Career Short Answer Examples with Commentary

 Three-year-old me, Little Ponderosa Daycare

Three-year-old me, Little Ponderosa Daycare

My dreams of being a Cowboy didn't quite pan out. That doesn't mean you can't dream about your future life.

Here is a blog post sharing tips and strategies for answering your Career short answer prompt.

"If you could have any career, what would it be? Why? Describe any activities you are involved in, life experiences you’ve had, or even classes you’ve taken that have helped you identify this professional path."

Consider these seven Career short answer drafts where students discuss their long-term academic and professional goals and how UT can help them succeed. I provide commentary after each example.

Career: Behavioral Economics and Microfinance

Ever since I won the Stock Market Game in the Texas region as part of a math class project in fourth grade, I fell in love with finance. My early interest has evolved into studying financial theories like the Capital Assets Pricing Model and the Efficient Market Hypothesis to quench my thirst for knowledge. These models help evaluate companies and validate the way financial markets behave. 
The link between human irrationality and finance amazes me. Last summer, I began an internship analyzing economic zones in emerging Asian markets. I realize that many markets fail because corporate leaders are loss-averse. They act irrationally by taking an excessive amount of risk to avoid a loss for often limited gains. I took a Behavioral Finance course last summer where I explored the inherent biases and psychological short circuits that cloud human judgment with profound consequences for global financial markets. Ill-informed decision-making especially afflicts developing countries where the stakes aren’t profits and losses, but life and death. My research of Southeast Asian markets provides unique insight into the similarities and differences between developed and emerging markets. 
During my Advanced Economics class, I wrote a research paper on microfinance in Sub-Saharan Africa. Microfinance has the potential to alleviate poverty through microloans and life and natural disaster insurance. However, market inefficiencies produce high interest rates. One alternative I am exploring is an interesting project in two communities in rural Kenya where people receive direct cash payments with no strings attached. As Co-President of Grassroots Soccer, a club which raises awareness of health issues in Africa, I connect my knowledge of the continent with finding ways to help. I want to be a developmental financier – a professional who deploys financial tools, products, or services to help alleviate poverty.
 

Commentary

This applicant eventually gained admission to the Business Honors Program in no small part to their thoughtful explanation of their career goals. Their answer has everything - previous experience that influences their future goals, a clear explanation of what they see themselves doing after graduation, citing specific examples, and connecting the dots between the past, present, and future.

There are elements of this essay that could also be appropriate for a portions of an Academic or Leadership short answer. Indeed, their whole application made references between their different essays and contextualized the expanded resume.

They are also very specific with their future career. Many students make the mistake by speaking vaguely about being a doctor, engineer, investment banker, etc. It's totally okay to not know what type of specialty you'd like. You should, however, demonstrate that you've researched and considered some different options.

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Career: IT Professional

Enterprise Architect, Cyber Security Analyst, Systems Analyst, Chief Technology Officer; My “Ideal Job” seems to change weekly. Starting with a ‘Bob the Builder’ game on a Dell powered by Windows 98; to helping teachers integrate their SmartBoards and other technology in Elementary School; to working with Windows Server, learning about enterprise management; I’m constantly discovering new ways to share my love of technology with others.  
At the Federal Reserve, multiple floors are devoted to IT staff. Information Security, Risk Management, Penetration Testing, and Enterprise Architecture; Through my internship there, I have been introduced to hundreds of career paths that didn’t exist ten years ago. 
The experiences I’ve had with my company, [my company], have not just shown me the pleasures in troubleshooting computer issues, but also the patience, creativity, and courage required to run a business. I’ve played around with real CRM software, managing clients, creating invoices, and advertising around my town and at my school. 
While I have selected a field, I don’t want to limit myself by focusing on a particular job. At this moment, I can’t even decide between the business side of technology and computer programming or engineering, so I’ve chosen both. I learn by examining the bigger picture before honing in on the details. 
I’d love to research with the McCombs Center for Business, Technology & Law, which examines the interplays between these three fields would give me a unique perspective amongst Business and Computer Science students. 
I want to go to a university that truly innovates. I am interested in researching under Professors John Goodenough and Joseph Beaman who have revolutionized electronics and manufacturing. I want to be where the latest and greatest technologies are developed. I want to be in the room where it happens. I want to be at UT Austin.
 

Commentary

Similar to the previous post, this applicant does a great job citing specific examples from their best and connect it with their future academic and professional goals. They've also done an excellent job answering Why UT is a great fit for them.

