I promised long time back to sit down and write about what I did last year to prepare for National Black MBA career conference. I finally found some time today to actually do it :D. Below are the steps that I took last year to prepare for the NBMBAA conference, these are all my personal experience, and there are certainly many things I didn’t know, so take it as a suggestion, not as hard rules.

Step 1: Scouting the job postings

  • Put your updated resume on NBMBAA platform, make sure to have it ready at least 1 month before the conference. It’s not the most user-friendly platform, but you’ll get a hold of it after a while.
  • Look through the job postings related to your interest. Adjust your resume if needed for specific position.
  • Recruiters won’t look at the application until (I assume) 10 to 15 days prior to the conference, so you still have time to adjust your resume, don’t rush into applying, but don’t apply too late. Nobody will look at your resume the night before the conference.

Step 2: Make a target list

  • Have a list of companies you want to talk to. Realistically speaking, you can only talk to at most 10 to 12 companies a day, given that you have the stamina. So be strategic. If you’re international students, be even more strategic about who you invest your time, some companies will just tell you not to bother as they don’t sponsor.
  • Divide the companies into 3 tiers: A, B and C. A are the ones you most interested in, B are the one you’re somehow interested, and C are the one you want to check out just out of curiosity (explore new industries for example).
  • This categorization will help you in devising a game plan (I will talk about it shortly).

Step 3: Research about the company and start some networking efforts

  • Spend some time researching about the companies you’re interested in. Especially the ones in tier A and B. Believe me, recruiters do ask what you know about the company and why do you want to join their team.
  • Do a bit of networking, not specifically to meet someone who will show up at the conference, but to know a bit more insight about the culture and vision of the company. No matter who you talk to at the conference, saying that you learnt some cool things about the company through an insider is always a good conversation starter.

Step 4: Polish your pitch and do mock interviews

  • Have your pitch ready and practice it as often as you can. To be honest, I don’t like to deliver my pitch, even now, I feel kinda awkward having to talk about myself in 60 seconds. But don’t let that show, just fake it until you make it.
  • Do some mock interviews and take note of the questions you think you struggled with. Even if you’re a good interviewee, chances are you haven’t done an interview in quite some time, so it’s never a bad idea to brush it up.

Step 5: Make a packing list

  • Make sure you don’t forget anything that will help you feel more confident, but don’t over-pack either
  • I’ve made a list myself, you can use it for your reference: here

Step 6: Make a game plan

  • Make a plan base on the 3 tiers I mentioned previously:Start 1st day with 1 – 2 tier B or C companies. You won’t be at your very best performance when you first come to the conference. Use some B and C companies to get yourself comfortable, but don’t overdo it to the point that you’re tired.Aim to cover all A companies in day 1, preferably by early afternoon. That’s why don’t put too many companies into tier A, be very strategic. The interview slots will fill up very quickly, so day 1 is your prime time to snatch an interview the next day.Day 2 is mostly for interviews (the ones you landed on 1st day) and for approaching tier B and C companies. By afternoon of day 2, you almost certainly won’t have any interview spot at the conference anymore, but if they’re interested enough, they will arrange an interview later, either online or at their office. So aim for tier B and spend some time explore companies in tier C, you never know what may come up.
  • Print out a map of the conference floor. Mark down where the companies you want to talk to are. Follow that plan. It will give you a sense of control.

Step 7: At the conference, hope for the best but prepare for the worst

  • Eat well, rest well and be at your best going into the conference, it’s a lot of hard work
  • Don’t be intimidated by rejection or by the sheer number of MBAs at the conference. Be confident and keep your stamina
  • Don’t forget to network with other MBAs as well
  • Have a friend or two to help each other release stress and frustration

Step 8: After the conference, don’t forget to follow up

  • Hand out thank you cards at the conference for interviewers if you can, but if not, then it’s not a big deal. You can, and in fact you should, always send a follow up thank you note to people either interview or support you during the conference.
  • Any conversation sparkled at the conference, even not directly related to a job offer, may lead to something good. Don’t hesitate to follow these leads, rekindle the conversation after the conference and build up your network.

These are things I did last year as 1st year MBA student searching for internship opportunities. This year I will come back for full time job search, and I think my strategy will change just a little bit. I look forward to seeing all of you at the conference and hope that my little blog post can help you navigating the NBMBAA conference.

Nguồn: Uyên Thảo - CAME 2018 Mentee