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Top 5 Tips to Stay Organized and be Productive this Year

By Megha Karthikeyan

September 21, 2017

Avoid stress and feeling overwhelmed—we’re here to help you stay on top of your fall semester.

Layout all your assignments and meetings in a calendar and check it regularly.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a system of organizing your life when you are in college. There are many different deadlines for papers and exams, along with club meetings, interviews, and spending time with your friends.

I recommend putting everything on a calendar (online or paper) or using the “Reminders” app on your phone. Make sure to do this for not only school assignments but for extracurricular activities as well. Many people will remind themselves to do homework but will forget to put that 6pm business club meeting on their calendar.

Showing up on time and being reliable is incredibly important, and you don’t want to miss something simply because you forgot. I find that having this method of organization makes me feel less stressed about the week because I know how to pace myself and can tell how much time I need to complete certain assignments.

Keep up with internship and interview deadlines.

In the finance world, the recruiting season is moving up every year and now applications are usually due by the end of September with interviews being in November. You must not only balance your new classes, moving into a new apartment, and starting up again on activities, but also the summer internship applications. This means you must keep track of all the deadlines.

I recommend creating an Excel or Google spreadsheet with a list of all the internships and programs you want to apply for along with their application timeline. This includes their application deadline along with when interviews are for the internship.

You’ll be able to prioritize which internships to apply to first and which ones can wait. Make sure to add this information to your calendar. Even if you have the spreadsheet, you want to make sure you remember to apply by adding it to your reminders.

Get ahead on assignments (especially readings) when possible.

Since most college professors give their full course syllabus at the beginning of the semester, you should try to get ahead on readings when you have free time. I try to read a class ahead during the weekends for my reading heavy classes, so I have more time during the week.

If I have a large chunk of time on the weekend, I will try to read two classes worth of readings in one sitting so that I am ahead and don’t have to rush the night before to get the reading done. This also helps in case an unexpected assignment or obligation comes up because then you have time to work on those assignments rather than keeping up with your readings.

If you have a paper due, make sure you start on the assignment early. This means going to your professor’s office hours in advance and not going when the paper is due because then you will be waiting in line with other students who also need their questions answered.

If you want to write a good quality paper, starting on it early and asking questions in the beginning stage is much better than waiting until the last minute to fix your paper.

Put away you phone while doing homework!

I know this is very hard to do. I find that even having my phone facedown next to me while doing work is distracting. Sometimes we want to give ourselves a study break and look at our phones, but a 5 minute break can turn into 45 minutes of mindless scrolling through our Instagram feeds.

I think the best option would be to put your phone in a place where you can’t easily reach it from where you are working. If it’s in a place where you must physically get up to get your phone, then you are less likely to break your concentration of doing homework to get it.

The reason it takes people such a long time to do work is because of how many times they look at their phones while completing the assignment. If you can maintain your focus on the task at hand and not look at your phone until you complete the task, you will get your work done much faster and won’t feel that you spent such a long time on that assignment.

Maximize the use of your time.

In college, classes are short compared to high school and students usually have gaps of time before their next class starts. I recommend using these gaps to do as much homework as possible.

Instead of watching Netflix or going back to your apartment to hang around, using that time to do readings, complete assignments or even apply to internships is a good use of your time. You no longer have to wait to get home to do your homework like in high school.

College gives you the flexibility to work on assignments on your own time so making use of any breaks you have to get ahead on assignments is very useful. This way, you don’t have a pile of homework waiting for you when you get back from your classes. It also frees up your evenings when you can attend club meetings and spend time with your friends.

Megha Karthikeyan is from Vienna, Virginia and attends the University of Virginia. She intends to double major in Economics and Commerce at the McIntire School of Commerce with finance and information technology concentrations. Megha will graduate from UVA in 2020. She hopes to work in the finance industry as a finance or risk analyst, but is also looking at working in investment banking.

