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Snagging Your Dream Summer Internship

By Jordan Perras

February 9, 2016

Whether you’re about to be a freshman or you’ve already got your eye on a perfect post-grad position, a summer internship can help make your dream goals a little closer to reality.

Here are some tips to make a great first impression, and end up exactly where you want to be when the summer rolls around.

1. Make a LinkedIn profile and update your resume. If you don’t have these two things, make them and then use them! Your resume is going to be uploaded to every internship application, so having it done first will streamline the process. Create a LinkedIn account and include the link to it at the bottom of your school email signature.

The more views you get, the better, so really take the time to showcase your accomplishments. Use my guide to making your first resume if you get stuck!

2. Check with Career Services. At many universities, Career Services is the one-stop shop for finding a summer internship. Companies can request to have their openings posted on the office’s website, making it easier for you to find a spot. Check that listing before you start searching aimlessly on the internet. They’re also helpful for resume review and interview prep.

3. Network with your parents’ friends. Summer internships can be competitive, but knowing someone in the company who can vouch for you is a huge step. My younger sister was looking for an internship in engineering this summer and received three offers from our dad’s friends at a holiday party.

Mention your search to everyone who will listen and you might be surprised too! That being said, don’t outright ask for a job offer. See if you can get some helpful tips on what their company looks for in new hires or whether they’re willing to sit down with you for an informational interview.

4. Start applying. One of my biggest weaknesses is that I tend to get stuck in the planning stage. I love to plan because I have control over pretty much everything. The minute I start, however, something ends up in someone else’s hands.

Don’t let your internship get stuck in the planning stage. Apply. Apply. Apply. The more jobs you apply to, the more chances you have of getting a call back or an interview.

5. Prep for the interview. Make sure you research the company and the position thoroughly. Be prepared to answer “Why do you want this job?” “What makes you a good candidate for this job?” “Why do you want to work at this company?”

Also think about past experiences you’ve had working in teams, problem solving or messing up and then fixing it. Tons of sites have lists of behavioral questions, so find a list and think about what you would say if an interviewer asked you those questions.

6. Dress the part. An interview is not the time to try out your new favorite trend. Stick with timeless and professional. My go-to is a knee length dress, small statement necklace and a blazer. If this is your first real professional experience, think about investing in a blazer, slacks and a nice conservative blouse.

Don’t be intimidated by the expensive prices at the big name brands. You’d be surprised at the inexpensive options at Kohl’s, H&M and Forever 21! Also reach out to your friends or their big sisters to see if there’s something you can borrow.

7. Follow up. At the end of the interview, ask for a business card so that you have your interviewer’s email address. 24 hours after the interview, send them an email thanking them for taking the time to interview you. Restate your interest in the company and the position, and then say that you’re happy to answer any additional questions they have for you. Double and triple check that you’ve addressed the email to the correct person!

8. Become the best intern your company has ever seen! Work hard, ask questions, be on time, be positive, be professional. These are the basics, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t follow them in the workplace.

During the first few weeks, you’ll have a lot to learn and it might be overwhelming. Don’t get discouraged because they hired you for a reason! You can do it!

Jordan Perras is a third-year student at Northeastern University 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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Getting the Job (Done): Business Analyst

By Valeria Tirado

Recently, I got the chance to interview Marissa Solomon, a business analyst working at McKinsey. McKinsey is a worldwide management consulting firm who currently counsels about 80% of the world’s largest corporations. That’s quite impressive! They are a great company with a bright future and I’m glad Marissa took the time to answer some of our questions.

Q: How did you first come across the opportunity to intern with McKinsey?

A: I learned about McKinsey through on-campus recruiting during undergrad. Some of my greatest role models in college went to work at McKinsey both as summer interns and full-time analysts, which made me very excited to learn more about the opportunity to intern there.

Q: Did any of your fellow interns also hire on full-time? If so, do you keep in touch and support each other?

A: I believe my entire Summer Business Analyst class re-joined full-time. Almost three years later, we are still an extraordinarily tight community.

Q: Now that you’re full-time, do you feel like the internship prepared you well enough for what you do now or is it very different?

A: Yes, I definitely feel interning prepared me very well for the full-time business analyst role. McKinsey does an excellent job designing the summer internship to completely resemble the real-life, full-time experience. Summer interns are treated as full-time analysts on the team, visit the client site with the team members, and are expected to actively participate in problem solving sessions and client meetings.

Q: Has the transition from internship to full-time been difficult or have you adjusted well?

A: The transition from internship to full-time is definitely an adjustment – for reasons as simple as moving to a new city and giving away the often flexible life of an undergrad! That said, the firm matches you with buddies, mentors, and resources from day one to support you in the transition. My team on my first engagement helped me carve my path at McKinsey, supported me and helped me see many exciting opportunities.

Q: What are the key responsibilities of a business analyst?

