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Senior Perspective: Everything I Wish I Knew About College

By Casey Tsamis

February 6, 2018

When I first entered my freshman year of college, I didn’t understand where I fit in and what opportunities were there for me. I knew it was a good school for my major, and that’s about it. It took me years to understand the ins and outs of college, so as I start my last semester as a senior, I’ve come to realize all of the important details that I wish I could’ve told myself entering my freshman year. 

Appreciate what your school is known for
If your school is known for its football team, theater program, or anything of the sort, go check it out. It’s amazing to witness the raw talent of students at a young age. You may really enjoy it and continue to go back afterward. 

Start interning early
It’s definitely worth it to start interning freshman or sophomore year. Experience early on in your college career will pay off when you start looking for internships going into junior or senior year.

You can still join other on campus organizations while being a college athlete
At times it will be hard to balance, but it’s great meeting people outside of your sports team, or even the sports department. It’s possible to commit 100 percent of yourself to both organizations, and you’ll learn so much about yourself and what you’re passionate about by exploring more than just one option.

Take unusual classes. You may be surprised
I took an Animal Advocacy and Outreach class as a journalism major, and it was eye opening. Some classes may seem a little strange and not something you would generally lean towards, but it’s good to go out of your comfort zone and take a risk on something that seems unusual.

Go to as many conferences as you can
Forbes 30 Under 30 and Her Campus are just two conferences out there, but there’s a wide variety of conferences college students can attend in their area. This is great for those who are still looking for a career path since the conferences are broken down into a wide variety of interests. It covers so many different career options and you’ll begin to find out what you’re interested in and what you can go without.

Study abroad. You’ll regret it if you don’t.
Take a chance to see the world and explore. There won’t be many times that you get to do it again, especially for a whole semester. 

Get a mentor
I found my mentor my sophomore year, and she really helped me get on track with what I want to do and how I can get there. Even things like registering for classes or making tweaks to your resume, it’s great to have someone guide you and help you out when you need a little boost.

These four years will truly be the best time of your life. You are your own person and have so many positive things to look forward to. Take chances and go out of your comfort zone. Appreciate college for all of the opportunities you will receive and the social privileges you’ll get to experience.

Casey Tsamis is a senior journalism student at Emerson College in Boston, MA. She is a Division III athlete as well as the Vice President of her sorority, Xi Gamma Nu. Casey spends her free time exploring the latest fashion and beauty trends, and her dream job is to work at Too Faced.

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New Year, New You

By Aury Cifuentes

February 1, 2018

Happy New Year Forte friends and beyond! May 2018 be YOUR year and if you made a New Year’s resolution keep on reading for some great tried and true tips on keeping them! If you are not a fan of resolutions and instead crafted some goals for 2018 then the article still holds true so you are in luck.

1.    Write it out!

While you might have done this already, writing your goals has been scientifically proven to be much more effective than just thinking about them. So grab your favorite pen and whether it is on a sticky note, planner, or poster writing can help you achieve what ever is on your mind. For example if you are trying to be healthier this year and one way to do that is to stop late night snacking, there is a tip to place a post it on places reminding you of this goal. But there are endless ways to really write things into existence so feel free to get creative with this one.

2.    Phone a friend

What if you and your best friend have the same resolution? While you might find a new gym buddy sharing your resolutions with your friend group is also a great way to create some friendly accountability. And for those of us with a slight competitive streak this can turn into a contest but remember to respect everyone’s limits and abilities when comparing your progress!

3.    Make a plan!

Let’s say you have a huge goal in mind but making a plan on the small steps you will take to achieve it is just as important. Maybe you need to meet with some key people or mark your calendar accordingly and that is where a plan can be your hidden trick to staying on track. This can also be useful for those of us who might need an extra app or two to do this planning and managing for us.

Remember, whatever your resolutions to keep and open mind that the mentality toward accomplishing them is just as important and any of the tips above. If you made goals for the year all of the above still apply so go get those dreams!

  Aury Cifuentes is a very bubbly senior at The College of New Jersey. As an Economics major with a concentration in Social Justice she is happily working on a capstone project, internship, and thesis this year. When she isn’t studying, Aury is actively participating in the community through the Bonner Service program and working closely with her E-Board as president of Women in Business this year.

