Career Lab Virtual Campus Forté Foundation

Cold Networking with LinkedIn

By Imani Nichols

March 27, 2015

Cold calling is when someone calls another person who did not ask to be contacted. Cold networking is reaching out to people online, and these are people that you don’t know. I prefer to cold network using LinkedIn.

LinkedIn allows me to have access to professionals in different networks. I rely on cold networking A LOT, and I’ve been successful. It’s easy, and anyone with a LinkedIn account can do it.


When sending an invite message, provide your name, position, school/company, and what experiences that person has had that you’d like to know more about. Acknowledge any common networks you share such as college, Greek affiliations, or other memberships. Thank them for considering your request.

Don’t fret if your invite isn’t accepted. This will happen. Don’t take it personally. Move on to another individual until you get accepted invitations.


If your invite is accepted, send a follow up email thanking the individual for accepting your invite. Now, you have some options. You can either 1) set up a phone/video call with the individual or 2) send them a (short) list of questions you have.

To decide which option is best, simply ask the individual which is easier for them.

If the individual doesn’t respond to your follow up email, wait a few weeks and send another follow up email. Now, you don’t want to be a pest, just be persistent. After sending a second follow up email, and not receiving a response, start reaching out to other individuals that are of interest. Again, don’t take this personally.


After you have determined how you will gather information from the individual (phone/video call or email), know exactly what you want to ask them. Remember, this is cold networking, so you contacted this individual, they didn’t contact you.

It’s important that you are considerate of their time and you ask thoughtful questions.

I keep a list of questions saved on my computer so that I don’t have to think of questions for each situation. The questions are usually tailored to specific careers. For instance, I have a list of questions for management consultants, but this list of questions is different from those I would ask marketing analysts at consumer goods companies.

It may be intimidating to contact professionals that you don’t know, but LinkedIn provides the opportunity for you to build your network, so don’t be afraid to.

Imani Nichols is a student at University of Virginia graduating in 2017. She is considering Media Studies or American Studies as her major. After college, Imani plans to consult for a management consulting firm in Chicago and earn an MBA. She enjoys Forté webinars and working out.

Photograph by Nan Palmero.

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Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

By Nicole Chacin

March 26, 2015

Released in 2013, Lean In made the New York Time’s nonfiction best-seller list, inspired a movement of “lean in” book clubs and discussion in and outside the workplace, and is a perfectly inspiring and personal account of one woman’s tremendous accomplishments in the corporate world. 

Sheryl Sandberg is perhaps one of the most vocal women in the tech/business world. Before becoming Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, where Sandberg gets to meet with heads of state, executives from top companies, all while managing a key instrumental arm in the company, Sandberg was no stranger to Silicon Valley or the policies and procedures of government having served as Chief of Staff for the United States Secretary of the Treasury.

Ranked as one of Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, it is a little wonder Sandberg had time to write Lean In.

In Lean In, Sandberg examines why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has not been as widespread as it has been historically for men. One by one, Sandberg tackles the root causes for this lack of widespread female leadership in the boardroom and in executive positions while offering compelling, common sense solutions to empower women from all walks of life to achieve their full potential.

Personable and realistic, her advice hits home for a lot of young women who often question if they will be able to balance work and family in the future should they choose to pursue competitive positions in business.

“Its time to cheer on girls and women who want to sit at the table.”

In the light of the fact that within the past 30 years women have become 50% percent of the graduates in the United States, one would assume gaining more boardroom positions is only a natural progression. Yet Lean In exposes how we do not see more women climbing the ladder in corporate America as one would expect.

Lean In is a part of the growing trend of women speaking to not only change perspectives and perceptions of women and girls today, but a movement to give women the resources and confidence they need to assume the leadership responsibilities and success they were always capable of.

“We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in.”

I hope that you enjoy this read and gain more insight, inspiration, and drive to pursue your dreams.

Nicole Chacin is a Chicago native and student at the George Washington University where she studies business administration. Nicole aims to obtain a dual masters degree in Law and Business Administration by 2017 and ultimately dreams of working in health policy and administration.  This is Nicole’s 2nd year writing for Forté as she had the opportunity to learn about the organization through the first Forté C2B Leadership Conference.


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Keep Focus Each Semester

By Imani Nichols

March 25, 2015

Before the beginning of each school year, I make a list of activities I want to get involved in for the upcoming school year. I divide the list into two parts: fall semester and spring semester. Once the fall semester is nearing a close, I revisit this list and I identify opportunities that I’m currently involved in that I want to discontinue into the spring semester. I call this my exit/entry strategy.

