Hi Andy, I’am writing my personal statement for graduate program. I have 1-year working experience which is not particularly relevant to the academic program. But there are still some things illustrated my capacity and why I chose the program. Should I take this working experience in my PS?
Thank you for this question. There are two things I want to emphasize in response! 🙂
Write strategically, not exhaustively
Weigh this experience against other experiences you are including in the document.
I would say that the purpose of including any of it at all is to illustrate your motivation and capacity for the program.
Therefore you don’t need to try to cover everything you’ve done exhaustively in your statement. In fact, it’s better if you’re selective. But why?
The statement is a piece of persuasive writing. I’ve unpacked what that means in another Q&A response here. The point is: Everything you include in your statement should be there because it substantiates either a valuable skill or an aspect to your motivation for the program. Thus, it helps build your case for admission.
Therefore if this experience does indeed substantiate an important point that none of your other experience could, that’s fantastic – it may well qualify for inclusion. But my advice is: Know exactly what that is. Often I see candidates including experiences in there statements in a sort of ‘throw it at the wall and see what sticks’ way. It’s as if they’re answering one of those exam questions where a recommended strategy is to write down as much information as you can think of as quickly as possible in order to get the points. This doesn’t work like that. I want to add: I’m not suggesting you think it does work like that – I just want to make the wider point 🙂
Write with purpose; be strategic in the material you choose to share – it should all substantiate your case for admission and introduce you as an individual.
Otherwise, it doesn’t qualify for inclusion!
Narrative flow is what gives your document a smooth reading experience. The material should be arranged in a sequence that reflects the argument you want to make. It can be elegant!
So—very similarly—remember you don’t need to cram every experience into your statement.
If, however, you know there is a good reason to include it—and you feel this is a valid strategic reason given the question and the other material you’re including—then the experience has a place in your statement.
(It can always go in your resume!)