Career Lab Virtual Campus Forté Foundation

Using Volunteer Experience on a Resume

By Kaitlyn Lannan

February 16, 2015

When thinking about what kinds of experiences to list on your resume, don’t rule out listing volunteer positions. These experiences can be just as valuable as paid work experience, and employers can be just as impressed by them. Here are some of the best ways to incorporate your volunteer experiences into your resume!

Emphasize leadership roles.

Leadership roles, whether in campus organizations, work experiences, or in this case, volunteer positions, are the key to success in the job search. Companies want to see that you are capable of leading others successfully, and that you do well under pressure.

If you led a team of volunteers or if you took the initiative to organize an event at your volunteer position, make sure to note that in your interviews or on your cover letter. Employers will be impressed by your drive.

Tie your experiences to the job description.

Just as you would for any work experiences that you may have, look at the experiences and skills required for a position and think about how your volunteer experience could help you to be successful in a role.

Go through each skill individually, and try to think of how your volunteer experiences helped you to develop those skills.

Look at the company’s philanthropic ties.

Many major companies support specific charities or causes. Research the company that you are interested in to see if your volunteer experience could tie into the philanthropic causes that are important to the company.

Not only is this a chance to show that you did your research on the company, this will help you to learn more about a company that you may be working for.

Keep internships during the school year in mind as a way of beefing up your resume and giving you valuable work experiences. While summer internships are definitely important, the more meaningful internship experience you gain, the better! Good luck on your applications!

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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New Job, New City: Moving After Graduation

By Stephanie Watkins

February 13, 2015

So you worked hard, killed it at your interview, and got the job. Congrats! Now it’s time to start working on your next big task—tackling moving after graduation.

I recently accepted a job in Austin, Texas, and I’m really excited about starting fresh in a brand new city. At the same time, I felt overwhelmed and nervous thinking about the move from North Carolina down to central Texas. From planning to logistics to cost—it is a huge undertaking!

Luckily, I’ve done a lot of the legwork for you. If you’re looking at jobs in a city far from home, or if you’ve recently accepted your dream job across the country, check out these tips I’ve picked up along the way.

REQUEST A RELOCATION GUIDE

Every major city and town is going to have an organization devoted to attracting newcomers to the city. The first and most reliable place to check out first would be the Chamber of Commerce. See if they have a relocation guide you can request to have mailed to you, often for free!

I requested a relocation guide from the Austin Chamber of Commerce, which was a very valuable tool in planning. In the guide came a large book with information on neighborhoods and areas, cost of living, and things to do in the city and surrounding areas. Additionally, they sent a large map of Austin and a business guide that listed local “Chamber of Commerce” approved businesses in the area.

Coming from so far away and having never spent time in Austin, this relocation guide helped give me a good, solid background on the area and where I might enjoy living.

REACH OUT TO NEW COLLEAGUES

As great as guides and maps can be, sometimes it’s more helpful to hear it from someone already there. Connect with some of your new, younger colleagues who recently relocated to the area as well. Ask them about neighborhoods, different resources they used, and any advice they have. They’ll be sure to tell you everything they wish they had known while they were going through the process!

UNDERSTAND YOUR HOUSING GOALS AND PRIORITIES

When it comes to finding a place to live, you’re going to have to compromise on some things. Doing your research and knowing what’s most important to you is key.

Do you know that you want to live in the heart of the city, in a downtown high-rise? Then focus on location, location, location! Maybe you want a great deal and hope to make your budget last so you can do more activities. Then it’s best for you to focus on a budget-friendly option.

Knowing what’s important to you and the factors you want to focus on will help to refine your housing search and make it more effective.

Moving to a new place can be exciting and overwhelming, thrilling and daunting, all at the same time. Try and focus on the important things to you, and try and stay as informed as possible. Before you know it, you’ll be packing up those moving boxes and heading to your new city! 

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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Spring Break on a Budget

By Valeria Tirado

February 12, 2015

Tuition, dorming, food, textbooks, transportation… The list of expenses that a college student has is endless. With spring break coming up, having no money can be especially frustrating since people around you may be talking about their plans to go to Cancun and having lots of fun for a week. Meanwhile, you’ve got no plans. Why not? Because you’re broke?

I used to think that I couldn’t do anything fun on spring break either, but it turns out there are a few things that are both fun and cheap!

Take A Road Trip and Be A Tourist

Most people don’t live too far from places that could be considered tourist landmarks. Pretend you’re a tourist and visit them! If there are some interesting sites, like museums, in your town then great, you don’t even have to travel.

If you’ve already visited everything in your town and know of some in other towns, try taking a short road trip to them instead. Grab some friends and pitch in for gas to make it cheaper, or just use public transportation.

