Career Lab Virtual Campus Forté Foundation

Networking Your Way Through College

December 10, 2014

by Siobhan Bauer

One of the most rewarding aspects of being a college student is how available people are to be a resource for you. I have been surprised on multiple occasions by the willingness of others to answer my questions, connect me with their colleagues, and share their own career stories.

I have also learned that there are an enumerable amount of opportunities available to you on campus. Whether you are looking for a job, a research position, a volunteer role, or simply just more information about a field that sparks your interest, there are countless people on campus that can help you.

However, with thousands of other students around, it is on you to take the first steps to begin building these connections—a simple email is often all it takes to get the ball rolling. Networking can be a daunting task when you are just starting out, but as a college student, you are in one of the best environments to start making connections and learn how to be an effective networker.

Below are some networking guidelines that I believe will help set anyone in the right direction.

1. Do your homework!

Know who you are emailing. Before you reach out to a professor/advisor/staff member, look them up! If it is a professor, read up on some of the research they have completed. For university staff members, read up on what work their department does, and the role they play in their workplace.

Doing some research will help you be able to articulate in your message why you think they will be able to help you, and ultimately why you are reaching out to them.

2. Have a clear objective.

Why do you want to connect with someone? When you first email someone, make sure you present a clear and concise objective. Always let them know you are a student, and connect your educational and career goals with what they do. Tell them why you think they would be helpful for you to get in touch with, and hopefully, they will be happy to do so.

3. Don’t be afraid of rejection.

It is important to realize is that you have nothing to lose when you start networking – in the sense that reaching out does you no harm and it will not set you back at all.  Don’t be afraid to reach out to a lot of people! Although some people may not email you back, or may not be the kind of resource you were looking for, do not get discouraged!

You may run into an instance when a position isn’t available but even if you don’t qualify right off the bat, they now know your name, know you’re interested and you’ll have a leg up the next time you reach out.

All in all, learning how to network is a powerful tool in both your time as a college student and in preparation for your career in the future. Spending the time to practice those skills while you still in school with help you be ahead of the game when you begin setting up your career.

Networking has played a huge role in my undergraduate career – and the first time I put myself out there and got in contact with someone on campus led me to the job I’ve had for over two years.

During my freshman year, I struggled with my newfound free time, and the large gaps in my daily schedule. In high school, my day was packed morning to night with school and extracurricular activities, so my first year of college was much slower moving.

Unsatisfied with my empty schedule, I took a chance, expecting very little to come of it, and emailed the head baseball coach, expressing my interest in getting a student job in the athletic department. He graciously passed my inquiry along to the appropriate party, and after a couple of more emails and a short interview, I was hired in to do Public Relations and Communications in the athletic department and have been here since.

This job has provided me with many opportunities to network even further, which has led to additional employment opportunities and an even longer list of job experience.

….and all it took was one simple email!

Siobhan Bauer will graduate in 2016 from the University of Washington in Medical Anthropology. Siobhan plans to pursue an MBA with a career in health care or hospital management.

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Breaking Out of Traditional Business Jobs

December 9, 2014

Many students are intrigued by the broad field of business, but aren’t especially attracted to many of the traditional sub-fields, such as banking. Here are jobs in some new areas to consider if this applies to you!

1. Try working at a startup.

Startup culture is relatively new, and many people find that they enjoy working in the fast-paced, collaborative environment that is often offered at companies within the field. Almost any traditional business job can be applied to working at a startup.

For example, this past summer I worked as a marketing intern for an educational technology company, and I was able to do a lot more hands-on work and make more of an impact than I might have been able to at a bigger company. However, be prepared to put in a lot of hard work!

Here are the top 15 startups to work for according to Business Insider.

2. Apply technology to traditional jobs.

If you have an interest in computers and technology in addition to business, you are in luck. In today’s technology-crazed society, employers are always looking for candidates who know how to code and who have a strong knowledge of different computer programs.

Having these skills can really open up your job opportunities, particularly within the IT division of a company or within the digital marketing sector.

3. Put your social media skills to work as a social media strategist for a company.

If you love Facebook and Twitter, why not put your skills to use while getting paid for it? Take coursework in digital marketing and Search Engine Optimization to land a job in this area. Social media is becoming more and more essential to companies hoping to stay relevant, and you can help!

The job market is constantly evolving. By gaining some new skills, particularly within the technology field, you can really broaden the job opportunities available to you. Good luck in your job search!

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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The Changing Culture of Women in the Sports Business

December 4, 2014

by Siobhan Bauer

Professional and collegiate sports make up a sector of business that has been a historically male-dominated culture. In the grand scheme, few women hold executive business roles in the sports world. However, this trend seems to be changing.

Athletics is a great venue to watch how the culture of women in business is transforming, and how there is positive momentum growing for the expansion of women in sports business roles.

I have noticed this growing change through working in both professional and collegiate sports. I have seen that within the larger umbrella of the sports business, there are visible differences between different levels of athletics – specifically these professional and collegiate levels. Through my experience in both of these environments, I have noticed that the business side of college sports is much more progressive than in professional organizations.

The ratio of men to women in this sphere of business is largely driven but the fact that the culture of sports has generally catered to men. But the college athletic business is unique because men’s and women’s sports are governed by the same body. Athletic departments at universities are working to promote sports of both genders, where you find that there are many more women in leading roles in the athletic departments of educational institutions.

At a university, it is not uncommon to see women in athletic director roles, associate positions, in operations management, as sports writers, or as medical staff. When I began working in professional sports, I noticed that the ubiquity of female employees was absent. I was not necessarily surprised, but it was definitely shocking to experience such a stark dichotomy first hand. 

It was really my first work experience where I often found myself being the only woman in the office. But I realized quickly that I could learn a lot from working in a male-dominated workplace.

Being in this kind of environment, I found that I more readily sought a female role model, and that I actively reached out to other women in the office.

Because there were so many more women in the collegiate offices, I had taken women in upper positions for granted. When I moved over to the big leagues, the value of women in executive roles became so apparent to me, and I truly recognized the importance of talking and connecting with the women in these positions.

There are many examples that the culture of sports is changing and it is creating promising evidence that the business of sports will also change. One aspect of sports culture that is transforming rapidly is the demographic of viewers. Women are starting to make up a much greater percentage of fans, and I believe that this is one reality that will begin to have a large impact on the growth of women in the field.

More notably, there are a growing number of women in executive roles. Lesa France is the CEO of the body that manages all NASCAR race tracks. Sue Falsone was the head Athletic Trainer for the LA Dodgers, and the first and only head trainer in any of the major American sports leagues. Kim Ng is the Senior Vice President for Baseball Operations in the MLB, and Jeanie Buss is the President of the Los Angeles Lakers. In 2012, Shannon Eastin became the first female football referee.

This list denotes only some of the influential women who have begun to challenge the norm of this male-dominated field. It is old-fashioned to think that sports is still a man’s world and I think it is only a matter of time before people will no longer be surprised to women in leadership roles.

Photo Source: Daily News

Siobhan Bauer will graduate in 2016 from the University of Washington in Medical Anthropology. Siobhan plans to pursue an MBA with a career in health care or hospital management.

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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.

1) SPEAK TO AN ADVISOR
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.

2) ASK FOR A REFERENCE
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.

3) CONVEY INTEREST
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.

4) PREPARE FOR THE INTERVIEW
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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