Applying to MBA programs in the fall? If so, then you’re probably planning to meet with MBA admissions committee members at various types of events – school visits, MBA fairs, school receptions, and so one – as part of that process.
Adcom members are preparing for you as well. Before they meet with you, they will have already done a little research, getting an early read of your “social intelligence.”
Here are seven tips to make a positive first impression on the admissions representatives you meet while also getting the most out of the visits for your own informational and decision-making needs.
1. Polish up your resume and bring it with you.
Sometimes you might have a chance to show your resume to an adcom member or a student willing to give feedback on your competitiveness for the program. Don’t worry if it’s not in what you consider final or perfect form; you will certainly revise it later.
2. Have your overall “goals story” on the tip of your tongue.
Most applicants will have a simple sentence prepared, such as “My goal is to become an IT manager in finance and eventually CIO,” but ideally, you’d have something more specific and substantial to share. should include another sentence that shows why you have these goals (your motivation) and your vision for what you want to achieve (these two elements are often interrelated).
Being confident about your goals story will smooth your path to engaging more meaningfully with adcom members and students. People will care about your goals when they know why you want to achieve them!
3. Research, research, research.
Research the programs that you’re interested in learning more about at the event. Don’t simply browse the readily available material, but investigate what they can offer you based on your specific post-MBA career goals. When you’re at the event, asking basic questions whose answers can easily be found on the program’s website can make you look foolish.
4. Have thoughtful questions ready about the program.
For each school you visit, prepare questions related to your learning and career needs. Moreover, your ability and willingness to identify your specific educational needs reflects maturity.
5. Dress and act professionally.
Dressing too casually or coming across with a casual attitude won’t be a good look for you. School representatives could assume that you’re not serious about your future business education and career. The schools are looking for sincere, thoughtful candidates. Also, keep in mind that people generally act differently depending on what they’re wearing – dress casually, and you’ll act casually; dress professionally, and most likely, it’ll professionalize your attitude and demeanor.
6. Get contact info for follow-ups when meeting students from your target schools.
There are all kinds of opportunities to learn more about the program from students (for example, one student might connect you to a classmate who leads a club of interest to you), gaining unique and fresh insights that can greatly enhance your essays.
7. Learn how to create an elevator pitch, and then prepare one.
Having an effective “elevator pitch” will enable you to attend school visits without anxiety, show that you are socially adept, and free you to focus on listening and responding rather than thinking about what to say in those initial moments. Aim to present a thoughtful, meaningful nugget of information to make a positive first impression and facilitate conversation. You can use your pitch with adcom members, MBA students, and fellow applicants. With the latter two groups, you can also follow up with “What is your industry background?” or “What are your post-MBA goals?”
Your elevator pitch should be just one or two sentences. Its content should usually focus on the present and future. The key is to convey core information in a way that is engaging.
Here are two examples:
- Hi, I’m Mary Liu, a consultant in McKinsey’s supply chain practice. I hope to develop and lead the next generation of supply chain innovations in emerging markets.
- Hello, Manish Das here. I’ve been troubleshooting Bank Paribas’s risk management applications in Eastern Europe during the global financial crisis. Post-MBA, I want to focus on developing new risk management strategies to avert such crises.
If there is something important in your past to add for a clearer picture, mention it. For example, a listener would probably assume that Manish Das grew up in India. But what if Manish grew up in Kenya? That’d be an interesting tidbit: “Hello, Manish Das here. I grew up in Kenya. I’ve been troubleshooting…”
Finally, practicing your pitch will let you get comfortable with it while also giving you a chance to refine it. By the time you’re “on,” it will flow effortlessly and naturally.
Don’t underestimate the power of a good impression
There’s an old saying: “You only have one chance to make a first impression.” It’s true. Preparing with these tips will yield rich rewards, including making a good impression on adcoms, establishing fruitful contacts with students, and developing deeper knowledge of the programs to fuel your decision-making and spark ideas for writing your essays.
You need to choose and apply to the MBA programs that will best support your individual goals and preferences. Not only will selecting the right programs increase your chances of acceptance but it will also ensure that you make the most of your time spent pursuing your degree. Our expert consultants can help you strategize, choose, and then apply to the best programs for you.