Go Outside

If you don’t feel like travelling then that’s fine—why not just go to a local park instead and play some sports? A lot of people in my town like to play soccer or volleyball during spring break. You’re not the only one who can’t afford to go far for spring break so it won’t be hard to find people to join you in whatever you want to do.

If you’re not really into sports, even just enjoying the scenery at the park can be fun if you’re with the right people. The point of being on break is to relax, and that’s easy to do when you’re surrounded by nature.

Volunteer

This was a pretty obvious one to put on the list. I can’t think of a better, inexpensive way to spend my spring break than spending it by helping people. If you’ve ever done community service then you know how great it feels to help someone in need. While we’re trying to find ways to spend spring break, others are worrying about where their next meal is coming from.

Go to your local soup kitchen and help serve meals to homeless people. Go to a nearby elderly home and spend time with people who may be feeling lonely. Go read to children whose parents may not have time to read to them. The possibilities are endless—check with your local community center to see if there are any opportunities available for you!

Catch Up With Family and Old Friends

College takes up a lot of time and you may not see some people as often as you’d like, especially if you dorm. Take some time during your spring break to spend it with the people who really matter.

Your parents and siblings probably really missed you so be sure to spend some time with them. If you have any hometown friends you haven’t seen in a while, ask if they want to hang out and rekindle an old friendship. You won’t have much time to hang out once you’re back to school, so take advantage of it during your week off.

However you decide to spend your spring break, just remember that this is your break so make sure you have fun and make the most of it!

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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My Semester Abroad: Vibrant, Challenging, Inspirational

By Alina Tang

February 11, 2015

It’s going to be hard condensing my first three weeks of studying abroad in Madrid, Spain, but the best way I can summarize it all up is with these three words: vibrant, challenging, and inspirational.

Vibrant

Madrid is one of those cities that make people never want to leave. It’s a city that fills all of your senses, leaving you almost breathless with wonder and excitement. From the colorful buildings in the central plaza, to the smell of fresh bread in bakeries on every corner, I still walk around pinching myself sometimes.

One of my favorite things to do actually is to just wander the streets of Madrid until my feet are too tired to take another step. I am lucky enough to live right in the heart of the capital, in a neighborhood called Sol, which gives me access to 4 or 5 different subway lines. And even if I didn’t want to venture far, there is always something going on in Sol. Vendors arrange colorful purses and scarves on the street, musicians play lively tunes on their Spanish guitars, and promoters eagerly summon passersby to check out their restaurants, bars, and clubs.

I’ve tried to do something a little different every week to maximize my time here. Thanks to international programs set up by my school and my own motivation, I’ve been able to attend a variety of events, including watching a flamenco show, learning how to cook a traditional Paella meal, and my new personal favorite: practicing Spanish with other international students in a “Language Café.”

Challenging

Speaking of improving my Spanish, I would have to say that one of the most difficult things that I’ve encountered while living here is obviously, the language barrier. Even though I took classes throughout high school, I stopped studying Spanish in college. I wish with all my heart that I hadn’t taken the easy way out these past few years, but I’m thankful I have a second chance at re-learning a language I really do love.

While there are definitely times of frustration when people talk too fast or give me confused looks because of my thick American accent, I’ve built up my confidence over time to be able to look people in the eye when I speak. This at least gives off the impression that I am not only willing to communicate, but capable of it. The only frustrating part is sometimes people don’t even give me the opportunity to practice Spanish because of the way I look. They take one glance at me, and based on my outward appearance, they assume I can’t say a word of their native tongue.

Another challenge I didn’t really anticipate was how confused and lost I would be. Not even in the literal sense, but more in terms of how I’ve been coping with my new surroundings and finding my niche.  Everyone talks about how studying abroad is life-changing and eye-opening, but no one really mentions the daunting obstacles that come with starting a new life in a new place. You have to find your own apartment, figure out where grocery stores are, learn to navigate the transportation system, work with a budget, and adjust to a new school system. 

There are also so many little things that are done differently in a new country that you have to adjust to. In Spain, you can’t just pick up a fruit or vegetable with your hand—you have to get an employee to fetch it for you with a sanitary glove. And after you throw your clothes in the washer, you better have a place to hang them up because dryers aren’t really common in apartments. Even though these things seem pretty trivial, they are details people don’t really warn you about, but you will eventually have to figure it out all on your own.

And finally, there’s this sense of identity crisis as you’re trying to settle down in a new city. For me, the hardest part has been living so far away from friends and family back home that I can’t keep tabs on their lives and vice versa. I’m losing touch with them because of time differences and busy schedules, and I often catch myself wondering things like, “Am I missing out? Have they forgotten me?”

