Career Lab Virtual Campus Forté Foundation

3 Leadership Styles (and When to Use Them)

November 25, 2014

by Valeria Tirado

When people think of a leader, they tend to think of someone who gives orders and expects his subordinates to follow them; at least, that’s what I thought until I took a college class recently. Little did I know that leadership is not universal, but rather contextual. Below are three particular leadership styles and the kinds of situations that they are best suited for.

1. The first type of leader is the transactional leader.

This style focuses on supervision and organization. They also make decisions themselves and promote compliance of their followers with rewards/punishment. This type of leader was very common a few decades ago, and although it’s been becoming less common nowadays, there are still some situations that would best benefit from a transactional leader.

In the case of a manager, a transactional leadership style is very effective during a crisis since they’ll know how to keep order and give good directions. In general, tasks that require specific tasks to be done are best directed by a transactional leader.

2. The second type of leader is a participative leader, or democratic leadership style.

This leader makes the final decision herself, but asks for the input of those involved along the way. This is a great way to build trust between a leader and their followers since asking for their opinion makes them feel like their opinions matter (which they should) and helps them accept changes better. The biggest example is our own country.

This style is particularly useful when the decision being made affects everyone or when new ideas are needed since you can ask for everyone’s opinion. It is not useful, however, when you need to make a decision fast since all team members may not come to an agreement quickly.

3. The last type of leader is the transformational leader.

This is a fairly new type of leadership style and one that I think a lot of people are trying to adopt today.

A transformational leader differs from a participative leader in that they not only want to hear their followers’ opinions, but they also want to encourage and motivate them. This style depends on high communication and cooperation from both the leader and followers.

This style is good to use in most situations, especially when you want to build strong relationships, but the leader must have proficiency and the followers must be willing to learn.

It’s important to be aware of the different leadership styles there are and to not limit yourself to using just one, since it all depends on the situation. This information will definitely be useful to me and I hope it is to you too when you’re trying to be a leader yourself!

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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Networking Can Start Right From Your Classroom

November 18, 2014

by Valeria Tirado

Friends are a vital part of surviving college and making connections are vital in life. So when I say that making friends with connections in college can make your life several magnitudes easier, know that I’m not overselling things.

Sure, they won’t make taking tests any easier on their own necessarily, but they can provide you with the resources you need to do that all on your own. Even better, they can help you when it really counts: after graduation day.

To me, networking is the process of forging relationships with people that are mutually beneficial in the long run. What better place to start networking than your own classroom? If you’ve been able to get to a stage in a relationship with anyone in your class, be it professor or peer, where you’ve exchanged contact information, congratulations! You’ve just networked.

You’ve forged a relationship that could, at some point, be beneficial to one or both of you. It’s that easy, and it’s an opportunity that only a fool would waste.

“But how do I network?” you ask. It might seem like a daunting task but it’s really not that hard. Like I said, you can even start right from your own classroom!

First, find someone who you wish to network with. It can be anyone, but people with something to offer you, whether it is experience or information is preferred.

Next, you approach the person and strike up a conversation.

Finally, you request that person’s contact information or give them yours and voila, you’ve officially networked as well as any person can. Now, so long as you keep in touch with that person every so often to keep the contact information up to date, you’ve used networking to gain a permanent person to request help from for life!

Those steps aren’t the only paths to proper networking. In fact, there isn’t any path to proper networking. When you’re forced to split into groups in class and give out your information, you’re networking. On the first day of class when you exchange info with your professor, you’re networking. When you’re at a party and you get the number of a cute boy with the tattoo that you know your parents will just hate (but really isn’t that why he’s so attractive in the first place?), you are networking.

So long as that contact info stays up-to-date, you’ve networked successfully and can reap the rewards.

What are those rewards, you ask? Well, flash forward ten years and you need a job. You remember your professor mentioning that he worked in a similar field and he writes recommendations all the time.

Oh, and there’s that girl you were in a group with once who’s working in the same field now. Maybe she knows the best places to apply.

