Career Fairs Teach Unexpected Lessons

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Like many Tippie students this year, I decided to try my luck at finding a summer internship at  MBA career fairs. In attending these fairs, I figured the best way to measure whether the trips to the NBMBA and ROMBA Conferences in Indianapolis and Boston were successful would be whether I directly gained an internship from the experience. Ultimately, that didn’t happen, though I definitely would not take back my experiences from attending these career fairs even if I could – in fact, I still consider these experiences to be the most helpful tools yet in my job search because these conferences provided me two key opportunities I have yet to gain as fully elsewhere.

First, I can think of no better way at becoming an ace at the infamous “elevator pitch.” When I think of how far I came from my first pitch to a Target recruiter (it wasn’t pretty) compared to how much more natural I felt with the last few recruiters I spoke to, I’m glad I was able to get through that learning curve early on, so now when I have to make a good impression in minutes, I know what I’m doing.

Second, my experience at the career fairs actually opened me up to considering a lot of jobs that had not been on my radar yet. For some of the positions, I was not even aware of their existence. It was amazing how helpful many of the recruiters were in this regard – I remember stepping up to talk to an Accenture recruiter about one internship, and after looking at my resume he actually recommended me for a separate one that the company was not even publicly recruiting for at that event. Now, moving forward I know that sometimes there’s more to a company’s employment prospects than just what’s posted publicly, and sometimes it’s really worth digging into to find that right fit with your own qualifications.

In sum, there are more to MBA career fairs than the end-goal of acquiring an internship. I think if you really focus on the bigger picture of what these conferences have to offer, the conference will be a personal success regardless of whether you leave with a job.

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