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Elon Musk is a boss! ~ Claremont McKenna College Essay

blquandt 9 / 23  
Nov 28, 2012   #1
Leadership is a constant theme and emphasis at CMC. If you could invite anyone to speak at the Athenaeum, who would you choose and why? There is no minimum or maximum length requirement, but we recommend that you write more than a sentence and less than a page.

Not many people can say they were the inspiration for the recent film depiction of Ironman's Tony Stark. But Elon Musk can. Like Stark, Musk is the head of his own tech-company empire and is doing his part to save the world. However, he does this not by battling villains with a metal suit but by creating businesses that combat global warming, lift humans into space, and revolutionize the way people exchange money. Musk is the entrepreneur behind four companies - PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla Motors, and SolarCity - that employ technology to solve many of the world's pressing problems. Musk's success where it is hard to succeed - especially in the environmental technology industry - should in my opinion earn him a chance to speak at the Athenaeum.

I aspire to be like Elon Musk. I want to make a positive impact on the world by starting a business that deals with the largest economic, social, and environmental problem, in both Musk's and my opinions, that the world faces: climate change. Though I do not yet know which specific problem I want to address - a lack of recycling and composting services, the burning of fossil fuels, or another issue - I plan to start my own environmental technology company someday. Musk's success gives me hope that I can succeed in that endeavor, whether I do it by providing composting services, generating electricity from nuclear waste, or doing something else. Environmental technology businesses are often unsuccessful, but Musk has shown me that they don't have to be. His environmentally-friendly companies SolarCity and Tesla Motors, though currently in the red, are undergoing quick expansion and are forecast to soon become profitable. Musk's pioneering of new fields of business with PayPal and SpaceX demonstrates the kind of risk-taking that I admire and will need to use in the future, too. Musk, with his innovative business ideas, has taught me that no matter what kind of business I start, I will need an imaginative concept to thrive.

While I have learned much from Musk's actions, I want to hear him speak about how he made his businesses succeed so I can try to emulate that success. Musk, as the CTO of some of his companies, could give me insight into the importance of and strategies for improving the technology behind the company. I also want to learn about how he manages his start-ups; knowledge of how he divides his time between overseeing technology development, managing his employees, attempting to attract investors, and working to expand his customer base will prove valuable when I need to do just that. I would like to hear his explanations for why he chose to create the specific businesses he did, and why he decided to helm multiple businesses at the same time, too. It would mean so much to me if I got to ask him a question about my aspirations as well. If he affirmed that I'm on the right track, it would make all the work that I have done seem more worthwhile. The countless hours I have spent preparing for what I've wanted to do for so long: composting, reading about and discussing current events and economic trends, and learning about how to run a business and how to build up to an IPO, would all have more meaning because of one short conversation with a man I have looked up to for years.

Elon Musk already makes me believe that I, with the right preparation, can create a venture that makes a profound, lasting impact on the world. Hearing him speak about his experiences and listening to his advice would give me stronger faith in myself that I can make my future start-up flourish. I hope that he can speak at the Athenaeum to inspire more Claremont McKenna students to become entrepreneurs, to solve problems they care about through their own enterprises, to do what they can to save the world. We need more people like that. We need more Elon Musks.

What do you think? Please be as harsh as you need to be, I want this essay to be super polished.
Also, do you think I use "success," "successful," and "succeed" too much? Any suggestions for viable alternatives?
admission2012 - / 481 90  
Nov 29, 2012   #2

The purpose of this essay prompt is for applicants to really talk about someone who has inspired them. This would have been a great essay if you had any real connections to your describe "passion" however, you don't. You write very loftily -"I want to make a positive impact on the world by starting a business that deals with the largest economic, social, and environmental problem, in both Musk's and my opinions, that the world faces: climate change. "- but then go on to state you have no idea what you want to focus on or really do. Do you understand how naive and grandiose that sounds? Most readers will think that If you were really passionate about this issue and this man, you would have done at least a few things; organized a recycling drive, toyed around with a "green" company idea - anything really. It just really makes it hard for the admissions team to get a true sense of passion when you haven't done anything so far to display your passion. -AAO

Hope this helps.
OP blquandt 9 / 23  
Nov 29, 2012   #3
I've been very involved in my high school's composting program and I'm leaning toward starting a compost-contracting company. I've even pursued getting an internship next summer at Cedar Grove, a local composting services business. I'm guessing I should mention that and cut out the indecision then?

The only problem is that I already wrote my Common App activity essay on composting, and I don't want to be too redundant.

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