Shopping their skills in job search

Reporter Contributor

The journey to success began in a rented van on Wednesday for five MBA students from the School of Management. That's when they set out for Arlington, Va., to compete for jobs, along with hundreds of other MBA students, at a mass interview to be attended by 28 national companies seeking to hire soon-to-be-minted MBA graduates.

The five MBAs are joining 18 of their classmates who are flying or car-pooling to the event, the Capital MBA Consortium, being held today and tomorrow in Arlington.

Ready for the interviews

Armed with resumés and their best business attire, most of the students have been pre-selected for interviews. Others are alternates, hoping to move into interview slots vacated by no-shows, and some will try to convince the corporate recruiters of their interview-worthiness at a job fair to be held today.

The consortium, organized by 15 business schools nationwide, is designed to improve the range of job opportunities available to MBA students, and is particularly important for smaller MBA programs, like UB's, that would not ordinarily attract to their campuses the corporate recruiters in attendance.

Some schools to be represented, such as Pittsburgh, Maryland, Case Western, Florida, Georgia and Notre Dame, are ranked in the top 50 by U.S. News & World Report. Their campuses are regular stops for major companies during fall recruiting tours. Other business schools, like Buffalo (which is ranked in the top 100 among more than 500 MBA programs nationally), must leverage as much as they can from recruitment consortia and use the events to build corporate interest in their MBA programs as a source for talented hires.

Stakes are high

"The stakes are much higher for our students because they are going up against students from more-visible programs," says Michael Paolini, associate director of the School of Management's Career Resource Center, a co-organizer of the consortium. "These consortia are an important part of our strategy to expand job opportunities for our students beyond Buffalo and New York State," he says. "If our graduates prove to be assets to their firms, recruiters will begin to involve us more in recruitment plans."

The management school's career center staff repeatedly stresses to students the importance of attending the consortia and work to help polish the students' interviewing skills.

It's paid off. Last year at the National MBA Consortium in Chicago, UB's MBA program more than held its own. In fact, it had the most hires of 14 schools at the event. Nine Buffalo MBAs landed jobs, at an average starting salary of $52,000, according to Paolini.

Their success has proven to be a significant reputation-boost for the management school as more national recruiters have begun to express an interest in the program's graduates and because national rankings of the best MBA programs are based heavily on average starting salaries.

Michael Gorski, one of the students traveling to Arlington, has an interview set with the LakeWest Group, a consulting firm for the retail industry, but he hopes to line up additional interviews. "It's definitely going to be very competitive, but on a gut-level, I know I'll do well," says Gorski, 27. "It's a great opportunity for us to prove the caliber of our education and experience."

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