MBA fairs are held all over the world, and provide potential students an opportunity to meet with admission personnel from multiple schools over the course of the day. These events are a great way to get a feel for each school, as well as begin networking with alumni and key decision-makers. At the same time hundreds of students attend these fairs. So what should you do to prepare for an MBA fair, keeping in mind that this is your first in-person interaction with admissions committee representatives?
Here are some tips for you to make the most out of an MBA Fair:
- Do your homework and create a list of programmes you believe will suit your individual goals, abilities and circumstances. At the fair, focus on the schools you already know are likely to be a good match, and come prepared with a list of questions to ask, such as teaching style, mix of students, academics, areas of specialisation, future career options and cost of living. Know why you want an MBA and ask specific questions designed to find out if the particular school’s programme is right for you.
- Do not ask general school statistics or application questions that can be answered by a web search, such as “what is the average GMAT?” or “what is the median salary post the programme?”. This will not leave a good impression on university representatives.
- You won’t have much time with each prospective schools, so you want to make the most of it. Keep your questions focused and relevant and prepare an “elevator pitch” in advance to give the admissions personnel a quick snapshot of your background and goals.
- MBA fairs are nowhere near as formal as interviews, but similar to an interview, they are opportunities for students to ask some specific questions that you should have prepared in advance. To be their most polished self, you should come armed with several questions you’d like to ask specifically in advance.
- 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 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 professionalise your attitude and demeanour. At most events, it is prudent to dress in business formals, which for men would include ties, and for women would include closed-toe shoes.
- Greet admission officers with a smile and a firm handshake. Eye contact is important – while it is rude to constantly stare at someone, gazing at the floor or elsewhere might make it seem like there is something to hide.
- Be sure to take a business card before you leave. This will allow you to have follow-up conversations later on. Appropriate follow up actions include sending an email in which you identify events where you met, remind the representative of your goals and some of the key conversation points you discussed, and attach a resume (you can send across a resume even if you had handed the representative a resume at the fair). Inappropriate follow-up moves include calling the representative directly or acting aggressively in any way.
Keep these best practices in mind and enjoy your next MBA fair!