Career Lab Virtual Campus Forté Foundation

Juggling School, Clubs, Work, and—Oh Yeah, Fun—in College

October 22, 2014

by Valeria Tirado

During my first year at Rutgers, I didn’t really get involved in much because I wanted to put all my effort into school. Here I am, two years later, and I think it was quite foolish of me to think I could make it through 4 years of college without getting involved in anything besides my schoolwork!

College is a time to experience new things but it can also be a time where you’re stressed out way more often than not. Some of this stress can come from having a lot on your plate, and while it can be hard to manage, it is definitely doable.

Make a Schedule

For the past couple of years, I have been using a schedule to keep track of pretty much everything. I start by putting in my classes and exams, then I make time for homework, and everything else comes after in the time slots I have available.

Time seems so limited when you’re a college student and I can’t stress how useful it is having a schedule that has all the things you need to do and the ideal times to do them.

Prioritize

When I make my schedule, I make sure to put in the activities that are top priority first and then I schedule the less important things around them. Always make a list of what’s most important to you and generally you should spend more time on what’s at the top then what’s at the bottom.

Also remember that as a college student, school should always come first!

Know Your Limits (and maybe go beyond them)

You may think you can handle doing ten things at once, but it’s okay to admit that you can’t. Taking on more than you can handle is never a good idea and will only result in more stress.

If you find it really hard to handle school, a job, and three clubs then maybe consider quitting a club or putting fewer hours in at work. On the other hand, if you are really motivated to commit to many things at once, then don’t give up without giving it a try first because you never know what you’re capable of.

Before college, I didn’t think I could handle going to school, having two jobs, and being on a sports team, but I pushed myself and I manage it all very well now without too much stress. Everyone handles different workloads so just find the one that’s right for you.

Remember: if you ever feel too stressed out, it’s okay to admit you can’t do it and maybe drop an activity.

Remember to Breathe

At the end of the day you always have to remember to just breathe. The one thing more important than your schoolwork is your health and you don’t want to make yourself sick just because you got too stressed out.

School is important but don’t let it control your life; make sure you have some fun too. If you feel like you’re taking on too much, just take some time off for yourself and figure out if all the activities you’re doing are really in your best interest.

Remember that school should be your first priority, but definitely not your only priority.

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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Preparing for a Career in Business (Without Undergrad Business School)

October 21, 2014

by Kaitlyn Lannan

Many universities, mine included, offer a world-renowned graduate school business education, but no undergraduate business major options. This can be challenging for students like myself who plan to go into business and eventually get an MBA, but there is plenty that you can do to prepare yourself for a business career.

Here are some tips to help you plan how to make your undergraduate experience fit your future!

1. Major in a field that you are passionate about, but try to combine it with courses that build your analytical skills. For a successful career in business, you will most likely have to have some aptitude at crunching numbers, so try to develop this skill while in school.

It’s easier for students who have programs tailored to the specific area of business that they plan to enter, but through careful planning of your courses, you can also enter your chosen field as prepared as they are.

2. Join business-related clubs and organizations. Joining a student organization can be a great way to gain practical skills that you can later use in the workplace, especially if you have a leadership position in the club.

3. Get a job at the business school. If you are receive work-study as a part of your financial aid package, it is likely that you could get a job working in some aspect of your school’s business school. Whether it’s conducting research with a professor or working in the administrative office of one of the departments, it is a great chance for networking and for learning about the inner workings of a business school.

For example, at my administrative job at the Kellogg School of Management, I get to interact with current students and hear about what they are learning while still getting the chance to hone my workplace skills.

4. Meet with career advisors. Schedule a visit to your university’s career center and discuss the path that previous students who currently work in business took during their undergraduate years. You can even ask to be put into contact with some of these alumni and ask them for advice yourself, particularly if they work in the field you want to enter.

It can be harder for students whose schools don’t have an undergraduate business school to figure out how they are going to pursue their future career, but keep in mind, many people who major in a specific area of business don’t even end up working in it.

Keep your options open, particularly early in your college career, follow these steps, and you will be well on your way to a successful career in business in no time.