This is also a strong example of a student who isn't quite sure what they want to do when they grow up. They do a thoughtful job of considering different options and reference how their current interests can apply to many different fields.

You don't need to plan out your entire life. It's okay to dream and assess different options and alternatives.

Career Short Answer: Pharmacy

If I could choose any career, I would love to be a pharmacist. I am looking for a meaningful career where I am not easily replaceable. There will always be a need for qualified professionals to explain to patients about their prescriptions and drug interactions. I want to help others and be a leader in my community, and I believe pharmacy is currently the best route to take. I have watched family and friends struggle with substance abuse, and I have witnessed the role that a compassionate pharmacist plays helping them overcome addiction. I want to help families in similar situations. 
I am also interested in the role that medicine plays in society and people’s well-being. For my eighth grade science fair project, I tested how dogs’ appetites differed based on prolonged exposure to different genres of music.  In chemistry class, I enjoyed learning about how chemical properties and drug compositions interact with the body. It gave me a better understanding of what my friends and family go through, and it encouraged me to learn more. I plan on majoring in chemistry while pursuing pre-pharmacy. Eventually, I intend to enroll in the PharmD program.  
UT Austin has several opportunities that can help me achieve these goals.  I am interested in joining the Asian Pharmacy Student Association, which provides students with information and cultural awareness regarding medicine and the Student National Pharmaceutical Association, which organizes programs to help the pharmaceutical community and provides professional development opportunities. UT’s rigorous curriculum and research opportunities interest me, and I feel it is worth attending university out of state to receive the best education possible to help me achieve my career goals.
 

Commentary

I like this response because it is very straightforward. They get to the point about how they'd like to be a pharmacist and how UT-Austin can help them achieve their goals. They also do good articulating how experiences in their family inform their career ambitions.

Like with the first example, they cite how they see themselves as a leader on UT's campus in relation to how the Asian Pharmacy Student Association will help them explore their future goals and career opportunities.

They also connect this short answer into their Essay A about their identity and heritage. Their application undoubtedly made a convincing argument that they will bring diverse perspectives to campus.

Career Short Answer: Medicine

I remember her first day. I noticed a new face that didn’t wear the resignation of the others. She was so energetic and participated in every single activity, and I immediately knew that I wanted to get to know her. I paid attention to how she interacted with the other residents. I listened carefully as the activities coordinator spoke with her. I learned her name: Ada. 
I first began volunteering at my local nursing home memory care center so I could gain experience in a health care setting, but now it has become much more than passively gaining experience. Most of the residents have late-stage Alzheimer’s or dementia. Many of them understandably live in a constant state of anxiety and melancholy. 
As we worked together more often, Ada began to recognize me despite being unable to form new memories. She always expresses gratitude to me for taking the time to color with her and help her with the day’s activities. I can see that she has so much to offer if only she could remember. What she is unable to communicate through memories she demonstrates through her care and enthusiasm.
Once, while shadowing a physician, he shared that the most important standard of care is getting to know his patients on a personal level. It is important to work with and empathize the whole person rather than a physical body with a set of symptoms. Aside from my lifelong interest in the sciences, I find making people feel better to be extremely rewarding and something that I truly enjoy. After volunteering in the nursing home and working with residents like Ada, I have found that practicing medicine is my ideal intersection between science and helping others. 

Commentary

I often advise students to be specific about their future goals. For example, if you want to be a physician, what kind interests you? General Practitioner? Surgeon? Internal Medicine? Pediatrics? etc.

Although their essay is not explicit about a potential field, more importantly they discuss personal experiences working with patients in a volunteering setting. They connect well their different motivations for wanting to practice medicine. Their resume noted extensive involvement that increased over time at this hospital and other activities.

The Career short answer complemented well and provided context to their resume. It also presents a sound argument demonstrating their fit for their first choice major in the Natural Sciences.