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Three Classes You Should Take Next Semester

By Danni Ondraskova

June 1, 2017

If you’re reading this website, it’s highly likely that you are an economics, business, management, or related major who often spends a lot of her time tackling her internship requirements, especially if you are at a major research university. Maybe you want to take a break from economics problem sets or exams. Maybe you avoid essays like the plague and find solace in the clear math you do.

Either way, you should consider taking classes in very different fields than the ones you are currently in, particularly given the large scale economic, political, and social shifts that are occurring in many Western countries today. Here’s a list of three courses you should consider taking next semester to enhance your understanding of the world.


The recent elections of populist candidates in the United States and Europe shows that many people are having second thoughts about some of the darker undertones of globalization. This is a megatrend that is worthwhile for every citizen to understand and respond to in whichever manner he or she sees fit.

In many of these countries, nationalism has emerged as a response to the increasing economic interconnectedness of the world, which began in the 1980s. Your college may have a class on free trade, the history of particular nations, or, as mine does, an advanced anthropological course on the history of nationalism in the world.

If those classes aren’t an option, nearly every institution of higher education has a course on political or economic theory. Even a class in sociology can teach many things about how individuals behave very differently in groups than individually—and one of the skills you need in any management or business-related field is to understand how people behave in different situations.

The Media

The media has gained an unprecedented role throughout the world as the great equalizer for nations, individuals, community organizations, companies, and tragically even terrorist actors. The emergence of the Internet has enabled a larger portion of the human community to share their ideas with each other than at any period of human history.

Through online or cable advertisements, small businesses and companies also can reach millions of people through their advertisements and gain funding they could have never possibly dreamed of a century ago. YouTube, Kickstarter and other ventures are also helping any “little guy” with a compelling story and the ability to write gain financial or other support from friends, family, and kind strangers.

Whether you take a hands-on coding or multimedia course or just a class on the history of the Internet, you can learn to harness this technology in many personal and professional situations.

An Uncommon Language

The Department of State, U.S. intelligence community, and of course many businesses are constantly searching for candidates who are fluent in crucial languages with few American speakers like Urdu, Russian, Arabic, or Mandarin Chinese. These language also come with vibrant cultures that can in turn teach you more about American culture.

While many of you are likely taking languages to satisfy a distribution requirement, consider taking an uncommon language to be able to serve people who need a voice for them when interacting with Americans. Plus, having an uncommon language looks great on your resume and is always an excellent conversation starter for candidates talking to recruiters. 

Danni Ondraskova will graduate in 2018 from Wellesley College. Danni plans on earning a dual degree in law and business and dreams of working for JP Morgan’s Global Investment Management division.

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Start the Semester Off Right

By Sameera Polavarapu

April 17, 2017

The start of a semester is a time that many students take for granted. People often brush off responsibilities at the beginning of the semester because there are fewer assignments and grades hanging over their heads. However, the avalanche of work that may fill their schedules in the months following can be prevented if students are careful from the get-go. Here are my three tips to start the semester off right:

Understand Your Schedule Has Changed

A huge part of each semester is readjusting to a new set of classes, a new daily routine, and a new set of people that fill your days. The unfamiliarity of a new schedule can be overwhelming, but taking the time to patiently adjust to a new set of priorities goes a long way—simple as that! 

Plan Your Days Accordingly

A new schedule means a new time table! Take a look at the various syllabi for your classes and get a stronger feel for the amount of work each class may require. Based on each schedule, carve out times in your week that you can study or do reoccurring assignments for specific classes. Finally, to prevent tasks from piling up at the last minute, make checklists of assignments to complete each day. 

Know That Your Time is Valuable

Over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that if you’re going to do something, do it well. College is a time of finding your passions and bringing them to life. Do not join clubs because you feel like you have to, and leave activities that don’t fulfill you behind. It’s definitely easier said than done, but spending all of your time doing things that gratify you rather than merely wear you down will have endless payoff.