The idea behind the exit/entry strategy is to have a bird’s eye view of potential opportunities. With this birds eye view, I can better manage time and energy commitments.

A lot of the opportunities on my entry strategy are similar. For example, I’m interested in management consulting post-grad, so I have different consulting opportunities in my entry strategy. There’s always a chance that I won’t get an opportunity that I want, so it’s important to have viable alternatives.

A second element of my entry strategy is color-coding opportunities according to the level of involvement required. For example, opportunities where I can lead are highlighted in yellow, while opportunities for me to only participate are highlighted in blue. It’s important to have a balance between leadership and participatory positions because you want to avoid getting burned out.

The exit strategy is a little simpler. At the end of each semester, I revisit my exit/entry strategy and determine which opportunities were not good fits for me. I highlight these opportunities, and I don’t continue them into the following semester.

The exit/entry strategy is intended to keep you focused on your prospective opportunities and weigh which responsibilities you’re comfortable with. 

Imani Nichols is a student at University of Virginia graduating in 2017. She is considering Media Studies or American Studies as her major. After college, Imani plans to consult for a management consulting firm in Chicago and earn an MBA. She enjoys Forté webinars and working out.

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Blunt Professors, Rowdy Students, and Eccentric Rules: How School Abroad is Different

By Alina Tang

March 13, 2015

After two months of attending Universidad Carlos III in Madrid, I’ve adapted to the way school works here better than I ever anticipated. Originally, I was concerned that the notoriously lax and laid-back manner of Spaniards (ex. siestas, tardiness, etc.) would drive me crazy, but now I have actually come to embrace it.

From my observations, the Spanish are indeed more flexible and stress-free, but they are also incredibly encouraging of differences in views when it comes to office hours, class discussions, and group work.

Firstly, professors act much more straightforward and will not hesitate to challenge you.

I remember the first time I went to one of my professor’s office hours, I told her my interpretation of a reading, and before I even finished, she interrupted me to say “You’re wrong.” At the time, I was totally caught off guard, but I soon discovered that this blunt line is a common recurrence.

Now that I’m used to it, I actually appreciate when professors let me know that I’m off base because it makes me re-evaluate my thinking. In the U.S., I hear professors say things like “I see where you’re coming from, but…” or “What you say is true, but…” all the time. While this is perhaps less harsh, it can sometimes be misleading and confusing.

Moreover, when a Spanish professor tells you that you’re wrong, they’re not completely discarding your opinion. I’ve finally realized that by disagreeing with me, they’re actually inviting me to elaborate on my opinion and challenging me to further defend my position.

The bluntness of professors also spills into the classroom, where everyone is encouraged to not only participate, but have their own personal opinion. In every single one of my lectures, students are cold called. But not in a way that intimidates them—rather, a way that makes them feel like their views are highly valued.

For instance, my TV studies professor consistently invites people to explain why a show is their favorite and persuade the rest of us to watch it. One time, she even had us do a creative activity where we each wrote down a title and description of a pretend TV show and then the class voted on the most compelling one.

From this exercise, we learned that everyone has different preferences, interests, and experiences, which translates to the wide variety of programs we see on television.

Last but not least is the encouragement of diversity in group projects. My advertising professor made a rule that each group of four has to have representatives of at least two different nations. I thought this requirement was really interesting, but I’m glad she imposed it because otherwise, I probably would have stuck with people I already knew, like my roommates and friends from USC.

I ended up working with two Spaniards, and learned quite a bit about how the Spanish respond to different techniques of advertising. After our presentation, we even celebrated by going out to eat tapas together. Crazy to think I never would have gotten this amazing opportunity to become friends with them had it not been for my professor’s rule!

Overall, I would say that there are a few things about another country’s education system that might initially come as a surprise/irritation/frustration. However, if you keep an open mind, you will soon find yourself getting comfortable with these new customs.

After I accepted the fact that my professors were going to start class late and my fellow classmates were going to be rowdy and talkative during lectures, it became a lot more enjoyable, even entertaining, to go to class. If anything, I’ve learned that the best way to come to terms with these changes is to just go with the flow. You’ll be surprised where it takes you!

Alina Tang will graduate from USC in 2016. She is majoring in business administration and plans to work in the Management Development Program at Mondelez International and gain more experience in global marketing.

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Midsemester Friends: The Best Kind of Pals

By Valeria Tirado

March 10, 2015

With the middle of the semester here and midterms finally over, we can finally take a moment to sit back and relax. Go ahead, you earned it!