There was that boy with the tattoo you met a party too; well wouldn’t you know he’s the CEO of a major company in the field you’re applying to.

Isn’t it such a small world?

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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4 Steps To Acquire A Political Internship

October 15, 2014

by Nicole Chacin

Students from high school to college across the country seek the opportunity to intern for a Member of Congress. As a former intern for both the House of Representatives and the Senate, I have a personal understanding of the process to apply and the factors that make a candidate desirable. To prepare for the application process I have outlined four key steps to stand out amongst the applicant pool that can easily consist of hundreds of students for any one internship.

In high school and in college your advisor is of key importance. This individual will get to know you better as you arrange your school schedule with their assistance and will come to see how your interests translate into student activities and accomplishments.

Advisors are also able to recommend certain steps like getting involved in student government, which they know have proven to be valuable in gaining experience and maturity while standing out amongst other candidates also applying for a political internship. In addition, certain colleges allow for interns to receive college credit, so it’s good to check in with your advisor about that. Advisors certainly will also be able to work with you in making a plan to raise your GPA if this is something you need work on. Having a good academic record speaks volume about a candidate.

Knowing a professor, teacher, or professional who can contribute a good word about you is crucial. More than 50% of your application consists of your own testimony regarding your candidacy for a political office. While you may find that you are the best candidate for the position (and very well may be), the office wants to know you have the respect and trust of others who can attest to your good qualities as well.

The reference you obtain for your application is also important, because this individual could very well notice attributes about yourself that you did not notice or were too bashful to convey. The reference is really a necessary personal touch which summarizes the very best of you as a candidate in a sincere, relatable way for the reader of your application.

Whether you are a high school or college student, you need to demonstrate in your application a serious interest in politics or the political process. Demonstrate knowledge about the member of Congress you wish to Intern for, namely their stance on issues and the work they began since taking office. Being able to discuss this individual’s achievements and efforts really makes a difference when trying to choose between candidates.

The first office I interned in gave a questionnaire with content that ranged from questions about the Majority and Minority Leaders to requirements for office and term limits.

Having taken political science courses and being an avid reader of American History, I was prepared and gave a good first impression to my colleagues and supervisor. Depending on the environment of the office whether it is a District or DC Office, the expectations might be higher of interns, so understand there might be some curveballs.

Also important when applying for these positions is to show your ambition and how such an internship can both advance your academic and professional goals as well as be of assistance to the Office providing the opportunity. In the same way that you as a candidate want to benefit from your time interning, so do the Staff of that political office want to know that your presence will be helpful and positive as they will be the ones to train and spend time guiding you throughout the internship.

Provided the chance to interview with that desired political office (a good sign), it is always good to review the application you submitted and run through key points beforehand. This strategy is a good re-fresher and ensures that in person, you are prepared for any questions and can easily expand upon something if asked.

On the day of the interview be sure to arrive on time and be dressed appropriately either in business casual or business formal, depending on what is more appropriate. In a political office, less is more - in other words, the key focus should not be your attire, hair, or makeup, but rather the qualities you bring and are willing to improve upon during the internship.

Overall, you want to leave your interviewer with the impression of your serious, genuine interest in that particular political office as well as your ability to contribute and willingness to learn.

Following such an interview, also be prepared if your interviewer asks if you have any questions. The worst thing is to say nothing, because it usually translates to lack of preparation or disinterest.

Oftentimes, you will find that your interviewer will be the key person you go to throughout your internship, it is nice to show a respectful, but formal interest in that person’s role in the office. If you really have no questions to ask your interviewer about the internship or the office, you might convey a polite sense of gratitude for their consideration and express you are looking forward to hearing of their decision.

I wish you the utmost success in applying. As I am sure you will discover, if you take such an internship, it a sheer privilege and irreplaceable learning experience that a select percentage of the country have been able to take part in.

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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What to Expect When You Intern at a Startup

October 7, 2014

by Kaitlyn Lannan

The world of startups is exciting and fast-paced, but the office culture can be very different from other work experiences that you have had in the past. These tips will help you to know what to expect!

