Tag Archives | networking

Using LinkedIn to Research Business Schools

MBA linkedin

Everybody does it. The minute they see the name of someone they want to know more about, they rush to LinkedIn. It’s the world’s database, and so very useful.  So useful, in fact, that to position yourself for business school or your next career step, you need to be LinkedIn savvy.

You need LinkedIn for two reasons – first, you can (and should) manage your own public profile, because you can bet that a LinkedIn profile comes up first if someone Googles you.  Second, you can (and should) use it to do deep research on schools, career paths, and life choices.

Here are five tips for using LinkedIn like a pro:

1. Make Sure Your Profile is Up-to-Date

People will look for you, that’s a fact. LinkedIn, with 500 million users, is the professional networking site.  It’s so expected that you will have a complete profile that at least one MBA program, the MIT Sloan School of Management, requests your LinkedIn URL on its application in addition to your resume.

Tip: Add your picture.  According to LinkedIn, you are 21 times more likely to be viewed if you include a photo. Professional-looking photos leave a more positive impression.

2. Just Click on a School in Someone’s Profile

LinkedIn is an enormous database, and most of it is free. You can get tremendous amount of critical information without even reaching out.  Think Wharton is only for finance? Click on “Wharton” on any grad’s educational profile, and you’ll see an array of information. You can plug in graduation year, say 2015 and check out where that class landed by region, by industry, and by company. Check out how many—and who–ended up in marketing or business development or product management.  Think you want to work in Asia, but not sure that Columbia Business School is the right school for you? You can find scores of recent grads in China, Singapore, and Korea.

3.  Identify Target Career Paths

Advanced search can be your new best friend.  Perhaps after your MBA, you want to work in business development or product management for a company like online game-maker Riot Games.  How have others walked that path? Type “Riot Games” in the company box, MBA in the school keywords, and see what others have done to get to that point.  You might find that the pre-MBA experiences vary from engineering to Peace Corps volunteer.  Encouraging, isn’t it? You might also find that most have brand management experience prior to before working at the computer game company.  Such intelligence will make you a smarter planner, and later, a more effective job seeker.

4. Use the “Follow” Tab for Companies and Schools

Don’t let this feature fool you. It’s not just for companies, but you can also follow a school. If I look up “Tuck School of Business” for example, I can see 89 people in my network – either a current student or a faculty/staff member, and a current Tuck student who went to my undergraduate school.  You’ll also get notified when any member of your network adds that school (or company) to their profile.

And Away You Go!

Like many web tools, LinkedIn offers great value if you know how to use it.  Keep your profile up to date, use the unbelievable resources in the LinkedIn database, and then, go out and make connections for your professional and educational benefit.  It’s a great way to make social media work for you.

Use Your Summer Wisely

 

It’s summer in the northern hemisphere, which means time to get a little more organized about the admissions process. It’s a wonderful time to learn about schools. A little counter-intuitive, when students are out of classes and campuses are an empty husk of their former fall-to-springtime selves. But guess what! Many students are taking summer jobs and may be coming to your neighborhood. You can meet them for coffee, or just call them up and gab.

I could lecture you on the benefits of talking to students and recent grads about their experiences, but instead I will just repost this paragraph from a classic Tuck student’s contribution to the Tuck Admissions Blog. He’s closer to the ground than I am, and he says it probably more articulately.

Students are your greatest resource to find out more about the schools you are thinking about applying to or attending. MBA students are busy but almost everyone loves to talk about themselves and their experiences, and to feel helpful. So many of my classmates frequently have conversations with prospective students about life at Tuck, career planning, academics, etc. I pursued the ‘official’ route of visiting campuses (which, by the way, was the single most effective way of determining where I wanted to be) but didn’t make anywhere near as much use of current students, or even alums and faculty, as I should have through informal routes. If you have an idea of what you want to do after school, or what kind of clubs you want to get involved with while you are at business school, get in touch with people at your target schools to discuss their experiences. And feel free to ask them almost any questions, within reason.

Students and recent grads can help you get the feel for a school in a way that an admissions committee member cannot. They can tell it to you straight, and they can give you the good with the bad. You can see the fire in their eyes, or passion in their voices. You can tell if you want to sit next to them in class.

They won’t tell you what to write in your application, but knowing more about the school from real people will help you in figuring out whether you are the right fit. If all goes well, these conversations will inspire your campaign to get into the right place for you.