What’s that though? You spent so much time being a diligent, hard-working student that you find yourself in the unfortunate circumstances of being a loner girl on a campus large enough that you feel like just another face in the crowd?


Your school likely provides this either as an institution-provided service or in the form of a student-led club or group and they are certainly worth the time. Meet friends and simultaneously prepare yourself for any leftover midterms or exams you have coming up.

This can’t be a bad idea—if for some reason you don’t at least become acquaintances with others in the study group then you still come away ahead, having gotten a likely much needed refresher course in your studies.


Cliché, I know, but there are always mixers going on at college, school sanctioned get-togethers and social clubs that are more than happy to have another person along for whatever function they’re having. You’ll find yourself amongst fast friends in no time.

If you’re lucky enough to stumble onto a party independent of school, thrown by a frat or sorority say, that’s even better. Just remember to be yourself and have fun and fast friends are sure to be found. Silly as it sounds, you’re all in the same boat as college students and so social interaction with strangers is as hard for others as it is for you. Grit your teeth and bear the awkward moments and you’ll find common interests abound.


I’m cheating a little bit with this one, as it is something that you should do year-round, not just during the mid-semester crunch—volunteer to better your campus. Whether you do this through joining a group dedicated to the betterment of your college or start a group on your own, it’s a guaranteed way of expanding your social circle and looks good on your resume.

Organizations that seek to help your campus with a cause are unique in that they attract certain types of people to them—outgoing, enthusiastic, and most of all, exceptionally nice. (They’d have to be in order to sacrifice time they could otherwise spend partying or studying to helping improve their school.)

These are ideal people to meet with because they are most likely to be open and friendly, and since you’ll be working with them for whatever reason then a rapport is bound to start up eventually.

So there you have it, a veritable buffet of choices for how to go about expanding your circle of friends for those of you who have few and wish for more, and a surefire way to entertain yourself for those of you who wish to find distractions during your midterm break. As always I hoped I’ve helped a few of you. As for me, I’m off to my study group to have a few laughs and hopefully learn something to guarantee me at least a B on my next exam. Now go on and make some friends, you!

Valeria Tirado is a junior at Rutgers University – New Brunswick with a major in Environmental and Business Economics and an Anthropology minor. She plans to get a Master’s from Rutgers in Food and Business Economics and attend NYU Stern for Economics after graduation. Valeria is the captain of her intramural volleyball team and can be found on Twitter at @valeriat94.

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Following Up After an Interview

By Kaitlyn Lannan

March 9, 2015

These days, many interviewers expect a follow-up thank you note after an interview. Some companies have even been known to discard your application, even if you were an otherwise good candidate, simply because you did not follow up with a thank-you after an interview.

Needless to say, it’s an important part of the interview process. Following up can also be important if you are looking for information on the status of your job application.

Here are some of the best follow-up strategies:


Send a thank-you as soon as possible after the interview. Email or write a personalized note to the interviewer recapping what you discussed in the interview, why you think you would be a good fit, and express your gratitude.

Including what you discussed in the interview will help the recruiter to remember you.


To follow up about the status of your job application, check on the company’s website to see if there is a general careers email address or a phone number for job candidates to call. If you choose to call, make sure that there is not a “no phone calls” policy, or you risk getting your application immediately rejected if you break the rule.

If you have the contact information of the person who interviewed you, it could also be a good idea to contact them to see if they know where you are in the application process.


Be persistent, but not annoying. The tricky part with following up with companies after an interview is to show them that you are interested in the position, but not to annoy them with the amount of times that you contact them.

Try following up twice, any more than that and you will probably not get a positive response.

It can be frustrating to have to follow up with a company that you were hoping to hear from soon after submitting your application or interviewing, but following up and sending thank you notes can keep your name at the top of the pile and get you noticed by recruiters.

Kaitlyn Lannan is a junior at Northwestern University. She is majoring in economics and communication studies and plans on attending business school in the future. Her dream job is becoming the Chief Marketing Officer at a Fortune 500 company. You can find Kaitlyn on Twitter at @KaitlynLannan.

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Graduation Nation

By Stephanie Watkins

March 5, 2015

Seniors across the nation, rejoice! We’ve done it—paid our dues, put in the study hours, and are so close to making it that graduation ceremony we’ve had our eye on for the past four years. But we’ve still got a few months before the big celebration.

How can you prepare to make the most of your time left and prepare yourself for life after college?

(Come on, we’re in college—college kids love lists!)

