Career Lab Virtual Campus Forté Foundation

Leaders Don’t Always Lead

December 16, 2014

by Imani Nichols

Prior to coming to college, I was spoon-fed the “everyone is a leader” narrative. Without questioning, I digested this narrative. I considered myself a leader. My peers and teachers often told me that I was a leader. I surrounded myself with peers that were leaders. So, it’s clear why I accepted the “everyone is a leader” narrative so readily.

Then, I came to college.

I go to University of Virginia (UVA) and one of the school’s selling points for Type A high school seniors is student self-governance. Most of the important institutions at UVA such as our honor system and university judiciary committee are run exclusively by students. One would assume that UVA is a breeding ground where “everyone is a leader” is exemplified regularly.

Although student self-governance has pros including investing in the University and having the freedom to bring initiatives to fruition without the micromanagement of a faculty advisor, students sometimes misuse it. I sometimes interact with student leaders who’ve ascended to the pinnacle of executive committees, but they take weeks to answer an email or they pass their responsibilities off to others.

This is understandably frustrating, but the best way to combat this is to exemplify good leadership in your own environment. Don’t let the questionable leadership of others deter you from being a good leader.

For instance, if you’re a Resident Advisor, you can respond to your residents’ emails and text messages in a timely fashion. If you’re President of an organization and you’re noticing that the Secretary hasn’t been attending meetings, reach out to her, make sure that she’s okay, and express your concerns to her. If you notice that a fellow co-chair isn’t fulfilling her duties, you may offer to help her out.

For those that aim to exert responsible leadership, we can’t always be leaders, either. Sometimes, we are in over our heads and we have to have the humility and grace to acknowledge this.

Furthermore, when we find ourselves in this scenario, we need to let the person with more knowledge come in and lead. In this configuration, we will find ourselves sitting back and taking notes. This is fine! In fact, this is the integral part of a good leader – understanding that you don’t always have the answer.

A more accurate narrative of leadership is that some will lead and some will be led. Good leaders will sometimes find themselves shifting between leading and being led and that’s okay.

When faced with people who have questionable leadership, step up to the plate in your own environment and make sure that you are the best and most responsible leader that you can be. You never know who may be looking to you to define leadership.


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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3 Books to Understand the Global Marketplace

December 15, 2014

by Nicole Chacin

Having a firm grasp on how the economy works is a great asset to have and can open up many professional opportunities as well as provide stability and comfort later in life when making vital financial decisions. History, political science, or economics can shed light on a portion of the elaborate puzzle our economy is today.

As a part of business you will come to understand how the marketplace determines every kind of transaction imaginable, and how we as consumers and service and/or product providers all play a role whether we like it or not. Here’s three books I have read which provide both general overview and specific examples of the factors and trends shaping our marketplace:

The World is Flat: The Globalized World in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas L. Friedman

The World is Flat addresses the vast technological and human integrations of our generation. Friedman discusses ten convergences, or “flatteners,” which make the world seem more flat and connected via a single network. It is not merely a phenomenon of new “players” in business, but a new playing field and new processes to conduct business.

In chronological order, Friedman discusses the causes for the convergences: business enhancing software, outsourcing, off-shoring, supply-chaining, in-sourcing, and “mobil-me” practices of the twenty-first century.

This read will greatly enhance understanding of the global marketplace for those just learning, and for those more informed, it will provide more insight and support for your growing knowledge of the system. 

Free to Choose: A Personal Statement by Milton and Rose Friedman

Free to Choose by economist and Nobel Prize winner Milton Freidman and his wife Rose Friedman is a read rich in both economic history, policy, and its application over the years.

The book reminds readers of the economic policies on which our country was founded, citing the Declaration of Independence, founding father Thomas Jefferson, and economist and author of Wealth of Nations Adam Smith throughout the book. The book contrasts these founding principles with the present day system we have today.

The book attempts to answer why some countries fail and why some succeed through usage of economic philosophy.

Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power by Steve Coll

Private Empire by Steve Coll is a great complement to the first two reads, which explore theories and trends. It illuminates the complexities of constructing a business model in a global marketplace where there are a lot of factors out of one’s control.

In fact, more often than not, this book shows how business politics and private interests often clash with those of the nation and the non-Western world in which companies travel to conduct their operations. Private Empire is the story of an American owned enterprise, which happens to be the world’s largest publicly traded oil and gas company: ExxonMobil.

This engaging read at times feels like a narrative account with direct quotes from members of the company, providing an insider’s look into the reorganization the company underwent after the Alaska Valdez spill.

From competing with politically unstable state-owned oil giants in countries to confronting the energy demands and environmental concerns of the Western world, Private Empire provides a great case study for the struggles international companies face when trying to preserve the values, standards, and belief system of their country of origin.

Overall, all three books explain and detail the economic marketplace we live in, and all three I think you will find complement each other. These books will inspire further study and reflection as you continue your business education.

The global marketplace is a complex subject to digest, but one I know you will find rewarding to better understand.

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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New Year, New You

December 12, 2014

by Valeria Tirado

Happy New Year everyone! It feels like just yesterday we were ringing in 2014 and now we’re entering 2015.

The New Year is always associated with setting goals for ourselves (and not actually completing them). Well, let’s break that habit and set a new semester goal that we actually will obtain: do better in school! We all may not have done as well as we thought this past fall semester, but now we have the spring semester to make up for it and I’ll give you some tips to help!

First things first: It’s never too early to start planning things out for the upcoming semester, specifically your days and weeks.

You should already have your class schedule so start big by setting out your weekly schedule. This will be especially helpful to those who need to plan where they’ll need to be and when throughout the week (I’m looking at you commuters).