A: Before answering what the responsibilities of a business analyst are, it may be helpful to begin with describing what management consulting is. It may seem obvious, but many people do not understand what we do day-to-day. I would describe consulting as the science and art of working with organizations to solve their most complex problems and opportunities.

This translates to responsibilities in many ways, and I would say there are three primary things: (1) you have the responsibility to your client to be a problem solver, thought partner, and trusted advisor, (2) you have the responsibility for your specific part of the larger project and understand how it contributes to the overall, and (3) you have the responsibility to push the team’s thinking, disagree when necessary, and ensure the team is on track to delivering impact.

Q: In your opinion, what are the best skills a person in your field can have?

A: The great thing about working at McKinsey is the diverse backgrounds you will come across. There are people across industries, with different professional degrees, from different geographies, but amidst all the diversity, there are two main qualities management consultants should have. First, they should have strong problem solving skills – both conceptual and analytical. Second, they should be able to work well in teams – both client and McKinsey teams.

Q: Can you walk me through a typical day at work?

A: The exciting thing about McKinsey is that there is no “typical” day of work. My day may look very different depending on the client I am serving, the industry or geography we are in, and my team. On a typical engagement, I go to the client site Monday through Thursday. While there, my days will consist of pushing forward my discrete piece of work on the study, meeting with clients, and problem solving with the team. We have numerous team brainstorms during the day to share updates on our work, break apart tough problems, and ensure impact is being delivered.

At the end of the day, we often go to dinner together, especially on travel studies. The great thing about consulting is the immense amount of flexibility. At the beginning of each new engagement, the team will set “norms” for how we want our days to look – for example, some people like to go to the gym in the evenings and log back on to finish work later, which is completely accepted!

Q: Do you work directly with your clients? How do you create a relationship with your clients?

A: Yes, all members of the team work directly with our clients. That is what I consider the most fulfilling part of the job. It’s very cool that as a 20-something business analyst, you have the opportunity to build and maintain strong relationships with seasoned experts across industries and companies. Building relationships often starts with the business analyst owning a specific piece of work – knowing the details and sharing information that the client might not otherwise know.

Q: Do you find yourself more often working alone or with a team? Which do you prefer?

A: I am almost always working with a team. That’s what management consulting is all about. I definitely prefer that, as it makes the day more fun and enables the team to arrive at a better solution and have greater impact. If you do have something you need to push on, it is always appropriate to leave the room or put in headphones. I do that quite a bit, too.

Q: What is your favorite part about working with McKinsey?

A: The people. Hands down. I have never met a group of more inspiring people. I learn just as much from the people I have met here as from the work itself. I am so grateful for the numerous communities within McKinsey– whether it’s a women’s network, industry practice, or my business analyst class.

Q: What advice would you give somebody aspiring to become a business analyst?

A: I would encourage anyone who is excited about solving really tough problems and helping clients capture new opportunities to consider a career in management consulting.

In terms of tactical advice, I would recommend you talk to any friends or contacts in management consulting to really learn what the job is about. There really is no typical day, so it’s helpful to learn about the different engagements people do. I also would encourage you to try to get a flavor of the consulting experience in undergrad. You can sign up for classes that primarily focus on group projects to get the team experience, you can join a consulting club, or you can find organizations that help clients or others tackle big problems.

It was a great opportunity being able to learn more about McKinsey and what a business analyst does. McKinsey sounds like a great company to work for with great people. Marissa mentioned that her favorite part is the people and how she learns from her colleagues as much as she learns from the work itself; I think that’s something we should all look for in a job. As someone once said, “if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” Surround yourself with people you can learn from and you’re bound to be successful.

Once again, a big thanks to Marissa and McKinsey for lending us their time!

Valeria Tirado is a senior at Rutgers University – New Brunswick with a major in Environmental and Business Economics. After graduation, she is interested in working with a non-profit organization like the World Wildlife Fund and eventually wants to go to grad school for Economics. Among the schools she is considering are NYU and Vanderbilt. Valeria can be found on Twitter at @valeriat94.

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5 Tips for Making the Most of the College Fast Track to Finance Conference

By Siyu Wu

February 5, 2016

I was first introduced to Forte Foundation when I attended the 2015 College Fast Track to Finance Conference. The conference was a day jampacked with various sessions that introduced me to the world of finance, and by the end of the day I knew finance was the path for me! As the 2016 College Fast Track to Finance Conference nears, here are five tips to making the most of the conference.

Meet fellow attendees.

Since I was the only one from my school attending the conference, I was really worried that I would be by myself the entire day. But luckily, I quickly met the students from other schools. The conference is a unique opportunity to interact with students with similar interests at different universities, and to hear about and learn from their experiences. In fact, I’m still in contact with some students I met during the conference, and we often exchange recruiting and interview advice.

Take advantage of time between sessions and over lunch to meet other students.

