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A Behind-the-Scenes Look: MBA National Career Fairs and Career Services

It is probably safe to assume that all the students who enroll in the Jenkins MBA program at NC State are interested in improving the trajectory of their careers. 

So, one might ask, “Is what the students learn in the classroom really enough to ensure they succeed after graduating?” …Perhaps, but having a renowned Career Management Center (CMC) that helps students navigate their careers at such a critical juncture certainly doesn’t hurt.

Thanks to the multitude of services that the CMC staff provides its students, Jenkins MBA graduates fill career-defining roles with some of the nation’s leading employers year after year.

Networking at the national level

One of the integral pieces of the Jenkins MBA student experience is having the opportunity to attend national career fairs that provide students with in-person access to some of the nation’s leading employers. 

“We encourage and prepare our students to attend at least one [conference],” says Annie Murray, associate director and career coach for the Full-Time MBA student cohort. “These events are attended by hundreds of great employers — Fortune 500, 150, 10 — all who come specifically to hire top-tier MBA talent for competitive internships and full-time roles.”

Some of these events — many of which support the professional development of various affinity groups — include the Prospanica Conference & Career Expo, the MBA Veterans Career Conference and the ROMBA Conference.

Perhaps the biggest event each year is the National Black MBA Association Conference and Career Expo. “It’s kind of the crown jewel of them all,” says John Hutchings, associate director of career management for the Working Professional MBA student cohort. 

Hutchings describes the event as a “one-stop shop” for students hoping to secure connections with prominent companies headquartered in big markets like New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and Silicon Valley. Upwards of 600 companies attend the event each year. 

The environment can be intense for students — “Diversity conferences can be intimidating environments for job seekers,” Murray says.  “In typical years the larger conferences can host thousands of people in gigantic conference centers with hundreds of employers.” 

Fortunately, NC State’s students have been known to rise to the challenge. “Here at NC State we punch above our weight class,” Murray adds. “100% of the first-year MBA students who attended the National Black Career Expo in-person this year came away with at least one employment offer.”

Here’s a more comprehensive look at some of the achievements from the students who attended the in-person National Black event last month:

  • 100% of first-year Full-Time MBA students received an internship offer (with some receiving as many as three)
  • Internship roles offered to first-year Full-Time MBA students included those in finance, marketing and supply chain functions
  • Companies who extended offers to first-year Full-Time MBA students included (but not limited to): Bank of America, Eaton, FedEx, Johnson & Johnson, and Target
  • 100% of Working Professional MBAs secured interviews with employers; one has received a job offer, while the rest are awaiting next steps for interviews

With you every step of the way

In terms of preparing students for these events, the CMC team goes above and beyond. 

For starters, the team provided a stipend for this year’s National Black event that covered the registration cost for every student who attended.

Once students registered, Murray hosted webinars and prep sessions to prepare students on how to navigate the event. They focused on understanding and researching the companies who would be attending, the types of opportunities they’d be exposed to, and how best to identify, approach and engage employers. 

“We go over what to expect on the ground at the conference, what it’s going to feel like; what to expect at breakfast, lunch, dinner; how to interact in these evening networking events; how to connect with employers before and after you arrive, and even what to pack on your person,” Murray says.

That’s right — they even went over the often-overlooked but ever-important dynamics of personal care, including how to prepare for “wardrobe malfunctions”, carrying breath mints, and deciding what to wear.

Needless to say, students who participate in these experiences have all the tools, knowledge and confidence they need to succeed. Here’s what a couple of the students who attended this year’s National Black event had to say about their experience:

“[The experience] was definitely well worth it. It really put all the tools and skills I’ve learned so far to the test, and it showed me how much I have grown as a professional. I met so many amazing recruiters and employers and even became interested in companies that were not on my radar. I made so many great connections, learned about different industries, and got a great idea of where I’d like to go next in my career. The CMC team really helped improve my experience with all of the preparation tools that were in place for us. From working on resumes, understanding how to network, creating and practicing my pitch, and putting them to test in mock career fairs and mock interviews, I really felt prepared. It’s been great to see my own improvement and to know that all of my hard work is paying off.”

— Aliah Price, first-year MBA student

“The Career services team was essential in helping me prepare. I felt we were clearly more prepared than the other MBAs I saw at the conference, and we were even able to help answer questions for a couple of them. I want to thank Annie Murray in particular, as she has not only been willing to meet with us as many times as we need to discuss the tactical side of our career search, but she has provided support and guidance for the emotional roller coaster that is the job search as well.”

— Jen Todd, first-year MBA student

A full-service experience

The support the CMC provides students for national career fairs is really just the tip of the iceberg; Hutchings, Murray and the rest of the CMC team work tirelessly each semester to provide other robust experiences for their MBA students, including hosting prominent guest speakers and career management webinars and offering highly-personalized, one-on-one coaching sessions with an experienced team of career coaches. 

To learn more about the career services offered to Jenkins MBA students, click here.

This post was originally published in Supply Chain Resource Cooperative.