It Begins: Pre-MBA Conference Season

I’ve gotten a bunch of e-mails over the past couple of weeks about upcoming MBA diversity conferences, which are fantastic opportunities to hear from current MBA students, mingle with adcoms from your target schools, and get jazzed about applying.

These conferences are a really valuable resource, and I don’t know that I would have found out about them if not for getting involved with the Forté Foundation and joining a bunch of lists. So here’s some quick information about these conferences for you, in case you are (like I was) not familiar!

A Quick Overview

These MBA conferences generally consist of some panels and a business school fair, where you meet with representatives from various schools. They’re an awesome chance to hear about admissions straight from the decision-makers and to practice acting normal when getting to know adcoms.

Many of the conferences are geared towards women or minorities. But don’t necessarily let that stop you — I haven’t seen men at Forté events, but I have seen the occasional white dude at diversity conferences. (See the link at the very bottom of this post for a little more on that.)

Preparing / Setting the Scene

Before last year’s Riordan DMAC Conference, there was an awesome webinar about how to prepare. Some tips from adcoms and MBA students:

  • Introspect. Know what you’re going to this event to learn. Think about your ideal MBA environment — class size, access to professors, alumni career goals, quant prep programs before school — and what learning style suits you best. What are your values and career interests? Having some idea of what you’re looking for will help you assess the schools you meet.
  • Ask good questions. When you talk to adcoms, don’t ask things that could easily be found on a school’s website. A lot of advice about campus visits and meeting adcoms applies in this situation. The chances of you blowing it with them are slim, but you want to create the conditions to make a great impression if you get the chance.
  • Explore. Don’t go only to check out your target schools. Meet reps from other schools and make connections with the other applicants at the event — you never know who you’ll meet or what you learn. I met a bunch of awesome UCLA Anderson students while I was applying, all because I shared a sandwich with an Anderson student at lunch at the Forté conference last year.
  • Connect. Be yourself and try to make genuine connections with adcoms, students, and other attendees. I’m a bit shy and don’t love schmoozing for schmoozing’s sake, so I approached these events hoping to have a few really great conversations. People want to talk to you about their experience, and the few people I engaged with deeply gave me valuable insights that made the experience worthwhile.

A(n Incomplete) List of Events

There are many many more of these events out there; these are the ones that I’ve attended, heard of, or found in a fairly cursory Google search. It’s worth putting in the time to research whether your target schools offer diversity events (Tuck’s is below as an example) and to see what other MBA affiliation groups (National Association of Asian MBAs or National Society of Hispanic MBAs, for example) are up to.

I chose not to include the NSHMBA Conference, the Reaching Out MBA LGBT Conference, or the National Black MBA Association Conference, or the Forté MBA Women’s Leadership Conference on this list because they are geared more towards current MBA students. They’re great events and also valuable, but I want this list to stick to the events that directly address MBA admissions.

  • The MBA Tour: July 2015  |  Various US Locations  &  International Events after July
  • Consortium Events: This is a fantastic list not only of Consortium events, but of events through other organizations as well. Definitely worth clicking!

Once You’re There

I’m working on a blog post about the events that I attended last year (the Forté conference and Riordan’s DMAC), but in the meantime here are a couple of links to whet your appetite for pre-MBA conference adventure times:

Image courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures.


3 thoughts on “It Begins: Pre-MBA Conference Season

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