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Presence Will Help You Get an Internship

By Siyu Wu

September 13, 2016

Interviewing season has arrived, which means every internship or job-seeking individual is doing preparation of some kind to show their best self during an interview. Commonly, this preparation is focused solely on developing one’s technical knowledge and company know-how. But as Amy Cuddy suggests in her book Presence, sometimes what you know is less important than how you present what you know. So to land that ideal internship or job? Read Amy Cuddy’s book. But if you don’t have time for that, go watch Amy Cuddy’s TED talk and check out these top takeaways from her book that can help you better your personal presence during an interview, and on the job.

What is “presence”?

“Presence stems from believing in and trusting yourself - your real, honest feelings, values, and abilities. That’s important, because if you don’t trust yourself, how can others trust you? … We all face daunting moments that must be met with poise if we want to feel good about ourselves and make progress in our lives. Presence gives us the power to rise to these moments.” - Amy Cuddy, Presence

In other words, presence is how you stay attuned to yourself and to comfortably express yourself in the best way. It manifests as a sense of genuine confidence without arrogance, and occurs when your different elements of self are aligned.

Why does “presence” matter?

Lakshmi Balachandra, then a Boston College doctoral student, conducted research on venture capitalist pitches. She found that the pitches that received investment money were not necessarily those with the most well-thought out ideas, but rather those presented with the most confidence, comfort level, and passionate enthusiasm. In other words, they exuded a sense of presence.

This presence can take you far during an interview, and even in meetings or projects while on the job. Believing in your own story and showing that self-confidence gives your counterpart - be it the interviewer, a supervisor, or some colleagues - reason to believe in you, and to choose you. 

How do I get “presence”?

It may seem that some people naturally have a wonderful presence, but fear not - developing a sense of presence is possible for anyone. Amy Cuddy outlines many strategies for achieving a better presence, and it all boils down to a few key lessons to keep in mind before an interview or major event:

  • Fake it until you become it. Research suggests that the physical action of smiling can actually make you feel better. Similarly, starting out with a bit of false confidence can actually result in the real thing. 
  • Use self affirmation. Before walking into the interview room, remind yourself of your personal core values - what matters most to you and who you are. This helps reduce anxiety about social rejection and increases openness to others, putting you in a better mindset for the interview.
  • Listen, don’t preach. Many people talk as a defense mechanism, when in fact staying quiet and listening can result in many benefits. Actively listening is an opportunity to gain trust, acquire information, and see others as individuals and allies rather than stereotypes. Rather than pushing an unauthentic self with talking too much, allow your presence, unexplained and unembellished, to speak for itself.
  • Try power posing. Nonverbal cues play a huge role in creating one’s presence and impression on others. Those who feel more confident and powerful will often stand taller, have larger movements, and make more confident. So before heading in for an interview or big meeting, give yourself some time to adopt expansive, open postures (like a starfish or superwoman pose). This can help you exude a stronger presence and boost your confidence level!

At the end of the day, however, presence does not work alone. If you do not have the knowledge to back up your power poses, even the most confident and expansive gestures won’t communicate a genuine sense of presence to win over your audience. But, once you do have the interview basics down, be sure to try a power pose or two before your next interview to up your game.

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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Five Ways to Prepare Your Internship Application Gameplan

By Danni Ondraskova

September 12, 2016

Set up your fantasy roster.

Many of us have been in a situation in which we are passionate about a sport and create a fantasy team that draws from players all around the league. Because you likely have a variety of settings or jobs you can envision yourself working in, don’t be afraid to compile a list of different kinds of places as long as you are passionate about them.

Develop a set of dream internship rankings based on a set of criteria that’s most important to you. The criteria can include whether and how much the internships pay, location, prestige of the institution, and closeness to your previous work, passions, and career aspirations. You may also attend an institution or be affiliated with a scholarship you could earn based on where you work or what field you enter, so don’t forget to take that into account. You may have already used a similar kind of system when deciding which colleges to apply to.

If you are lost about exactly where to apply, read the next point; consult your trusted friends, families, and mentors; and look at the LinkedIn accounts or resumes of people whose career trajectories you would like to emulate. Don’t forget that the path to success is wider than most acknowledge and that even careers with a narrow path to entry will accept candidates from different backgrounds if they can demonstrate they have the skills and passion to make it.

