Is it worth it to go to an MBA career fair when I don't have an MBA?
August 27, 2009 4:24 AM   Subscribe

Is it worth it to go to an MBA career fair when I don't have an MBA?

I'm trying to decide whether or not to attend an upcoming MBA career fair. I'm an engineer and hope to get an MBA one day, but I don't have an MBA right now. When I went to a career fair for the Society of Women Engineers, I noticed a lot of men there, but I assumed they were all engineers.

In this case, I think it's likely the right companies will be there, but I wonder if:

(1) they'd be willing to speak with me about non-MBA jobs in their companies

(2) they'd be willing to consider me for jobs that normally go to MBAs, based on my analytical skills (from engineering) and basic business knowledge (from my own self-study)

If this career fair was free, I would go anyway, but it costs $70, and I don't have much money right now. Do any of you have any insight? I really, really appreciate it.
posted by larkin123 to Work & Money (6 answers total)
It depends on what companies are attending this career fair, but if they're primarily finance or consulting firms, when you approach the company booths, you will most likely be asked from where/when you obtained your MBA, and when you reply in the negative, they will bid you good day.

I highly doubt it's worth the $70 fee (that's a new one for me: fee-based career fairs). Is the very slim chance of talking to an HR representative only to be turned away worth $70 to you?
posted by armage at 4:34 AM on August 27, 2009

When I was working for Deutsche Bank they'd ask us to represent the firm at these things from time to time.

The primary interest of attending firms will be in MBA qualified students; that's not to say they'd pass along your CV internally, but that seems rather hit or miss, even if free.

You didn't reveal much about your background or education, but why don't you get a list of firms sponsoring this fair (attending companies pay for the privilege, so the organisers get money from both sides; probably even sell your details on later so that's a third revenue source) and contact their Human Resources departments directly?

In the least you'd be far more assured that someone at the company you're interested in will even see your CV.
posted by Mutant at 4:35 AM on August 27, 2009

Mutant has it. I was going to have you go and get the list yourself, but Mutant has a more efficient option.

That isn't to say that if you are a good talker and are good at making contact with people you shouldn't go, get relevant catalogs and brochures from the stalls, and gather names and such.

If I were going I'd look my absolute best, bring CVs, recommendation contacts and cards, go at a SLOW time, go up to firms that did a cool thing I was interested in/informed about and chat up the folks at the tables about the cool thing.

I'd acknowledge right up front, slightly sheepishly, that I wasn't an MBA but was workig hard on getting a job, and was thus wondering about hiring for non-MBA opportunities or at least wondering if they'd be headed to a career fair aimed at my qualification level soon.

If nothing else, 70 bucks is a good investment for career fair/interview/networking practice at relatively low risk to you.
posted by By The Grace of God at 6:08 AM on August 27, 2009

It'll be worth it if you are prepared to work the room and talk to absolutely everyone. Be prepared for 99.9% rejection, but then again, you only need 1 person to listen.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:55 AM on August 27, 2009

A recent BioScience career fair rejected me right away for not having sufficient industry experience (as in, you're not allowed to attend). I somehow ended up on their mailing list anyway, and got a couple of emails apologizing for the enormous lines and crowded spaces as the turnout was so immense. I'm mentioning that in order to say that it might be a better idea to save your $70 right now, especially if you're not technically qualified. Besides, who charges the job applicants to attend career fairs?!
posted by halogen at 10:58 AM on August 27, 2009

Thanks to everyone who responded. All your answers were helpful.

FWIW, I think career fairs where job applicants have to pay are usually tied to the national conferences of professional organizations. The Society of Women Engineers career fair was. So is this one (for the Asian MBA association).
posted by larkin123 at 5:18 PM on September 20, 2009

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