Sunday, September 7, 2008

MBA Tour in DC

Hey, buddies. Just got back from the MBA Tour in DC. Registration started at 8:30 am (I pre-registered online though) and the Fair doesn't end til 5:00 pm. Long day huh? I actually left at 3:45 pm. It was held at the Grand Hyatt which is a really nice hotel. I was surprised that only about 180-200 people showed up for 29 schools. A good showing of maybe 40-45% of the prospectives were women. Seven top-15ish programs were there though few of the tip-top tier. Funny enough, Georgetown's MBA program had the most prospectives clamoring at the booth. From 9:00 to 9:45 am, there was a panel discussion on the factors that go into the admissions process. After that, there were six sessions of individual school presentations that you could attend. I was only interested in Yale but attended other presentations as well.

The panel was useless to me. Been there, done that. The first presentation I attended was Yale SOM. Shelley Clifford, Deputy Director of Admissions, was in attendance and talked alot about the new curriculum and also some about career services and student life. It was actually quite informative though I knew most of the info. There was also an alum from '91 in attendance (I may have the wrong year) who dressed like a schlep but was pretty enthusiastic and a bit eccentric. He made a couple really good points but looked like such a wreck. Anyway, I need to get over my fear of public speaking quickly!

Then came Cornell's presentation which was really good. The adcom (didn't bother to get his name) sounded really down-to-earth and gave amazing statistics. For instance, everybody got an internship last year and out of approx 100 students he spoke to, all of them got a full-time offer after their internship prior to the start of the 2nd year! That's ridiculously amazing. I think he said everyone who wanted an Investment Banking internship got one too. Some crazy stats. He was a cool dude.

I didn't pay attention at all for the Duke Fuqua presentation. I basically thought of questions to ask the Shelley from Yale. I had asked her a quick question after her presentation but the cat still had my tongue so I decided to visit her again at the actual "Fair" portion after the presentations finished at 3pm. At this point, however, I went to get Potbelly's for lunch.

When I came back, I attended Berkeley's presentation which had Diana Fiji (whom I met last year). I sat in the back and must've nodded off about five or six times. Afterward, I took a break to wake myself up and skipped the next presentation. For the last presentation I saw Chicago. Interesting that it was about 90% men in that presentation though there were 40-45% women at the event! The adcom was helpful but talked at us much more than the other schools. Also, they are trying really hard to dispel the perception that Chicago is 1) competitive, and 2) quantitative. He railed against those misconceptions at least 3 times.

Then the actual MBA Fair portion started with all the boothes set up. I lined up for Yale and snagged a sweet SOM pen! I also talked to Shelley again and she said "I alread talkedy to you" (in a good way) and I asked her some stuff about real estate and finance. It went really well and I told her I'd see her tomorrow since Monday is the Yale Diversity Reception. I know I don't need to attend but I want them to know how much I love them (as my second or third choice hehe). She did reveal that Yale's word limits are strict, hard caps aka no 10% overage rule! I also filled out a card to show that I was in attendance. Apparently Yale has another Admissions Reception on Oct. 2nd with one of their professors too which I am going to register for on their website now.

After that, I walked around the room and saw no other school that I cared to line up for and left. It should be noted that I did learn of the Toigo Foundation that gives fellowships for minorities who work 3+ years in finance after earning a top MBA. They give small a small grant and also alot of mentoring and job placement help. Looked cool and Kia, the representative, was really helpful and cool. I actually may apply (deadline's not until February thank goodness). I also received from her a huge pen. This is the largest pen I've ever had. It's bigger than the Dr. Grip by Pilot! The reason is because you can unscrew the pen and it becomes a 1 gig USB drive! Sweet, I've never had one until now :)

I did bump into a girl who used to go to Georgetown's gym religiously at the MBA fair whom I always thought was attractive but never talked to. I said hello and I think it kinda alarmed her. It was awkward and made even moreso when her friend walked by and started talking to her about something else. Bummer.

I may wait to report on Yale and Harvard's admissions receptions together. But in the meantime, thanks to all the blogger buddies out there that have shown such great support to me in my MBA quest. Ya'll are tight. And ya'll are right when you say my app strategy is super risky. I agree that waiting until I hear more from Columbia before even starting other Round 1 apps is a bad idea. BUTTTTTT here's why it isn't that risky. I'm only applying to 3 other schools. I probably won't get into Wharton if I can't get into Columbia ED so I'm debating even submitting a Wharton app (after all, I may not even have time to visit). Yale's deadline is not until Oct. 22 so I'll still have a month which is plenty of time. And NYU Stern's deadline is not until Nov. 15 which is plenty of time too. Thus I'm only screwed for Wharton which probably wouldn't have mattered anyway. That's the way I rationalize my laziness :P


Samantha said...

I agree with you about not starting on other apps. If you're not feeling it, it's hard to motivate yourself to work on them and you'll have your Columbia essays to work from anyway.

I wouldn't give up on Wharton if you don't get into Columbia. They have similar acceptance rates, so if you get an interview at Columbia (which I'm sure you will), then I'm sure you'd have a chance at Wharton too.

TienyChesney said...

OMG, a re-applicant on BusinessWeek forums just got an interview invite on Sept. 5th!!! :::has a seizure:::

Anonymous said...

I was at this event too... funny how I didn't pay much attention to Duke either. Wasn't really anything that made them stand out from others. Even schools like BU etc had something that they could offer that was at least a bit unique. Good luck

Anonymous said...

Relax! Re-applicant acceptance rates are generally higher. They're like the "early-early decision" and will be considered before you. So that's to be expected. I also don't know that a CBS ding excludes you from Wharton. The profiles they admit are different enough to warrant an app.

Besides, can't have you seizing and dying yet, you've got my fav pre-mba blog.

