MBAX: How to Maximize the Opportunity
Career Fairs are a great way to expand your network, develop professional skills, and most importantly, land a job! But like many fairs, you may not be able to speak with every company attending and do not have enough time to network with company representatives. Therefore, it is important to be strategic and plan for the fair ahead of time to fully leverage this opportunity. Read our guide on how you can get the most out of your experience at MBAX!
How to Navigate MBAX
What Should I Bring?
When taking part in MBAX, there are several items that you should have on-hand to better represent yourself to recruiters and hiring managers. Here are some MBAX must-haves:
- Extra copies of your resume: MBAX is an opportunity to network with company representatives and get your foot in the door. This is why we recommend you bring extra copies of your resume to hand to recruiters. Also, you should keep an electronic copy of your resume on your mobile device that can easily be shared with hiring managers.
- Targeted resumes: Targeted resumes are resumes that are tailored for specific roles and companies. They are a great way to demonstrate how your background directly aligns with the job or company. We suggest that you research businesses beforehand and create tailored resumes for your top three companies. This extra step will guarantee that you stand out to recruiters and increase the chances of you landing the job.
- Notepad or paper and pens: At MBAX, you will be networking with company executives and attending various workshops, which is why you should bring notebook paper and pens to take useful notes or write down company information. This will help you remember who you spoke with, what company they are from, and significant highlights from your conversations.
- Business cards: As you navigate MBAX, you will be connecting with company representatives and your peers. Having business cards on hand is an easy way to share your contact information with your fellow students and other participants.
- Application preparation materials: After researching companies, you want to consider preparing yourself for potential job opportunities. To do this, have any information ready that you might need when filling out a job application like a list of references and or contact information of past employers.
- Small bag: Hiring managers tend to hand out memorabilia to potential candidates at career fairs. You should bring a small bag that is easy to carry so that you have something to hold your stuff. This leaves your hands empty to shake hands with your peers or fill out contact information at career booths.
- Your elevator speech: The most important item to bring to MBAX is your elevator speech! An elevator pitch is a quick and direct way to introduce yourself, your career objective, and how you meet the requirements for the job. Because career fairs attract a large number of corporate enterprises, practicing your pitch will allow you to be fully prepared for what you will say when you sit down to speak with prospective employers. Practice how you will introduce yourself and make a lasting impression so you can make your pitch in under 30 seconds.
How to Dress
Packing clothes for conferences can be stressful. How many suits should I bring? Should I pack casual clothes for social events? Is business casual appropriate? These are all questions we have asked ourselves when preparing for career fairs. Here are a few tips that you should keep in mind when packing:
- Dress Conservatively: Some companies may be more casual than others, but it is always best to be over-dressed than underdressed.
- Neutral Colors Are More Professional: As potential candidates, we always want to stand out to prospective employers. While this is important, we need to keep in mind that our appearance remains professional. This is why we recommend wearing neutral colors like grey, black, beige, or navy and saving brighter colors for your ties, jewelry, or other accessories.
- Check with the Career Center for Career Wardrobes: Purchasing professional clothes can be expensive, especially for students. If money is tight, we suggest speaking with your career department to help you find cost-effective clothing options for the fair.
- Professional Attire for Men: It is best practice to pack a suit in case you have interviews. As for the fair, You do not necessarily need a suit. A clean, well-cut jacket with gray, navy, or black pants should suffice. As for your shirt, wear something light-colored or oxford. More particularly, look for a shirt with a pattern. Even though the pattern is hard to see, it acts as camouflage for lint or pet hair. If you spill coffee and it leaves an outlining stain, the pattern will make it harder to see. You should also wear a conservatively-colored tie. A little color is okay but avoid too much flash. Avoid any type of pattern that might be controversial or distracting. Wear a belt and polished dress shoes.
- Professional Attire for Women: A business suit with pants or a skirt is always appropriate, but a dress or skirt and blouse are sufficient in most situations. If you wear a dress or skirt, make sure that the hemline is just above or below the knee. Avoid a brightly patterned skirt or dress. Instead, lean toward black, blue, or gray with subdued patterns. Your blouse should have a simple pattern. Following the advice for men above, a pattern or mix of colors is a good way to hide the small stains that might result from spilled beverages or crumbs. Wear heels less than 3 inches. Do not wear flip-flops, sandals, or flimsy shoes. Definitely avoid any shoes that make it difficult to walk. For jewelry, go for a clean, classic look. Small earrings and a wristwatch are fine. Don’t overdress with rings, bracelets, and necklaces. Clunky jewelry can be distracting and even loud.
- Research the companies BEFORE you arrive: Attending MBAX is a great way to introduce yourself to new companies. Therefore, you should research these companies in advance to figure out which ones interest you the most. Check out the companies that will be attending MBAX.
- Be Selective: MBAX will have many corporate enterprises attending, all from various industries. While speaking with all of them increases your chances of landing a job, it is not recommended. Instead, you should direct your efforts to connect with recruiters from companies that interest you or has the most opportunities in your field. This will ensure that you land a job or internship that aligns with your career interests.
- Arrive Early: If you show up a few minutes before the fair begins, you will have ample time to speak with your top companies.
- Network, Don’t Interview: MBAX will give you access to the first point of contact of the company’s hiring team. While it is the first step in the interview process, your goal should be to introduce yourself, tell them your background, get their contact information, and set a strong foundation for your interview.
- Stand Out: Unfortunately, many recruiters will meet hundreds of potential candidates at career fairs and eventually it all becomes white noise. Therefore, you need to stand out in some way whether it is how you dress, your career experience, or skillset.
Navigating career fairs can be difficult. As you get ready for MBAX, remember to prepare, dress appropriately, and network to ensure that you get the most out of your experience.