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Career Short Answer: State Politics

I love politics and my country. I hope to pursue a career in politics, initially behind the scenes or on the campaign trail before eventually running for office. I stay informed on policy developments both in Washington and in my community. During my Junior year, I took a debate class where we learned to better communicate our ideas through structured argument. I enjoyed debating about important issues like international trade, free speech, and immigration policy. 
This past summer, I traveled to Washington D.C and interned with Texas Congressman Pete Sessions. I learned a lot about the legislative process and life in Washington. In Dallas, I have been working with Judge John Creuzot in his campaign for District Attorney of Dallas. I now have a better understanding of how grassroots political campaigns work, and I am more knowledgeable about important topics in my own community. 
At UT, I would like to pursue a major in Economics and a minor in Government. Studying in the College of Liberal Arts would allow me to continue exploring my current interests while discovering new ones. Attending a university so close to the capitol will help me build on my experiences in local politics to contribute to state-level policymaking. Developing my political network will help further my long-term goals of working on political campaigns and hopefully running for office someday.

Commentary

I often advise that students stay away from politics. In our revision discussions, I gave this student the green light because they discuss local political issues and how they've contributed to a campaign. It's less important what the issues are or which political party they represent.

What's effective here is the applicant articulates how their canvassing and advocacy experiences inform their future professional goals. They provide thoughtful reasons how being close to the capitol can help access political networks and internships. This is a unique Why UT reason because no other university can offer this proximity.

Career Short Answer: Rocketry Club and SpaceX Dream Job

The night sky has always fascinated me. I love how the bright stars reflect a window of time against the dark canvas of the Cosmos. My interest in looking at the night sky inspires me to explore outer space. From my first visit to the Johnson Space Center at age 5, I have always been interested in Aerospace Engineering. I am curious about how planes are built and the physics behind flight.
I enjoy math and physics, and I like building projects with my hands especially model rockets. Starting freshman year, I began taking courses to stimulate my interest like Earth and Space Science and Computer Science. By the time I graduate, I will have taken all of the math and science courses offered at my school. My activities outside of class also focus on space and flight. I joined the TARC Rocketry Club and became a Captain. All three of my internships focused on engineering, and I applied what I learned during science fairs. 
Although many of my classmates are undecided what they want to study, I feel that my entire life is leading up to advanced studies in engineering and physics. I want to focus on space flight and satellites, and for that reason I prefer engineering over more theoretical disciplines like astronomy or physics. Receiving a bachelor’s degree and perhaps continuing onto graduate school before working for a company like SpaceX would be a childhood dream come true. 

Commentary

I like this response because the applicant isn't afraid to dream. They keep things grounded by citing specific examples how they have explored their interests that inform their future professional goals. They also discuss how UT-Austin can help them explore their interests and develop skills valuable to space exploration companies.

Blending some "Academics short answer" language about maxing out their Math and Science courses is also an effective way to demonstrate that they are capable of succeeding in Cockrell School of Engineering classrooms.

Career Short Answer: CERN and Independent Study

I dream of working at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland, designing and building powerful particle accelerators instrumental to unraveling the mysteries of the Universe. 
I have enjoyed being a handy assistant to my father when he would troubleshoot gadgets for his acquaintances. My reward was magnets from scrap devices. My fascination with magnets grew as did my collection. I want to experience first-hand and witness the world’s most powerful magnets in action. The LHC uses over ten thousand lattice and insertion magnets to accelerate and isolate particles from one another. For me, LHC represents the perfect combination of cutting-edge science with the mythical power of magnets. 
Scientists at CERN are examining the big questions: What constitutes dark matter? How do matter and anti-matter interact, and what exactly constitutes gluons and muons? I am still just trying to figure out where they invent these particle names but what fascinates me is the superconducting electromagnets and the engineering behind those breakthroughs. For that reason, I want to pursue a rigorous electrical engineering program to prepare me for wiring up the next generation of breakthroughs.
To pursue my vision, I took all the science and advanced mathematics classes in my school. During grade 11, I enrolled in an after-school Robotics program. I enrolled and completed an edX.org in calculus after exhausting the opportunities at my school. All of these provide me with valuable tools to succeed in engineering the future. UT Austin’s stature as a world-renowned research university has a magnetic attraction for me, as it will not only support my research passion in the field of electromagnetism but will also show me the path for graduate and doctoral research.  I can close my eyes and imagine myself as a Longhorn, researching at the Cockrell School of Engineering’s Electrical Engineering Department.

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Commentary

Unlike the other six examples, this response sounds almost like a mini-Graduate School personal statement. They get right to the point addressing their dream job. What's impressive is how they identify specific questions that keep them up at night.

Their response would certainly illustrate a portrait of who this student is and how they could contribute to classroom discussions and campus activities. 

I hope these examples help! I will share examples for Academics and Leadership in subsequent posts.

Kevin MartinEssays