Though I’m not exactly homesick, I do recognize that human interaction is important during this time of transition and adjustment, and I’ve made it a goal to meet at least one new person every day.

Inspirational

This brings me to my last and most important point: studying abroad is one of the most inspirational things a twenty-year-old can do.

Every day, I meet new, interesting people who remind me how vast and beautiful the world is. I’ve come across young adults from every continent by now, and each one has taught me something new. Even a topic as mundane as weather can turn into a lively discussion about how differently we cope with rain and snow, and heat and humidity. Yet at the same time, it’s always mind-boggling to me that people all across the world lead very different lives from mine, but they share the same hobbies and interests, questions and concerns, hopes and dreams that I do.

But the best part is being surrounded by diverse people inspires me to be better. I know it sounds cliché to pursue self-improvement while I’m studying abroad, but there are so many things I want to do to make myself stronger, smarter, kinder, and happier while I’m here.

The truth is when you are always around people who are similar to you, you can get complacent. You stop challenging yourself. But here I am in Spain, and I’m constantly around classmates who speak 4 or more languages. I’m having intellectual debates with people about the effectiveness of governmental systems in different countries. And most importantly, I’m learning the way others think.

All of this is so very inspiring and it has helped me create 3 personal goals for the semester:

1) Speak Spanish without hesitation.
2) Become brave and independent enough to travel alone.
3) Fall in love with myself and become my own best friend.

Vibrant, challenging, and inspirational—thank you, Spain, for kicking off my journey abroad with so much promise for a successful semester.  Can’t wait for more!

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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4 Reasons Why College Women Should Attend A Women In Business Conference

By Nicole Chacin

February 10, 2015

Within the next decade, there will be a 6 million person gap between the number of college graduates and the number of college-educated workers needed for job growth. Guess who receives the majority of college and advanced degrees? Yep—women!

As roughly half of the population, women control 83% of all consumer purchases from electronics, cars, to health care. Given this statistic, companies crave the understanding to market to women and increasingly seek their expertise in collaboration, consensus building, and results driven management, where historically women excel.

One rather simple and effective (and sometimes competitive) avenue in which to improve candidacy for a job or business school is to attend at least one women in business conference. 

A FORUM FOR WOMEN BY WOMEN

Women who attend business conferences find an excellent forum where they can seek the opinion of professionals and other business students while re-evaluating your ultimate goals looking ahead. Taking yourself out of the usual routine of classes and extracurricular activities can be a revitalizing and energizing exercise.

It will give any student better perspective and encouragement to continue striving towards your goals, and maybe considering different pathways to get there.

ONE CONNECTION LEADS TO MANY MORE

Much like a ripple in a pond, forming new connections can lead to other professional connections. Learning how to present yourself in new and different surroundings is excellent preparation for post-graduate life.

It is important to build your network while still in school where you do not have to go to far to have a meeting of minds and talent.

INFORMED OPINIONS LEAD TO INFORMED DECISIONS

At a women in business conference you will very likely meet female professionals who are in the career field you are interested in. Asking specific and focused inquiries will only better prepare you as you search for the right position, apply, and then balance the work-life balance later on.

Perhaps you might be considering working before obtaining an MBA, or maybe you want to finish your higher education as soon as possible to hit the ground running—either way, these concerns will be less heightened if you see real-life examples of female professionals.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION IS MORE THAN PEN ON PAPER

Business is leadership. It certainly goes beyond sitting in class lectures and fulfilling assignments. When you examine the day-to-day operations of a company and its managers it is crystal clear that those who are not capable of working with others, collaborating for idea creation, and executing tasks through coordination will not be able to sustain in a fast paced work environment. It requires each person to manage their own work while timely communicating with others who rely on the progress and contribution of each member.

Even if you’re considering working for family or friends, or starting something on their own as an entrepreneur, leadership is not something you can learn by reading books. It requires practice and opportunity. A women in business conference is just the kind of opportunity that will allow a college student to assume a leadership role in a simulation or in a networking session.

I have attended several women in business conferences. Each time the experience and the take-away was different as I started to fine-tune my professional demeanor and narrow down my interests and passion. I made new connections, some of which have given me greater insight into my own strengths and weaknesses.

As you go forward with your academic and professional career, you must make a point to apply and attend at least one women in business conference because there is so much to gain when your efforts are dedicated to improve yourself and your career.

I highly encourage you to step up to the plate and if you can apply to this year’s Forté C2B Leadership Conferences in New York and Atlanta.

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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How I Plan to Graduate From College Debt Free

By Imani Nichols

February 4, 2015

In our challenging economy, graduating debt free isn’t on the mind of the average college student. Instead, the average college student is thinking about which loans she qualifies for.