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Three Tips to Kick Off Your Spring Semester

By Megha Karthikeyan

January 18, 2018

With spring semester right around the corner, it is good to set goals that relate to academics, career, and personal/social life. Fall semester was a whirlwind of signing up for new activities, trying out for clubs, and adjusting to classes after a long summer break. Spring semester can be as hectic if you don’t set goals and have a plan of action.

Here are some tips that can help you get organized and succeed this upcoming semester:

Start your work early and don’t put off assignments.

I know this is easier said than done, but spring semester can get busy because you don’t have as many small breaks as you do in the fall semester. It is easy to put off doing readings but once you stop doing one assignment, it adds up. From the first day of classes, look ahead at your syllabus and see what you need to complete each week. Try to do your assignments in advance so you aren’t rushing the night before to do it. If you have any free time, try to get ahead on readings and homework.

I feel like spring semester classes can also be tougher because you may be taking the second level of a course you took in the fall. This makes advanced preparation even more crucial. Set a goal for yourself to not fall behind and try your best to follow through with it.

Keep applying for internships, programs, and scholarships.

Although fall recruiting is over, a new round of recruiting opens in the spring semester. Many people may have put off the internship search in the fall, but once spring hits companies will start filling up positions. You don’t want to put off applying for an internship until May because by that point most companies will have already hired all their interns.

January is the perfect time to start contacting recruiters and attending informational events at your school. Build up your network with these people, so when applications open in February and March, you have a contact person at the company you want to work at. Spring semester is also the time to look for conferences and workshops to attend that will help you build a skillset. Many leadership, tech, and finance conferences happen in the spring and summer, so looking early and turning in that application will help you in the long run.

Spring semester is also when scholarship applications are due for many schools. Look into what scholarships your school offers and start writing essays and collecting references, so when the application is due you aren’t scrambling to finish it. Starting early also gives you the chance to ask questions and contact the scholarship center at your school to get more information.

Set aside time to work out, spend time with friends, and do fun activities for yourself.

With all the academic and career related work you’re going to be doing, it is easy to get burnt out. Make sure you set aside time for yourself to relax and enjoy college. Working out can be a great way to relieve stress and maintain a healthy body, so going to the college gym or taking an exercise class can be a great option.

Hanging out with friends is also very important. College is the time to meet new people and connect with others, so set aside time to grab a bite to eat.

Finally, have some time for yourself. This can be taking 30 minutes to meditate, do yoga, or even watch your favorite Netflix show. Winding down and concentrating on something that isn’t academic or career related can help you refresh for the next day.

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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What Kinds of Classes Should You Take in College?

January 9, 2018

Picking classes each semester can be stressful if you have tons of options to choose from, but using this to your advantage is key to learning new skills and getting a wide breadth of knowledge.

If you are going into business, it is very important to take analytical courses like statistics or calculus. The math skills you learn in these courses will help you with higher level financial concepts in the future. In many statistics classes, you will learn how to analyze data using Excel which is useful for financial jobs, where you will be handling a lot of data. Getting a strong base in Excel will also help you in your job search because it is a technical skill you can put on your resume. If you aren’t a “pure math” person, there are other classes in your school that will still give an analytical component to your academics.

For example, this past semester I took an intermediate microeconomics course that combined calculus concepts with business and economic ideas. I learned how to make different budget lines and how economic systems work. Having this analytical knowledge will be important in your business career.

In addition to the technical math skills, it is also beneficial to take liberal arts courses that focus on writing. At any job, writing will be a key component of your work whether that’s writing memos, making an investment pitch presentation, or even writing emails. Being able to practice your writing in classes through essays and analyzing different readings will prepare you for how to write at your job. Even if the writing you do isn’t directly translatable, having the ability to take information and then write a critique on it or analyze it from different perspectives will broaden your mind and let you think critically. This is a skill that many people overlook but is very helpful in the workplace. You can find good writing classes in your English department or in history classes.

I’ve taken a few religious studies courses where I had to write multiple papers on comparing ideas within the religion and it really shaped my writing abilities. Being able to communicate via writing is incredibly important and taking classes that emphasize that will give you a chance to grow.

