MBA's @ NBMBA Conference
The weekend of 9/24 was an exciting one for the Illinois MBA....a group of students flew to the city of angels, California to attend the National Black MBA Association Career Fair. The overall fair was a huge success and our students certainly had a great experience. They had the chance to meet with top companies like IBM, Kraft Foods, L'Oreal USA,GE, Humana, Campbell Soup Company, American Airlines, American Express and many more.
Brian Cox, first-year MBA, went to LA for the event and sat down with us to share his thoughts on his first fair, some unexpected things he learned and his advice for future MBAs!
Keep reading to hear more from Brian...
Let's start with some background...tell us about yourself Brian. Well, I am a first-year MBA, with a concentration in Finance and I come from Seneca, Missouri.
Wow! A non-native! So, tell me about your experience at your first National Career Fair? Let's see; it was very exciting...there was a great intensity in the room where the fair was held. It grabbed your visual senses I guess is the best way to say it; it was like a giant trade show, all the employers had booths that were so elaborate and it was interesting to see. Also, it wasn't very crowded so you had the ability to talk to recruiters for up to 20 minutes if you had a lot of questions. The other refreshing thing was all the other MBA students, it was a really great opportunity to network. I met people from Florida, MIT, MU, and so many more...it was really cool.
What was your strategy for targeting companies? I knew that I wanted to be in the finance industry so i just went through and picked out all the top firms that would be interesting and then tried to make sure I stopped by their booths. I was able to hit all the employers I targeted in the first day. Then, I started to stroll the aisles and if i thought it sounded interesting I would stop and talk to people to get more information. I probably wouldn't change my strategy next time, though. I'm really social so I had no problem hitting every employer in the room! I will say, I'm totally exhausted!
Anything particularly interesting or unexpected that you learned/heard/experienced? I learned from recruiters about my competitive advantage in the finance industry. I took this fair as an opportunity to get direct feedback from them based on my resume so that I could have a better idea of where I fit in the industry and where I am most likely to get a job. I also realized that it would have been great for the whole Illinois MBA to come to LA....seriously, it felt like with a small group we had a great presence. People were very welcoming to us and knew who we were in a really short time. I can only imagine what an impact we could have made if we had even more students there to represent the program.
What were some of the challenges in preparing for the career fair? My biggest challenge was really "how do I approach this with very little preparation"? I wasn't sure that I even wanted to go until 24 hours before I left. Once I saw the list of companies that were going to the fair, I decided I needed to go. So, the challenge was going to the fair and really not knowing what to expect.
What were some of the successes? Honestly, since my preparation was minimal given my last minute decision, I think I learned that I can still be successful even when I can't put in the time I'd like to for the research. I'm not recommending that you don't prepare - its obviously important. But, I guess I'm saying students should not be discouraged if they don’t have time to intensively prepare for the career fair. You will still have good conversations with recruiters because you are interested in a career/internship and they are there to help.
Any advice for future MBA's about career fairs? Go to National Black! Don't be scared when you get there and be personable when you talk to people! At career fairs especially, the 30-second pitch can get a little redundant. You will get tired of saying the same thing and the recruiter will get tired of hearing the same thing! Differentiate youreslf and ask them how their day is...you'll be surprised at the response! Also, it doesn’t hurt to talk to companies you may not think you're interested in - you may find something you never knew about. Remember it's a learning experience...so go learn!
A big thank you to Brian for sitting down with us, and congrats to all the MBA's who made it to National Black MBA Association Career Fair! They are not easy, so we commend you for your efforts and your ongoing quest for the perfect job!