Hedge your bets, but don’t be afraid to dream big.

Unlike colleges, you don’t have to pay to submit applications or test scores for most internships, so the primary costs associated with each one are the time you spend researching and on your application. Like when you applied to college, you want to mentally categorize your places into three categories: reaches, match, and safety. Just as Ivy League and other prestigious institutions should be viewed as reaches, so too should any institutions with low acceptance rates, high admissions standards, or don’t accept too many students from your school who apply. If your profile matches that of the marginal intern working at the place you’re applying, you’re a match. If people from your school with worse credentials have been accepted, then it’s probably a safety.

I’ll let you be the judge of how many places to apply to, but I advise every candidate to apply to at least one safety and match in the field they are passionate about. Other than that, don’t be afraid to apply to a reach if you have a compelling application (there is often a strong qualitative element at work here). My caveat would be that you should not apply to anywhere you are ineligible for because of your class year, especially in more established large programs. 

If it’s not documented, it is unverifiable!

Once you decide where to apply, create a document (I use Google Docs or Microsoft Word) with all the timelines, application requirements, internship and company descriptions for each place. Jot down important deadlines in your calendar. Keep everything up to date!

Next, comb through your resume and cover letter. Make sure you have documents and use references who can corroborate your information. Many well-intending people in high positions have lost their careers and reputations overnight because of an embellishment. Present yourself in your best light, not someone else’s.

Time everything well.

Consider how long each application will likely take and tie that to your academic schedule and other commitments. You may also want to spend more time researching on your top choices. You should spend the most time on these applications, but don’t cut corners with your matches and safeties.

Always take the interview seriously.

Video and phone interviews are the most popular way of screening candidates who aren’t local, although you may be asked to physically interview at the company in a future round. No matter what form your interview occurs in, take it as seriously as you would a physical interview. My most successful phone interviews for highly competitive opportunities took place outside of my college room on campus and with me wearing a suit. Physical environment and clothing leave a powerful psychological imprint on your ability to act professionally, so figure out what works best for you and stick to it. Finally, don’t forget that your interviewer can be your ally and advocate, so give them plenty to work with!

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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How To Maximize Your LinkedIn Potential

By Zaire Johnson

September 8, 2016

Facebook. Updated.

Twitter. Checked.

Instagram. Scrolled.

But… LinkedIn?

Even for the most technologically advanced generation, LinkedIn is still a mystery. Understandably so, but recruiters, your boss, your boss’s boss, and your future boss, are all on LinkedIn. You should be too!

A LinkedIn profile can be broken into 4 main categories: profile picture, profile summary, headline, and your lists.

1. Profile picture: When you are searched on LinkedIn your profile picture is the first and one of the few things seen. Using a professional headshot is a safe bet. Guaranteed to portray you in a professional manner.

If you are unable to take headshots, don’t fret! Generally shots that show just your shoulders and face are appropriate to use as a LinkedIn profile picture. You should be the only person in the picture and the picture’s center focus.

2. Headline: Your headline is the other aspect of your profile shown when searched. Your default headline is usually the name and description of your most current professional work position. Your headline doesn’t necessarily need to be flashy, but people do choose to create their own.

Headlines are a way to communicate your basic background in a short sentence. If your resume objective is short enough, it may be used as a headline.

3. Profile summary: This is one of your first full impressions to whomever is viewing your profile. It does seem like a daunting task, but it can be broken down into smaller pieces!

First: Visualize who you’re talking to. Be it a potential business partner, future boss,  future landlord, etc. Know your audience. What are they looking for? How are you their perfect fit?
Second: What do you want them to know about you? It may be easier think of this in terms of your experience, or in terms of individual traits. Write your ideas down, be as explicit as possible. You may need to talk this list out with a friend, sleep on it, etc. Definitely work at your own pace, remember, there isn’t a due date!
Third: It’s okay to brag! It’s YOUR LinkedIn profile. Show who you are and what you’ve done, unabashedly. If this concept makes you nervous, research influential people in your field. Their summaries can be very helpful when writing your own.
Lastly: Your LinkedIn summary should be, at most, two paragraphs. First person pronouns are expected, but third person is fine too. Like a college essay, your summary should show your voice in a situation-appropriate manner.