Not only is written communication important, verbal communication is key as well. The first few steps to getting a job or internship is the interview, so taking classes on public speaking or classes that require oral presentations will make you more comfortable with speaking in front of people you don’t know. The drama department at colleges generally offer introductory public speaking courses or acting courses. Even though this may not be the type of speaking you will be doing in your job, just practicing how to speak clearly and confidently will be useful.

I’ve taken a few classes including statistics and women and gender studies that had oral presentations and I gained a lot from learning how to present to a class while working with a team.

Another great tip is to take classes that seem interesting. I know this sounds cliché but college is the time to explore. A lot of business majors think that only taking finance and math related courses are helpful but figuring out your interests is also a key part of college.

I took a criminology course my first year and it was so different from what I was studying. I learned a lot about juvenile crime through a sociological perspective.

This past semester I took a civic leadership course in UVA’s Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and I learned so much about the tools necessary to be a strong leader. Every school has these gems of classes so be sure to take a few before you graduate!

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Top 5 Tips To Implement Your Personal Brand

By Valia Glytsis

December 11, 2017

Thanks to those of you who joined us on our webinar about defining a personal brand (didn’t see it? Watch on demand!). While discussing branding is fun and energizing, putting into practice is critical for lasting momentum and success.

Below are some practical tips and mindset-based insights to help you stay on course as you navigate “what’s next” and continue to define who you are from the inside-out!

#1. Be the Boss of Your Thoughts.

Mindset is the glue that holds our personal brand together. The top invader of owning our brand is our mental chatter. This mental chatter shows up as imposter syndrome, playing small, feeling insecure, suffering from low confidence. Here are a few tips to tackle this inner critic when it decides to pop up and say ‘hello’ (by the way, it usually surfaces when you are courageous enough to take up more space and be BIGGER):

Name It.
This voice is completely normal and part of our human experience. It never goes away. However, you can objectify it and recognize that it is simply a piece of your thoughts, not an all-encompassing sense of self. Give it a name and a separate identity so you can remind yourself it is “other”.

Unravel It.
This voice gets scary when it takes a life of its own and begins to catastrophize our thoughts and feelings. It can only take hold of you if you buy into its narrative. Instead, allow it to unravel. Keep asking it: “And then what happens?” See how your worst nightmare eventually runs out of steam if you let it unwind. It can only go up from there when you realize that the worst case is actually kind of OK.

Ritualize It.
This voice can bleed into all aspects of your life if you allow it. Rather than have it consume you, give it its own ritual. During this time, journal about the voice, share what it is telling you out loud, read to it, and so on. By honoring it with ritual, you’ll realize that you can actually nurture it like you would do to a younger version of yourself (which is exactly what this voice represents – it’s here to keep you safe and secure!)

#2. Know What Your Stand For.

Our personal values are the fundamental point of differentiation in our brand. Even if you and I share similar strengths and passion, what is most meaningful to us and how we make our decisions is at the core of our inner truth. Revisit the branding webinar for more details on doing a personal values exercise – this work is paramount. Write out your personal values that are most prevalent right now.

WARNING: This work normally elicits thinking well into the future for “aspirational” values rather than “practiced” values. Aspirational values do not exist in our current reality and if we continue to strive for them in the day-to-day, we feel as if we are failing. Instead, be honest about your practiced values that are alive and honored in your current life chapter.

For example, give yourself permission to stand for “Excellence” rather than “Balance” right now. It is OK. In fact, it is truth and will allow you to make empowered choices and meaningful connections.

#3. Get Clear On What You Want.

All too often, I see women getting very vague and wishy-washy when asked what they want. This is detrimental to a brand. We think we are being “easy” by allowing more options and flexibility while, in fact, we are making it extra difficult for our audience to support us or open possibilities. Get very clear on what you want. And remember, this doesn’t mean you have to know what you want for the rest of your life. The magic words are: “for right now”.

What do you want for right now in your personal and professional path? For example, rather than saying: “I want a job in consulting”, you can specify, “I want a job in X company with a focus on digital strategy; I prefer a start-up environment where I can leverage my entrepreneurial skills. Working in San Francisco would be ideal.” The former tells me nothing about a personal brand; the latter tells me quite a bit.

Even if it feels unnatural, allow yourself to be targeted, specific, and clear on what you are asking for. You make yourself visible and allow others to be partners on the path.

