MBA fairs are a great way for candidates to meet and network with business schools’ admissions professionals, alumni and fellow candidates. If you’ve attended an MBA fair before you will know that making these connections can pay off in the long run.
An admissions representative can truly become an advocate for your candidacy early in the process and help you stand out from the pool of applicants – if you made a good first impression! In this article we will discuss a few do’s and don’ts to help you get the most from your next MBA fair.
Do: Be open-minded about MBA options
MBA programs come in many different shapes and sizes. Whether you are set on a face-to-face, hybrid or online format make sure you take this opportunity to learn about the many different options B-schools offer. As a director of admissions, I have met several students who would limit themselves to a certain format or give up prematurely on their plans due to a lack of information.
Do: Speak to as many schools as possible… as well as other attendees
MBA fairs are a great opportunity for you to get insights from seasoned admissions professionals. Don’t hesitate to meet with as many schools as possible – even those you didn’t initially consider – to gain some valuable insights regarding your career goals or program of choice. Some of the most fruitful conversations I’ve had during these events are with prospective applicants who just stopped by for a quick chat. Some ended up finding out about a program option that would completely change their initial plans.
In addition, you will be attending an event with hundreds of other young professionals, so make sure you make the most out of it. Strike up conversations with fellow attendees, compare notes about schools and share business cards.
Do: Come prepared with an elevator pitch… and 2 or 3 thoughtful questions
The first thing your admissions representative will ask is to tell them about yourself. Make sure you are prepared to talk briefly about your academic and professional background as well as your mid to long term career goals. This information is critical for business schools to gauge your interest in, and suitability for, their programs. Make sure you also come prepared with thoughtful questions that show you did your due diligence before meeting the school.
Do: Follow up with a thank you note
This is in no way mandatory but it’s always a nice way to let the school’s representative know that you enjoyed the conversation and insight you’ve received. They’ll remember you!
Do: Dress for success
Remember that first impressions are important, so whether you choose to wear business or business casual attire, make sure you are comfortable but still look professional.
Now that you know what you should do to reap the benefits of your next MBA fair let’s dive into the faux pas that can leave the admissions representative with a not-so-great first impression.
Don’t ask about your odds of getting admitted
Admissions decisions are made by a committee, and these committees review an entire application and, in some instances, an entire pool of applicants before they make an admission decision. Putting the school’s representative on the spot will not get you the answer you were hoping for.
Don’t lead with questions about scholarships
Again, these decisions are made by a committee and depend on several factors, but, more importantly, leading with a question about scholarships before asking anything about your program of interest conveys the wrong message.
And finally, don’t ask obvious questions
If the answer is on the first page of the school’s website, you probably shouldn’t ask it.