Forté Foundation
Career Lab Virtual Campus

Rock Your Summer Work Wardrobe

By Siyu Wu

May 18, 2017

Upon first glance, the most noticeable difference between college campuses and finance firms is what people wear – gone are the sweatshirts and jeans, replaced with full suits, blazers, heels, and more. A daunting, but often overlooked, aspect of starting a summer internship in the corporate world is making sure you have the right clothes for the job. Here are some things to keep in mind as you begin preparing your summer work wardrobe!

Figuring out workplace expectations

Before you go out and buy several full suits, first reach out to HR or a mentor to learn about their expectations for how you dress. Some firms will require business formal every day, other firms allow business causal between Memorial Day and Labor Day. You want to make sure you don’t underdress or overdress, so knowing what other people at the firm will be wearing will help make sure you start your first day strong.

What is or isn’t appropriate? There are no hard lines, but do remember that the corporate world is a bit more conservative than what many college students are used to. Err on the side of caution in terms of skirt/dress length, how tight/lowcut your clothing is, and the degree of casualness of what you wear. Some clear no-no’s for most firms include spaghetti strap tanks, jeans (unless otherwise stated), clothing with rips, sneakers, and short shorts.

Getting the basics

It may be tempting to buy statement pieces when heading into the store, but first focus on getting some of the fundamental pieces for a business wardrobe. To start off, one of the most important items is to get a fitted black blazer – this is something you can put over anything and everything to make your outfit look a bit more formal. Beyond the black blazer, some other key items include a professional black dress/skirt/pants, work-appropriate shoes, and white blouse. These are essential for days when you might have a particularly important meeting or presentation.

Aside from these business formal pieces, it might be helpful to do some outfit planning to figure out how to coordinate a few basic pieces to create several different outfits. It is challenging to wear business dress everyday while having some variance. Keep it exciting by adding a splash of color or unique accessory to every outfit – but make sure not to go overboard!

Business dress on a budget

While there are some pieces that are worth spending money on (for example, a high-quality blazer can last you a long time), it may seem preposterous to spend a hundred or more on a single pair of pants or dress. For simple blouses and other items, there may be no need to spend a lot of money, especially at the start of your career. There are some stores that offer relatively inexpensive options – TJMaxx, Marshalls, Banana Republic, Express are all great places to look. Even Forever 21 and H&M have some budget-friendly selections!

In addition, during end-of-season sales at Ann Taylor, Ralph Lauren, Loft, and other similar stores, you’re often able to find some great deals for high quality pieces.

Ultimately, it’s not necessary to spend a lot of money on creating your summer internship outfits. After getting the basics at the beginning of the summer, set aside some money from each paycheck for buying new outfits to refresh your wardrobe. And remember, it’s always worth it to spend a bit more on buying high-quality timeless pieces that can last you several years!

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.

 

Read More  0 Comments
Facebook Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Email More…
Share

I Am A CFP® Pro: Brittney Castro

Meet Brittney Castro, CFP®, and hear why she loves her career as a CFP® professional.

Learn more about becoming a CFP professional.

Read More  0 Comments
Facebook Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Email More…
Share

Get Ready For Your Summer Internship

By Danni Ondraskova

May 1, 2017

As April turns into May, it’s likely that internship decisions are coming at you faster than you can process them. Hopefully, all of your hard work has paid off and you’ve found yourself accepted to the internship of your dreams. Maybe you’ve been accepted somewhere else but are still awaiting your top choice with bated breath. Or maybe you’ve hit a rough patch this year and have only received offers from places you aren’t overly enthusiastic about.

In any case, you need to prepare wisely in order to make the best of your situation. Here is some advice that applies well to any situation in which you find yourself.

Be humble.

Chances are you’ll be interning at a place that coincides with your academic and/or personal interests. Because of that, you’ve probably gained indirect exposure to the skills and concepts you’ll be using for our internship through the classroom, your on-campus job, or a hobby. Maybe you’re even interning for the same institution for the second or third year in a row!