Can you share a little more about the scene for MBA Tour? I'm signed up in a different city and don't want to act a fool. Were applicants in suits or biz casual? Do you tote around resumes / biz cards / big notepads / etc?

TienyChesney said...

Hi Anonymous,

"Fav pre-MBA blog"!!! Gee, you really know how to butter me up. I was gonna just write some vague generality concerning the MBA tour to answer your question but then you wrote "act the fool" haha. I love it. I hope my future classmates speak in urban tongue too :P

The dress code at the MBA tour was business casual to business formal. I'd say half the guys were dressed in full suits but it was kinda hot in DC and I'm guessing they may have regretted it. But I fully understand their reason: if you're gonna get valuable face time with the Adcom (perhaps that valuable 1st impression), then better to verge on overly formal than to be overly casual. I personally wore khakis and a dress shirt with no tie but then again, I only wanted to talk to Yale. I'd recommend wearing a shirt, tie, trousers, and shoes. No jacket needed. Or if you're really concerned, wear the jacket and you could prob forget the tie. If you're a woman, then I can't help :)

But here's the other thing to consider. The DC tour was on a sunday so in my mind, it would've been weird (but not in most people's minds) to wear a full suit. But the tour will probably hit your city during the work week. In that case, a lot more people, maybe 80% of the guys could be wearing full suits. In that case, maybe you want to do the full get-up. Up to you. I wouldn't worry about it too much. Just veer on the side of formal if you're nervous.

A lot of people had notepads to take notes. I did not. I took some pretty good notes on Yale but I only used 1 page so I wrote it on the back of the program schedule. I'm assuming you'll have more than 1 school that you're interested in (unlike me) so maybe bringing a notepad or small portfolio would be useful. It wouldn't be out of place at all. I didn't notice business cards except for one table was raffling off a free admissions consultant package that required business cards. But they had makeshift cards that you could fill out too. I don't think I've ever dropped a business card to an Adcom before but I guess you could try... I mean, what are they going to do? Refuse? Do not bring resumes though! That will definitely stick out like a sore thumb.

Just be cool, listen intently and ask a smart question or two during the presentations of your target schools. During the MBA Fair, say hi to the Adcom and ask 2 or 3 more insightful questions (no "what is your GMAT cutoff?" type questions please). Bonus points if you can say something about yourself that will make you memorable. This is easy for me becuz I'm interested in real estate and Yale only graduates 1% of MBAs into the real estate industry. Make sure you fill out any card or registration that shows you attended the school's event (in case they track this). Also, make sure you catch the Adcom's name or grab their business card, that way you can email them a brief (keyword: brief) thank you email later if you want. If you're bored, you can practice talking without getting flustered by approaching the adcom of schools that you are on interested in. For instance, you can start asking the Adcom of BumbleFunk University whether they think your long-term career goal sounds realistic. Also, there may be douchebags around but many of the people there are early in the MBA application process so they're pretty clueless and/or anxious. Feel free to make small talk with someone else if you're getting bored. And remember, don't eat burritos directly beforehand :)

Anonymous said...

Hey, thanks for all the info. I am attending this event in Atlanta tomorrow evening, and I was curious about the dress too. There was no mention of that on the MBA Tour website, and while I know it is always best to err to more dressy than casual, it is also true that nobody wants to be the only dork in attendance in the monkey suit with a fistful of resumes.

I am bringing some business cards just because Cornell sent an email specifically requesting it. I am not terribly enamoured of Cornell, but I assumed that if they want them, then perhaps the other schools do as well.

TienyChesney said...

Hey Anonymous,

Do yourself a favor and definitely talk to Randall, the Director of Admissions at Cornell, face-to-face! He had the best presentation in my opinion (i mentioned the ridiculous internship and employment stats in my post) and he seems like a real cool dude. He also seems like the kinda guy who will remember you and take time to get to know you. I think the presentation will make you like Cornell a lot more (I certainly gained more respect for them).

solaris said...

anon, Cornell doesn't really care about the business cards and resumes they ask you to bring along to the event.

No one even asked for them when I went to one of these fora in NY a few weeks earlier.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the advice. In the end I didn't make it to the Cornell presentation, because I had to choose between Cornell and Michigan, and I know that I am applying to Michigan. I arrived a little late, so I missed the admissions panel discussion. I don't regret that though, since I figured that most of the questions would be "what if I took the GMAT more than once" or "what if I switched jobs" or any of the other usual questions that come up in these things for which there are answers a plenty on just about any MBA program's website. All in all, not a very informative event, but I suppose it always helps to get some face time with the admissions members. The Cornell representative was not the director anyway.

The schools that were represented ranged a great deal in prestige. If you were somebody who was gunning for a top school, there wasn't a whole lot of useful info to be had, but for more regional programs, I imagine it was very helpful. I was disappointed by the lack of top schools. Of the 15 or so schools there, the only top-20 programs were Haas, Ross, Johnson, and McDonough. Ross is the only one of these that I am considering, so the event was mostly a waste of time for me. I did get a chance to speak to an admissions committee member from Ross who was very knowledgeable and gave very honest answers. I attended the Berkeley presentation second, because the other programs that were presenting simultaneously I have absolutely no interest in. The rep from Berkeley was very nice, but it was a little disconcerting that most of her presentation was read from a note card. Finally, I attended the Kenan-Flagler presentation because I needed to kill some time before the fair began, and the admissions director was very nice and gave a very thorough presentation (quite a bit better than the rep from Haas).

TienyChesney said...

Hey Anon,

Thanks for the recap. It's funny cuz Chicago and Duke (out of the top programs) were at the DC tour. Anyway, after that post, maybe you can start being a guest blogger on my blog hehe!

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