As everybody knows, the most trustworthy reviews of any products are those from other/previous users. An MBA is not exempt, talking to current students and alums of the schools you’re targeting can be the best thing that happened to you particularly if you, like me, cannot make it for a class visit.There’s one small problem: you (like me) do not know any students or alumni personally or so we think at this point.
I’ll be meeting with one current student interning in my town next week and I have already talked with several other students and alums from three of my schools (which is only because I’m taking one school at a time). How did I manage to do that? Two resources: social networks and cold emails.
First, I looked through all my contacts to see if anyone’s contact attended or is attending any of my schools. On Facebook every school had a page for students admitted in each year so it was easy to identify current students. On LinkedIn, I went through my connections, looked at my office page to find alums or current students ( this was easy because I work for one of the big names in consulting and we have a wide network). Another method would have been to search through the school pages on LinkedIn. Business schools are proud of their students and graduates, they frequently tweet their (students’ and graduates’) accomplishment and mention them in the process, making your search easier.
Cold emails: I have no idea why it’s call cold email. After finding the contacts, the next thing I did was to send them an email. I’m no guru and I don’t have a foolproof template for the email but I can tell you a few things from the cold emails I’ve sent and received (from job seekers not MBA applicants 🙂 ). First, keep the first email brief: introduce yourself, tell them how you found their contact and say what you want. Simple. Remember to give them an option, they do not owe you anything not even an acknowledgement. Also, this is not the time to tell your life story or share your ‘applicant profile’. The time for that may come, usually by the second email (which only happens after their response to your initial email). This next advice is a personal preference, some people may not agree: do not send reminder emails. Most people check their emails at least once a week, if you didn’t get a response, move on, try another person.
Now you can start getting insider information on the school.
P.S: the first email is usually through the mail facility of whatever social network platform you found the person.