Coffee chats are informal gatherings that enable prospective students to meet and network with existing MBA students and alumni. Generally, MBA programs host coffee chats only in China's tier-1 cities. This is due to two reasons:
- The hosts themselves came from a tier-1 city
- There is a perception that most MBA applicants come from tier-1 cities
Not true. Last year, when I was applying for business schools, I was actually serving a secondment posting in a tier-2 city! Yes, I felt restrained by what limited resources I had at that time. That is, I had no test-prep classes, no essay-writing workshops, and no alumni to contact!
I'm glad to have successfully hosted the first Haas coffee chat in Chengdu, a tier-2 city where the population of study-abroad students has been growing.
I initially wondered if any attendees would show at all. In China, there's a perception that people in tier-2 cities tend to settle down once they have a job and focus exclusively on their family life. Again, not true. Over 10 prospective students showed up!
Each of them told me that their friends wanted to come too but could not leave their work! I was thrilled to learn that these prospective students had all made extraordinary achievement in their respective companies. More importantly, they expressed strong desire for continued learning.
Despite the aforementioned lack of resources, these students showed initiative by establishing a QQ (a popular Chinese social networking tool) group to help one another with the MBA process. Together they already reached out to many current students and alumni.
I made friends with each one of them through this event. I'm happy to report that many have made follow-up meeting requests to learn more about Haas. Hopefully we can continue expanding the coffee chats to even more cities in the future!