Submitting a strong application to a top MBA program around the globe can be a lot of things - intense, fun and undoubtedly interesting. But after having been there and done that (phew!), I can assuredly claim that amongst many things, it is most importantly, exhausting! There is so much to do beyond just giving the GMAT or just writing why you want to do an MBA. But wherever you might be in your MBA journey, you would have heard this before - get to know the school as much as you can.
A great way to commence with that is by attending the several events and webinars that schools organize. Not only is this a great opportunity to interact with the people who might be reviewing your application but also an effective way to gauge how well you and the school fit with each other. Amidst many other things that transpired in the last one year, owing to the Covid pandemic, all MBA events shifted to an online medium. And as an international applicant, I truly believe that this shift came in as a blessing in disguise!
Read on to find out what these events are all about and how you can make the most from them!
What kinds of events are conducted?
With all interactions going virtual, the AdComs really went innovative and way beyond the usual meet and greet this time. Starting with the basics, there are the typical events about getting to know the school, information sessions about the application process and what happens after you hit submit. NYU Stern even organized live interactive workshops which gave prospective applicants an opportunity to work together in groups on a part of the application and provided valuable insights on how one can go about specific essay questions.
Some schools also provide the opportunity to get your profile evaluated by school representatives even before you apply! At HEC Paris, this is almost like a prerequisite step to applying. Further, to compensate for the travel restrictions and in-person campus visits, Duke Fuqua organized virtual campus tours in an effort to emulate the same experience for prospective applicants. Columbia Business School also gave applicants the opportunity to register for dedicated coffee chats with its student ambassadors and get an insight into the curriculum at the school through a virtual class visit program.
Several info-sessions organized by the school’s clubs, and others where particular career treks or industries are talked about. Such as, London Business School organized a series of career related webinars focusing on different industries and what resources can be leveraged at the school to pursue a career in these industries. Duke Fuqua even organized interactive sessions with its current students about different aspects like the career management resources to the diversity at the school to myth-busters about MBA!
One of the best opportunities to interact with multiple schools at the same time, have one-on-one interactions with the school’s representatives and establish a personal connection are the large-scale MBA fairs like the Access MBA Tour. The Access MBA online event is upcoming in the months of February and March. (To register for it, click here)
How to make the most of these events?
For starters, attend as many events as you can! Schools love to meet and interact with prospective applicants and they appreciate the effort you put in. Further, several schools ask you to mention specific events where you interacted with them in the application forms.
Though all events seem to happen virtually in the near future, switch on your camera and put on your best smile wherever you can. Dress appropriately - you don’t have to be suited up but also not seem like you’ve just gotten up from your bed - it is a B-School event after all.
Do your homework! Read up about the event and what it’s going to be about. If the information is available, gauge who is going to be hosting or be on the panel and learn a bit about their background through LinkedIn and Google.
Be prepared. Read up on the topic of the information session or the webinar. If it is an info-session about the application, make sure you’ve gone through the application form and have noted a few questions. You can also have 2-3 lines prepared about yourself, in case you have to introduce yourself.
Ask genuine questions. Extremely important - do not be random and do not ask questions just for the sake of it. While everyone says no question is a silly question, a random generic question will not help you further your cause. In fact, this is where you get a chance to read up, analyze and introspect about the things you’d want to further know. If you don’t have any questions, maybe you’re not thinking about it enough.
Ask for opinions, not data. There are very high chances that data related information, facts and figures are already available on the website. Do NOT ask for information that is obvious and readily available on the school's website.
Keep that notepad ready. There is more information than you can imagine. Even for the same school, different events offer different insights and these things might not be available on a website, hence making them even more useful to quote in your essays or interview. Also, take note of as many names and email IDs of a school’s representatives as you can. You never know when they come to your rescue and having this information will not harm you.
Remember the online etiquette. Yes, these events are happening virtually and all of us might be working from home, but maintaining the etiquette remains as important as it does for in-person events and interactions. Remember to be courteous, not interrupt others and listen more than you speak.
Say thank you! Do not underestimate the power of a thank you note. Sending a short thank you note for a wonderful event and perhaps a follow-up question can help you take a personal interaction forward. AdComs are always looking forward to helping you out as much as they can! But at the same time, do not go overboard and keep sending emails because they are not your friends from college.
In one sentence, do not miss these events. Not only do they help you understand the ‘vibe’ of the school, you also gain access to a lot of extremely useful and at times, unique information. Such personalized information can fit very well in your essays and be quoted in your interviews.
Nevertheless, most application forms categorically ask you about the events you attended and where or whom you interacted with. Wouldn’t look too good to leave this blank, right? It shows that you’ve done your research, you’ve put in the effort to get to know the school and school representatives do take note.
All of it is not just marketing and if you hit the right chord, attending these B-School events and establishing the right connection with the school can definitely help further your case, when it comes to getting that invite or that admit!