Informational Interview Tips for Boston MBA Programs

Before you decide on your preferred MBA program, it’s vital that you gain as much information as possible. An informational interview, as discussed in the article How to Conduct an MBA Informational Interview, is an opportunity to delve deeper into a particular MBA program through a one-on-one discussion. If you live or are interested in going to school in the Boston area, we spoke with the Sloan School of Management at MIT as well as the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College to discover more about conducting informational interviews at Boston schools.

“Informational interviews are a great way to get to understand the student community of an MBA program,” reveals Shauna LaFauci Barry, assistant director at MIT Sloan. “We strongly recommend that prospective students reach out to students, faculty and alumni to better understand our school.” The best place to start is with an on-campus program. “To experience the culture of an MBA program that you are considering, attend an on-campus visit program such as MIT Sloan’s Ambassadors Program or an On-Campus Information Session. These programs are designed to create interactions and are a fantastic place to make connections for future informational interviews/networking sessions.”

At Babson College, Dean of Graduate Admissions Petia Whitmore also recommends first starting with the school’s offered programs. “The best approach a candidate could take is to first explore the school’s website and see what ways to connect the school already offers and then speak with an admissions representative to further understand what the options may be,” she says. “For example, at Babson, we have the Ways to Learn More and the Graduate Admissions Events pages. We also meet with candidates at one of our campuses in Wellesley, downtown Boston or San Francisco. During these visits, we can facilitate a meeting with a current student, with our partnering offices or with one of the academic centers. We also help connect prospective students with alumni.”

Start with the school, then to decide if you want additional one-on-one interaction after that point. The truth is, you might not need much beyond the events and opportunities the program already offers. “We often host informal events for prospective students at fun places,” Whitmore explains. “One example is a recent admissions event at the Rail Trail Flatbread Restaurant in Hudson, MA, which is founded by Babson MBA alumni.”

LaFauci Barry shared perspectives from two current Boston MBA students at Sloan.

“The first piece of advice is if you can, come to campus. That’s the most important thing. That’ll give you more rich information than you’re going to be able to get from any other source. If you can’t come to campus, talk to someone. So reach out. The clubs are listed on the Sloan MBA program page. Get in touch with someone who shares an interest and get a live conversation going. All of the information is there. All the data is available. What I think should really inform your decision is that kind of personal intangible feel for the place you can get from either coming to campus or talking to someone.” — MBA ’16 student

“Take the time to go on campus visits. We have a great ambassadors’ program here at MIT Sloan where once a week a student will volunteer to take prospective applicants to class. Here you get the opportunity to actually go and sit in on a class and understand more about what the day-to-day life of a student is like. You’ll get an opportunity to chat with different students from different backgrounds and ask all the questions that you can’t really find out from an FAQ online or from a webinar.

And it’s only when you actually visit the schools that you understand how each school is very different. Finding that cultural fit, I think, is the most important part. Because you’re going to spend two years here, but you’re going to be part of the school’s community for the rest of your life. So you want to make sure that it’s a school that you’re very comfortable and proud to be a part of. And that’s what attracted me to MIT Sloan.” — MBA ‘16 student

If you’re interested in holding an informational interview off campus, Whitmore at Babson College recommends leaving it up to the interviewee. “In my opinion, if you are meeting with an admissions representative, a current student or an alum, you should let them suggest the location that is most convenient for them,” she says. “A coffee place is often a safe bet. I would say avoid anything that is too noisy, too crowded or has long lines. Drinking coffee, tea or soft drinks is pretty safe. In terms of eating, my suggestion would be to take your cues from the person you are meeting with. You want to be respectful of the time constraints they may have and not assume they will want to spend more than 30 minutes.”


About the Author

Kelly Vo    

Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and personal development.

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