In a world where thousands of young professionals are seeking to start new careers, Jenkins MBA students have found success, made many new connections and advanced their personal brand at the nation’s largest MBA conferences.
“There are enormous benefits to going to these national conferences,” said Bev Porter, director of the Jenkins Graduate School Career Management Center. “Our students who attend get exposure to companies that operate nationally and globally, representing almost every industry and function, some of whom may not be able to attend local events.”
Twenty-eight Jenkins MBA candidates attended the 2015 National Black MBA Association Conference in Orlando or the 2015 National Society of Hispanic MBAs Conference and Career Expo in Chicago.
Those events on the national stage have other benefits, Porter said, beyond job interviews and networking.
“In the process of job-seeking, the learning curve is very steep,” Porter said, “but our students who attend the conferences have gone through as much as 36 hours of pitches. They come back to campus much more confident in their ability to market themselves, having been through multiple interviews, dinners and receptions. They are far ahead of their peers.”
Lauren McGuire, a second-year full-time Jenkins MBA candidate, returned to the National Black MBA Association Conference after attending last year. In addition to advancing her own career and networking, McGuire acted as a resources for first-year students seeking internships.
“Because of my experience last year, I was able to make some introductions and help coach students,” McGuire said. “When you attend a national conference, it’s the number of companies and the intensity – how quickly you present yourself and tie what you bring to the table to what a company does.”
“Until you go to a national conference, it’s difficult to know what particular combination of skills and experience companies want,” McGuire said. “For new students, it’s all about learning to speak the language.”
McGuire was also part of the Jenkins MBA team that took part in the National Black MBA Association case competition, sponsored by Chrysler.
“The competition challenged us, and brought together all of the things we’ve learned in courses,” McGuire said. “I had experience from supply chain courses, but we had to work together to tie in finance and marketing – all the areas of business the MBA exposes us to.”
Debra Mehta, a first-year Jenkins MBA student, was offered a first-round interview at the conference.
“It feels overwhelming when you get there,” Mehta said, “so it’s always encouraging to have someone else there with you who’s gone through it, who’s made a personal connection.”
The best part of the national conference experience, Mehta said, was networking with businesspeople in various positions of responsibility, “making the connections that will help us get to know more about companies.”
“The conference was great. It was also a reality check,” said Chandan Dash, first-year Jenkins MBA candidate concentrating in Finance.
“The advice we got from the CMC was good. You have to have your pitch perfected,” said Dash, who is seeking internships in corporate finance, focused on investment and risk.
Dash said the contacts he made at the national conference brought him opportunities for interviews back in Raleigh.
Each year, Porter said, a significant percentage of Jenkins MBA students receive job and internship offers from connections made at the national MBA conferences.
“And another benefit of the conference experience is a sense of community,” Porter said. “The first-year students, second-year students and staff have opportunities to bond together, to celebrate together. There’s a real sense of family that comes from that experience,” Porter said.