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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A College Student’s Bucket List

October 16, 2014

by Alina Tang

People always say that your college years are some of the best years of your life, so I decided to make a bucket list of all the things I wanted to do during my time at the University of Southern California. Here are 10 items I’ve accomplished so far, as well as 10 items I have still yet to complete. Enjoy!

  1. Find my niche in at least one student organization.
    My sophomore year, I joined Alpha Phi Omega, which is both USC and the nation’s largest co-educational service fraternity. It has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in college because I was able to not only make a real difference in the community, but also share my passion for service with people I otherwise never would have met (many of my fraternity “brothers” are actually my closest friends today!).
  2. Pick up a minor or another major.
    I recently decided to pursue Global Communications as an interdisciplinary minor because it joins two fields that I’m equally interested in and that are both related to my business major. Essentially, I get to take IR classes in the Dornsife School and learn about anything from global challenges to transnational diplomacy, but at the same time, I can also study communication technology and censorship in Communication classes from the Annenberg School. Definitely the best of both worlds!
  3. Participate in a campus tradition.
    One of the coolest USC traditions is Conquest, our Fall concert that usually features a famous musical artist, a Ferris wheel, fireworks, food trucks, and of course, the burning of the Bruin bear in anticipation for our rivalry game against UCLA. I’ll never forget how giddy and excited I felt at my freshman year Conquest because it was the first time I experienced USC’s overwhelming school spirit in full effect.
  4. Try out for a dance club.
    I have been dancing since I was a little girl, so it was no question that I would be continuing dance in college. Last semester, I tried out for USC’s Traditional Chinese Dance Club and ended up performing in their annual spring show! It was my first time performing in front of any kind of audience at USC, and I loved every second of it.
  5. Learn how to cook.
    This is still a work-in-progress, but I am now able to whip up a few dishes in the kitchen all by myself! Some of my “specialties” include fried rice, baked salmon, and pasta salad.
  6. Volunteer off campus with a cause I’m passionate about.
    Thanks to Alpha Phi Omega, I’ve been able to volunteer in a variety of service organizations and outreach events. My favorite org by far is Kicks for Kids, which is dedicated to promoting a healthy and active lifestyle for children with special needs in the greater Los Angeles area. Every weekend, I play soccer games with these kids, yet I feel like they are the ones helping me because their smiles and energy are so contagious.
  7. Go to office hours early in the semester and get to know a professor.
    Now that I’m a junior, I’ve definitely realized the importance of making strong connections with professors. One of my biggest goals this semester is to go to every single professor’s office hours before the first midterm. Currently, I have already become very close with my IR professor because she is so warm and welcoming, and I’m looking to cultivate the same kind of relationship with my other professors!
  8. Take advantage of the free campus gym membership and sign up for a fitness class.
    I actually have no excuse to skip the gym because I literally live 2 minutes away from USC’s Lyon Center. But so far I’m doing really well this semester—I exercise at the gym about 4-5 times a week, and I’ve taken both yoga and aerobics classes there. At some point, I also plan on trying out Zumba!
  9. Attend a football game (and storm the field if I’m lucky).
    Last fall, I went to the most exciting college football game ever. We were playing against Stanford University, and at the time, Stanford had beaten us for the past 4 years in a row. If they won again, they would make history with five straight victories in our 88-game series dating back to 1922. Nevertheless, Trojan spirit never falters, so when our kicker scored a 47-yard field goal with only 19 seconds left, we all started sprinting down the stands and pouring onto the field. By the time I had finally gotten on the field, I was getting pushed from every direction. But just being around my fellow Trojans, screaming, laughing, shaking, and hugging each other was the most amazing feeling ever. I’ll never forget it.
  10. Reach out and offer advice to an incoming freshman or nervous underclassman.
    Now that I’ve been at USC for two years, I think I’ve had my fair share of funny stories, embarrassing moments, terrible regrets, and fond memories. I I feel incredibly lucky to attend a college I’ve come to love, so now I want to pay it forward. My position as a USC Marshall Student Ambassador allows me to do just that—not only do I get to talk to prospective high school students and current freshmen about my college experience, but I also get to speak on panels, give tours, and write blogs like this one! 

