On Monday I attended the Yale SOM Diversity Reception. It was at the same place as the MBA Tour on Sunday and Shelley from the Adcom recognized me immediately. I asked some more questions and sent a "thank you" email the next day. She won't be at SOM when I visit next thursday but she at least knows who I am at this point.
The reception went well. I felt comfortable talking to Shelley and there were 4 alumni on hand to talk to about 35 of us. I learned that Yale does have a Real Estate Club even though only one person went into real estate post-MBA last year. Their Investment Management Club also has a fake fund that invests theoretical money rather than a real fund. There were little tapas put out but this was one of those rare situations where most of the people were talking and ignored the food. I talked to one alum who was cool and then left. It was a decent event all in all.
Last night, tuesday, I attended the HBS Reception. It was held at the offices of Ogilvy, the public relations firm, which was pretty cool. As soon as I walked in the lobby, there were 10 guys dressed in sharp suits waiting at the front desk. Let me say this. You could definitely tell the difference in caliber between the HBS and Yale prospectives. The difference was substantial. For the most part, the HBS prospectives appeared like the bankers in American Psycho. They all had tasteful, nicely tailored suits and nice shoes. Many of them were actual leather-soled shoes rather than the rubber-synthetic soles that have become the norm in business these days. They all looked like they shaved and got a haircut that very day or something. They were all attractive and professional. Definitely a cut above every other event's prospectives that I have seen. In general, the women were more attractive as well.
The Harvard Business School event was over-attended. There was seating for maybe 100 people but there were at least 20 people standing too. At Yale, seating was only 50% filled when the event began. At HBS, seating was replete 5 minutes before the start of the event. Here's the thing that impressed me though. A couple of the other prospectives whom I interacted with were pretty cool. I fully expected to have nothing in common with some of them (and perhaps that's true with others) but they were personable and dare I say: charming. When prospectives asked questions after the presentation, they were mostly articulate and you could tell they felt comfortable speaking in front of an audience. Future business leaders of the world indeed. Seriously! Obviously there were plentyof snobby-looking, pretentious people in attendance too but the point is that an alarming majority actually seemed kinda cool. Another difference is the Harvard kids were really bustling and talking up a storm with each other prior to the start of the presentation. These kids really know how to network! This is a stark contrast to the start of other presentations which I have noticed is alarmingly silent.
The presentation was great. It was reallllly inspiring. The admissions officer (forget her name) did a great job representing the school and presenting it as the best and down-to-earth. There was also an alumni panel with 5 really helpful alumni who provided very articulate, helpful, honest answers. It was a model admissions event for other schools to follow. Some notes... the alumni and the adcom used the word "transformative" a couple times each. The presentation had a section on "HBS Differentiators" and the last one was "Network" with an asterik after it. The adcom heavily emphasized that gaining admission to HBS does not provide one with the network. Rather, the network is gained by actually participating and spending time with your classmates and staying involved with the school and community. This was interesting because I'm sure it was a direct response to that new book by the HBS grad who couldn't get a job post-MBA and hated the network there. It was also alarming how many times (3) a cell phone went off during the presentation. Just terrible. The adcom's presentation also had a section on admissions factors and unlike most schools which list academics (GPA, GMAT) first, HBS actually listed it last. I guess they have such academically gifted applicants to choose from that they don't need to stress it.
They also talked about how leadership was very broad and can come from being a visionary leader, a thought leader, a leader by example... not necessarily being a vocal A-Type personality leader. The last thing that struck me was how funny some of the alumni and the adcom were at times. I was truly charmed (and surprised). By the way, for those who don't believe that top MBA programs are trending younger, you better believe it. 41% of the new class had THREE or less years of work experience.
All I can say is "wow." I've talked shit about Harvard in the past but now I am drinking the kool-aid. The presentation really inspired me and the caliber of people there (adcom, alumni, and aspirants) blew me away. Truly world class. I am excited to visit HBS in the flesh next Friday now. I still don't think I'll apply though. Honestly, I just don't think I have much of a shot. I don't think I have the leadership potential they're looking for. But the presentation did convince me to take another look at their essays and reconsider... if even for a moment. I probably won't apply. By the way, thursday is the CBS Reception!!
On a sidenote, the person who I met at the MBA Tour on sunday (the girl from the gym whom I recognized and it went awkwardly) I saw again right before the HBS event. She wasn't going but she recognized me and it turns out we live in the same apartment complex. Small world. The conversation went really smooth this time (I wonder if it's because I looked aka dressed better than I did for the MBA Tour). We chatted on the street for about 5 minutes regarding our MBA searches (an easy topic of convo for me obviously) and then I had to break it off cuz I'd otherwise be late. I hope to see more of her in the future though :)