1. Check in with your academic advisor.

The best way to make sure you’ve got everything in order for graduation is to get all of the academic technicalities figured out as soon as possible. Make sure that all of your credits are there, your hours are completed, and your major is good to go.

2. Stop by the career center.

In case you haven’t thought about life after graduation, now might be the time to start! Whether you’re looking for a job, volunteer work, graduate school, or something else, the folks at your campus career center are there for you.

Go in and chat with a counselor on what your goals are and what you can be doing to get yourself there. In no time, you’ll find a plethora of resources to help you out and get you going!

3. Keep studying!

One of the toughest parts about being a senior will be finding the motivation to keep studying. While taking advantage of your newfound “senior status” is a must, keeping on track academically is a must as well.

You’ve got to have the grades to graduate, so keep going strong!

4. Enjoy your time on campus.

Chances are you will be moving away from campus after you graduate, so take the time to appreciate being in your college town while you’re still there. Hit up your favorite restaurants, go sit out on the quad, and take in that campus beauty all the brochure guides told you about!

5. Communicate with your family.

With all the dates, deadlines, and important info coming your way, it’s necessary to keep your family in the loop.

This is an important time not just for you, but also for the people who helped to get you there. Communicate with them and let them know so they can celebrate with you.

Graduation is an exciting, yet overwhelming experience. Get everything in order from the school-side of things, but don’t forget to take time to appreciate the place you’ve spent your last four years.

Stephanie Watkins is a senior at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill graduating in 2015. Her major is in Management and Society and her dream job is to be a marketing and social media consultant which allows her to travel all over the world. Stephanie’s spirit animal is Leslie Knope from Parks and Rec and you can find her on Twitter at @StephanieWatki5.

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Have You Considered A Career In Finance?

By Nicole Chacin

March 4, 2015

According to a recent Forbes poll, the primary goal of college undergrads is to major in a discipline that will enable them to be financially well-off. Even so, the number of women studying finance is not the same number as their male counterparts.

In fact, women do not even occupy half of the classroom seats or corporate suites for finance. In 2013, women only make up 11.4% of the Chief Financial Officers of the Fortune 500. Yet inherit in the study of finance and the jobs within this field, are a thorough understanding of how to achieve financial independence and gain skills to make and manage money. So why are more female undergrads not studying finance?

While a management degree will lead to a general overview of business functions and principles, a finance degree is highly concentrated and focused. It provides big picture perspective and broad understanding of how to manage money—whether for individuals, institutions, or organizations. Finance also handles instruments such as stocks and bonds, which change economic markets.

Coursework in finance involves math and statistics as well as business principles. While some might classify finance as more of a technical discipline, it happens to have many client-facing positions for management leaders.

Ruth Porat, who has a bachelor’s in economics from Stanford and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business, has transitioned from advising several clients and managing operations for just a few, to instructing and overseeing the inward operations of thousands during her career at Morgan Stanley.

She has helped companies such as Amazon and Priceline go public, advised the Treasury Department on the takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and oversaw the inward operations of Morgan Stanley’s many employees and affiliates around the world, all while being conscientious of the public image of the company and its finances.

Investment banking and commercial banking businesses all started under a single roof as there was very little regulations until the 1930s, and the banking industry came under scrutiny with new legislation that was passed. These great empires with political and financial clout were originally built by men from exclusive old boy’s clubs; now decades later we have only a few handful of brilliant women who have taken the initiative to add diversity and new leadership in the world of finance in these top leadership positions.

One of the key resources that helped Porat join the ranks of history of these other brilliant female CFOs is her finance degree. Porat has paved the way for the next group of female management leaders.

No one says that a finance major leads to a c-suite office, yet finance does provide a female undergraduate confidence and perspective to explore countless career fields in business that require a blend of technical and practical business understanding which finance provides.

And no one says that a business degree by itself is enough to obtain a reputable position in a company or a high paying salary. Finance provides an economic worldview that is both practical and tangible to the consumer and student who will need to know how to manage their money in light of how the world is managing its money.

To explore exciting career opportunities and network with students and professionals to learn how finance can be a valuable resource for your academic and professional journey, apply to the Fast Track to Finance Conference for undergraduate women, which will be held at Boston’s Federal Reserve Bank on May 1, 2015.

Nicole Chacin is a Chicago native and student at the George Washington University where she studies business administration. Nicole aims to obtain a dual masters degree in Law and Business Administration by 2017 and ultimately dreams of working in health policy and administration.  This is Nicole’s 2nd year writing for Forté as she had the opportunity to learn about the organization through the first Forté C2B Leadership Conference.

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