For many aspiring MBA students, attending an MBA fair or recruitment event is among the first steps in the program search process. It’s information gathering—an opportunity both to learn more about programs of interest and to consider additional programs. That being the case, here are several strategies that can help make your experience at an MBA fair successful.
Do Your Homework
When registering to attend an MBA fair, a list of participating business schools should be available. This list should be used to determine if the fair is a worthwhile investment of your time and money. There should be schools on the list that stand out immediately as places you would like to pursue your graduate degree, and other schools that perk your interest, making the fair an effective opportunity to learn more about their programs.
If the list of participating schools does not contain any of your top choices, it may not be the best MBA fair for you. But before confirming that decision, do some research on the schools that are participating. It’s possible that you’ll discover a program you want to learn more about. Attending that fair just to speak to the representative of one school is likely not a wise use of your time, but it may put a new school on your radar for future events in your area or a visit to the school’s campus.
Prepare Questions (or Do More Homework)
Having decided and registered to attend an MBA fair, it’s time to review the list of participating schools again. In doing so this time, research the programs that interest you and prepare questions to ask their representatives at the fair.
Take time to reflect on your desire to pursue an MBA. Be prepared to articulate what you are looking for in an MBA program and prepare a handful of relevant questions to ask representatives from any and all schools you may interact with. Walking up to a table and asking the representative to “tell me about your school” is not a productive use of either of your time. Instead, ask questions about the availability of specific programs or areas of focus, aspects of the curriculum or community, that are important to you.
Hit Your Targets
This is stating the obvious, but if there are several schools that enticed you enough to attend the fair, Make it a priority to visit the tables of those schools. If any one or more of the schools are popular at the event, there may be lines at their tables. Manage your time wisely by visiting other target schools and returning when the line subsides—you don’t want to kill all of your time waiting to talk to one school when there are likely to be dozens of great schools represented at the event.
After hitting your target schools, there’s a temptation to call it a day and depart from the fair. Resist this temptation. Spend some time walking around the fair, considering other schools, picking up some materials from those that might be interesting to you. You don’t have to stop and have a detailed conversation with the representative at every table. Hopefully you have prepared some general questions based on your interests so you can glean meaningful information from anyone with whom you do converse. But there is nothing wrong with simply saying hello and collecting a brochure.
One of the best ways to ensure that your MBA fair experience is a success is to make sure it doesn’t end when you leave the fair. Follow up with representatives on your conversations by sending a thank you email, or looking into a course or program you learned about and asking a follow-up question. In many respects, applying to an MBA program is like applying for a job, and you should treat the MBA fair experience as you would any other professional networking opportunity.
In the digital world in which we live, much of the information needed to progress through your search for an MBA program is readily available online. But the benefit of face-to-face interactions persists, and MBA fairs present an opportunity to have a personal touch with multiple schools in a single setting. Fairs can be productive events, or they can be a muddying of the MBA waters. Preparation and thought are key to ensuring that you have a successful and beneficial experience at any event you happen to attend.