  1. Explore all the libraries on campus (and find a favorite study spot!).
  2. Attend a concert. 
  3. Write for The Daily Trojan, USC’s campus newspaper.
  4. Re-learn the piano and/or cello.
  5. Attend a student-run musical event or theater production.
  6. Take a class in a totally unfamiliar subject.
  7. Run a 5K, 10K, half-marathon or marathon.
  8. Try all the restaurants and culinary options on campus.
  9. Apply to my dream internship.
  10. Study abroad.

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 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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5 Ways to Succeed at Your University Career Fair

October 13, 2014

by Stephanie Watkins

Career Fairs are in full swing at colleges across the country as companies begin their fall recruiting process. This can be both an exciting opportunity and a little bit overwhelming.  If you go in with the right know-how, you can come away with valuable information and new connections to use in your job and internship search.

1. HAVE A GAMEPLAN

Most schools will have a list of the companies attending the career fair available on their website. Take the time to go through and see which positions or companies you might be interested in beforehand. You can also check to see if the layout of the event is available, so you can strategize the order of booths you go to.

Knowing and prioritizing the companies and positions you are most interested in will make sure you allocate your time efficiently and have a goal in mind before going.

2. LOOK THE PART

We’ve all heard the phrase, “First impressions are everything!” At a career fair, this most certainly holds true. Employers expect a professional appearance and certain level of preparation from the people they meet. Women should take into consideration their outfit choice and make sure it is both professional and appropriate.

Acceptable attire can include either pants and a blouse with a suit jacket, or a knee length dress skirt and blouse. Don’t let your makeup or jewelry be distracting to employers; ensure it’s your personality and skills that make the impression!

3. COME PREPARED

It’s important to come prepared with several copies of your resume. The worst thing that could happen at a career fair is to make a connection with an employer and have no contact information to give them.

Additionally, coming prepared with some background information about the companies you are most interested will allow for more deep conversation and a lasting impression. Employers want to see that you are expressly interested in their company so coming prepared with a little bit of general knowledge about the company can go a long way.

4. BE ENGAGED

Demonstrating enthusiasm and communication skills are some of the most important aspects recruiters are looking for in an intern or new hire. With so much going on around you at the career fair, it can be easy to get distracted or disengaged.

Focus on the employer and what they are saying, and remain engaged in the conversation. Be prepared to ask some questions to show that you were listening and are genuinely interested in knowing more about the company and/or the position. Don’t forget that career fairs typically last several hours, meaning both you and the recruiters are bound to get tired. Be mindful of this so that you can keep your own energy levels up and hold the recruiter’s attention after a long day.

5. FOLLOW UP

Attending the career fair is only half of the journey — you must follow up with the contacts you met! Be cognizant of this when you’re speaking with various employers. As your conversation is finishing up, ask the recruiter for their business card or contact information. This ensures that you have their email or address for a follow up note after the career fair ends. It’s a good idea to jot down a few quick notes about the recruiter you met on the back of their card to help refresh your memory and give you some specific points to add in when writing thank you notes later on.

Follow up emails should try to go out within 24 hours of the career fair, and should serve as a means of reintroducing yourself, demonstrating your enthusiasm for the company, and thanking them for their time. While email is sufficient, handwritten thank you notes make a really impactful impression in this digital era. Whether by email or handwritten note, remember that following up with recruiters is a crucial part of the career fair process!

It’s okay to be nervous when at the career fair! But if you plan out a little beforehand, you will go in with more knowledge and confidence. This preparation and poise will shine through to the people you meet, and you will leave with a handful of great connections and opportunities that you can pursue in the future.

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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HeForShe: If Not Now, When?

October 9, 2014

by Nicole Chacin

On September 20, 2014, HeForShe was unveiled by British actress and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson, the first ever solidarity movement and campaign of its kind for the United Nations.