4. Lists! The lists on your LinkedIn include: Experience, Projects, Education, Skills & Endorsements, Community Service, Organizations, Courses, Honors & Awards, Languages, Test Scores, Publications, Patents, and Certifications.
In no way are you expected to have an entry for each list - you’d be one very busy bee!

But they are great ways for your profile reader’s to paint a complete picture of who you are. Copying information from your resume is a great way to start adding information to your LinkedIn.

I highly suggest creating descriptions for each entry in a list! Internship and full-time job recruiters routinely do searches for candidates. By using SEO keywords or buzzwords you can increase your chances of being found by a recruiter.

LinkedIn profiles are public, so you never know who may find yours!

Zaire Johnson will graduate in 2019 from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. A Computer Systems Engineering and Mechanical Engineering major, Zaire dreams of serving as the Secretary of State.

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Bringing It Back: How to Harness Your Internship Experience in the Classroom

By Jordan Perras

September 6, 2016

Hopefully you all had awesome summers whether you were working an internship, studying abroad or taking summer classes. If you did end up doing an internship, now is a great time to think about how you can bring that experience back into your academics.

I’ve found that not only do I use my academic knowledge throughout an internship, but also that I frequently call upon my internship experiences in the classroom. Here are some ways that you can use your summer of Excel files to shine in your fall classes.


  • Treat your professors the way you treated your manager. Utilize the same rules for emails, humor, and technology usage. Address them by “Professor” or “Dr.” in every email. Don’t use your phone in class or even have it visible on your desk. Avoid using your laptop for anything other than notes (Try productivity apps for your computer if you are tempted).
  • Think about how you dress. Many professors (business especially!) spent a lot of time in the corporate world and have a ton of contacts. You want your professors to view you in a positive manner, so try to follow their lead when it comes to dress. If he or she is wearing exercise clothes (it’s happened to me!), then leggings are totally fine. If your professor consistently shows up in a suit and tie (yup, that’s also happened to me!), then consider adopting a more casual/business casual style for class.
  • Try to get to know your professor. Hopefully, you had an awesome manager and got to chat with them about things that were outside the realm of your job. When that happens, relationships generally flourish. Make it a point to go to each of your professor’s office hours before the first midterms to get to know them, get your questions answered, and help them put a face to your name.

Current Events

  • Stay informed. What’s happening in the news is directly relevant to the day-to-day management of most companies. This means that you probably kept yourself up-to-date on the news or at least heard about it at work. Now, your class topics probably won’t change based on what’s going on in the world or the market, but staying informed will help you to contribute to class discussions and understand course concepts in a more tangible way. 

Technical Skills

  • If you were lucky enough to be exposed to new programs, think about ways that you can utilize them. When you’re learning time value of money in finance, can you do some of your homework in Excel? Can you find a way to use SPSS in your stats class? The more you work with these programs, the better you will be at using them, so be creative!

Relevant Knowledge

  • Utilize the relevant knowledge you gained and look for ways to gain a deeper understanding of certain topics. Examples from your experience are a great way to contribute to class. If you spent an internship working on the treasury team, don’t be afraid to speak up in class when your professor gets to the treasury chapter. You have practical experience in the subject, so find a way to tie it back into the theory.

Hopefully, these are some practical ways to you to use your internship experience in the classroom this semester. If there’s something you do that I missed, comment below or 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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Get Career Ready: Stop and Smell the Roses

By Angela Guido

August 28, 2016

If you’ve been following along these 27 weeks, you’ve gotten some actionable tips, some timeless wisdom, and some bright ideas for your career. If the ideas inspired you, your to-do list is probably overflowing. So our last tip for you is a very very important one:
Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.

In his inspiring commencement speech to the Stanford class of 2005, Steve Jobs talks about the calligraphy class that fascinated him during his own brief college experience but that at the time seemed completely useless. “What I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on,” he claimed. The Mac was the first computer with beautiful typography. We all have that class to thank for the variety of ways we can now express ourselves through fonts in the digital world.

So as you patiently and hungrily make your way to the top, don’t forget to slow down sometimes, pay attention to what calls to you, and then heed that calling. Even if it means being late to a class once in a while, if the scent of roses from that nearby courtyard beckons you, stop and smell them.

Our career tips are brought to you by Angela Guido. For more timeless wisdom and bright ideas for your career, check out her website, Career Protocol.

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Driving Forces: Be An Innovative Leader

Danae Ringelmann came to business school with the inkling of an idea to shake up the world of finance—and came out with a startup that ushered in the crowdfunding revolution.

