As a first year MBA candidate, I was excited about attending National Black MBA Association conference; my first conference as an MBA student. I had my elevator pitch ready and my stack of business cards and my stack of resumes were nicely packed in my fancy leather embossed Smith portfolio; I was ready to go forth and conquer. As I entered the room the place was abuzz with students aggressively selling themselves to employers. I quickly became intimidated and decided to make my way to the Smith table to practice my pitch and solicit some last minute feedback. After speaking with people I was familiar with, I made my way to a few companies that were not my top picks to get a feel for the conference process without ‘blowing my chances’ with one of the firms that I really wanted to work for. Since I had not researched all the 300 – 400 firms there, I decided to treat every meeting as an informational interview and I truly learnt a lot about various companies, some of which were not even on my radar previously and one of which is now my first choice to work for.
If I could give a bit of advice to my then self, it would be:
1. Prepare early. Jobs are usually posted months in advance. Identify the ones you are interested
in, post your resume and cover letter and do your research.
2. You cannot research every company, don’t let this preclude you from speaking with recruiters at those firms. Approach the discussion as an informational interview and keep an open mind.
3. Don’t dismiss companies if their CORE business doesn’t match your focus area.
4. Almost all of the companies will have goodies. Don’t just walk around the conference grabbing goodies from each table – especially if you are looking for a job. There will be plenty of time at the end of the conference to get goodies; in fact companies will be begging you to take them.