Work Hard - And Then Some

Everyone works hard and they will expect you to do the same. Before my first day at a technology startup this past summer, I incorrectly assumed that every aspect of the culture would be more laid-back than a larger company.

While each company is different, be prepared to work just as hard as you would at a larger company or even harder, since the company is likely still trying to get established. The hours might be long, but think of it as an opportunity to bond with your co-workers and earn valuable work experience for your future.

Take Your Work Seriously

While you might have to put in a little more work, you have the chance to make a real difference. With smaller companies, there is a lot of inter-team work, such as collaboration between the marketing and engineering teams. You will be given work that can directly impact your company’s future, so take it very seriously.

Share Your Opinion

Don’t be afraid to take initiative or to offer your opinion. As I mentioned earlier, smaller companies value your opinion and can be more likely to implement your idea than a well-known company that has had the same procedures for years.

Be a Sponge

Learn as much as you can. Internships at big companies sometimes end up with you stuffing envelopes all day long, but this is more unlikely to happen at a startup. Small companies can’t afford to have someone on the team who doesn’t contribute, so you will probably be learning real work experience in your field.

For me, this involved being proactive with researching SEO tips for my blog posts, and learning how to use software like Google AdWords. Feel free to ask your supervisor to help you out with something that you want to learn, or even to ask them how they ended up getting hired by the company.

Build Relationships

Try to fit in with the office culture. It might feel a little strange to have your desk right next to a Ping-Pong table, but understand that great ideas come from all office environments. Take advantage of office outings, they can be great networking opportunities! Something that I loved about my internship was how accessible the top leadership was. The CEO was willing to chat with the interns about his experiences, and I learned so much.

Interning at a startup can be a truly rewarding experience, especially if you see them playing a part in your future. Even if you decide that the culture is not for you after your internship, you will still have had a great hands-on work experience that will impress future employers.

Kaitlyn LannanKaitlyn 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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How Watching the Daily Show Might Get You a Job Someday

May 21, 2014

by Jaskamal Gill

It’s good practice for all college students – not just business students – to read the news. Knowing what goes on in the world is important since it has the potential to affect your life in drastic ways.

It does not matter whether it is about the Affordable Care Act, the government shutdown, or the Ukraine Crisis; as a citizen of the world, it is your responsibility to stay sharp and to know what is happening outside of your daily bubble.

Why is it particularly important for a business student?

A business student needs to know the latest developments happening in the marketplace. Business is fluid – information and the ways in conducting business are always changing. As an accounting major, I know the rules governing financial reporting are not set in stone yet. For financial reporting, there is IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards), the common language for business affairs and then there is GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles), the one that the United States follows. The goal is to eventually transfer to IFRS but this transformation will take many years to complete; it has been slow and uncertain but it is up to accountants to keep track of any rule changes and to incorporate this into their financial reports. Along the same lines, a business student who will soon turn into a business professional should make it her job to keep on top of any news that may affect her later on when she enters the working world.

A business professional needs to know the industry; you need to know how the top companies are performing, the issues cropping up in domestic and international markets, and the conditions of the industry before you delve into them. Graduating from college is a perplexing time and even more so if you are thrust into a job with little background information.

Can you imagine landing a job on Wall Street without knowledge of the industry – only knowing what you have learned in class? It is highly unlikely you will even get the job if you have limited knowledge. Recruiters are quizzing job applicants very closely – I’ve heard horror stories passed on from professors.

For example, an investment bank was recruiting for an entry-level position and one of the applicants was a bright student with exceptional grades and numerous leadership positions. But then the interviewer asked a question that stumped the college student: “Who is the treasurer of the United States?” (It’s Rosa Gumataotao Rios.) The interviewee was unable to answer the question so the interview ended there.

Harsh? Maybe, but this just serves to underline how important it is to know current events.

How can you make daily news a priority?

Pick up a daily newspaper and skim the headlines. Find ones that interest you and read those articles.

It is always a good idea to read the op-eds too to find out what the “hot” topics are around the world. Pay close attention to the business headlines and read the “Marketplace” section in the Wall Street Journal. Many newspapers also offer substantial discounts for college students.

