You’re In! Now, How to Spend Your Pre-MBA Summer?

by on May 17th, 2017

It used to be that you got into business school, gave notice at your job, maybe spent some time backpacking through some faraway part of the world, and then showed up on campus ready to start your next chapter. Today, though, recruiters who are eager to meet with promising members of the Class of 2019 host dozens of pre-MBA boot camps and other networking events over the summer. And that can leave those who don’t take part at risk of feeling left behind on the first day of school.

Summer Pre-MBA Events: What You Need to Know

If you think boot camps are just for soldiers, and summer camps are just for kids, think again. Though most prevalent in the finance and consulting industries, events are on the rise that provide opportunities for companies to meet face to face with incoming first-year MBA students months before classes begin. Tech firms like Google and CPG firms like Nestle and Proctor & Gamble are joining the likes of Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan, Bain and McKinsey, offering their own meet-and-greets in a bid to connect with top talent as early as possible.

In addition to soirees put on by companies themselves, groups like the Forté Foundation, Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), and Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA) also host events designed to offer early networking opportunities to women and underrepresented minorities. These events are part of the groups’ missions to increase opportunities for women and minorities in business school and beyond. Several individual companies—largely in consulting and finance, though not exclusively—also offer separate diversity events, hoping to forge early relationships with incoming first-year MBA students who are women, minorities, or members of other select groups.

Of course, providing a forum that brings recruiters and students together also presents a money-making opportunity. Recognizing this, Poets&Quants last spring launched its own Pre-MBA Networking Festival, inviting MBA recruiters to sign on as sponsors and soon-to-be MBA students to pay $250 per person to attend. In a similar vein, executive search firm Jump Start Advisory Group runs a series of two-and-a-half-day diversity forums—one on brand management and marketing and another on financial services and consulting. Admitted MBA students who apply and are accepted to the Jump Start Diversity Forums get a comprehensive introduction to their chosen industries, while corporate recruiters get early access to diverse prospective students. Another offering, CPG Camp, is an online marketing boot camp that promises to help participants hone critical skill sets for the competitive consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry, with top CPG Campers guaranteed resume reviews or interviews with leading recruiters.

All told, the events run the gamut from informal introductory open houses to industry-specific and multi-industry career fairs. In addition, many companies also offer deep-dive, multi-day camps designed to give participants a chance to experience first-hand just what their culture and industry is like while making valuable early connections. Though the vast majority of these opportunities are reserved for diversity candidates—women, underrepresented minorities, members of the LGBTQ community, veterans—some are open to all soon-to-be MBA students headed to leading business schools in the fall.

Our two-part guide is designed to provide you with an overview of the landscape so you can narrow your focus to the events most suited to you. Our list begins with opportunities that are open to all prospective first-year MBA students in specific industries. Subsequent sections highlight opportunities for URMs, women, LGBTQ and veterans respectively. Excluded from this list are numerous highly-selective fellowship opportunities—which in general offer a generous monetary award to be applied toward first-year tuition, a guaranteed summer internship with the employer, and a tentative full-time position. We will feature those in a separate upcoming article.

Pre-MBA Events Open to All Prospective First-Year MBA Students

  • Consulting Meet-and-Greets

Consulting giants McKinsey & Company, Bain & Company, and Boston Consulting Group (BCG)—“the MBB firms,” as they are called—all host informal networking events designed to provide a consulting primer of sorts to prospective students, complete with an overview of the industry, an office tour, and opportunities to meet and talk to current employees and learn more about what their career paths are like.

McKinsey puts on summer networking events all over the world. “We would like to celebrate your acceptance into an excellent program and share more about potential career opportunities we have to offer you,” reads its website. Its series of spring and summer events—spread across 33 locations—is “for anyone planning to pursue their full-time MBA in the Class of 2019,” according to the website. Interested students are invited to register, after which a recruiter from their selected office will be in touch with event details.

“ExperienceBain GLOBAL,” meanwhile, is an opportunity for soon-to-be MBA students to connect with any of that firm’s 55 offices around the world. Registration is now open to enrolling MBA students starting at roughly 25 top business schools. (Students at these participating schools are encouraged to get involved, according to the Bain website.) In addition to tours and networking opportunities, ExperienceBain events in select cities can also include interactive workshops that give participants a chance to try their hand at a real Bain case, alongside a team of consultants and managers.

A number of BCG’s offices around the globe will be hosting what it calls “Newly Admitted MBA Receptions” for international students, providing an opportunity for prospective students from Canada, Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Latin America to meet with representatives from the BCG office in their home country before heading off to school.