Next, plan out your days, set aside times for classes and meals and any leisure or extracurricular activities you plan on doing. People underestimate the usefulness of a well-made schedule, but knowing what needs to be done when, and more importantly, when you have free time, is invaluable.

Was school your priority last semester? Think hard, was it really?

Many people I know, myself included, don’t really ‘study’ when we say we are going to study. Even though we are college students, many of us have the attention span of a goldfish and with all the technology around us today it’s hard to not get distracted. Sure, we all have the intention of studying when we tell our friends we can’t hang out because we have an exam the next day, but our actions (being on Facebook and listening to music) beg to differ.

For this semester, try really hard to not get distracted so easy. What I do is go to the library: Seeing everyone else study around me makes me feel bad if I don’t so I end up studying along with them. Put your phone aside, or any other distractions, during your study sessions and remember to study smart, not hard.

Being proactive is a great quality to have, especially for a college student.

In high school, teachers were always asking if we needed help. I’ve only met a few professors who genuinely want to help their struggling students do better and the rest don’t really care—that is, unless you go up and ask them for help yourself.

If you’re failing or don’t understand some material and you’re waiting for your professor to approach you about it, don’t hold your breath because they have no obligation to do so. One of the things about being an adult is taking control, and that’s exactly what you have to do when you need help with a class.

Whether it’s asking the professor or going to a tutor, it’s your responsibility to ask for help.

I hope these tips help some of you do better this semester; I would love to hear back! The most important thing is to try your hardest and not give up.

Good luck guys, I believe in you!

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

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How to Stay Sharp Over the Holidays

December 11, 2014

by Alina Tang

I know what you’re thinking right now. The year is almost over, and you’re only a couple finals away from jumping into your warm bed and hibernating for the rest of the holidays. But before you snuggle into a onesie for the next couple weeks, let me just say that too many consecutive days of sleeping in until noon, eating copious amounts of junk food, and watching one TV show after another might end up hurting you, rather than helping you.

While it’s perfectly acceptable to relax and unwind after a long semester of school, you should make sure that you’re still keeping yourself health, active, and somewhat occupied. Since I know my family isn’t going on vacation anywhere over the holidays, I have already started planning out my own to-do list, so I won’t feel like I wasted my entire break come January 9. Some of the things on my list are:

  • Work a few days at Nordstrom Rack to make some extra money
  • Update my resume and LinkedIn profile
  • Download some new books on my Kindle
  • Research and apply to scholarships and internships
  • Study Spanish before I go to Madrid for my study abroad program
  • Learn to cook a few of my mom’s special dishes, so I don’t starve next semester

There’s just something so satisfying about accomplishing a few tasks every day. It can be as simple as getting the laundry done, or as productive as finishing an entire book, but the important thing is to continue setting mini goals because these small achievements can end up building towards an even greater reward someday.

I want to share with you a recent time when I pushed myself just a little harder and how this extra effort made a huge difference.

Even though I was enjoying a hiatus from midterms, I forced myself one weekend to sit down and look up some study abroad scholarships. I had recently gotten accepted to Universidad Carlos III de Madrid through my business school’s international exchange program, and as thrilled as I was about going to my dream study abroad location, I knew it would be a financial burden on my family.

After researching for hours, I finally came across one scholarship that I qualified for and suited my personal needs. The only catch? It required several essays, recommendations, and my school transcript—and the deadline was in only two days.

Somehow, I miraculously summoned up enough motivation to assemble all the essays and supplemental material together just in time (though I distinctly remember grumbling about how I should have slept in an extra four hours instead). But thank goodness I didn’t actually follow my own advice because months later, when I had completely forgotten that I even applied for the scholarship, I received a call that I was the 2014 recipient of the Women in Trade’s Gladys A. Moreau Scholarship.

Never have I felt so pleasantly surprised, proud, and humbled all at once – the funds from this scholarship meant I would not only be able to take business classes at a foreign university, but I’d have the opportunity to collaborate and travel with other college students around the world.

I strongly urge every college student to look into scholarships because there are so many out there that can help you take your education to the next level. As the saying goes, “It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.” There was no guarantee that I would win the scholarship at all, but the fact that I tried gave me a chance.

And honestly, it all started with just dragging myself out of bed.

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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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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Tips on Starting a New Semester

December 8, 2014

by Kaitlyn Lannan

Starting a new semester can be nerve-wracking whether you are a freshman or a senior. However, with the proper planning, you can make it your best yet.

Here are some tips to start it off on the right foot!

Don’t procrastinate.

During the first few weeks of the new semester when the workload isn’t too intense yet, it can be tempting to procrastinate on your assigned readings for your classes. However, you will regret this at the end of the semester when you are swamped with work. Avoid this by keeping up with all of your assignments as they are assigned.

Make a plan and follow it.

Before you start the new semester, make sure you know logistical details about your new classes, including how to get to your new classrooms so you don’t show up late on the first day. Also, if you have a part-time job, figure out when you’re planning on working with your supervisor before the start of the new semester to show professionalism.

Make a list of goals for the semester and review it at the end of the semester.

Making a list of goals will help you to remember what you want to accomplish during the semester. Try to organize it by date to make yourself the most motivated to follow your plans for the semester.

Try something new.

A new semester is the perfect time to try out that interesting class that you’ve heard so much about or to take a course in something entirely new. You might find yourself liking the subject so much you decide to minor or major in it!

Starting a new semester on the right foot can be a great opportunity to start a positive trend for the rest of your college career.

Good luck!


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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