Whatever situation you find yourself in, keep in mind that even the most menial or administrative of internships offer an abundance of learning opportunities. At the very least, you may be working under a new supervisor who has different expectations of you; adjusting to those expectations is a learning process in itself and a very useful skills for “real life.”

Be curious.

If you’re interning in a field that is your sole passion, curiosity about the internship will likely come easily to you. If you aren’t excited about your future workplace, keep in mind that even the most seemingly boring places have interesting people and stories.

Maybe you’re having a hard time learning a skill but become close friends with someone in an adjacent cubicle. That person may teach you to consider the skills through a different lens or teach it through a more engaging process.

Either way, there are always sources of wisdom you can mine to meet your potential and become more interested in your work in the process.

Learn about your field.

Chances are you’ve parsed your job description while preparing for the interview and did additional research on your firm and field. Or you’ve been combing through your internship packet. If so, you are well on your way to being intellectually prepared for the internship.

If not, use the tools of the Internet, your professors and friends, and your career services office to do more research. If you really are unable to find anything, contact your intern coordinator for details. They’re usually pretty friendly and promptly respond.

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.

Read More  0 Comments
Facebook Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Email More…
Share

How to Make Your Best Choice at a Career Crossroads

By Danni Ondraskova

March 30, 2017

This post is primarily addressed to graduating college seniors and graduate students facing concrete career choices. The advice I give here can, however, be equally well applied to others who are interested in internships in differing fields. As always, be sure to consult professional sources and those who know you best in your decision-making process in addition to reading the general advice here.

General Peter Pace, a former Chair of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke to business students at the University of Chicago Booth School Management Conference in 2007 (If you want to listen to snippets of the talk, click on the link here). When advising these bright fellows on finding the best organization to work for, he told them to first identify places whose mission and people with which the students identified. According to General Pace, once listeners chose to place their “roots” in the organization of their choice, they should “grow where they are planted.

I have created a more general breakdown of my own decision-making process that is also informed by General Pace’s approach. This step-by-step system is the process of trial and error, reading the biographies of those I admire, and advice from mentors and family.

1. Know yourself.
A daunting task, to be sure. As life can be viewed as a journey of self-discovery, it can in a sense be said that we can never truly know who we are. Keeping that in mind, ask yourself these questions: What makes you wake up in the morning with a grin, and what makes you shuffle back under the covers as your alarm goes off? What kinds of people and activities give you energy, and what kinds sap it from you? Do you have strong preferences for a certain atmosphere, city or region, or culture? Finally, what are you passionate about, or, what are you willing to suffer for? Note here that you will not always be happy doing even what you love most—the Latin word from which passion is derived means “to suffer.”

2. Identify and distinguish your internal and external motivators.
Our behavior is regulated by internal and external motivators. While it is always good to be in an environment that encourages you to develop your talents and have supportive family and friends, there is a time in many people’s lives when they decide to go against external pressures to do what they believe is right for them. That sense can be from “the gut” or have a spiritual undertone. Unless you have a sense of who you are, you may not be prepared to say “no” to others on key career decisions.

Internal motivators are a powerful part of human nature and often are the most fundamental driver of what you do. Are you working to merely put food on the table out of a desire for survival, or are you motivated by love, selflessness, ambition, or a desire for gratification? All these impulses tend to check each other and can steer you in the right direction. However, when one desire tends to predominate, it’s a good idea to slow down in your job search, visit those external motivators, and reflect on from which experiences these urges stem.

3. Harmonize your goals with the world’s constraints
A key buzzword in economics is constraints, which can be interpreted as the gap between the possible and the desirable. Our desires often exceed what is possible, whether in the temporal, financial, or other sense. Here it is good to give a level-headed assessment of the world you are in, the direction it appears to be heading in, and your own plans. Thanks to the emergence of big data and unprecedented transparency thanks to websites like GlassDoor, you can easily retrieve information about salaries, number of people in the field, reviews of employees’ experiences in specific companies, and even expected industry growth rates. If you’re not sure about where to start or go from here, a visit to a trusted career services professional is in hand.

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.

Read More  0 Comments
Facebook Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Email More…
Share

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:

Contributor

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

Collaborator

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

Communicator

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

Challenger

  • 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.