#4. Ask Assertively and Own Your Space.

Nothing is more tragic than having a compelling brand (content-wise) and then shrinking completely when declaring your brand to the world! The magic tool here is assertion. There is a misconception that “assertive” is half way between passive and aggressive. In fact, assertive is nowhere on that continuum. Assertive is all about clarity. When you are clear, you speak succinctly with power and gravitas. A few pointers to clear up your verbal and written brand communication pronto:

Clear the Verbal Clutter.
That means no more filler words or hedging words like “just”, “kind of”, “maybe”. These words and phrases diminish your impact.

Stop Apologizing.
That means no more qualifying phrases to apologize for your opinion or the space you are taking. “Sorry to bother you but…” – sound familiar?

Punctuate and Pause.
That means take your space! Watch any tendencies to rush, pile questions, end a bold statement with up-talk, etc. If you believe that you deserve your space, your personal brand will shine. If you don’t give it its space, it will shrink in kind.

#5. Connect with Why.

Move beyond “what” you want to do and into “why” you want to do it. When we infuse our brand, our values, our choices with the power of why, we compel people with emotion, not just logic. Connecting with “why” allows for human vulnerability to be the glue between the rational objectives and professional goals we outline. “Why” engages people’s hearts, including your own.

If you have a hard time connecting with your personal mission and purpose, try thinking of it this way: A purpose is nothing more than where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep hunger. Keep connecting to what matters to you and where you find meaning. The puzzle pieces of your brand will then be brilliantly obvious to you when you spot them! Your work is to stay true to the uniquely distinctive you.


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Scheduling Spring Classes and Career Connections

By Aury Cifuentes

November 9, 2017

Whether you are in your first year or are a seasoned senior ready to register for the last semester of undergrad, it is always wise to craft a path of your own within your course of study. While a majority of schools have a suggested track for each respective major there is usually some wiggle room in terms of electives and other requirements.

The first step to a successful scheduling season is checking in with an advisor or trusted professor when possible. Chatting about your dreams and aspirations with members of academia helps when they might already have suggested courses to try out based on previous students or perhaps an inside scoop on a new class being offered for the first time next semester.

This was the case at my school, as I like chatting with two or three professors before scheduling season to make sure I am making the best decisions with my courses and to get different feedback. For example, next semester a course being offered for the first time based on student demand is Venture Capital Management. While it unfortunately conflicts with my required Strategic Management class I definitely let my friends and organization members that the class will be offered for the first time next semester for anyone interested.

Scheduling might vary by school but whether you have a shopping period or a time to add or drop courses in the beginning of next semester, remember to use it to your advantage. Depending on whether you are more productive in the morning and afternoons some of the most successful students I know cater their schedule to their productivity strengths too. An example would be that a morning person could benefit from the semi-filled 8AM classes for their week freeing up their afternoon for extracurricular or leadership opportunities.

Additionally, there is benefit to making at least two or three what-if scenarios if certain classes you were interested in get full before your timeslot. Here is where you can use your freedom to cater those extra spots to classes you can use to your advantage in interviews and beyond. Taking a Java class even if you are not a computer science major can not only make you stand out but provide a new skillset if you were ever interested in design or website creation.

Another example, can be a non-technical class such as an art history course in which your knowledge of the arts can not only be a conversation starter but inspiring to de-stress in realizing how many themes that we consider modern have repeated themselves over various centuries visually.

Lastly, if you are ever in a situation in which you believe you are not going to fulfill your requirements to be on track for graduation, know that while the course might appear to have a cap online, sometimes certain professors are willing to make exceptions. In that case going to talk to them personally or a well-worded email can also be a way to ensure a successful next semester by obtaining your classes of choice. So remember to take a step back and see if the courses are fulfilling not only what is required but what you wanted to learn in college.

Aury Cifuentes is a very bubbly senior at The College of New Jersey. As an Economics major with a concentration in Social Justice she is happily working on a capstone project, internship, and thesis this year. When she isn’t studying, Aury is actively participating in the community through the Bonner Service program and working closely with her E-Board as president of Women in Business this year.

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Preparing for December Graduation

By Mairead Tuttle

November 7, 2017

After the main discussion in my economics seminar had broken up, my classmates began to trade the names of courses for which they were planning to register during the spring semester. Some were delighted to find out they would be in the same course, while others lamented how far down the waitlist they were for a certain class. I, unfortunately, could not participate in this conversation. I am a college senior who is graduating in December.

