I've taken the edits from this forum (thanks shadowfrost) and applied them to my personal statement. What do you guys think of it now? Pull no punches, tough love is what I need. My comments are in brackets. It reads below.
I stared at the screen and I was momentarily baffled. I had been hired at the North American headquarters of Spectrum Brands, Inc. to create a database that would revolutionize the way corporate deductions were handled throughout the company. The necessity of this project could not have been clearer. A deduction should a simple thing- if a retailer incurs a cost, such as a holiday sale or an extra advertising expense on a Spectrum Brands product, Spectrum Brands reimburses a certain agreed-upon portion of the cost. However, the current deductions process was a mess. Every retailer had different paperwork and needed to be treated uniquely. There was an Excel spreadsheet that was supposed to provide the raw data for our analysis, but in reality this spreadsheet provided relevant data for only about 60% of the deductions. Processing the other 40% was an involved process involving searching for signatures, printing out email conversations, and tracking down salespeople on the phone to ask them directly for details on this promotion or that sale. Every week, I sat down with the senior intern and our boss, and together we cursed the cruel fate that brought this task before us.
This database project was to change all that. The clumsy processes of the past were to give way to a simple, user-friendly system in which salespeople could directly input their promotions into the database, and the relevant authorities could signal their acceptance or rejection of these promotions in a clear way that left no room for confusion or interpretation. With the concept fleshed out and the promise of more efficient business on the horizon, there was only one problem: I had never even used the software that the project had to be built upon.
I was daunted by the array of tables, relationships, ID tags and assorted boxes, but I knew the project’s objectives, and I set out to work with the end in mind. I began with the most basic of resources, studying printed manuals and developing a basic understanding of the structure of the program. The skeleton of the database began to take shape, but more complex problems began to appear as I continued. How could I create a tab where the user could view data, but not edit it? The answer was in the manuals somewhere, but they were clumsy and time-consuming, and often the solutions they provided were only rough approximations of what the project required. I expanded my research efforts to online sources, and found numerous resources to address my challenges. Within a few weeks, I developed proficiency with the software, and the database began to come together. [how can this be reworded to sound more go-getter? This paragraph is supposed to be “I can learn independently and teach shit to myself”]
As the database began to come together, my objectives were constantly changing. My boss would come up with ideas to improve the database’s functionality even further, and task me with their implementation. In order to ease the sales team’s transition into the new system, we needed the database to be able to reproduce its data in the old pivot-table format. In order to improve accountability, we needed changes to be tracked by user. My boss and I worked closely together through this process to ensure the project was proceeding in line with our vision. Finally, for the most difficult portions of the database, we reached out to the company’s IT team. Their expertise proved invaluable. Complex technical issues were quickly dealt with and put behind us, and we were able to fine-tune the structural framework of the database to ensure the database’s ongoing flexibility. [this is supposed to demonstrate effectiveness working in a team and an ability to deliver results as promised]
When I left Spectrum Brands, the prototype was complete and the first stages of its implementation had begun. My boss very pleased, the senior intern was impressed, and the salespeople were delighted with it. While I hope that the database I built serves them well for years to come, I know that the skills I developed working for them will serve me well. My ability to learn independently and take advantage of the resources at my disposal will be major assets in law school and legal practice. I am not afraid to ask for help, and I know where to find it. My ability to work with a team will also be great assets whenever I work in teams or in a hierarchical system, and I pride myself in my ability to deliver results as promised. [how can I make this conclusion better? It needs some kind of personal touch but unfortunately such a touch lies just beyond my skillset.]