Not to be left out, Deloitte will host three separate “Meet Deloitte Consulting” events in June, one in Chicago, a second in New York, and a third in San Francisco. Attendees will hear from office leaders and get to network with current employees.

  • Finance Summer Seminars and MBA Camps

Banks, too, offer opportunities for prospective first-year MBA students to learn more about the financial services industry. The Goldman Sachs MBA Camp is “a half-day program for prospective first-year MBA students from all business schools who are interested in learning more about the financial services industry and summer internship opportunities at the firm,” reads the Goldman website. In addition to an overview of the banking giant’s multiple business lines, the event also features case studies, career workshops, and networking opportunities with current employees.

Bank of America, for its part, offers a seminar designed to introduce prospective first-year MBA students to BofA’s leading Global Corporate and Investment Banking (GCIB) group, which includes its corporate banking, capital markets, transaction services, leasing and investment banking teams. Participants get to hone technical skills while engaging with current employees across GCIB, and those who really shine may even be considered for a BofA summer internship.

Pre-MBA Boot Camps for Under-Represented Minorities

Part of an effort to increase the representation of historically underrepresented minorities (URMs) in business, an array of opportunities exists to help give these admitted MBA students a competitive recruiting edge.

Management Leadership for Tomorrow, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing the number of minority women and men in business, offers an in-depth pre-MBA program called MLT Professional Development (PD), which provides Black, Hispanic, and Native American admitted MBA students with one-on-one coaching, networking and programming support to set them up for success in MBA recruiting. Applications for this comprehensive 12-month program are accepted in two rounds, the first in January and the second in April. In addition to taking part in immersive industry boot camps, participants get the chance to interview with leading recruiters three months before starting business school as part of spring seminars hosted by MLT’s corporate partners.

If you’re too late to take advantage of the MLT program, have no fear. There are countless other opportunities offered by recruiters in the consulting, finance, and CPG industries who are eager to forge early relationships with diverse, high-caliber prospective MBA students. We’ve broken them out below by industry.

  • Consulting Diversity Pre-MBA Events

A.T. Kearney hosts an all-expense-paid, two-day Diversity Consulting Boot Camp in mid-June targeting newly admitted pre-MBA students of “African American, Hispanic and Native American backgrounds,” designed to help them learn more about the firm and network with current employees through participation in practice case interviews. Standout participants will be invited to interview for A.T. Kearney’s 2018 Summer Associate program.

Bain hosts a similar two-day ExperienceBain DIVERSITY Conference, also in June in New York, targeting the same audience of prospective first-year MBA students. Participants in Bain’s program receive a stipend to participate. If you’re interested in this one, act quickly. Applications are due May 5th.

  • Early Access to Finance Firms

Many finance firms also feature pre-MBA programs designed to attract high-achieving, underrepresented candidates. The Goldman Sachs MBA Camp, a one-day program in May for Black, Hispanic/Latino, or Native American prospective first-year MBA students, offers an overview of the firm’s history and culture, career workshops and networking opportunities. Goldman pays for participants’ travel and hotel accommodations.

Barclays, too, features what it calls its MBA Ambition Program. “MBA Ambition is designed to attract and educate high-achieving, underrepresented candidates, including female, Black, Hispanic/Latino, Native American and LGBTQAI students, as well as military veterans and students with disabilities,” reads the website. In what it describes as a condensed version of its on-campus recruiting process, the Barclays MBA Ambition program culminates in interviews at the firm’s New York offices, with successful candidates receiving internship offers for the following summer.

A third bank, JPMorgan, features what it calls its MBA Early Advantage Investment Banking Program. Taking place in July, MBA Early Advantage is open to “exceptional MBA students with cultural and diverse backgrounds and life experiences, including individuals from groups that have been historically underrepresented.” Applications are now open for soon-to-be students interested in learning more about investment banking or wealth management. “You’ll have the opportunity to meet our senior leaders and network with some of the most influential people in our industry, refine your technical skills and promote your personal brand,” reads the website, adding the Barclays springs for participants’ hotel accommodations and domestic round-trip travel.

And a fourth bank, Morgan Stanley, hosts its annual MBA Early Insights Program early in spring. The full-day program, which takes place in March, “is an integral part of our recruiting efforts to attract Black, Hispanic, Native American, LGBT and female students who are beginning an MBA program in the fall,” the firm states. Participants are invited to Morgan Stanley’s New York offices, where they get to meet with employees from across the firm’s institutional securities businesses and learn more about the recruiting process.

