Penn State Smeal MBA students attend largest U.S. career fair, NBMBAA conference

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Last month, 34 Penn State Smeal MBA students attended the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) 35th annual Conference and Exposition, which features the largest master of business administration career fair in the country.

More than 100 corporations and businesses attended the Houston conference — many conducting interviews and hiring on-site.

“The NBMBAA conference gives you exposure to an insane amount of recruiters you wouldn’t otherwise have access to,” said John White, a second-year MBA student. “Some people left with offers; others had interviews scheduled for coming weeks.”

Some of the companies interviewing Smeal MBA students included Chrysler, Coca-Cola, Darden Restaurants, Eli Lilly, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, PepsiCo, Target, Unilever and the William Wrigley Jr. Co.

Mike Brown and Emily Giacomini, who manage the Penn State Smeal MBA Program’s Career Services, work hard to prepare students to attend events like these.

According to White, preparation is key: “It’s one thing to prepare for one interview,” he said, “but it’s a real challenge to do that kind of preparation for five or six interviews with different companies in different industries.”

Brown and Giacomini help by providing guidance in résumé and cover letter preparation, and recruiter communications as well as mock interviews.

The program also helps support student attendance at the conference; Smeal and Penn State help to contribute funding toward each student’s trip. In addition, Paul Poissant, director of MBA Employer Relations, and Jamie Campbell, assistant dean for diversity enhancement programs, joined the students in Houston to provide on-site support and represent Smeal to employers and alumni at the conference.

A team of three Penn State Smeal MBAs also participated in the NBMBAA case competition, sponsored by Chrysler Group LLC. Andy Gustafson, assistant professor of business administration, advised the team as they prepared and accompanied them to Houston.

White, who was one of the case competition team members, said that the competition was stiff. Still, the team made it to the semifinals, beating out teams from a number of other prominent business schools.

While in Houston, many of the MBA students took the opportunity to connect with Penn State alumni in the area at a networking reception organized by Poissant, Campbell and a group of Houston-based program graduates. More than 20 alumni attended.

About the Penn State Smeal MBA Program
The internationally ranked residential Penn State Smeal MBA Program positions students from around the world for their future careers. The two-year program, based on the University Park campus, begins with a focus on business fundamentals. Through summer internships with top companies and concentration opportunities in areas such as finance, marketing and supply chain management, students then personalize their Smeal MBA experiences to align with their career aspirations. Learn more at

Media Contacts: 

Penn State Smeal Professional Graduate Programs

Work Phone: 
Last Updated October 29, 2013