Last month, the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants – AIGAC – held its annual conference, and Berkeley Haas generously hosted our first two days. This “host” role included a valuable opportunity to interact with Dean Rich Lyons (just announced he will step down), Haas adcom members including Executive Director Morgan Bernstein, and Haas students.
It was powerful to see firsthand how this program walks the talk of its distinctive and ambitious values. Indeed, the grandness of the program’s vision – to fuel students’ personal transformations so that they in turn can transform the world or a part of it by creating purpose, meaning, and value (my own paraphrase) – combined with the small student body results in an intense two years. This program pushes students to be open, to bare their souls in order to truly grasp their deepest calling. One of the adcom’s specific challenges is selecting from the river of highly qualified applicants those who will embrace and thrive in such a personally and emotionally demanding culture.
A few tidbits from the Haas days:
• The new class will be – a little – bigger, going from 250 to 275 in 2017. Still, that’s 10% larger. And, in 2018, to 300. Cohorts will grow from 60 to 75 people.
• The adcom reviews international students by country; initially, readers have specific countries that they read and get to know closely.
• Aside from the obvious “qualification” factors such as GMAT and career, adcom readers specifically look for and evaluate extracurricular involvement, leadership, shaping one’s own path, initiative, and ability to immerse in the Haas culture.
• In evaluating goals, the adcom looks for passion and wants to see the motivation for those goals.
• The Student Affairs has a strong role in such an inclusive and student-driven culture; it (a) works in partnership with students, (b) facilitates students taking ownership of their experience by creating activities, programs, projects, etc., and (c) promotes “ally-ship” such as “Men as Allies” supporting the Women in Leadership group.
• Senior Director of MBA Career Coaching and Programs Hoyt Ng runs a very hands-on service with a focused approach: to enable you to embody your “best authentic self” and bring a “point of view” to your job meetings. I say “meetings” instead of “interviews” because, in his approach, the goal is to “have a conversation” about the job, not an interview. He wants you to understand your target company so well that you can present yourself in such a way so the interviewer sees you as already part of the organization, not somebody waiting and hoping to be let in. (And, aha, that’s what we admissions consultants try to help you get your applications to do with adcoms!)
• Career Services partners with industry specialists who serve as career advisors, e.g. Deepak Gupta in the startup space, Vince Law in Product Management – a great resource for students to gain both the real-world, real-time grasp of an industry or function, plus the first rung of a network.
• In numerous activities (academic, community, social), Evening/Weekend MBAs and Executive MBAs participate with MBAs, expanding both the number and perspectives.
A highlight of this time at Haas was a panel of 5 highly articulate students (recent alumni and current students) presenting their own stories of how they were transformed or are transforming during their years at Haas. They all cited both personal and professional transformation – and how the Haas community was/is instrumental in that process.
Are you hungry for a journey of change while you also hone business skills and rev up for your next career move? Do you want to spend 2 years in a culture that is inclusive and generous but also demands much of your time, effort, heart, and imagination? If so, it’s a tough admit, but DO give Haas your best shot.
• Leadership in Admissions, a free guide
• Exploring the Haas MBA with Asst. Dean Peter Johnson, a podcast episode
• Highlights of AIGAC 2017