Content courtesy of University of California - Berkeley (Haas School of Business).

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Get Career Ready: Just Ask

By Angela Guido

August 21, 2016

In any job, you need sales skills – whether that means selling a product, convincing others of your ideas, or simply proving your own value to a project. It’s important you be able to “get to yes,” and bring others into alignment with what you want. But sometimes, the fear of hearing “no” stops us from asking.

Consider prolific author Stephen King’s experience: “By the time I was fourteen the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.”
Comfort with rejection is an essential component of influence and impact. To cultivate your rejection resilience, start with no-stakes asks. Try asking…

  • A classmate to give you a piece of gum, a pen, a piece of paper
  • Friends, family, and strangers to donate to a club or cause you care about
  • Salespeople to give you a discount when there is no sale happening

See how comfortable you can get hearing “no,” when the stakes are very low, and then work your way up to more important requests, like asking…

  • A professor to improve your grade on a paper if you do some additional research,
  • A manager to give you a little extra training, or
  • A club member to step up and lead a project.

Our career tips are brought to you by Angela Guido. For more timeless wisdom and bright ideas for your career, check out her website, Career Protocol.

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Driving Forces: A New Way to Think

August 21, 2016

Artificial intelligence used to be the stuff of science fiction. Today, an IBM supercomputer named Watson is actually learning how to think, analyze unstructured data, translate, and react to natural language.

Zoe Hillenmeyer, BFA ’09, MBA ’13, says, “cognitive computing” is the term IBM prefers for this new era of intelligent technology. She is IBM’s innovation and design lead for Watson’s Cross Industry Value Team. In Hillenmeyer’s words, “We’re a tiger team of solution-focused technology geeks, with an eye to the future and the possibilities for cognitive computing to drastically transform complexity into context and confusion into well-informed decisions.”

Ironically, Hillenmeyer would be the first to admit that she is not your typical technology geek. She grew up in rural Indiana, where barely half of her senior class graduated from high school and she was one of a few to go out of state for college. After arriving at WashU, she discovered her passion for art and pursued a degree in sculpture. Hillenmeyer worked for a startup in India and an auction house in Boston, and organized cultural festivals before returning to St. Louis and Olin’s MBA program. She sums up her insatiable curiosity to learn as “a relentless pursuit of the unknown.”

“Zoe is a force of nature,” Joe Fox says of the energetic innovator who never passes up the chance to question the status quo. Fox, associate dean of graduate programs at Olin, remembers how Hillenmeyer hit the ground running as a first-year MBA. As a class leader, she revived the Olin Women in Business (OWIB) organization, improved recruitment tactics for women applicants, and strengthened Olin’s ties to national organizations like the Forté Foundation and the National Association of Women MBAs (NAWMBA).

At IBM, Hillenmeyer’s innovative approach to problem solving, data visualization, and collaboration on consulting projects has propelled her to Big Blue’s much-talked-about new business unit: Watson. Since winning Jeopardy! in 2011, Watson has evolved. The computer is able to interpret big data by identifying patterns, connections, and insights. Then it organizes the content into smaller chunks for humans to digest, interpret, discover solutions, and make decisions. Now Watson is its own business unit, strategy, and talent organization.

“My role in particular is to infuse our team with core design principles, innovation best practices, and a momentum that embraces and exudes positive change,” explains Hillenmeyer. Her team is part of the Watson Group based in IBM’s new global headquarters in New York City’s Silicon Alley, although Hillenmeyer is based in Seattle. The Watson Group has more than 2,000 employees globally. Hillenmeyer’s team works on projects from transit to nuclear decommissioning. The only limit to the scope of their work is impact: “it has to be important, solving real and salient needs of society or business. It has to transform, dramatically, the ways of today,” Hillenmeyer said.

Hillenmeyer’s office is equipped with Play-Doh, paints, sketch pads, white boards, markers of many colors, and a drill press. The sculptor-turned-IBMer refuses to abandon those tactile tools while working in this new era of cognitive computing. She insists they help facilitate novel approaches to idea generation, problem solving, and process reinvention: “We collaborate. We innovate. We team. We break things, and fix ’em. We brainstorm and fail, and make beautiful things exist. It’s a great job.”

Content courtesy of Washington University in St. Louis (Olin Business School).

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