I know what you’re thinking – you’re a college student, how will you find time to read all of this? Consider this as an additional one-credit class.

If you are serious about being a business professional then you must research the industry and know your facts before joining. You don’t have to read everything in detail but you should skim the headlines everyday, whether it’s on your phone or in a printed newspaper. If you’re really in a rush, try an email news service like The Skimm or spend a few minutes watching The Daily Show or your favorite news station.

Jaskamal Gill will graduate in 2016 from Rutgers University with a degree in accounting and a minor in English. Jaskamal plans on working for a Big 4 firm after college and getting her MBA. She dreams of starting her own business and enjoys Virtual Campus.

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Summer Workplace Apparel Tips for College Students

May 15, 2014

by Kaitlyn Lannan

Summer is the season for internships and short-term job positions. It can be a difficult time to know how to dress appropriately, given the stifling days and warm nights. Depending on your climate, it may be necessary to make some changes to what you were wearing in the spring to keep yourself comfortable and professional for the summer. Here are some tips to help you decide:

Formal is Better

This depends on the office environment in which you work, but as a rule, it is always best to be dressed too formally than not formal enough. A sundress might not fit the usual atmosphere of the office, so exercise caution when introducing new summer pieces.

A crop top, flip flops, or shorts are never acceptable in the office, even if it’s a casual environment or a Friday.

Adapt What You Currently Wear

Finding the perfect summer outfit for work might be as simple as leaving the blazer or jacket component of your favorite work outfit at home. This might not be feasible for some office environments, so if you are still required to dress in business professional, try suits made of a lighter material, like linen.

Try wearing a spring or fall dress without your bulky winter jacket and you could find that it becomes a summer staple too. Pair it with a cardigan for strapless or thin-strapped dresses.

Bring Layers

Even though you will definitely be less bundled up in summer than in winter, it can still be wise to bring some layers in to work in case the air conditioning is on high. This can also be useful if you have to work later into the night or decide to go from work to another event.

If you walk during your commute, bring your flats or heels separately if you choose to walk in lightweight footwear like sandals or canvas shoes.

Dressing for the warm summer months can be tricky, especially if you are at a new job and have not had to dress for the summer weather in that office environment yet. As you get used to your new office (and the weather in your area) you’ll establish a routine that keeps you looking professional while you endure the summer months.

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

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Tips to Surviving Your Formal Interview

May 13, 2014

by Angela Coquis

If you are in a business major, it’s pretty certain that you’re going to have to take part in at least one formal interview. These can come in all shapes and sizes, from fancy dinners to a panel where several people are interviewing you. I admit they are a little daunting at first, no matter what kind, but with practice and a good idea of the protocol, there’s nothing to fear!


Remember, like it or not, your interviewer is going to make a judgment about the way you look as soon as they see you. You only have a few seconds, so make that first impression count.

My school always recommends that you invest in a good quality suit, and that’s always a safe choice. I also think that if you’re in a pinch you can pull off the same look with a couple of choice pieces. When it comes to suit colors, it’s best to stick to solid dark blues, grays, and blacks. Always black.

As for the shirt, you can get more personalized with colors, just nothing you would wear on a night out.

Speaking of personalization, when it comes to scenting, most professors have told me not to wear any perfume. You never know when an interviewer may have a pet peeve about perfume/cologne smell, or the smell could be more powerful than you think and you don’t want to put them off with that. Smell, of all the senses, is the most strongly tied with memory, so play it safe and leave the interviewer with a good memory of you.

Also, if your clothes are not ironed and clean, make sure to do so. That stain that you think is way too faint for anyone to notice, it’s visible. Clean it up!


If you have not heard of this term before, interviewers love to ask behavioral questions. These types of questions focus on getting an answer that will tell the employer if you are someone they want to work with. Generally the questions will describe a troubling situation and ask you to explain how you have handled or would handle these circumstances.