At times, I have felt a bit disconnected from the rest of the senior class at my college. While some of my fellow seniors are completing theses that they will work on until May, I did not have the opportunity to do this. Other students have gotten to know professors well over the last couple of semesters and are now able to do independent study work with them that will continue into the spring semester. There is not an overall sense of finality among the senior class because the large majority of the class has many months of school left before graduation, but there is for me.

I feel quite lucky to be graduating from college one semester early. I would not have been able to do this without the encouragement of my family and my professors. There are many advantages to finishing my course work in December. I will be available to employers about five months earlier than my classmates. I also have the chance to make my job search a full-time position in and of itself, or do in-depth research about dozens of graduate school programs. 

However, these advantages do not exist without their own required effort. Graduating from college a semester early can feel like such an accomplishment that future plans fall to the wayside. It is important to be reminded (as I have often been by family members and classmates) that finishing course work in December does mean that I get the spring semester off; it means that my post-college life starts five months before everyone else’s. It is important to adequately prepare for this situation.

Having the extra time to apply to graduate schools makes no difference if your application cannot be complete. Make sure to take tests like the GRE or GMAT either before you begin your final semester of school or immediately after you finish to ensure that you are in the “test-taking mindset.” Also be sure to reach out to professors or mentors about letters of recommendation while you are still on campus. While your professors will (hopefully) likely still remember you during the spring semester, it can help to have an in-person conversation about your plans.

The fact that you will have more free time come January than the rest of your classmates does not mean that you should push your job search until that time. Some industries, like finance, will have already stopped hiring for the academic year once you are finished with your classes. You also have the opportunity to pursue full-time spring semester internships, or even part-time internships that you were unable to do previously because of their geographic location. Of course, these internships will also be hiring early in the fall semester and you should be aware of them. I have tried to split my job search time between entry-level jobs and spring semester internships and have found potentially rewarding positions in both categories.

I know that there are some traditions and senior year rituals that I will miss out on because I will not be with my fellow seniors during their final semester. To combat this, I have looked back on the traditions that I have created for myself during my three-and-a-half years at school and made a point to do them all one last time before the end of December.

Mairead Tuttle is from Pennsylvania and is currently a French and Economics major at Mount Holyoke College. Through her economics classes, she found a passion for business, and hopes to someday work on the management side of the fashion and beauty industries.

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Your Midterm Survival Guide

By Nuriya Saifulina

October 19, 2017

Most schools are approaching the season of midterms, so we have compiled our best midterm survival tips for acing your exams and keeping your sanity in the process.

Switch up your study spots

Please leave that armchair you’ve been glued to for the past 2 days - your regular spot in the library is not going anywhere. Studying in the same spot not only makes you feel drained and burnt out but also decreases your information retention.

So get up, bring your work with you and find a new coffee shop or grad school library to work at. Or even better, get off campus for a while and explore the town public library.

Try to be healthy

As boring and condescending this may sound, try to sleep sometimes, eat a vegetable or two and drink plenty of water. It’s as simple as this: you cannot ace your exams on vending machine fare and library futon naps alone.

Take unconventional study breaks

Instead of binging The Office for the billionth time, maybe do something actually relaxing and fun for a change. Take a long walk through the park, visit campus health services’ therapy dogs or channel your Bob Ross with a coloring book. Trust us - you will feel refreshed and ready for another 1.5x speed lecture video in no time.

Remember personal hygiene

Please shower. Seriously. Even if you are feeling exhausted, rally to take care of yourself. It’ll give you a break and a boost of energy, not to mention make you feel like a human again.

Get the help you need

You don’t have to fight this battle alone - tap into your college’s resources, like office hours, or tutoring groups to survive the academic onslaught. You can also form a study group or ask a friend to explain the material to you.

So, don’t forget to study hard and take care of yourself too, so that you have enough energy left for final exams in the end of the semester.

Nuriya Saifulina is a rising sophomore at Harvard College who is concentrating in Economics and Psychology. In her spare time she writes for the college newspaper, volunteers with immigrant communities in Boston, and dabbles in costume design for the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club.

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