The campaign, led by UN Women, is a formal invitation to men all over the world to speak out against gender inequality. The movement uses forms of social networking including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

HeforShe has already amassed over 45,000 male followers in the United States alone by September 30, just ten days following Watson’s speech. This following includes well-known male celebrities such as Harry Stiles, Russell Crowe, Tom Hiddleston, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

In the unveiling of the campaign HeforShe, Watson speaks from the heart about the importance of this movement to her; sharing what it was like growing up with the stereotypes about girls and women being projected on her both in youth and as world-renown actress and model.

She calls the male mentors, teachers, and family supporters who believed in her the “inadvertent feminists” and “gender equality ambassadors” who gave her a strong foundation to flourish in spite of chauvinistic attitudes and behavior.

For the half a year as UN Goodwill Ambassador championing women’s rights and equality, Watson has come to understand the word “feminism” has often been synonymous with man-hating. As a feminist since her teens, Watson notes that she did and does not support man-hating and stands by the true definition of the word “feminism” which holds the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.

“I am from Britain and think it is right that as a woman I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should be able to make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decision-making of my country. I think it is right that socially I am afforded the same respect as men. But sadly I can say that there is no one country in the world where all women can expect to receive these rights.”

For Watson, these rights are “human rights” which both men and women should acknowledge as essential to gender equality. Watson goes further to note that in order to truly address and call attention to the gaps in gender equality, there needs to be room for boys and men to join the conversation and feel comfortable expressing their opinions and feelings as well.

“Men—I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too.”

Watson feels that men will feel encouraged to join the campaign when they understand gender equality is not a one-sided issue, actually the movement is a joint effort of both men and women to highlight the unfair biases, expectations, and attitudes towards both sexes. Males as well as females can be imprisoned by the stereotypes society and the media circulate.

Watson acknowledges the nervousness she had before coming to speak and presenting this campaign and the fact that the easiest thing is to do nothing and to hide behind the “someday” verbiage so many retreat to. She asks herself, and asks us as well the question: If not me, who? If not now, when?

Not just as a woman, but as a sister, daughter, and future mother I know that I would not want these issues to persist unchallenged. Digesting such a large issue and making a tangible difference is far from easy.

The first big step is to actually acknowledge the problem. My gratitude goes out to Emma Watson for taking this first leap on the world stage to address this issue of many decades in a new light with a refreshing, inclusive format. In a sense, HeforShe is revitalizing and harmonizing a national and global movement by reaching out to both young and old via social media, framing it as a two-sided male and female issue.

The next steps after calling attention to such a campaign, is one of collective action- one that is not dependent on one person or entity- rather one in which we are all called to take part in. Taking Watson’s lead, let us ask ourselves, If not me, who? If not now, when?

Image: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

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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Tips for a Successful Senior Year

October 8, 2014

by Kaitlyn Lannan

The idea of starting your senior year can be scary, especially if you are unsure what field you want to after graduation. However, if you stay on top of your goals, you can show up to graduation excited and prepared to start your post-grad life. Here are some tips to help you figure everything out!

1. Get started with your job search as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the less jobs will be available for you to apply for. Stay organized with a spreadsheet of the company you applied to, the date you applied, the position you applied for, and whether you have heard back or not.

2. Contact your old supervisors from previous jobs and internships to see if the company is hiring any entry-level employees. If not, ask for a letter of recommendation and to keep in touch. Start this process early in the school year and try to build up your relationship again before asking if you haven’t kept up regular contact.

3. Don’t slack off on school. It can be tempting to forget about academics when you are about to enter the “real world,” but don’t let this happen. Although it happens relatively infrequently, some employers do take your GPA into account. If you start to see your grades slipping, remind yourself to finish the year strong.

4. Stay engaged on campus. Some seniors quit their extracurricular activities and become less involved with their school, but try to stay away from doing this. You are only an undergraduate student once, don’t get too caught up in your future to enjoy the present.

5. Take advantage of any events offered specifically for seniors. Some schools offer fun bonding events or networking events for seniors only—check out what your school has to offer.

While your senior year of college can definitely be stressful, it also has the potential to be the best year of your college career. Start out strong with these tips and you will be well on your way to adult life!


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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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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