The National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) Conference and Exposition has been the career fair of choice for UF MBA students the past two years. UF MBA has sent more than 80 students annually to this important event, and has subsidized portions of their travel expenses to ease the financial burden.
This year, UF MBA and the Warrington College of Business have enhanced their commitment to this landmark event by becoming the Conference’s official academic sponsor. This partnership allows UF MBA and the College to be front and center at one of the nation’s largest professional development and job recruitment events, and help advance the cause of diversity in graduate business education.
The NBMBAA Conference has been vital to UF MBA students’ career progress. Here are a few success stories from this wonderful event:
It had been almost a decade since Amaris Johnson was on the job hunt.
She didn’t need to be. Johnson had a secure and rewarding position as a Practice Development Manager at General Electric, No. 8 on the Fortune 500 list.
But the opportunity to advance her career was too tempting to turn down, and the NBMBAA Conference was the place to test herself.
“After 10 years it was a little intimidating,” Johnson said. “The game had changed. My résumé needed an overhaul and I wasn’t familiar with the new recruiting style.”
Michelle Bloom-Lugo, GBCS Associate Director, Career Development, helped make Johnson’s transition easier. Before the conference Bloom-Lugo had contacted Eaton Corporation because she felt Johnson would be a good fit there. Johnson met with Eaton recruiters at the conference, and Bloom-Lugo put Johnson in contact with UF MBA alumni at Eaton to learn more about the interview process and company culture.
The work paid off when Johnson was offered a full-time position. She now serves as a Director of Business Development, Southeast Electrical in Eaton’s Global Leadership Development Program in Atlanta.
WORKING WITH GBCS: “Working with Michelle made me realize it was a great opportunity to get in front of these companies. I felt like I would have been a fish out of water, but the preparation from GBCS was invaluable.”
ADVICE FOR NBMBAA PARTICIPANTS: “Have a plan, but be flexible if your plan changes. And be open to companies not initially on your radar.”
Participating in the NBMBAA career fair, which attracts more than 9,000 attendees annually, can be daunting for seasoned businesspeople searching for a job.
For a rookie like Houston Bailey, who was only three weeks into the UF MBA program and had no background in business when he attended NBMBAA, it can be eye-opening to say the least.
“Seeing the talent out there made me realize how focused and prepared I needed to be,” Bailey said.
Bailey’s focus and preparation—characteristics that guided him during a successful career in the U.S. Air Force—aided him during his NBMBAA experience in 2013. Playing to his strengths, emphasizing his past career success and not hiding his business inexperience, he earned an on-the-spot interview from the United Services Automobile Association (USAA), a Fortune 500 company based in San Antonio. A second-round interview followed a few months later, which led to a summer 2014 internship. Bailey accepted a full-time position in USAA’s MBA Career Development Program this past November.
“My original thought was to go into consulting,” Bailey said. “But the opportunity to talk to several different companies at the conference led me down a different path.”
WORKING WITH GBCS: “The Career Services team did an excellent job of preparing us and reducing our stress. Having just started school, I didn’t quite have the knowledge base to interview for some of these companies. But I felt prepared, and I commend them for that.”
ADVICE FOR NBMBAA PARTICIPANTS: “Don’t try to put on an act. Be yourself.”
A student returning to the UF MBA booth at the NBMBAA Conference is a lot like a quarterback returning to the sideline to strategize with the offensive coordinator: They figure out what is and isn’t working, and adjust their attack.
So when Kenia Intriago huddled with GBCS Director Craig Petrus during the NBMBAA Conference two years ago, Petrus consulted his playbook and determined Eaton Corporation would be a good fit for her.
“He literally walked me over to the Eaton booth and we talked with one of the recruiters,” Intriago said. “She liked what she heard because I had an interview the next day. It was the best interview of my life.”
Intriago is grateful for Petrus’s counsel because it has led her to a rewarding career. She serves as a Supply Chain Management (SCM) Program Manager in Eaton’s Vehicle Group just outside of Detroit. Additionally, Intriago serves as a Supplier Diversity Advocate, where she facilitates opportunities for minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses to bid and secure contracts with Eaton.
“I was a political science major so I’m fascinated by socio-economic issues,” Intriago said. “Especially, as a Latina woman, making sure everybody gets a chance at the table is the right thing to do. It’s fantastic to talk to these business owners and know what they’ve accomplished.”
WORKING WITH GBCS: “From elevator pitches to mock interviews they did an amazing job coaching us beforehand. They put us as close to a real setting as you can.”
ADVICE FOR NBMBAA PARTICIPANTS: “Make sure you’re prepared beforehand and be yourself. Those two things will get you far.”
One of the many emails Becky Guogas received when she began at UF MBA was a “Save the Date” message for the NBMBAA Conference. However, based on the conference’s name, she didn’t give it much thought.
“I thought, ‘Well, this doesn’t apply to me,’” Guogas said. “But during orientation week they explained that it was open to everyone. I’m glad they did.”
The NBMBAA Conference was a proving ground of sorts for Guogas, a biomedical engineer, who was transitioning into finance. To leverage her background, Guogas concentrated her search on companies that stressed medicine and science like Johnson & Johnson, Bayer and Baxter International.
Her big moment came when she finally got the chance to talk to a Johnson & Johnson recruiter. However, the recruiter simply took her résumé and said, “We’ll be in touch.”
“Not a good sign,” Guogas said.
Luckily, that same recruiter saw Guogas later that day and flagged her down for an interview. That interview led to an invitation to a Johnson & Johnson networking event in New Jersey, and eventually an internship offer in the company’s Finance MBA Leadership Development Program. Guogas is now a Finance Manager at Johnson & Johnson just outside Philadelphia.
WORKING WITH GBCS: “Craig and Jason are absolutely fantastic resources. They have lots of contacts, and they can help you get in with a company when you can’t do it on your own.”
ADVICE FOR NBMBAA PARTICIPANTS: “Utilize all the resources you have, research ahead of time, and know what companies you want to visit. There are a lot of companies at NBMBAA that don’t recruit on campus so this is probably you’re only opportunity to speak to them.”