Seven survival tips learned at the National Black MBA Conference


Recently, dozens of Goizueta Business School students journeyed to Detroit, Michigan, to embark on the journey that is the National Black MBA Association’s Annual Conference & Exposition. The Career Management Center did a great job of prepping us for the whirlwind in store, but honestly, nothing could have prepared us enough for the true, inexplicable madness that is “National Black.”

Now that I am on the other side — returned to the land of 90-degree October evenings and more pages of case readings than ever previously believed possible — I have compiled my best tips for National Black survival:

  1. Plan your route

The career expo floor is overwhelming, and you should not assume you’ll be able to figure out where to go upon entering. Some company’s booths are easily identifiable from afar, but others are tucked away just out of sight. To ensure you get the most of your experience, print a copy of the floorplan, identify the booths you’d like to visit and map your journey!

  1. Research, and print notes or bookmark pages

Once you find the booth of the company you’d most like to talk to, make sure you have plenty to say to them! Before heading into the expo, research the companies that will be there, which you’d like to speak with, and some key facts do some preliminary research on these companies. Print your notes or bookmark key pages on your phone so you can give them a quick scan while waiting in line.

  1. Schedule breaks

Especially if you are interviewing at National Black, breaks are important! You need time to decompress, clear your mind and refocus. Take advantage of the GBS booth in the expo hall, or take a quick walk around the building before or after a big interview to re-center.

  1. Practice, practice, practice

Take advantage of the dozens of classmates and the CMC advisors on site. Practice your resume walk, elevator pitch and STAR stories with whoever will listen. This will help you feel more relaxed and comfortable when you finally get to the front of that line to talk to a recruiter. Work with each other to identify areas for improvement and practice, practice, practice!

  1. Food and water

Have snacks and a reusable water bottle with you. You might only get a chance to eat sporadically in between interviews or while waiting in line at booths at the expo. Too much coffee will just give you the jitters and make you more nervous, so be sure to eat some food to help keep you balanced.

  1. Try something new

Come to National Black with a plan, but also take advantage of the breadth of companies present and try something new. Speak to a company in an industry or function that you weren’t originally planning to explore. You never know — maybe you’ll discover a new job you weren’t expecting!

  1. Have fun!

For a lot of us, this is our first time to travel with classmates. Get out into the city with your friends to blow off steam after a long day!

Maggie Niehaus

Maggie Niehaus

Maggie Niehaus is a first-year MBA student at Goizueta Business School. An Atlanta native, Maggie graduated from Wake Forest University with a degree in English and Journalism before moving back home to Atlanta. For the past several years, she has worked in the digital paid media practice at Edelman, managing digital advertising campaigns across a variety of channels, industries, and clients. Now at Goizueta, Maggie is concentrating in brand management and strategy.