My mother advised me to use the STAR method: Situation, Task, Action, and Result. You explain a situation like the one posed that you were in and what the main task was, you detail what action you would take, and then you describe what the result was. Much like this method’s name, I’d recommend stories that show off your star moments, or times when you really outdid yourself because the result was very good.

Another part of the interview that some tend to forget is that you are here to learn just as much about the company as they are there to learn about you. You need to know if these people are a group you will get along with and want to work with, so ask questions! Not only will you learn if you like the environment of the job, but you’ll also show true interest to the interviewer(s).


In the final moments of the interview, as your host is gesturing you toward the door, make sure you shake their hand firmly, smile, and say thank you. They have given you an opportunity they did not give to others, so it is king to show your gratitude.

A great way to follow up and leave a little more impression is with a thank you note. This is a nice, brief, handwritten letter where you recall the time spent together (this sounds romantic, but it’s not), that you enjoyed it, and you are thankful for their time. This letter can either be pre-written, or you can find a way to write it privately afterwards and then later take it back to them or a secretary.

Once that’s done, the very last things to do are hope and pray that you get a call back! At this point, you have no power on their decision, and you did the best job that you could. If you get an offer, great! If they don’t offer the job, at the very least you still got interview practice, and that is surely no waste.

Angela Coquis is a junior at the University of Texas at Dallas. She is majoring in Management Information Systems and wants to live abroad and pursue a career in database management. She enjoys Virtual Campus and her dream job is owning a bakery.

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The Summer Internship Equation for Rising Stars

April 15, 2014

Spring is one of the loveliest, most nostalgic times of the academic year. You are finishing the rest of your two challenging semester journey with hard-won grades, assignments, and an established university presence to show for. You deserve a pat on the back at the very least for the countless hours you spent in your collegiate environment, yet they are about to wind down as you take the next steps towards planning your summer.

As you plan this journey, I would like to share four tips to leave you prepared, confident, and ready to plant the seed for success.

Establish your unique brand

If a picture is worth a thousand words, can you just imagine how important that beginning day on an internship is when forming a first impression? Branding is important not only for consumer goods, but for people as well. TV personalities and those in the spotlight are keenly aware of how delicate and valuable their brand is. You don’t need to be (one of my female role models) Ivanka Trump, with a family legacy in business to establish yourself professionally.

A brand is not just identified from a watermark on a stationary or a glossy business card. A brand is the symbolism of YOU in the flesh and what YOU represent to others. If you take away your name, character, and appearance, that brand no longer exists. In the same way, if you take away the name “Trump” from any one of the luxury hotels that frame the skyline, there would be no unique association and connection for the consumer.

These brands, and the unique individuals who make them, work long and hard to have their name acknowledged and to maintain them. As such, it only makes sense that females looking to become leaders in their own field start understanding their unique brand and how they can project and sustain that effectively and purposefully.

In her book, The Trump Card: Playing to Win in Work and Life, Trump emphasizes that each person has been dealt “a winning hand,” and it is up to each of us to play it right and smart. You are the only one who can understand this winning hand fully. Knowing this, its important your best traits come across in your branding.

So how does “branding” translate to an office setting? If you define your priorities from the start of a new position as well as voice your concerns, contributions, and care in the subject matter, your brand will develop along with you. Your projects, work ethic, and approach all indicate the kind of person you are. If you desire certain key traits, such as “responsible, diligent, or creative,” its important to demonstrate them – not quietly, but with appropriate emphasis.

Form a Routine

As mundane and lackluster as the word “routine” might seem, it is actually the key to success in any field.

In college, we are used to the bombardment of assignments, events, and responsibilities that come our way. Efficiency is sought only through the tackling of each item one by one. Even the smallest routine such as setting out work clothes for the following day, reading your materials the night before, or even planning periods of rest before a long week can invigorate, strengthen, and empower you during the hustle and bustle of the some 20-40 hour work week.

The less small things you have to worry about, the more you can focus on the big picture items in front of you. You will also feel more control and stability. Even better, your consistency will be inevitably visible to your colleagues. Continuing with the idea of branding, since very few of us have a photographic memory, it is important to consistently project the image and behavior we wish to be known for day in and day out to establish our brand.