Ready? Set? Make the call.

Networking for MBA Admissions Fun and Profit

Networking, or talking to anyone and everyone about business school and the MBA admissions process, is more than just an exercise — you can use it to test out your own ideas and then open yourself up to new ones. It has been said that the best ideas are talked about. Good ideas are inspired by, and refined with, conversation.

Right in Your Own Backyard
As you are mulling over your business school plans (Can I? Should I? When? Where? How?), you may start with friends and family, and then move on to a wider circle. If you can talk about

Nice to meet you

it at work, find people who have gone down the route you are contemplating – recent MBAs, or my current favorite, people who might be in your town or your company for the summer. They are the ones right in the middle of it all, they’ve drunk the Kool-Aid of that particular school and are exploring or have decided upon an industry. What a fount of information!

Talking around is a great excuse to meet new people too. Many business schools have alumni ambassadors who make themselves available to prospective students. Columbia Business School even puts student names and email addresses on its website, so you don’t have to go through the admissions office to connect.

Getting the Real Lowdown

Current or recent students are great resources to help separate fact from fiction. Certainly each school has its own marketing machine, and as I have said since the beginning, admissions offices are increasingly transparent about what they are looking for. But they cannot tell you about whether the career office is any good or not, or if the school felt too competitive, remote, lonely or overwhelming at times. Students can tell you whether the famous professors or the $150,000 price tag are worth it, or if all consultants are boring. Recent MBA graduates, or professionals in your target industry, can tell you whether it is as fun and interesting as you hoped it would be. (Is private equity really that sexy?)

Talking around also has the benefit of teaching you to learn to think on your feet – a big part of business school and business training. You may even learn how to put together your own personal elevator pitch.

Hobnobbing for Fun and Profit
Another bonus is that you may meet new people simply for the fun of it. I know people who have, through networking, met romantic partners, buddies or roommates, been introduced to new hobbies, learned about new shops or restaurants, all while expanding their Linked In network! There’s really no downside to getting out; in fact, it’s good to get away from the computer now that social networking is all the rage. Yes, I have met friends through Twitter – my mentor, Doug Barg, a of GeeMatters, is one, and we now have a solid group of friends and resources we can both use in our businesses. Indeed, a handshake is stronger than a tweet, and a lot more memorable!

How to Make the Most of Your MBA: A Primer for Entrepreneurs-to-Be

This week’s tips come courtesy of Alison Albeck Lindland, a fellow Vassar graduate who went on to get her MBA from Columbia Business School, graduating in 2008.  Prior to business school Alison worked on the Goldman Sachs and Jaguar accounts at OgilvyInteractive and was an early team member at TheaterMania.com, a startup media and ticket software company. After graduating from CBS, she worked at

Alison Lindland and colleague

American Express Interactive, and is now director of business development at Kohort, a venture-backed  group management and event planning platform.

Alison says these tactical pointers cover a potential entrepreneurship career. Personally, I think her recommendations apply to anyone hoping to take a big jump into something new and different careerwise.

