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It’s Never Too Soon to Prepare for Your MBA

by Cacilda Teixeira
Forté Fellow and MBA Candidate 2015
University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler Business School)

You’ve decided to take a big leap and apply to business school, and you’re wondering what you could be doing right now to prepare.

Here are three things you can start doing now to get a head start:

Take the GMAT.

The GMAT is an arduous process and the sooner you get started the better.

You may not do as well as you would like on the first try and want to take it again; the sooner you take it the more time you have to re-take if needed.

Start researching schools.

There are so many schools out there and now is a good time to start researching schools to whittle down your choices. You can also start visiting schools to get a feel about where you want to be.

Revise your resume.

You’ve accomplished a lot thus far and have been successful in your career. Now is the time to make certain your resume reflects your accomplishments and start looking at what you could be doing to boost your qualifications.

Set professional goals to fill in any gaps you see, so you can put your best foot forward when you submit your application.

Come fall you will have much more on your plate with essays, recommendations, interviews and the more you can do now to prepare, the better.

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International Trips and Study Abroad

by Christine Bassitt
Forté Fellow and MBA Candidate 2014
University of Southern California (Marshall School of Business)

One of the biggest benefits to getting an MBA is the global exposure most programs offer.  My school takes pride in being one of the first programs to require all full-time students to take a trip in either Asia or Latin America.  While the travel in itself is amazing, the primary purpose of the trip is to visit companies and present a consulting-style project relevant to the firm’s current business environment.  The ability to speak with managers about the issues they are facing and work with them to come up with tangible solutions is priceless.

While the university trip abroad was incredible it only increased my desire to learn more about the global business environment.  I wanted to take advantage of being back in school and make up for something I missed out on in undergrad – studying abroad. 

There are different options for studying abroad – programs taking place over the summer or over breaks, full-semesters, quarter-semesters, etc.  Different schools offer different credit levels but most schools have partnerships with other MBA programs.  Language is not always a requirement, as a number of programs are offered in English. 

Additionally, many of the international schools have set programs with 30 or so MBAs from around the world studying together.

The university I decided to study abroad at was one that had a set program.  It has provided an incredible networking opportunity to future business leaders across the world as well as valuable insights to how business operates in the host country as well as in the countries of my classmates.  The program length was condensed enough for students on quarter systems but included enough long weekends to take advantage of all the incredible nearby sights. 

I traveled to 10 countries around Europe and went to dinners with students from 15 other nations around the world.  I also was able to finish my class work for my MBA sooner than my peers enabling me to start my new job earlier.

Some things to consider with study abroad are the credit hours received at your home university, the costs associated with both school and living expenses and how this fits into your overall career plan.  For students looking at a global role it can provide valuable opportunities to connect. 

Additionally, one should consider the events missed at home including valuable recruiting ones.

Study abroad is not for everyone, but for those looking to increase their network and knowledge of cultures and business environments it can be a fun way to take advantage of being a student again!

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Great Options Before You Start Your MBA

by Georgiana Paula Avram
Forté Fellow & MBA Candidate
Class of 2015 – The Fuqua School of Business, Duke University

Applying to business school is a complex and time consuming process. Nobody wants to take the process too lightly. All applicants want to invest the necessary time into the application process in order to portray themselves well.

It is no surprise that few of us take the time to consider pre-MBA opportunities. However, these opportunities are well worth the time and pre-MBA opportunities come in different shapes and forms! Some pre-MBA events are held before you even decide which program to attend or even before receiving an admission decision.

Pre-MBA conferences represent a great way to meet business school representatives from MBA programs you are considering. You will gain new perspectives into the application process, learn more about your top choice MBA programs and have the opportunity to get more of your questions answered.

Pre-MBA conferences are also unique opportunities to meet more MBA-bound fellow applicants – what better opportunity to form new friendships and network while discussing common interests and goals for the MBA experience!

In addition to pre-MBA conferences, you can also explore different career tracks by applying to various pre-MBA programs. Consulting firms and investment banks are just a couple of types of employers that organize pre-MBA events in order to provide more information to MBA candidates about their respective industries and to attract talented young professionals. Moreover, some pre-MBA programs offer unique scholarship and internship opportunities which are extremely valuable!

While some pre-MBA opportunities target specific industries and career interests, or aim to attract diversity or minority candidates, there is something for everyone so check your MBA programs websites often to learn more about specific opportunities available at your schools of interest! A great way to prepare for your MBA experience is to be a part of a pre-MBA program!

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Choosing an MBA Program

by Cacilda Teixeira
Forté Fellow and MBA Candidate 2015
University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler Business School)

Applying to business school is a difficult and stressful process with the GMAT, essays, application and interviews. Now that you’ve been accepted into programs, it’s time to decide where you’ll be spending the next two years of your life.  Here are some factors to consider when making that big decision.

