Submitted by: Wilmette Dadzie, '09 MBA
Like many other first year MBA students, I remember asking myself during the first week of orientation where I was going to find time to actively search for internships while trying to cope with six classes. I felt like there was so much to do and just maybe the internship would wait for me. I quickly learned from reading several articles and talking to second year students that a good number of prestigious companies hire all of their interns by December 1. With this in mind I had to reevaluate my priorities. After all, I did come back to business school to get a more desirable job.
I had previously planned on attending the Annual National Black MBA (NBMBA) Conference in Orlando to participate in the Case Competition. I knew that the conference included a two-day Career Fair that would give me the perfect opportunity to present myself to employers that do not come to our campus.
About three weeks before the career fair, I checked the NBMBA Web site to pinpoint employers attending the fair that offered internships in my area of interest. Once I located companies that I was interested in, I began submitting my tailored cover letters and resume approximately two weeks prior to the fair. I primarily applied directly through the employers' Web sites and stated in my cover letter that I would love to discuss the opportunity further at the career fair. The two week period gave the employers time to review my qualifications and prior to the career fair I had secured four interviews.
Prior to leaving for the Career Fair, I scheduled a mock interview with the Career Development Center to polish my interviewing skills. In addition, I downloaded the Vault Guide to my area of interest in order to learn more about the field and what employers look for. I also visited each company's Web site to learn more about their performance and products and reviewed recent news articles related to the companies. During the interviews, I made sure I was enthusiastic and asked several questions. I closed each interview by asking the interviewer to tell me how they felt I would fit into the company based on what they have learned about me. This gave me an indication on which companies I would hear back from.
When I was not interviewing, I was talking to employers that I was interested in and trying to secure additional interviews. The key to a career fair is to know what you want and making it clear. I had no experience in the career I was interested in but I used examples from my past to indicate why I would be a good hire in this new field. I also made sure to get a clear picture of the company and the specific department I would be working in to make sure that I would fit into the organization. Remember, the interview is also a time for you to see if you would like to work for a specific company.
Follow up was definitely important both before and after the career fair. Prior to the fair, I made calls to companies that I had applied to and not heard from in order to potentially schedule an interview. Afterwards, I sent thank you e-mails and cards to the companies in which I was still interested. I researched my interviewers and highlighted their specific work in the thank you note. Even though I also reiterated why I would be a good fit for this position I also mentioned the fact that my interviewers had some impressive accomplishments and that I would love to learn from them.
A couple of hours after I sent the thank you e-mail, I received a call from one of the interviewers who let me know that I would be receiving an offer within a few days. Within a few days I heard from the human resources department confirming the offer.
I would like to take this opportunity to encourage all students to consider my approach and apply it to upcoming information sessions and career fairs. They are a great way to target several great companies and network with students from other schools. My goal this summer during my internship is to stand out and really give my employer an indication of the value of a Weatherhead School education. I am hoping that this will open doors for future students.