Smiles, Handshakes, and Headnods on Repeat
Before I start this novel of a post and lose your attention, my interview with Accepted is live and ready for your viewing pleasure. Here’s the link, enjoy!
Went to my second MBA info event last night. It was a joint session hosted by Stern, Johnson, Fuqua, Berkeley Haas, Yale SOM, and Michigan Ross. There was a little socializing with adcom reps before the Q&A panel began and then networking with alumni afterwards.
There was no one at the Haas table when I arrived so I made a beeline for Fuqua and chatted with the Directory of Diversity Initiatives for a little bit and then took a seat towards the front of the room. I wasn’t sure if I was gonna ask any questions, but I definitely wanted to make sure my beautiful face would at least be seen. There was a good group of us, maybe 60… and way more black people then last time so I wasn’t the only one. Before the Q&A session began, we were instructed to introduce ourselves to a person next to us (oh the good ole icebreaker) and then a few people were called on to stand up and introduce themselves to the audience as well as tell what they learned about the person sitting next to them (this is the part where I refrained from making eye contact so I wouldn’t be asked). Everyone that stood up was so poised and confident and I found myself somewhat envious because I know I can get extremely awkward in situations like that and I can either come off as super sweet and charming orrrr just immature and weird (note to self: work on that). Oh and while chatting with the girl next to me, definitely overheard another girl behind me talking about how in her spare time she’s been working on getting her pilot’s license and she’s almost done *facepalm*. To say the least, I wasn’t feeling to hot about myself.
Surprisingly, or maybe unsurprisingly, the Q&A session was pretty bland. Each adcom rep was given a section of the application to brief the audience about and then whenever a question was asked in relation to that topic, they were the ones to answer. So for example, the lady from Yale answered all GMAT and transcript questions. Most of questions pertained to the GMAT, the optional essay, and the Consortium, and a few others here and there. The poor guy from Ross who was assigned Recommender questions didn’t get to talk at all.
I listed some of the best advice I was able to jot down below. It’s not earth shattering advice or anything, but I’ve realized that it’s sometimes easy to forget the overall purpose and message you should be expressing because we’re all so wrapped up in the technical aspects.
- The interview is all about fit and it’s not one sided. You want to see if you really fit into the culture of the school, program, and community just as much as we want to see if you do as well.
- We like to see an application that explains why an MBA, why I’m a good fit, why I studied (blah blah blah) and why I want to study (blah blah blah) and how that connects to what I wanna do. Take the time to share your journey.
- Your application should be your genuine voice. And think about how you will add value to the class and to the community
- We are trying to build a diverse class, don’t try and fit a mold.
- The MBA application process is a time of self reflection. Your application should convey who you are and how you’ll impact the world.
- We are looking for someone that will not only be successful while in the program, but afterwards.
After the Q&A session ended, we were given the chance for one on ones with alum who had arrived as well as adcom reps that had stuck around. The guy from Berkeley was an interesting character and I can tell he really enjoyed his time at Haas. Of course the culture question was brought up and his response “I know San Fran is all about peace and love… but Haas is on a hill, the highest point at Berkeley and on the next hill is the Law School, let’s just say I saw peace and love about one time. One time” Now take what you will from that because I’m not even completely sure what he meant, but I think he realizes the stigma that comes with going to Berkeley and he wanted to ensure the group that it’s more of an exaggeration than anything. Maybeee he’s just doing his due diligence for his alma mater not to scare people off, but I’ll take his word for it.
My next and final stop was the Fuqua table again. I spoke with a recent alum whom I absolutely loved and who pretty much solidified why I want to apply to Duke. She was so friendly and personable and didn’t give the cookie cutter tell you what you wanna hear answers, but gave a lot of good sound advice.
- Why she chose Fuqua: Team Fuqua, the instant connection with students and the culture, the international opportunities (traveled to 14 different countries without missing many classes)
- Application advice: Visiting schools is so important. That is the time to figure out if you really think you can spend 2 years in this country, city, school, and class with these people. I originally had 13 programs on my list and after visiting a few, realized I could never see myself there. Make sure you do your homework and ask questions, anything from what companies in your field of study recruit at your school and just how many students do they actually hire to how close are the nearest open restaurants to campus when pulling late nights. The way students navigate campus is also very crucial. If you’re coming from NYC or another country to Durham, you probably don’t have a car or license, so you have to make sure you either plan those things or speak with students about convenient ways to get around without a car.
- Advice for a younger applicant: You have just as great a chance as anyone. Someone in my class was 23 when she started. Focus on the quality of what you’ve done thus far and if you haven’t had managerial experience, express your potential and willingness to do so.
- Competitive Nature of the App Process: Don’t let others’ profiles discourage you. Be proud of what you’ve accomplished thus far and know that it’s only the beginning. And honestly, half of these people lie. A girl in my class is still lying to this day about her GMAT score.
- You will meet some amazing people in business school and surrounding yourself with successful people, just makes you that much better.
The meme I chose for this post is a quote from the Academy Award nominated film “The Help” and I found it extremely relevant to my situation and maybe even some of you. Attending these events has made me realize just how many amazing things people are doing. Like the girl behind me about to get her pilot’s license and I’m over here just like “uhhh I did 40 minutes on the stairmaster without stopping the other day… does that count?”. But after talking to the Fuqua alum, she really made me see the bigger picture and reiterated something that I need to tell myself everytime I feel discouraged about my status on the applicant wow factor scale… “You is Kind. You is Smart. You is Important” Okay okay she totally didn’t say that but you get the point!! Everyone has something special to bring to the table, figure out what it is and deliver it on a silver platter.
Special congrats and pats on the backs to everyone who submitted HBS Round 1 apps the other day!! Good luck to the rest of you Round 1 guys as well as everyone that’s starting their first semester at business school!! Exciting times!!