This post was written by Bailey McChesney, Associate Director of Admissions.
You’re looking at MBA programs and working on your application when you see a notice about an MBA fair in your city. These events are a great opportunity for you to talk to lots of different schools and gather information in a short period. Of course, the first step is to register to attend!
You don’t have to be at any specific phase of your search for a B-school to attend an MBA fair. Many candidates use fairs as a chance to figure out what schools they want to apply to and narrow down what they are looking for in a program. Before you attend the fair, it is helpful to know why an MBA makes sense for you and have some idea of what area you might want to study. The information you receive from schools will be much more useful for you if you have thought about those two pieces of the puzzle.
Here are some of my tips for how to get the most of your time at the fair:
Prepare a short introduction about you, your experience, and your interests. Having a quick way to tell an admissions representative about your background and what you’re looking for in an MBA will help to get the conversation started. When talking to a representative, don’t be afraid to lead the conversation and ask specific questions. School representatives don’t want to waste your time at a fair by giving you information that you already know from your research.
Make a list of the schools you want to speak with, but be open to looking at others. There will be limited time for you to interact with admissions representatives and school alumni at the fair. In order to make the most of your time, you will want to decide beforehand if there are any schools you absolutely don’t want to miss. Some schools will even have a line to talk to the admissions representative or alumni — don’t cut the line! There will be many different schools at the fair. If a school is in your city, consider visiting campus instead if the line is long. If a school was not on your list ahead of time, but is in the geographic area you are interested in or offers a program that sounds interesting, be open to talking to additional schools, even if you haven’t researched them: It’s okay to tell the representative that you don’t know much about their program upfront.
If you have questions about the application process in general, try to make time to attend the Admissions Panel. Many fairs will offer a panel of representatives from different schools to answer basic questions about the application. (For example, what type of recommender you should choose, tips for the interview, etc.) If you are able to get insight into the admissions process from the panel, you can use your time at the school table to ask more specific questions about scholarships, employment opportunities, or international travel. These events are also a great opportunity for you to engage with admissions representatives and ask schools about information that isn’t on their website.
Follow up with the admissions representatives that you met. If you had a chance to speak with a representative and you found the conversation helpful, follow up with the representative by email afterwards. If you can, reference something specific that you talked about (or your elevator pitch) to help the representative remember the conversation. This is a great way to show initiative.
The most important tip to make the most out of an MBA fair is to go and engage. These fairs are inexpensive opportunities for you to gather information about your future plans, so take advantage of them.