Location

While it’s true that you’ll be spending a large chunk of your time in the classroom, especially during the first year, you will need an outlet or even some time away from the school environment. You’ll get more out of your two years if you have an outlet and have a better school/life balance.

Career Services

Finding a job is an extremely important part of your MBA. Finding an internship or a full-time job can be made even more difficult if Career Services does not provide the support you need. Look at hiring statistics, alumni connections and resources available to you.

Finances

An MBA is expensive and before committing to a program, examine how much dent those two years will put in your budget. Cost of living is an important factor to consider especially when deciding in what city you’ll study. Research scholarships, average rent and overall cost of living. The more scholarship money and grants you can get, the less debt you’ll have at graduation.

For more information on choosing the MBA program right for you, check out this article from Bloomberg Businessweek.

Forté Events This Week: Thinking About an MBA Webinar, available Mar. 19

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My Last Semester as an MBA Student

by Khue Hoang, Class of 2014
Forté Fellow & MBA Candidate
USC Marshall School of Business

I can’t believe that it’s already my last semester here at USC Marshall. The last 1.5 years have gone by so fast, and going to business school has been one of the best decisions I’ve made so far. I loved my study group and Core C, going to USC football games and tailgates, flying on a trapeze for the Creativity in Business class, leading the Business of Entertainment Association (BEA), travelling with friends and family, being an MBA Ambassador, and working at Paramount Pictures and now NBCUniversal.

I loved presenting our PRIME (Pacific Rim International Management Education) capstone presentation to clients in Tokyo, visiting inspirational companies on school treks, and going to the Sundance Film Festival with classmates.

Finally, I’ve loved every single person I’ve met through my time here at Marshall, and have made lifelong friendships with amazing people.

My last semester is bittersweet because we’ll soon be scattering throughout the world for our jobs, but I know that all of my classmates will move on to amazing things and achieve so much. Our “100 Days” dinner is later this month, where we celebrate our journey all together.

A countdown sign is then placed in front of the program office, changing everyday with the number of days left to graduation. I still have our E2: Evolution of Entertainment conference, Challenge for Charity weekend up at Stanford, the annual Mammoth skiing trip, Marshall’s Got Talent/Battle of the Bands, and Disorientation to look forward to before then.

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Choosing Between Part-Time, Executive or Full-Time MBA Programs

by Christine Bassitt
Forté Fellow and MBA Candidate 2014
University of Southern California (Marshall School of Business)

When looking into all the different MBA programs out there it’s important to consider several items. 

First, you need to assess what you really want to get out of the program.  Often the greatest networking opportunities come from a full-time program.  On a similar note, assess what type of skills you are looking to achieve from the program.  If you’re a career switcher like myself, you may need a more intensive program.  However, if you already have the functional proficiencies of the job down, an executive program may be a better choice.

I’ve noticed that many of my classmates and I share a similar trend.  We all worked incredibly hard during our jobs coming out of undergrad.  While an MBA program is no vacation, it is a break in some ways, and an opportunity to take a step back and analyze your big strategic plan in life. 

Having to complete school while still working does not often provide this chance to get a high-level view and creates a great deal of stress.  I know a few people who have ended up leaving their jobs to try internships or finish their degrees sooner.

Finally, when thinking about the financing aspect it’s important to realize that you’re not only paying for the MBA itself, but also losing out on two years of pay in the process.  Many schools and companies offer scholarships and loans are definitely available but it is definitely a huge financial undertaking. 

The career trajectory that an MBA provides should of course outweigh the costs, but it is something that only you can decide.

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Dartmouth Diversity Conference: Promoted and Cherished

February 3, 2014

by Nicole Chacin

This past November I joined 71 prospective MBA students for the 21st annual Diversity Conference at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth University.

Students travel, work, and study in the most interesting and inspiring manner – coming really from all walks of life, to garner a spot in the intimate, team-oriented MBA class of under 500 students from across the country and globe at Tuck. Accepted students to the three-day conference are current applicants, while others seriously favor the Ivy League institution for their future business studies.

In the space of three days, prospective students learn about the academic curriculum, opportunities for personal and professional development, and gain an insider’s look at what makes the community distinctive. Truly the motto of the conference, and I believe a Tuck education as well, “BE. BUILD. BECOME.” could not be more apparent than through the warm and generous invitation to learn and engage indicated by current Tuckies, renowned professors, company sponsors, and leading faculty.

Through the daily breakfast orientation, afternoon small group discussions and panels, and evening special speaker series of alumni and company sponsors, the dynamic high standards of the school’s diversity mission and push for inclusion of unique, varied perspectives comes to light with radiance. The team of committed Diversity Conference Student Organizers personally shook hands with each participant and made genuine effort to know their guests professionally and personally. Professors and faculty shared their infectious passion and pride for Tuck while urging and challenging students to travel the MBA journey alongside with them.