As you get further and further into the semester, it can be hard to keep up with the running cycle of homework and exams. However, by setting yourself up for success, you can take just a little more weight off your shoulders this year. 

Sameera Polavarapu will graduate in 2019 from the University of Maryland at College Park with a major in international business and marketing. Her dream job is to do marketing for a global organization such as the United Nations.

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Professional Email-Writing

By Siyu Wu

April 3, 2017

Many argue that a major gap in communication style between job-seeking millennials and typically more conservative recruiters has formed. In this age where email is typically the main form of communication, especially between firms and potential hires, email etiquette has become increasingly important. To bridge this gap, it is necessary for students to be aware of common pitfalls when it comes to writing emails to professionals at firms. To help overcome such pitfalls, here are six tips for writing the perfect email: 

Do your research

Yes, even for an email, you need to do your research! If it’ s a cold email to someone you’ve never emailed, make sure to check out the person’ s LinkedIn – knowing a bit about their background can help you craft a more personal email. If it’ s a follow up email to someone you’ve spoken with before, take time to refer back to your previous conversations – this can help connect the dots and strengthen the individual’s impression of you. 

Construct a strong subject line

The subject line is essentially a “first impression” in email-writing, making it one of the most important components of your email! It needs to be specific: a subject line that’s too long or too vague will be easily overlooked. The subject line also should be actionable: if possible, give the person some idea of what you’re requesting in the email. At the most fundamental level, ensure the subject line is correctly capitalized and spelled. A poorly written subject line is an easy reason for the recipient to delete the email without even opening it!

Be concise and to the point

Recruiters and other people at firms are very busy and often receive hundreds of emails a day. The chances that someone will read an essay-length email, then, is very unlikely. Follow-up emails typically should be 3-4 sentences while introduction emails can be a few sentences longer. Use these few sentences wisely – briefly introduce yourself (school, major, year), clearly state your connection to the person (if applicable), and explain what you are looking for. 

Soften your tone

Remember that you’ re asking someone else to take time out of their busy day to respond to your email, and be gracious with how you word your requests. Rather than using direct language or imperative statements, use phrases such as “I would greatly appreciate…”.

Double check and check again

You should proofread your email at least twice to ensure there are no grammatical mistakes, spelling errors, or poorly worded sentences. Even the smallest typo appears unprofessional – it suggests that you lack attention to detail, which is a characteristic many recruiters value when finding the ideal job candidate. 

Have a consistent email signature

Having an email signature may not seem like a big deal, but it is in fact an important source of contact information for the person receiving your email. Be sure to include: your full name, major, university, class year, email address, and phone number. Formatting should be simple and straightforward – bells and whistles not only seem unprofessional but also distract from the main message! 

For example:
Siyu Wu
Department of Economics Princeton University ‘18
Email Address
Phone Number

Though many of the above tips may seem obvious or overly simple, it is these small differences that set some job candidates apart from the crowd. Conveying a professional feel through both personal and email interactions leaves a lasting positive impression that can take you far as you begin your career.

Siyu Wu is from Colorado and attends Princeton University, pursuing a degree in Economics and certificates in Finance and East Asian Studies. Siyu will graduate in 2018. She hopes to synthesize her interest in China and East Asia with her passion for finance to eventually work in a career related to international finance and Asian capital markets.

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Using Self-Knowledge to Improve Your Leadership Skills: Team Player Style

By Jordan Perras

March 20, 2017

One of the best ways to become a better leader is to gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your tendencies in various situations. You can understand your strengths and weaknesses and learn how to improve them. In the first part of this series, you’ll learn about how you interact with others on teams and how to combine different styles to make a more effective team.

Parker Team Player Styles

The Parker Team Player Styles are helpful to understand how you (and others) behave in a team setting. We are all thrown into group projects or sports teams or club executive boards, and it is important to remember that everyone brings something different to the table. Check out my summary below or take the assessment yourself to gain a deeper understanding of your style(s).

