UCLA evening

Last monday I was lucky enough to have an evening to spare…well, not quite, but I decided to take it and go sit at the UCLA Anderson presentation in Madrid.

And I made a wonderful choice.

UCLA Anderson

As an applicant, when you attend these events you expect to “get in touch” with the school, hopefully make some contacts to talk to about it and, more than anything, learn something that you couldn´t if stayed at home (or, at least, it would be much more difficult). And, in this regard, alumni and  students present at the event are what really make a difference. From them you learn not only about the program itself, but also lifestyle and even what to expect after you finish your MBA in that school (some of them might be doing eactly what you want to achieve).

In this case, the alumni present last monday were amazing. In fact, the Q&A part was quick, just a couple questions (yes, I took my opportunity to ask), and then they insisted that we join them for a couple drinks in a place nearby where there would be plenty of time to talk about everything. So we did, and once there even more alumni came and so there were more alumni than future applicants in the place. It was impossible for me to go talk to any single alumnus present, for they did not give me the oportunity: there was always one UCLA graduate who aproached you in order to ask if you liked/were interested in UCLA, ask about your goals, share his experience (in great detail), hand over his card prompting you to contact if needed help with the application… They didn´t mind to spend one hour talking to you about anything related to the school, the MBA in general, what would it mean to bring a partner with you… So, to sum up, I spent like three hours talking with countless people willing to share.

In the end, what you expect is that being there helps you understand and answer that famous question: “why this school?” In that regard, last monday evening was as successful as it could have been.

Researching schools

Now that I have finished with my MSc final project and given the fact that I won´t be at full throttle with GMAT until mid-august, I have now the time to really get started with Business Schools research.

Choosing a school where to apply is not as easy as it sounds, many factors come into consideration: location, curriculum, enviroment, school´s phylosophy, class size, intended industry…  The weight of each of those factors depends on the applicant´s interests and will determine which schools a candidate ends up applying to.

As for me, I am certain that I want a two-year program, since I think it suits better my career-changing plans, and that I would like to enter a top US school (given the fact that I´m going to spend so much time and put so much effort into it, let´s shoot for the stars). There are great schools here in Europe too, but I think it would be a more complete and challenging experience if I pack my back and cross the pond. But those are my only certainties for the moment, since many schools are appealing, and every top school has unique characteristics: Tuck´s location and phylosophy, Booth´s momentum and flexibility, Standford´s entreprenurial enviroment…I could go on with every school.

The amount of work ahead is daunting, so my first step will be to create/design a spreadsheet to resume each school´s characteristics and relate them to my interests and goals. Of course I have already signed up to some school-hosted events taking place in Madrid in the next few months, as a coffee chat this fridaywith some Booth students or the ones hosted by AdComs of Booth, Tuck or Haas next fall among others. Those are the best oportunities to get to know what people that “have been there” might have to say and to actually meet some of the people who are going to decide on your application.

It´s a ton of work, but I still have time until fall 2014, the sooner the better.