This family like closeness, connection, and access during college years translates into a network of educators, professionals, and leaders for life from which to draw inspiration and support. Undoubtedly, there is a kind of illuminating harmony you will find on the majestic, hunter green Tuck campus where students are bond not just by their studies, but by the two years in which they have the privilege of shaping themselves and others.

Prospective students were able to observe this culture while housed in Tuck dorms, meeting conference participants every morning in Byrne Hall for breakfast and lunch, greeting speakers and professors in Tuck classrooms, and even venturing into the charming downtown of Lebanon, New Hampshire for a taste of urban influence in the college experience – the conference really was a 3-day immersion into the life of an MBA student at Dartmouth.

With its general management focused curriculum and its opportunities for breadth and depth in second year electives, students find themselves soaking in the culture of their surroundings and the multicultural student body at the nation’s first graduate management school. To list a few avenues in which students spend their time, some travel abroad through various initiatives such as the Tuck Global Consultancy, work towards joint-degrees in fields such as medicine and engineering on campus or areas such as law and public policy at other reputable universities, engage in learning expeditions, and expand their horizons with exchange programs, internships, and jobs across borders and state lines.

Certainly, there are MBA programs that may offer some of what Tuck can give a student in terms of variety of study, outside engagement, or professional opportunity – but speaking personally – I find that the family like inclusion of alumni, stemming from a network of more than 8,000 strong, has a resounding effect in the current, past, and even future lives of Tuck scholars.

As the youngest participant in the program, as a current undergraduate still finishing my bachelor’s in business, I was honored at the invitation to attend and have a glimpse of the value of a Tuck MBA. My peers, some ranging from two to five years of professional work experience all echoed the importance of starting the college search early. Preparing a professional profile, seeking letters of reference, and perhaps most important, taking the GMAT, can be mentally draining and incredibly difficult after years away from school.

Starting the search for the right business school during undergrad years can give you several goals to work towards, aspirations to achieve, a vision of your projected future in an MBA environment, and even establish contacts with the very same individuals you may encounter reading your application or conducting your interview.

Regardless of where you set your heart and plant your feet for your MBA experience, I cannot stress the importance enough of starting your search early. Every year business schools across the country host information panels, in person conversations over coffee, webinars, and conferences for prospective students.

For some, tackling the stressful, but irreplaceable measure of your ability in your profile – the GMAT– is the criteria for starting a serious conversation with these schools or attracting their recruitment. Given the fact graduate schools employ vast resources and passionate, professional individuals for the sole effort of attracting talent across the nation and the globe, it is up to you to seize these opportunities to reach out and make an impression.

The frontier of new knowledge is within your grasp, if you ask around, do your homework, and invest early you can earn it readily.

Nicole Chacin will graduate in 2015 from George Washington University with a degree in business economics and public policy with a minor in vocal music. She plans on getting a JD/MBA after college and dreams of working in health policy and administration. She was a part of the first Forté College Leadership Conference and is the creative designer and co-founder of Chicago Boutique.

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Forté Webinars for College Women

January 28, 2014

Forté offers webinars exclusively for college students as you prepare for your career and beyond. Regardless of your major, we help you explore your options and build a solid business foundation that will be the base of your job success.

ON-DEMAND WEBINARS

Summer Internship: Getting Ready for the Recruiting Process Webinar
Forté company representatives discuss the summer internship recruiting process. Recruiters will provide tips for preparing your resume and interviewing successfully next summer.

Career Paths: Focus on Finance Webinar
Get the inside view of careers in the world of finance and determine if this career choice is a good fit for you. Forté company representatives working in a variety of functional areas of finance will discuss their careers.

Career Paths: Focus on Consulting Webinar
Get the inside view of a consultant’s life and determine if this career choice is good fit for you. Forté company representatives working in a variety of functional areas of consulting will discuss their careers and address the pros and cons.

Career Paths: Focus on Technology Webinar
Forté company representatives in a variety of functional areas within the technology industry will discuss their careers and address topics such as what drove their interest in business, the diversity of positions available, and career progression within the technology sector.

Career Paths: Women of Color in Business Webinar
An exciting career in business can be a part of your future. But what is the business world like for a woman of color? How do I launch my career in business? Learn about business careers and how anyone can build the career of their dreams.

Career Paths: Thinking About an MBA Webinar
Whether you majored in psychology, chemistry, marketing, English literature, or electrical engineering,  an exciting career in business can be a part of your future. An MBA can give you the skills, confidence and know-how to make it happen.

UPCOMING WEBINARS

Summer Internship: Making the Most of Your Experience Webinar (Apr. 9)
Forté company representatives will provide tips and insights into making the most of your summer internship experience.

College webinars are free - all you have to do is become a member of the Forté Foundation! Membership is free too, so get started.

See all webinars »

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