Q: Where did the name “MBArk” come from?
A: It’s “embark” without the “e.” We know that MBAs are on a journey, from work to business school and back, and as you “embark” we want to help you out.
Q: Who is eligible to participate in the MBArk Program?
A: Anyone currently enrolled in a graduate program, with special preference given to those in MBA or joint MBA programs.
Q: If I have already participated once, can I apply again?
A: Yes, but priority is given to first-timers. However, we do like to have a few alumni/ae who have attended MBArk as a first-year come back and help out in their second year.
Q: What is the deadline to apply?
A: Our 2018 Expo West program will take place March 8-10. The priority application deadline is January 14, 2018, and the final deadline is February 4, 2018.
Q: Why two deadlines? Is it really worth applying if I miss the first deadline?
A: We have had to go to two application deadlines because the academic calendars of schools are so different. The later deadline accommodates those schools that begin their semesters later.
It is typically a little easier to be accepted into MBArk if you apply by the first deadline: about 75% of our participants come from that group. Also, those who do not get accepted by the first deadline get added to the pool for the second deadline, so there is more competition for fewer spots. Nevertheless, we DO take people from the second applicant pool, and sometimes there are unexpected openings after someone who has been accepted decides they cannot make it. Bottom line: yes, if you missed the first deadline, definitely apply by the final deadline of Feburary 4!
Q: How is it decided who gets into MBArk?
A: It has become very competitive, and unfortunately only a fraction of those who apply can get in. The most important factor is the application itself – we are looking for thoughtful, passionate, honest, complete responses to the questions. Above and beyond that, we try to strike a balance to make sure that a lot of different schools are represented (not too many from any one), as well as a lot of different interests and functional expertise. There is also a balance between first years and second years, men and women, and an effort is made to keep the group culturally diverse.
Q: What is the program schedule like?
A: This is typically a fairly free-flowing program, that leaves you lots of time to wander the show floor, meet with companies that interest you, take advantage of educational programming, and socialize. In the past, the Expo West schedule has typically included:
DAY 1 (Thursday)
- Natural Talent Career Fair
- dinner orientation meeting
- feature presentation
DAY 2 (Friday)
- breakfast kickoff
- informal small group meetings on the show floor with key companies
- optional immersion meetings on topics like marketing, logistics, financing, and sustainability
- end of day: recap meeting and planning session for day 2
- Women in Naturals networking event
- group dinner
DAY 3 (Saturday)
- feature presentation
- meetings with MBA alumni
- meeting with New Hope Network
- additional meetings on the show floor with key companies
- recap meeting
Q: Should I bring my resume?
A: Yes, but keep it in your back pocket. This is a trade show, and for the most part companies are not expecting to meet with job applicants. However, we will make special arrangements with several companies.
Q: Can I really expect to find a job out of this?
A: Absolutely – several MBArk alumni have, both summer internships and full-time positions. It isn’t easy, because you are still in school and companies of this size typically don’t plan months ahead for their hiring needs. But the natural foods community is one of personal connections and networking above all else, so it is fairly common for conversations at the show that lead to bigger opportunities if you are good at follow-up and follow-through.
Q: How should I dress?
A: Business casual, with the most comfortable shoes you have – you will be doing a lot of walking.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: Participation for those who are accepted is just $99, and includes two dinners and two breakfasts, as well as access to all of the events. A few scholarships are available courtesy of corporate sponsor Daiya Foods. The cost of the show pass (up to $995) has been waived by New Hope, the organizers of the show. You are also responsible for transportation costs to get to and from Anaheim. Note that in several cases, the business schools or b-school clubs have provided funding for transportation and lodging. Check with you school about the availability of such funding.
Q: What about lodging?
A: In the past, MBArk participants were responsible for booking their own hotels. But rooms can be very hard to come by once you are within two months of the event. We should have a block of rooms reserved, available on a first-come, first-served basis. Subsidies may be available, but even if they are, participants are responsible for these charges. We recommend doubling-up with other MBArk participants in order to conserve room space and reduce the costs.
Q: Will I need to rent a car?
A: It depends on where you fly in. For Expo West, the closest airport is Orange County/John Wayne (SNA), and there is free shuttle service available from there to the Convention Center area. If you fly into LAX or ONT, you will certainly need a car. Once you are in the area, you probably won’t need a car. Most of the hotels are within walking distance of the Anaheim Convention Center, as are plenty of restaurants and attractions (like Disneyland). For Expo East, you can fly into BWI, National or Dulles, but in all of those cases will likely need a car or Uber/Lyft to get you there.
Q: Are there MBArk programs besides Expo West and Expo East?
A: We are working on it!