  • CPG Diversity Pre-MBA Boot Camps

For diverse admitted MBA students looking to break into the CPG field—or just to try it on for size—both Nestlé and Proctor & Gamble offer a chance to do precisely that. The Nestlé Brand Boot Camp is a three-day, all-expenses-paid affair held in July in Glendale, CA. Intended for students with an interest in marketing, marketing communications or brand management, the Nestlé event will end with opportunities to interview for a 2018 summer marketing internship. To be considered, applicants must possess “a resume demonstrating a commitment to diversity and inclusion” and successfully complete a phone interview.

The P&G MBA Brand Management Camp, taking place in late July in Cincinnati, OH, is a six-day program for prospective first-year MBA students interested in a career in marketing or general management. During the all-expense-paid week, participants will learn the ins and outs of P&G’s corporate strategies and brand building, including previewing key marketing roles open to newly minted MBA students.

Pre-MBA Events for Women

Just as there are several pre-MBA events designed to provide early networking access to underrepresented minorities, so too are there a range of events for admitted MBA students who are women. The Forté Foundation features two—its MBA Women’s Leadership Conference, taking place this year in Seattle in mid-June, and its FAST Track Conference, which will be held at the end of May in New York. The first, a two-day annual event open to both current and incoming MBA women, includes a Career Expo that draws numerous Fortune 100 employers. The second, a one-and-a-half-day conference, zeroes in on financial career possibilities, from investment and private wealth management to investment banking and portfolio management.

Another organization with a mission similar to Forté’s called the National Association of Women MBAs, also hosts an annual conference in October, including three days of networking opportunities and an on-site career fair featuring recruiters spanning multiple industries. This year’s event will take place outside of Chicago.

Like its MBA camp for URMs, Goldman Sachs also hosts a half-day MBA Women’s Summit for prospective first-year female MBA students looking to learn more about the financial service industry and summer internship opportunities. And as noted above, Barclays MBA Ambition ProgramJPMorgan’s MBA Early Advantage Program, and Morgan Stanley’s Early Insights Program are all open to women as well as minorities—as are the brand camps at Nestlé and P&G.

Pre-MBA Events for Members of the LGBTQ Community

Another group that gets some pre-MBA love in the form of recruiting prep opportunities is the LGBTQ community. Morgan Stanley’s Early Insights Program is open to students who identify as LGBT, as well as to URMs and women.

In addition, ROMBA offers incoming MBA students the opportunity to take part in summer industry treks to get to know recruiters in a range of industries. A trek to Minneapolis June 22nd and 23rd will introduce participants to marketing and retail firms there; a finance trek to New York will take place June 26th and 27th; a tech and retail trek to Seattle will take place July 10th and 11th; a general management and consulting trek will head to Chicago-area firms July 13th and 14th, and a tech trek to San Francisco-area firms will also take place July 13th and 14th. “These are great opportunities for attendees to get a better understanding of what options they might consider within the industry, meet other LGBTQA individuals admitted to MBA programs around the country, and network with LGBTQA MBA alumni and professionals,” reads the ROMBA website. “Last year multiple students attending treks ended up receiving job offers from companies they visited.” A list of participating companies, along with additional details about the 2017 treks, is available here. Attendees are responsible for their own travel and accommodations.

And as noted above, Barclays MBA Ambition ProgramJPMorgan’s MBA Early Advantage Program, and Morgan Stanley’s Early Insights Program are all open to members of the LGBTQ commuity, as well as women and minorities—as are the brand camps at Nestlé and P&G.

Pre-MBA Boot Camps for Veterans

Last but not least, a final category of boot camps is, in fact, for soldiers—former members of the U.S. military, that is. In mid-July, tech giant Google will invite up to 50 prospective first-year MBA students who are veterans to its Google Student Veterans Summit in Mountain View, CA. Toward a stated goal of creating “a diverse workplace that represents their users,” Google is looking for candidates who demonstrate “a commitment to the core values of impact and collaboration.” The three-day, all-expenses paid summit includes a special curriculum developed to help veterans transition smoothly to the civilian workplace, as well as opportunities for participants to network with members of Google’s veteran community.

Just as it features pre-MBA events for URMs and for women, Goldman Sachs in 2011 began to also host an annual Veteran Career Event. This one-day event provides an overview of the firm, summer opportunities and how to navigate the recruiting process while also introducing participants to Goldman’s Veteran Network.

Stay tuned for an upcoming article that will examine the pros and cons of starting business school with a summer internship offer—a not-unusual occurrence for participants in many of the above pre-MBA events.

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