The four styles are:


  • Strengths: You are task oriented, dependable, reliable, and organized.
  • Weaknesses: You may come across as shortsighted, perfectionistic or uncreative.


  • Strengths: You are goal-directed, flexible, imaginative, and forward-looking.
  • Weaknesses: You may come across as insensitive, overinvolved, or over-ambitious.


  • Strengths: You are process-oriented, supportive, relaxed and tactful.
  • Weaknesses: You may come across as placating, impractical or manipulative.


  • Strengths: You question the goals and methods of the team. You’re honest, principled, ethical and thorough.
  • Weaknesses: You may come across as rigid, contentious or nit-picky.

Do any of these styles (or a combination of them) sound like you? Does reading about the other styles make you rethink how you interact or come across in groups? Think about what how the strengths of one style can make up for the weaknesses of another.

Jordan Perras will graduate in 2018 from Northeastern University and she is majoring in Math and Business Administration with a concentration in Finance and a minor in Economics.  She has a wide variety of interests that include history, art and literature and plans to pursue an MBA after college. She is especially interested in the role of social entrepreneurship in sustainable business.

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Changing Course, Following Your Passion

By Katie Wooliver

March 16, 2017

At four years old, the choice was settled: I would become a professional basketball player.  A few months later, however, and I had come to my senses and rationalized a more attainable career goal - the front desk girl for the pool.  After a brief conviction to one day be Sporty Spice of the Spice girls, I decided I wanted to be a doctor (much to the relief of my parents).  This time, the vision stuck. Fueled by a love of math and science and the desire to help others, I worked toward my goal. When I entered college at Northwestern, I elected to study Biomedical Engineering, which fulfilled my math and science requirements, and hopefully would give me an edge over other medical school applicants.  Although school was often challenging, I pushed myself to stick with it and grind it out –with each passing year, I was getting closer and closer to my childhood goal. 

The beginning of my senior year, however, taught me the value of thinking outside and allowing myself to chart another course.  A last minute pivot can be difficult, but keeping your passions at the forefront of your decision making will allow you to be confident in the choices you make. 

I had organized my class schedule to complete the remaining pre-med courses and take the MCAT in the spring.  I was set.  Yet, something didn’t feel right.  I began to have serious reservations about the path I had laid out for myself.  When I spoke to my friends that were on the same course as me, they were all gung ho about applying to medical school and committing the next four years to school, a few more years to residency, and topping it off with a couple years for a specialty.  At one point in life, being a doctor was all I saw myself doing, but for the first time since grade school I was questioning my dream. 

For a few weeks I wrestled with this in my mind.  Why was I feeling this way now?  What would my parents and peers think if I changed my mind in the eleventh hour?  What would I do with my life if I did not become a doctor?  I know now that these questions are common for seniors preparing to leave college and enter the real world.  But at the time, these questions really daunted me.  For so many years I had a one-track mind about what I would do with my future.  I hadn’t explored anything else.  I think at the core, it was the fact that I didn’t really know what else was out there for me that made me nervous about throwing myself full force into medical school.  I needed to start exploring. 

It was a difficult decision to steer away from the goal to become a doctor, but ultimately the right path for me became clear when I found DaVita.  My work on integrated care with DaVita allows me to fulfill my childhood passion of providing care to others while providing me the opportunity to explore healthcare from another angle and exercise my talents in a way I hadn’t thought of before.  I learned that when I pushed myself to look beyond, my passion still lied with healthcare, but my end goal took a different shape. 

It is okay to change course, but keep your passion as your North Star. 

As you think about making the transition from college to the real world, keep your mind open to the possibilities that are out there, but stay true to what drives you.  At the end of the day, if you enter a field you are passionate about, your work will be stronger, your days will be more fulfilling, and ‘adulting’ will be better than you ever imagined. 

