7 Questions You Should Ask MBA Alumni and Students Before Writing Your MBA Essays

It is no exaggeration to say that networking is the most important activity in an MBA program, perhaps as important as studying, if not more so. Why do we attend business schools? Book knowledge and experiential projects are not hard to find these days. But we crave a top-notch degree primarily because we want to be associated with a tribe of high achievers and leverage those networks for the rest of our lives. The happiest MBA graduates are those who have truly enjoyed their time with peers and alumni. Smart MBA candidates start these activities long before they apply. This brings huge benefits as they can add new insights to their business school applications. Many of my mentees ask, “But what should I ask an alumnus or student?” Below, I will cover everything I think is important and what is essential to bring up during these conversations. I will also point out how important it is to do this

7 Questions To Ask an MBA Alumni and Students

Question 1: Why Did They Join the Particular School

It’s one thing to scrape information about a school from the internet, and quite another to ask a real person why they spent an important part of their life savings and time at their alma mater. Understanding the human aspect behind these decisions is crucial, as applicants often don’t realize that admissions officers are professionals who have made careers in human development. Few of them have been tech wizards, finance fanatics, or have done number-crunching jobs. Most, likely have a background in philosophy, languages, or human resources, and they look for humanistic values in applicants. They are looking for authentic answers as to why you want to join their program and not another that offers similar opportunities. In-depth conversations with alumni and students can shed light on what factors led them to join these programs and help you determine if those factors apply to you.

Question 2: What was Your Favourite Thing about The MBA Experience?

Business schools often go to great lengths to glamorize life on campus and build a polished marketing facade. However, talking to former and current students can shed light on what you might like about an MBA program. For those gathering material for their application materials about what they like about MBA life, I recommend talking to at least five alumni or current students to ensure a good mix of both. Alumni are often better able to assess their on-campus experiences in hindsight, providing a balanced perspective.

I would also suggest some sub-questions to help you showcase a more detailed effort to understand the program

You may ask about;

  • A favourite course (and why)
  • A favourite club (and why)
  • A favourite campus event (and why)
  • What was your overall impression of the academic rigour of the program?
  • How did the curriculum prepare you for your post-MBA career goals?

Questions To Ask an MBA Alumni

Question 3: What Things Did Not Come as a Pleasant Surprise?

Life is not a bed of roses. Plans change. We set off with a destination in mind, only to find that the journey takes us somewhere else. Unexpected opportunities arise, circumstances change, and what seems like a clear path can become a winding road. I understand that this is not your intention when you start a conversation with an MBA graduate, but asking about unpleasant things can help you better familiarise yourself with the reality you may face beyond the MBA hype at the school. You may not want to mention the not-so-pleasant things in your essays or interviews, but you can still factor them into your decision about a particular school.

Alternatively, you may also ask, “What would you do differently if you could change one thing about your MBA experience?”

Get a Free Profile Evaluation Today!

Curious about your chances of getting into a top B-school? Contact MBA Guide Consulting to talk about strategy

Question 4: What are The School’s Resources in The Career Centre?

Alumni have first-hand experience with the Career Center and can provide insights that go beyond the school’s official information. They can share how effective the Career Center has been in helping them and their fellow students find internships and jobs. Alumni can tell you about the Career Center’s connections to industries and companies. If you know which companies recruit from the school and how strong the alumni network is in different sectors, you can better assess the potential for job placements.

Question 5: How Has Your MBA Degree Impacted Your Career Progression Since Graduating?

It is important to know the strengths of different MBA programs because each program may excel in certain industries or career fields. Talking to alumni who have pursued similar career goals or come from a similar background can provide valuable insight into how the MBA program impacted their career in a particular industry or sector. Ask them about the ROI. By engaging with individuals who share your experiences or aspirations, you can better assess whether the program’s reputation aligns with your career goals. This dialogue will help you determine if the MBA program truly offers graduates the opportunities they seek based on the strength of the brand and provide you with valuable insight into your own educational and career path.

Question 6: Have You Benefited From Connections With Alumni?

I often mention the “brand recall” of MBA programs. If applicants know where they will be working in the medium to long term, the brand recall of a business school in those regions corresponds directly to the number of graduates working in those areas (unless you are an HWS graduate). Potential applicants need to inquire about the strength of the MBA alumni network. Alumni can share anecdotes about job placements, mentoring relationships, or collaborative projects that have resulted from connections with other alumni. Understanding the tangible benefits that come from alumni connections can highlight the potential career opportunities available to students within the MBA community. Alumni connections often go beyond professional networking to include a sense of community and camaraderie. By learning about alumni activities, social events, and ongoing support networks, you can better appreciate the level of community involvement and support that the MBA program offers.

Questions To Ask MBA Students

Question 6: What do You Think About My Profile?

Students and alumni with MBA degrees represent their universities with pride. They also try to understand your individuality and the reasons for your interest in this B-School. Prepare a concise introduction that highlights the most important aspects of your resume, including your education, work history, and special hobbies or extracurricular activities. Not only will this help open the door to an honest conversation, but it will also help them understand your motivation. Then go into more detail about your thoughts on this particular MBA program. How did you come across this program? Is it the network and location, the faculty, the industry or speciality the school focuses on, or something else entirely? By outlining your reasons for choosing this program, you provide valuable context to guide the feedback you receive. Finally ask, “Do you think I’m a good fit for this school?” This is a simple but effective question that invites honest, open feedback. After all, who better to judge your suitability for the program than those who have been through it themselves?

A word of warning: take honest feedback from graduates and students with a grain of salt. While they are trying to help, they are not always the best judge of what the admissions committee would consider a strong or weak candidate. Read into the responses to get an idea of your strengths and weaknesses so you can consider them in your B-school application

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Your Comment*




    × Chat With Us