A Beautiful Mind

The Reflections Of My Mind

What not to do at an MBA event?

with 17 comments

From time to time I see a lot of blogs and articles on how MBA fairs or event are useful in understanding the target schools. I have read articles on almost everything that one can (and  should ) do at these fairs. There are numerous blogs that talk about how to dress at these events, what to ask for, what to take with you and so on.

But none of these articles mention a thing about WHAT NOT TO DO? at these events. It may appear to be a silly or worthless discussion topic and I used to think the same. But my opinion changed after I visited The MBA Tour in Mumbai on September 26, 2009. My motivation to write this blog came in from the incident that occurred at this event.

From seeing final year students who have no idea of the difference between an MBA from a developed nation and an MBA from India to people who came with their mom and dad with an expectation to find a university that will admit them without a GMAT. Yes you read it correctly, asking for a TOEFL waiver is what we normally hear. But I heard people asking for a GMAT waiver.

And on top of this, a not so young, 35 something looking, suit wearing dude (lets call him just DUDE) had a fight with an alum from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. And it was not just an argument over some disagreement. This DUDE actually verbally abused the alum and the adcom member from Duke. The drama went to such an extent that the adcom had to call in the hotel authorities and the tour organizers to get that DUDE out of the ball room. Here is how it happened:

Duke Alum (L), DUDE and Duke Adcom member (R)

Duke Alum (L), DUDE and Duke Adcom member (R)

The image to the right shows the three people concerned here. I have kept the image a little blurred intentionally.

D: our DUDE, A: Duke Alum, Ad: Duke Adcom member

D to A: Can I have your email id so that I can ask you questions about Fuqua?

A: You can ask me now, I am here to help you and answer your questions.

D: No. I need your email id so that I can ask you questions later.

A: Actually we do not give personal emails to everyone. You can contact the Adcom and they will put you in touch with a person matching your requirements/profile.

D: Yes I will do that. But I have come here for you id and I need your id to ask questions.

(WOW…. he didn’t ask any question and came in only for the email ID?)

A: We do not give personal ids to everyone as per our policy and because our mail box gets flooded with queries from everyone. This way we filter out the people who are interested in particular field/course.

D: But why can’t you give me your id when I have come here for that. If you don’t give it to me, I will tell the Adcom about it.

(As if Moma is going to beat jonny for taking sally’s lolly)

D to Ad: This guy …… blah blah …. jonny took my lolly …. blah blah.

Ad: Sir, you can write to us and we will try to put you in touch with an alum from your interest area or location.

D: No. I need his ID. I am here for that. Why can’t you give me your id.


(This goes on for a total of 10 mins)

A to D: Instead of arguing for 10 mins, I would have answered all of your question and others would have benefited from it.

D to A: You are here to provide me a service. I came in here and you should give me your email id now.

Ad: Sir, let us all make peace here. You can write to us and we will do the needful.

D: No. He (the alum) is here to provide me a service. He is an Indian and I am an Indian. He should help me as an Indian.

A: What is it that is so special that you can’t ask me here in front of everyone but only on an email. We will answer all of your questions here itself. Just tell us.

(The nearby crowd had a laugh after hearing this 😀 . D starts getting angry.)

D to A: Whats your company name? What is your designation?

Ad: Sir, this is not relevant to our point. You cannot ask this.

D: No. I can. I can ask anything in my Country. What is his designation? Which company? I will write to that company. I want to know where has he reached till now.

(What the f**k is going on here. What does he mean my country, your country and all. Even the crowd starts getting angry at the DUDE.  We do not misbehave with our visitor or anybody in India. Looks like he was a psycho patient 🙂 )

Ad: Sir. I ask you to stop this. You should not insult the alum. If you apply at Duke with this attitude, I doubt you will be accepted.

D: No I need his id. And tell me which company are you from.

Ad: Sir, I might have to call someone. So you better stop.

D: Call anyone. No one can take me out. Whats you company’s name?

A: I have my own business. And I don’t really care about you.

Ad then calls the tour organizers and the hotel authorities. Fortunately we didn’t have any physical fights and our Dude was out in a few minutes.


Now back to the main point. From my experience at the tour, I am satisfied as I got what I went for. But a lot of my time was wasted because of this and other such things there. Here is a lot of things that you should NOT do at any such event:

  • Do not argue with the adcom: Should be obvious by now.  This will not only waste everyone’s time but may also have negative consequences for you.
  • Do not ask what is stated on the school site: What is the minimum work-ex required? What is the average GMAT? Don’t do this. Do your research in the schools that are visiting and you are interested in. Check the FAQs on the website. The adcom gets bored of such repeated questions.
  • Do not visit the fair with your parents: Yes. There were many students with parents. All of them were either final year under-grad students or recently passed out. They had no idea about the difference between an MBA from a developed nation like USA, UK, SPAIN,etc and an MBA from INDIA, Sri Lanka or Manila. Also, if you are alone and still have no idea, do not come. The last thing the adcom wants is to get annoyed by your presence. An MBA in India is a completely different concept compared to developed nations. It is only and only about practical learning. It is not about getting a job or starting your career straight out of university.
  • Do not go without doing your own research first: This applies especially to people mentioned in previous point. Do not ask questions like “Where exactly is this school located?”, “What is it that the school is good for?” or “How much is the fees?” . Again do some research on the school first. Ask specific questions about the curriculum, the interview procedure (yes it differs from school to school), or about the current financial aid situations for internationals.
  • Do not ask stupid questions and do not repeat questions: “Can I apply without GMAT?” I had a blast in my ears. So far the best question of the day. Others typical ones are: “What are my chances?” or “I am already an MBA, can I apply” (This after the adcom has clearly mentioned NO).
  • Do not ask question if you already know the answer: “Can I get a scholarship?” You know that it depends on you academic and professional record. It depends on your capability and need. And when the adcom explains the same thing to you, you start cutting his answers by saying the same thing before he does.
  • Do not ask about jobs: “Will I get a job after this MBA?”, “I want to stay in US, will I be hired by a company there?” Repeat with me, MBA IS NOT ONLY ABOUT GETTING A JOB. ( Or May be it is, May be it is not  🙂  ) 
  • Do not dress in a weird manner: You can dress professionally or casually, it is fine. But do now wear something extra ordinary flashy or eye catchy. You yourself won’t feel comfortable in the huge crowd there. The MBA tours in India are usually overcrowded.