As a student from a low-income household, debt is not unfamiliar to me. It is because of this familiarity that I became terrified of accumulating debt – especially in regards to my undergraduate experience. As a junior in high school, I confidently decided that I was going to earn my undergraduate degree without debt.

This was my first step in graduating debt free – making it a goal. This first step, and the rest of the tips I’m going to share in this post are just that – tips. I have no surefire, one-size-fits-all strategy for graduating debt free. As a matter of fact, as of this writing, I’m still enrolled in college and I don’t know what the next few years hold, but I am determined to graduate debt free.

I’m currently a sophomore in college, and I haven’t accumulated any debt. I will share some of the things I’ve learned on my path to graduating debt free.

This path starts in high school. In high school, I prepared by doing the following:

  1. Enrolled in dual enrollment courses and/or AP courses (This made me a competitive candidate in the college application process. For some schools, these credits transferred and counted towards my Bachelor’s degree. For some schools, I was eligible to graduate early.)
  2. Applied to as many scholarships as possible – local, statewide, national, and international
  3. Applied to colleges with generous, loan-free financial aid packages
  4. Applied to colleges where I exceeded the SAT scores or GPAs of the average student, so that I could qualify for large, merit-based scholarships
  5. Considered attending one of my parent’s alma mater’s in order to receive a legacy scholarship (I ended up not applying because the school was way too far for me.)

Once in college, there were more nuggets of knowledge I picked up:

  1. Maximized institutional aid (Colleges offer scholarships to their students at different points in their academic careers, but these scholarships aren’t always advertised well. Some colleges even allow you to request more institutional aid.)
  2. Worked two jobs a semester which wasn’t bad like I thought it would be – with careful planning, it’s doable
  3. Worked every summer and saved as much as possible
  4. Using my summer savings, I paid the balance I owed my school to avoid debt

Graduating debt free takes planning, commitment, and patience. By no means is it easy. It’s often frustrating and scary, but it’s worth it.

If you choose to pursue the path of graduating debt free, be encouraged, as I am on the journey too. If you don’t graduate debt free, don’t be discouraged! Instead, use my experiences to accumulate as little debt as you possibly can, and remember that a college education is worth it. Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself.

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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The Best Way to Find Yourself is to Lose Yourself in Service

February 3, 2015

by Alina Tang

When I entered my sophomore year, I wasn’t sure about a lot of things. My major, my interests, my skills, my future career path—they were all up in the air. I had this recurring fear that I was just a little fish in a big pond, constantly swimming from one obligation to the next, but uncertain of what exactly I was searching for.

And then I rushed the service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega. I had heard positive things about APO through friends who pledged during previous semesters, but it wasn’t until volunteering at Jordan Downs, a local community center, when something really clicked.

I was sitting down with a particularly shy girl named Mary and attempting to help her with a difficult subtraction problem. Embarrassingly enough, math is my worst subject, so I sheepishly took out my own mobile calculator. Yet, despite my humiliation, Mary happily looked at me and said, “Wait…you don’t like math, either?”

From that moment on, we bonded over our frustration with arithmetic, and she asked me how I survived college without solving a single equation. I was able to explain to her that she could get subtraction down with hard work and practice, but even if she didn’t, it wasn’t the end of the world. She could pursue drawing—what she really loved—or anything else if she set her mind to it.

But the funny part is Mary wasn’t the only one inspired at the end of the day. As we were leaving Jordan Downs, she tugged at my sleeve and asked if she could take home some leftover pizza for her family. Her simple question was one of the most heartwarming and humbling things I’ve heard all year.

In college, it’s so easy to get caught up with your own life and fret over grades, relationships, clubs, and internships. But Mary’s words reminded me that every now and then, we need to take a step outside of our own little bubble and engage with people beyond our close circle of friends and beyond our school campus.

Over the next few weeks of rush, I met more and more individuals like Mary. Though the personalities, backgrounds, and opinions I encountered were extremely diverse, the same kind of selflessness was common among so many actives, rushees, and others involved with the community. By the time the last few events came around, I knew that APO was a student organization I could truly see myself in not only because of the service, but because of the people.

My incredible rush experience was the reason I pursued APO, and is still the reason I have continued to invest so much in it.

From cleaning up neighborhood graffiti and serving sandwiches to the homeless on Skid Row, to working on E-board and finally planning my own large-scale philanthropy Rush event, I have finally come full circle in this amazing organization. Through APO, I have learned that service is not simply the act of helping or doing work for someone else; it is also an opportunity to evaluate and improve the person you are.

When I give back to others, I always discover more about my own values, ideas, and perceptions. I encourage every student to participate in at least one service activity at some point in their college career because I can guarantee it will change the way they view the world and themselves.

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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