So Your Dream School Invited You to a Networking Brunch…Now What?
One of our clients was recently in this exact situation. Her Kellogg application was submitted and her interview was completed. She was just waiting for the final decision. Then, she received an email inviting her to an intimate networking brunch in her hometown of [major US city*]. Her mind immediately started racing, wondering “What does this mean?”, “Should I take this as an indication that I’m accepted?”, and “I should definitely go, right?” As her MBA admissions consultant, I encouraged her not to jump to conclusions – that although it can’t be a bad thing that she was invited to this event, she shouldn’t assume that she’s accepted until she gets that official phone call. And in the meantime, she should make her best effort to attend the event. So she did, and here’s how it went!
The event took place in a European-style bistro – nice but not stuffy. The group was indeed quite intimate with 10-12 attendees total, of which half were prospective students and half were Kellogg alumni. There was one representative from admissions who attended and provided a brief welcome message. She directed that the conversation should be casual and organic. After that, she made a point to fade into the background so the prospective students could feel at ease.
Seats around the table were assigned, with prospective students sitting next to alums who shared their industries/careers of interest. The alums appeared to have reviewed the candidates’ applications and were familiar with their profiles, career goals, etc. For example, one alum asked my client a specific question about her career goals in corporate strategy. Overall, the event lasted about 2 hours. After the prospective students left, the alums stayed behind to debrief with the admissions officer.
In general, my client didn’t find the event to be as relaxed as she had expected. However, she was happy to connect with other candidates and was pleased to have had another opportunity to interface with the program and add another “data point” to her application. Fortunately for her, she found out several weeks later that she was admitted to Kellogg with a $30K scholarship. It’s unclear how much, if at all, the networking event influenced my client’s admission decision. However, if and when you’re invited to a similar event during your MBA application process, here are 5 of our do’s and don’t’s:
DO make a point to attend. You’ve been invited for a reason. Although attending won’t in any way guarantee admission, it can help you learn more about the school and give the adcom an additional opportunity to get to know you better.
DO actively engage with the other attendees, both alums and your fellow applicants. Rest assured that your interactions with others are being observed.
DO ask thoughtful questions. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the program from alumni who are eager to share their experiences. After all, they committed 2 hours of their weekend to spend with you!
DON’T assume that your invitation is reflective of your admissions decision. You should still put your best foot forward.
DON’T forget to enjoy yourself!
* Location not disclosed to protect client confidentiality.