Katie WooliverKatie is an Analyst on the Pioneer Team at DaVita, an operations and innovation team that operates similar to an internal consultancy. Katie earned her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University, Class of 2015.

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How to Make the Most of Your Non-Major Electives

By Jordan Perras

March 13, 2017

Most degree plans have space for electives, classes that have nothing to do with your declared major. It’s easy to fall into the trap of taking pointless classes to get an easy A, but that mindset won’t help you achieve your long-term goals. Instead, check out these tips to pick classes that will complement your degree plan, without stressing you out.

  • Think about what your degree plan is lacking. For example, are you a business major who hasn’t been required to learn Excel or Access? Those are necessary skills that you’ll need for internships and full-time work. I’m willing to bet your school has an intro class in that material. Use that same logic to think about what you’re going to want to know on the first day of your next new job and then sign up for an intro level course in that area. Some ideas include: statistics, economics, public speaking, computer skills, communications or writing.
  • Make yourself well-rounded. Having a specialization in your major is awesome, but it means that you’re missing out on the other subjects your school offers. Are you a business major who hasn’t taken a science or writing class since high school? Are you a biology major who doesn’t know what GAAP stands for? While you may not end up using the information in this type of elective later, it will help you practice thinking and learning in a new way.
  • Think about what excites you. If you were absolutely required to pick up a non-fiction book TOMORROW and start teaching yourself something, what would it be? It is absolutely fine to pick classes that interest you, even if there is no other reason to take it! Be honest with yourself about the difference between a class that excites you and a class you’re taking simply because it sounds easy.

What classes have you taken as electives? Are there any tips I missed? Tweet at @fortefoundation or @perras_jordan

Jordan Perras will graduate in 2018 from Northeastern University and she is majoring in Math and Business Administration with a concentration in Finance and a minor in Economics.  She has a wide variety of interests that include history, art and literature and plans to pursue an MBA after college. She is especially interested in the role of social entrepreneurship in sustainable business.



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Three Personal Development Books to Spring You into Action This Year

By Hafsah Lakhany

February 27, 2017

As the New Year begins to unfold and the momentum for the realization of many of our loftiest goals declines, I often look to self-help non-fiction books as sources of information, inspiration, and most importantly motivation, to continue in an upward trajectory in an effort to constantly attain growth, progression, and success. So without further ado, here are three works that have profoundly impacted my approach to my academic, social and professional life:

1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie’s world renowned classic delves into the process of cultivating personal practices which drive success such as mechanisms for transforming individuals’ perspectives to parallel your own, methods for increasing your affability, and altering the opinions of others without inciting animosity.  He acknowledges the inevitability of interacting with others, and leveraging the social component of success rather than allowing it to emerge as a hurdle in your progression.

2. Outliers: The Stories of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Gladwell’s avant garde book emerges as one of my most cherished non-fiction work to this date. Outliers methodically and objectively approaches the ostensibly subjective and organic idea of success.  Rather than emerging as instructive in nature, it explores inspiring anecdotes which reflect the overarching notion that success is not accomplished by serendipity, competence, or rare talents; Gladwell claims that the most meaningful metric for measuring success remains the time devoted to cultivating skills.  By substantiating his claims with anecdotal examples, he argues that people who succeed in attaining elevated levels of success dedicate more time cultivating the skills required for their success.

3. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck

This final gem is rooted in multiple years of Carol Dweck’s research regarding the concept of mindsets.The central notion underlying the work claims that our own mindsets regarding our capabilities and talents largely influence our abilities to the goals we aim to achieve. Her work claims that individuals with fixed mindsets who believe their predetermined traits determine their success fail to perform at the level of individuals who foster growth mindsets who maintain the belief that any skill may be enhanced through devotion and diligence.

Hafsah Lakhany will graduate in 2019 from the University of California at Irvine with a major in business administration. After college, Hafsah plans on going into consulting, health care management, and career development coaching/consulting.

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