I hope this is enough.


Written by abeautifulmind1

September 28, 2009 at 5:58 pm

17 Responses

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  1. that was cool…had a hearty laugh 🙂

    Last Samurai

    September 28, 2009 at 7:39 pm

  2. Depressed that the so called “most intelligent people in the world” behave in such a way.. Btw the post is hilarious..
    After reading this people from India might be scared to apply in EA ! We should give the Adcom some time to get over this..


    September 29, 2009 at 1:28 am

  3. Wow. Even with the blur, I suspect I know this adcom…

    You make a great point about the information sessions (Fuqua or otherwise). Just as you wouldn’t go to a job interview and do any of the things that you’ve listed (at least, if you hope to actually get a job!), you shouldn’t do them at the MBA fair. Really, you shouldn’t do them anywhere for any reason, but you get my point.

    I wouldn’t worry about giving the adcom any time to wind down, all of the staff at Fuqua are passionate professionals that seek to pick the best of the best for the incoming class. They aren’t going to decline all students from India for the next couple of weeks based on this experience 🙂

    Randy Zwitch

    September 29, 2009 at 2:22 pm

  4. […] post should serve as a warning to all of you prospective students out there applying to business […]

  5. I was the Duke adcom at the Fair, and I appreciate you capturing this incident and applaud your excellent advice to prospective students. Please don’t worry that this episode tainted my experience in India or our enthusiasm for candidates from India. I had a great trip, and I loved Mumbai in particular. It was a shame that so much time was wasted — the fairs are short and crowded, and we already feel that there is never enough time to answer everyone’s question.


    Dan McCleary

    September 29, 2009 at 4:06 pm

  6. Excellent post. I just tweeted it.

    A couple of thoughts:

    1) FYI: We have a least two posts which include what not to do at an MBA Fair. (http://blog.accepted.com/acceptedcom_blog/2009/7/28/the-mba-tour-qa.html and http://blog.accepted.com/acceptedcom_blog/2009/9/9/qs-world-mba-tour-exclusive-tips-from-top-mba.html . You have richly added material to the topic above, but these two posts are also informative. My favorite mistake mentioned in the Top MBA Q&A is asking the adcom to explain the difference between the MBA and the NBA (National Basketball Association in the US) That’s why we have Google.

    2) I agree that asking if one can get a job after the MBA is not a good question for an MBA fair. If anyone knew the answer with certainty they would be a high-priced consultant making tons more money than those professionals working at MBA fairs. However, the goal of an MBA is almost always professional advancement ie a job.

    Thanks again for a great post.

    Linda Abraham

    Linda Abraham

    September 29, 2009 at 10:25 pm

  7. i read your post last night and what ticks me off is the “indian helping indian” rationale. yes, indians should help fellow indians, but as an alum or otherwise, wouldn’t i be expected to be fair to everyone, irrespective of their nationality?

    i had been to a fair in mumbai 2005, where i had met dean danos from tuck and had spoken to a few alums. i had even managed to catch a sample lecture and was simply blown away! the reason i managed to enjoy this experience was because the participants were very professional. there was no mad rush for face time, no illogical questions and the like. in contrast, at the tour i went to in delhi in july this year, it was utter chaos with people behaving very unprofessionally and if i hadn’t had my rotman interview at the same venue, i would have felt very bad for having wasted my day travelling all the way to delhi to attend this event.

    people who go to these fairs should place themselves in the shoes of the adcoms and other prospective students and learn that by behaving professionally, they are infact helping themselves as much as others and helping create a better environment for all concerned. most importantly, they need to value others’ time.

    Rocky Balboa

    September 30, 2009 at 6:30 am

  8. […] Visit A Beautiful Mind for more. var addthis_pub = ''; var addthis_language = 'en';var addthis_options = 'email, favorites, digg, delicious, buzz, mixx, reddit, bitly, facebook, twitter, google, more'; […]

  9. […] post should serve as a warning to all of you prospective students out there applying to business […]

  10. […] Posted on October 6, 2009 by Steve One of the weirdest/ best stories I have heard of occurring at an MBA […]

  11. Some schools are accepting the GRE for MBA admissions. Maybe thats why they asked whether they could be admitted without the GMAT.


    October 6, 2009 at 9:42 pm

  12. […] of the weirdest/ best stories I have ever heard of occurring at an MBA […]

    Great Story

    October 6, 2009 at 11:00 pm

  13. […] of the weirdest/ best stories I have ever heard of occurring at an MBA […]

  14. Culture issue.

    I learned a lot more about it reading a peer’s essay this fall. While what he did is not appropriate for the context, he thought nothing of it. I’ve run into similar folks at work (USA based but high H1B %) and they definitely have to adapt a bit to the low PDI in the US.


    October 7, 2009 at 12:35 pm

  15. […] Some Funny Moments […]

  16. […] an unfortunate applicant who bombarded some Fuqua representatives last year provided a template for what not to do at these […]

  17. I was right there standing next to the man when he was fighting with Mr Dan. I first thought he was trying to be funny, until bouncers threw him out.

    Sandeep Lanjewar

    October 20, 2010 at 6:56 pm

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