The MBA Tour will reach the four corners of the globe in September, having four separate tours in Asia, India, Europe, and the United States, followed by tours to Latin America (October) and Canada (November). The tour events provide you with great opportunities to meet with school representatives and learn more about the schools. However, fairs also can devolve into mind-numbing circuits of big, crowded halls where you collect shiny brochures that will gather dust and nothing more.
How can you ensure that those few hours are beneficial?
I recently had the opportunity to interview Peter von Loesecke, CEO and Managing Director of The MBA Tour LLC, and am sharing inside tips Peter revealed for making the most of your MBA Fair experience.
How should applicants prepare for a fair so that they can get the most out of the event?
Applicants attending MBA Tour events should prepare themselves by researching MBA programs, by thinking about their career interests and goals, and by knowing how an MBA helps them achieve those goals and interests. Career interests may be described as something that rounds out an applicant’s education or satisfies a personal goal like improving leadership skills.
What are reasonable goals for spending a few hours at an MBA fair?
A reasonable goal for anyone attending an event is to make a lasting impression so that the representative will remember you. My suggestion is to have your resume available and I recommend wearing business attire. Business casual is ok, but most serious students, especially those outside the US, attend in business attire. Make sure you ask questions that pertain to your personal situation and goals and avoid asking questions that can be answered off the school’s internet site.
What should applicants do while at the fair to get the most out of it?
Expand your horizons. Everyone comes to our events with first impressions of programs and where they want to go to school. Don’t let those first impressions influence who you speak with. Try and visit with as many schools as you can and have your visit recorded. That way a program has a record of your interest.
How much time should an applicant try to grab with a school representative at a fair?
Perhaps 3 to 5 minutes with each representative present. Schools reps local to the city in which the event is being held are usually very busy. Schools from out of town will have more time to spend with you. Use that availability to make an impression. If no one is competing for time than a student can take as long as he wants. However, I urge students not to monopolize a conversation because it demonstrates a level of insensitivity.
Is it appropriate to ask for a business card and to contact the representative after a fair?
Yes, absolutely and you should send them an email thanking them for the time they spent with you. You can even resend your resume too!
What are common mistakes applicants make when participating in MBA fairs?
Asking questions that are not relevant to his or her situation or not researching schools before talking with them. Here are some questions not to ask…
- “What is your average GMAT score?”…research this online on Business Week or through other sources.
- “Tell me why I should apply to your school…” never ask this of an admission officer because it implies you think the school would be privileged to accept you.
- “Where is your school located?“…this question does not exhibit much prior research.
- Asking a local program…”How strong is your career services in this city?” A better question is: “Does your career services center have connections into XYZ industry where I am looking for a position after graduation?” The second question is a fair question and should be asked. The first one will generate a predictable response of “Of course we are strong in job placement in this city”
The more your questions relate to your goals, situation and background the better they are to ask because asking penetrating questions allows the representative to get a lasting impression of you! Remember you are considering a big investment by going back to school. Schools want to get to know you as a person.