An important part of the career search process as an MBA student is attending Diversity Career Conferences. There are many to choose from: National Black MBA, National Hispanic MBA, Asian MBA, Reaching Out, among others. All of them give us MBA students an opportunity to talk to recruiters of different companies, practice our elevator pitches and interview skills, and hopefully make important connections that can help us achieve our goals and one day work for our dream companies.

These diversity associations have a career fair every year where many companies come with the specific interest to recruit qualified MBA candidates or graduates. The best part is that they are not exclusive for the diversity group they represent but everyone is invited to attend, and because diversity is one of the core values at Goizueta, we are not only allowed but also encouraged to attend this conferences.

There is a lot of work and preparation that goes into attending a diversity conference, from researching the companies you want to visit, to getting your resume ready and practicing your star stories; but the Goizueta community as a whole is really supportive and helps you prepare throughout this process. Not only the career management center, but also second year students are ready to answer any questions or give you recommendations about how to make the most of attending these conferences.

Once you have signed up for a conference you can start browsing for jobs that interest you and submitting your resume through the conference website. It is important to do this well in advance so companies will consider you for their interview schedules. Interview slots and these conferences are limited, so the earlier you can apply for a job, the better!

This year, I decided to attend the National Hispanic MBA Conference in San Antonio, Texas, (also known as NSHMBA). It was a great experience, not only because you get out of the “comfort zone” that career events on campus provide, but also because it was my first time visiting San Antonio and found it to be a really beautiful city well worth exploring as well. My classmates and I had applied to jobs through their website in the previous weeks and had some chances to interview, but mostly we were excited about the opportunity to talk to company representatives directly at the conference.

NSHMBA started bright and early, with hundreds of attendants from business schools around the US. All of us were ready to put our best foot forward and talk to the recruiters of our target companies. It is really important to know in advance which companies you want to talk to because time goes by really fast! And before you know it there will be lines of candidates waiting to talk to recruiters. This “speed-dating” type of experience demands a lot of energy, so it is important to talk to your favorite companies early in the morning when company representatives when are not as tired as they will be by the end of the day.

Traveling to these conferences is also a great way to bond with classmates and network with some MBA students from other business schools. So far, my classmates and I had been so busy with classes and school work from the core semester that we had barely been able to spend time with each other outside of school. So after the conference we had some time to visit San Antonio’s “Riverwalk” and enjoy some much needed time off!

For us 1st year  students who are looking for internships, on campus recruiting season will start soon,  and diversity conferences -whether you get an offer right after or not- are a great opportunity to practice and get a reality check on how well prepared you are before you have to interview on campus. So after a couple of days at the conference we said goodbye to San Antonio and NSHMBA. See you next year at NSHMBA 2014!