Build Trust-Based Relationships

At the start of any new role in a foreign environment, it might be hard to break the ice in that first week. One has to remember that the internship environment can be intimidating, demanding, and mentally / physically draining.

When you are first introduced to this new territory, it can feel a lot like stepping into a beehive. There is a lot of buzz from your co-workers, much work to be done, and yet you are trying to figure out how to get noticed amongst your worker bees. Its important in this initial stage, to reach out to at least one mentor you can trust.

While navigating unchartered waters, you want an experienced captain, and that is exactly the kind of mentor you should aim to befriend. This mentor might be pessimistic and cautious of associating themselves with you at first, given past experiences with interns or the many responsibilities they already carry, thus do not be discouraged if this is the case, however do not expect too much of that person. They will also be examining you, to see if you can meet their expectations. Professional friendships are time consuming and slow to develop, but worth every ounce of energy as these individuals may root for you and guide you along as well.

If you look at Sheryl Sandberg, you will notice that her career path was not a set of random events. In fact, there is a consistency and trust-based relationships are a common theme in her work experiences. Sandberg’s Harvard professor, Larry Summers, was her mentor and thesis advisor during her undergraduate years. Summers recruited Sandberg for research at the World Bank, and after graduation when her professor became United States Secretary of the Treasury under President Bill Clinton, she was recruited to be his Chief of Staff.

In instances like these, there is no real value you can place on professional relationships, especially considering they can have life-changing influences as in the case of Ms. Sandberg.

To reiterate on the first two pieces of advice, professional relationships are usually based on a “give and take” philosophy. Your colleagues need to first understand in general terms who you are, and what you offer, before trusting you with vital information or projects. Interns do not need to wear their resume on their sleeve, but they should be known for certain valuable traits and skills.

Establish a Record of Experience

Writing after a long day at work is not a very appealing notion on the surface. However, to pinpoint the areas in which you can and have grown, its important to have a diary. It allows you to examine the skills you have gained and the obstacles overcome.

Particularly notable leaders in history have kept a diary, such as Presidents Harry Truman and George Washington. The public has studied these to gain access to the complex psyche of these movers and shakers. Yet for all practical purposes, whether or not you are planning on writing an autobiography later in life like so many leaders and modern day celebrities, its important to have a grip of the pace and influence of your progression as a female in a competitive workplace.

This diary does not need to be time-consuming; only a 10-15 minute journaling bi-weekly would make a difference.

Whatever organization you work for, each has a set of principles and a mission they aim to meet. If you find yourself the project leader for a nonprofit or private sector game-changer, think about how you want your work to contribute to the lives of others. This contribution may very well be indirect as a novice in a field, but will have immediate and future benefits.

I would like to end this conversation with words of advice from alum of my university, and one of history’s most elegant and multi-talented personages: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Her opinion regarding female expression is invigorating and telltale of how she was able to infuse grace, intelligence, and beauty in her role of First Lady:

“Once you can express yourself, you can tell the world what you want from it and how you would like to change it. All the changes in the world, for good or evil, were first brought about by words.”

Our First Lady enchanted us with all the four criteria in the equation for success we discussed: an undeniable charming brand, a dynamic routine to execute her public service agenda, trust-based relationships within her circle, and a record of her days in Camelot with that of 35th President, John F. Kennedy, shared in biographies and poetry for all of America to view. It was these four elements which made way and provided an intellectual and social space for her work and enduring legacy.

I pray that in taking on your summer internship and working towards that C-suite position, you are able to utilize the four elements in the equation we discussed to attain success: branding, routine, trust-based relationships, and recording your experiences. Ultimately, this is all in order to enable your unique voice to shine through and be recognized, respected, and remembered.

Nicole Chacin will graduate in 2015 from George Washington University with a degree in business economics and public policy with a minor in vocal music. She plans on getting a JD/MBA after college and dreams of working in health policy and administration. She was a part of the first Forté College Leadership Conference and is the creative designer and co-founder of Chicago Boutique.

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