  • Get to know everyone in your cohort. There’s a temptation to gravitate to the people you are just going to be friends with or have to work with in study team but guaranteed you’ll be missing out on some terrific people and contacts.
  • Network with your classmates. Once you’ve identified the industry or area of focus that you want to pursue after graduation use all the internal databases and  or LinkedIn to identify current classmates who worked in that field and do coffee chats with them. I met lots of great classmates who I otherwise would never have met socially, whose background ranged from telco engineers who gave me mini tutorials in how mobile tech actually works to mobile entrepreneurs who had worked on interesting early mobile dating apps.
  • Get to know your professors personally and tell them what you’re interested in.  Having gone to a small liberal arts school, I came from a mindset where you always got to know your profs personally and would have them over to your house for dinner.  Most business schools are not this way so you can really stand out if you make an effort and you never know what it will yield.
  • Seek out opportunities to TA for your favorite profs or help with their research.  I TA’d for Prof. Whadwa’s excellent strategy consulting class for a session for the Exec MBA class.  This a great chance to get to know my favorite professor better, and to know 65 terrific Exec MBA students.
  • Volunteer to help out institutes or think tanks in your school.  You would be surprised how many institutes and think tanks your school funds.  Though the smaller ones may not have a great profile to students you would be surprised to learn how many industry and high profile alums may be involved.  At CBS I was thrilled to discover the Columbia Institute of Tele-Information and I simply walked in, introduced myself and said I wanted to get involved.  Turns out they were in the early stages of planning a Location Based Services conference for the summer . Given my contacts from my summer doing mobile at Amex, they were happy to enlist me.  It was without a doubt one of the best experiences I had in school.
  • Get off campus and talk to everyone.  If you’re nervous about cold-emailing people for networking coffee chats, start with the guest speakers in your courses. Connect with them in person before they left the actual classroom and follow up that day asking for a coffee.  It’s a great warm intro and usually you’ll know more about what they’re working on after the talk.  In my case, if they could not meet with me, they would give me someone else to talk to.
  • But if you’re nervous about cold emailing people – don’t be.  Being an MBA gives you carte blanche to reach out to people – it is what professionals expect of MBAs.  Just say you’re really interested in something related to their career or company and can you come to their office for a 20 minute coffee chat.  90% of the time people said yes to this request – and again, if they didn’t I’d ask them if there was someone else I could talk to. Remember to make networking hay while the MBA sun shines.  And set yourself a target – like 3 a week so you keep doing these.
  • Take a class in another school or that is widely cross registered. MBAs are great but you’re going to spend most of your career working in cross functional teams – why not get to know these people (lawyers, journalists, designers, developers etc) now.
  • Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you to go to all the happy hours and on some major group trips.  You’re working hard in school and this is a great way to recharge and really grow those relationships – plus you’ll never have time in your adult lives to do things like this again.

Phew! It’s exhausting, but that’s the beauty of the MBA experience — it’s all there for you if you want it.

 

–Betsy Massar, taking a leaf from the Alison Lindland playbook. For those who want to jump in and experience the busy and rewarding MBA experience, make sure you set yourself up for success with Admitted: An Interactive Workbook for Getting Into a Top MBA Program.

Researching MBA Programs: Finding the Right Fit

Lots of angles (and curves) to measure

Believe it or not, all business schools are not alike. They each have their own personalities, including their own strengths and weaknesses.

Even assuming you could get into every program (why not?) not every place will be just right for  you. Just like in job-hunting, the decisionmaker is going to evaluate how you fit. The best way to get that right is to do your own research.

As I’ve mentioned before, (see blog posts: Use Your Summer Wisely, Start Your App Now, and      The First Tip: Start Early), it makes sense to start early in this process, so you can refine your  choices and also learn a bit more about yourself on the way.

You can use this time to research,  network, pick up valuable work experience, visit campuses, and, believe it or not, have a good time.

RESEARCHING MBA SCHOOLS

Here are some things you can do to learn about where you might want to go to business school:

  • Go to MBA fairs and school-sponsored outreach events–in person (preferable) or online (easier to schedule and are increasingly available)
  • Talk to current students
  • Talk to alumni
  • Visit schools
  • Sign up for outreach programs. Examples include UCLA’s Riordan Fellows Program, the Kellogg Women’s Leadership Workshop , the  Duke’s Women’s Weekend and Stanford GSB’s Many Voices and XX programs. (Plus, too many more to list here.)
  • Read school websites
  • Read student blogs
  • Watch YouTube videos on schools – official and non-official
  • Follow/like school pages on Twitter or Facebook
  • Talk to your career mentor
  • Talk to friends and relatives you respect
  • Check out the list of chats and events at the MBA.com website (the GMAT people), Bloomberg Businessweek, admission consultant websites, and reputable MBA portals.
  • Take notes!

Keep an open mind when you are researching. You never know what you will find, as schools, programs and career trends are changing all the time.

Monique, and 85 Broads member who lives in a city in Africa that will not be visited by any business schools this year, has combed through her target school sites for African graduates and students, has connected with people from her undergraduate alma mater who went to business school, and is asking through Facebook for names of current students or recent graduates, who might be in her country over the summer. She’s also emailed students who are listed as “student ambassadors” on business school websites or the student club pages.

Some schools, such as UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, ask you what you have done to learn about their program in the application. The answer will not make or break your application. However, if you live across the bridge in San Francisco, and have never set foot on the campus, then it could be an issue. With so many channels available – fairs, tours, outreach programs, student ambassadors, clubs, blogs, Facebook, Skype, Twitter, you name it – it’s hard to find an excuse not to have talked directly to students, alumni, or school reps.

So the burden is on YOU to learn about fit. But it doesn’t have to be a burden at all – you’ll be learning more about yourself and your future.  How cool is that?

B