Improve Your Success at the MBA Career Fair

MBA career fairs are major productions for employers and prospective employees alike, often with thousands of attendees. A lot of effort goes into attracting attention from MBAs, and the itinerary can get crowded. The problem is you can get way too many options that you want to check out. Some of the world's biggest employers, particularly US employers, attend MBA career fairs. These employers have a lot to offer, and they present it all at the fairs.

You need to research the fair in advance, and plan your approach to employers. You may or may not be required to do an interview. In practice, because management level interviews require considerable time and are often conducted in several tiers, you may only get a screening interview, but you will need to be mentally prepared.

Research

Fortunately for attendees, MBA career fairs are very well organized, and the information you need to research them is easy to find:

Websites: Each career fair has a website which provides all the necessary information about employers and links. The links are particularly useful in providing contact details so you can ask any questions beforehand. This is very handy in finding out if they're conducting interviews at the fair, too.

Industry sources: If you're a specialist in your industry, you can pin down the employers in your field. Find out through your professional sources who's attending, and what's available at the fair.

Networking: If you have the right contacts, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort by checking with them for information. Employers often target specific demographics, and may be looking for entry level MBAs, or special areas of qualifications, etc. That can reduce the number of employers you need to check out significantly.

Planning

You can now organize your attendance properly:

Get directions and locations information: Most fairs provide maps, and good basic information about getting there, parking, accommodation, and booth locations.

Arrive early: Don't get into a position where you're trying to do too much with too little time. Try and stay ahead of the crowd, and don't get stuck in lines if you can avoid it.

Create a list of employers to target from your research: Start with employers where you're genuinely keen to check them out.

Managing your time: Allow an hour per employer. Leave some spare time for getting around and a meal. Try to allow some time for general exploration of the fair.

Preparation

You will need:

Resume: A digital copy (memory stick) and a few hardcopies. Do a quality check on your resume before loading the digital copy.

Business attire: Comfortable business clothes and shoes. Don't show up looking like you're on holiday.

Interview preparation: Screening interviews are usually very basic, and only take about 20 minutes. They deal mainly with prior experience and qualifications. Use your resume as a guide. Create a few questions for each employer about packages, incentives, career path opportunities.

Following up on career fair applications and interviews

Allow at least a week, before following up. A phone call will do, but try to get a yes or no response.