Career conferences are a major opportunity in business school to network with MBA candidates from other schools, gain exposure to a number of companies who recruit MBA students, and to potentially interview for positions with these companies. The National Black MBA Association conference was held last week in Indianapolis, IN, and several students from Owen attended. Here are two of their stories:
The travel arrangements are made, I’ve let all my professors know why I won’t be in class on Thursday, and I’ve printed off multiples of 4 different versions of my resume: I’m ready for “National Black”, one of the premier MBA conferences in the country, and a major opportunity to land my post-Owen job.
Walking into the conference on Thursday morning, the nervous anticipation was visible on the faces of students who had flown in from across the country. Prospective employees leaned on one another for advice and support.
“What have you heard about the Unilever interview? Is there a case?”
“I can’t believe I told the interviewer about my high school band competition. Do I even stand a chance at second round?”
“If I give my elevator pitch one more time, I think my voice will give out.”
With nearly 100 companies on-site for the conference, and hundreds of recruiters to impress, the Indiana Convention Center was an effective gauntlet for the would-be professional superstar. This second year was able to line up two interviews prior to the conference, which allowed for ample preparation time for the first round interviews at the career expo. The wildcard of such conferences, however, are the last-minute interviews that are granted on the spot. The hallways outside the main convention hall were consistently lined with students frantically cramming for these serendipitous interview sessions.
Ultimately, the conference proved to be as expected; some good interviews, some less than stellar. The real test will come after the following interview rounds; job hunts are rarely completed in a week.
An MBA walks up to a Big Box Retailer at NBMBAA, resume-in-hand. A smiling recruiter takes the sheet, looks briefly at it, still smiling as she says, “Thanks again for thinking of us, but it looks like you are unqualified for this position. I’m going to give you [the resume] back… have a great day!”
When I registered to attend the National Black MBA Association’s 2012 Conference back in August, I knew that I would be subjecting myself to a the joys of a career fair; scads of MBAs (is there a collective noun for large groups of MBAs? A gaggle?) attempting to get face time with companies and the Holy Grail of NBMBAA: an opportunity to interview on the spot.
Stepping onto the floor of the convention center of Indianapolis, however, I started to question what I wanted what companies I should target and why I liked them. I just wanted an interview. With anyone. This is why I found myself approaching a major CPG company that I had no interest in. I handed the recruiter my resume and she looked at me and said, “So, tell me about yourself.” I wish I could remember what I said: my mind went blank. Why was I speaking with this woman again? All I recall is ending my elevator pitch with the statement: “Also, I like to sing.” The recruiter started laughing. A real laugh. I nervously started to join her, and she quickly stopped. “Look,” she said, now completely serious, “your resume doesn’t have a lot of quantitative experience. I can’t give you an interview. Take some quant classes and we’ll talk in January.” She may not have handed me back my resume, but walking away from that booth I remembered why I was there, and why I was in business school. To figure out what I wanted. And I didn’t want that.