Attending MBA Fairs/Information Sessions

If you have the time and opportunity to attend these events, you should. You can get helpful information and make good contacts, but if you go, go prepared.

How to prepare: At the very least, you should bring lots of business cards to give to admissions committee reps (adcom reps), alumni speakers, and other applicants. In this game, the bigger the network the better. After your business cards, the three most important things you can bring with you are:

Your resume, if it has been developed well and you have confidence in it. You should offer your resume to the adcom reps you meet. “Offer” is the operative word here. Some reps will want it. Some won’t. Remember that a good resume can help you, but a bad resume will hurt you -- and it has your name on it -- so be careful. If you don’t have your resume ready, try to get a card from the adcom rep and offer to e-mail it once it is prepared.

Your goals. If you know your goals, it is easier to have a productive conversation with adcom reps or alumni because you can ask specific questions and get specific responses.

Research about each school. You should explore the websites of each school and utilize any other resources you can in advance to ask better questions, especially related to your goals, and have a better conversation overall.

The atmosphere at these types of events can be intense and intimidating. Many people are aggressive in both good and bad ways. Some people think that if they ask clever questions or “killer” questions of the adcom reps they will distinguish themselves. They might distinguish themselves, but it might be for a bad reason. The best questions are sincere questions about one thing: how the school can help you achieve your goals. The adcom reps are there to convince you that they are the best school for you. This is your chance to find out.

Even if you haven’t prepared your resume thoroughly, or if your goals are still vague, you can still enjoy the event and make good contacts. Of course you should talk to adcom reps if you have the chance. Through talking with them you can get early feedback about your goals and accomplishments, and it’s good practice for interviews later. (At an MBA Fair, if you feel too nervous talking to your dream schools, practice on schools that you don’t care about!) As you will probably discover with all MBA events (fairs, panels, school visits, etc.) there are no “secrets” to the process, only clear thinking, hard work, and the desire to show admissions committees what makes you unique. At the same time, remember that you are a “consumer” and you want to find the best MBA program to help you fulfill your career and personal dreams.

Questions? Talk to me. bryan@bryanshih.net

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