Read More  0 Comments
Facebook Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Email More…
Share

Managers vs. Leaders: Are They the Same?

By Jordan Perras

March 6, 2017

It is easy to use “manager” and “leader” interchangeably, especially when you’re thinking about work. However, managers and leaders fulfill different roles in organizations. Of course they share some basic characteristics, but they are separate and distinct roles that are both necessary on effective teams. 

What does a manager do?

Managers focus on the quantitative work of a team. They help plan, budget, organize and staff a team. They control what the team does and help problem solve when things go wrong.

Have you ever acted as a manager in a team project? Typical manager behavior would be assigning tasks to other group members, booking meeting rooms in the library or emailing due date reminders.

What does a leader do?

Leaders focus on the qualitative part of the team, especially the ‘people’ element. They are more likely to set a direction for the team, get people on board, and then motivate the team to follow through. They probably advocate for change and new approaches to tasks.

Have you ever acted as a leader in a team project? Typical leader behavior would be exciting the team to do well, supporting the team vision vocally, and inspiring people to do better work.

Can you be both?

The short answer is YES, you can be both! How?

  • Take smart risks.
  • Gain self-knowledge (check out my self-knowledge leadership series!). 
  • Involve others in your decision making. 
  • Think about how one part of a project impacts the others. 
  • Think about the long term impact of decisions – on people, on efficiency, on morale.

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.

Read More  0 Comments
Facebook Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Email More…
Share

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.

Read More  0 Comments
Facebook Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Email More…
Share

Using Self-Knowledge to Improve Your Leadership Skills: Personality

By Jordan Perras

February 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 last part of this series, you’ll learn about some major types of personality traits and how they impact your behavior and your leadership abilities.

The “Big 5” Personality Traits

These are the five major ways that personalities differ. Each one is a scale and is not concrete – by this I mean that you may display different degrees of each trait based on the situation. For example, when you are at home with your family, you may have high emotional stability whereas you may have low emotional stability during the first few weeks of a new job.

Openness – You are creative, curious, cultured.
Low Openness – You are practical with narrow interests.

Conscientiousness – You are hardworking, organized and dependable.
Low Conscientiousness – You may be disorganized and unreliable.

Extraversion – You are gregarious, assertive, and sociable.
Low Extraversion – You are reserved, timid or quiet.

Agreeableness – You are cooperative, warm and agreeable.
Low Agreeableness – You are disagreeable or antagonistic.

Emotional Stability – You are calm, self-confident and cool.
Low Emotional Stability – You may be insecure or anxious.

Read through the list again and think about whether you display “high” or “low” degrees of the five traits. Do your results surprise you? Why or why not?

Core Self Evaluation

The Core Self Evaluation is a way to understand your own conception of yourself and your behavior, especially at work.

Locus of Control – Your belief about internal versus external control.

  • If you have an internal locus of control, you believe that you control what happens to you. For example, success is a result of hard work.
  • If you have an external locus of control, you believe that people and circumstances control what happens to you. For example, success is a result of luck.

Self-Esteem – Your general feeling of self-worth.

  • When you have high self-esteem, you believe that you have strengths and weaknesses, but the strengths are more important.
  • When you have low self-esteem, you are easily affected by what other people think about you and you tend to view yourself negatively.

Self-Efficacy – This is your overall view of yourself as being able to complete tasks effectively in a wide variety of situations.

  • When you have high self-efficacy, you trust yourself to attempt difficult tasks and persist in overcoming obstacles.
  • When you have low self-efficacy, you often feel anxious when faced with adversity and doubt your ability to complete new tasks.

Self-Monitoring – This is the extent to which you change your behavior based on the situation and the people you are with.

  • High self-monitors adjust their behavior according to the situation and are more effective at work because they respond to changes in the environment.
  • Low self-monitors show behavioral consistency in all situations and are less likely to respond to supervisory feedback.

Were your traits obvious to you as you read through the list? Were you happy with your results? Surprised? Think about how each of your traits impact your professional success. 

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.

Read More  0 Comments
Facebook Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Email More…
Share
Older Posts