Adcom members are preparing for you as well. In their interactions with prospective applicants, they look to get an early read of your “social intelligence.”
Here are some tips to make a positive first impression while also getting the most out of the visits for your own informational and decision-making needs.
7 tips for getting the most out of MBA visits and fairs
Polish up your resume to bring with you.
You can always refine or modify it later if need be. Sometimes you may have a chance to show it to an adcom member or a current student willing to give feedback on your competitiveness for the program.
Have your overall “goals story” on the tip of your tongue.
Most visiting applicants will have a simple sentence prepared (like “My goal is to become an IT manager in finance and eventually CIO”), but ideally, you’d have something more substantial to share. The goals story includes another sentence that shows why you have these goals (your motivation) and your vision for what you want to achieve (often these two elements are interrelated).
This story will enable you to engage more meaningfully with adcoms or students – people will care about your goals when they know why you want to do it!
Research, research, research.
Research the programs that you’re interested in hearing more from at the event. Be sure not just to browse through the material, but to research the programs relative to what they can offer you based on your specific post-MBA career goals. When you’re at the event asking questions, you’ll look foolish asking basic questions whose answers appear on the program’s homepage.
Have a couple of thoughtful questions ready about the program.
For each school you visit, prepare questions related to your learning and career needs. It never hurts to show ‘em the love. Moreover, your ability and willingness to identify your specific developmental needs reflects maturity.
Dress and act professionally.
Don’t be too casual in dress or in attitude, or school representatives may assume that you’re not serious about your future business education and future career. These 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.
Request contact info to facilitate 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 may connect you to a classmate who leads a club of interest to you) – gaining unique and fresh insights that can greatly enhance your essays.
Learn how to create an elevator pitch and 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 nugget 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 one to two sentences only. 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’ 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. E.g., a listener would probably assume Manish Das grew up in India. What if Manish grew up in Kenya, an interesting tidbit: “Hello, Manish Das. I grew up in Kenya. I’ve been troubleshooting…”
Finally: practice! Your pitch should be natural for you to say, and practicing will help you adjust it to make it so.
Don’t underestimate the power of a good impression
The preparation sketched above will yield rich rewards: good impressions on adcoms, fruitful contacts with students, and deeper knowledge of the programs to fuel your decision making and propel your essay writing.
Accepted can help you strategize, choose and then apply to the best programs for you. Our expert consultants have been helping applicants gain acceptance to top business school programs for over 25 years. Check out our MBA Consulting Services for more information.