Connect with professionals (and keep in touch).

Forte works closely with many financial services companies, and you’ll have the chance to meet with employees at these firms throughout the day. This is a great networking opportunity, and all of the professionals are incredibly eager to meet every student. It is not everyday that you get to be in a room with numerous impressive female leaders and role models, so take time to get to know these professionals and learn about their jobs.

Beyond meeting them during the conference, make sure to get contact information for those you met and stay connected long after the conference ends. I found that the women at the conference were very willing to offer advice and mentorship for the participants, so don’t hesitate to email them with questions or updates on how your internship search is going.

Ask questions.

One of the best parts of the Fast Track Conference is that everyone is there to help you learn more about the financial services industry. It’s the perfect time to ask any questions you have about finance. Especially because this conference is for women, this is your chance to ask questions about gender dynamics in finance, or ask any other questions about finance that you’ve never had the opportunity to ask before.

Practice what you learn.

During the conference, you’ll have the opportunity to develop your skills in networking, interviewing, developing your personal brand, creating stock pitches, and more. But the learning doesn’t stop when the conference ends. Rather, take what you learned during the conference and practice on your own time to really hone those skills.

Sometimes, the best practice is done by teaching others. If you’re a member of a finance organization on campus, this can be a great opportunity for you to share your new knowledge about elevator pitches or investment presentations with other members while at the same time practicing your own pitches and presentations! 

Have fun (and a good attitude)!

Last, but most definitely not least, don’t forget to enjoy your time at the conference. The Forte College Fast Track to Finance Conference was a great day of learning for me, which was made possible because I went in with a positive mindset. If you’re excited to learn and eager to make new friends, you will definitely gain a lot from the conference!

Siyu Wu is from Colorado and is currently a sophomore at Princeton University, pursuing a degree in Economics and certificates in Finance and East Asian Studies. 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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Graduation Is Coming: Using Career Services in Your Last Semester

By Valeria Tirado

February 4, 2016

Like many of you, I’m graduating this spring. Unfortunately, I don’t have a job lined up after graduation yet. For some, career opportunities just fall from the sky and into their lap. For most of us, we actually need to reach out to employers, find ones who will value our skillsets and sell them on the idea that we would be well-suited to the careers we seek.

If you don’t have a job lined up yet, don’t panic, but do start thinking about your options and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Most colleges have a career services center whose main purpose is to find employment for the school’s many graduates. From the moment a student enrolls at their choice university, they should be aware that they have been given a resource that far too many devalue as being of little use.

Even if you’ve never set foot into your college’s career services center, now (with graduation so close) is the time to do it. Take advantage of all they have to offer, such as mock interviews, resume building, and career advice.

Career services at my own school are dedicated enough to invite companies to our campus to interview applicants for job openings. They even have the schedules and deadlines for these applications posted on their career services website so that anyone interested can have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with a potential employer.

If your school does this too then be sure to check for on-campus interviews frequently. If you see an employer that interests you, sign up for an interview. You don’t even have to go far since it’s right on campus. What harm can it do?

If you’re graduating this spring, you’ll be happy to learn that your chances of getting hired are higher than they’ve ever been! That’s because many employers want to hire college graduates, or ones graduating in 3 months or less, rather than people who still have many months/years of school left (unless it’s an internship) so that they can work full-time.

Once you get that degree, you become a lot more employable; since you’re in your last semester, you practically have your degree in the eyes of most employers so be sure to mention when you’re graduating in your interview.

Also be sure to pay your advisor a few visits in these last months. You should thank them for all the help they’ve probably given you and they will probably have some good last words of advice. They’ve also probably got the scoop on some good job openings and have good connections that they’d be willing to share with you.

Personally, my advisor has been great to me and even gave me a list of employers that graduates in my major have gone on to work for in recent years. You should definitely ask your advisor if they have something similar, or at least what the job prospects have been for people in your major.

With the help of my advisor, and career services, I’m not really worried about not finding a job. What really helps is having a positive mindset and being proactive.

Don’t expect career services or your advisor to do all the work when it comes to finding you a job. In the words of the famous Jerry Maguire, “help [them] help you.” (It’s also not a bad idea to watch an inspirational movie every now and then.)

Valeria Tirado is a senior at Rutgers University – New Brunswick with a major in Environmental and Business Economics. After graduation, she is interested in working with a non-profit organization like the World Wildlife Fund and eventually wants to go to grad school for Economics. Among the schools she is considering are NYU and Vanderbilt. Valeria can be found on Twitter at @valeriat94.

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Business Tips for Non-Business Majors

By Alina Tang

February 2, 2016

What do you wear to a job interview? How do you politely decline an offer? Should you include your GPA in your resume? These are common questions that many college students—not just business majors—are confronted with as they navigate through internships, corporate dinners, and networking events.

How to Conduct Yourself in Public

Whether it’s eating dinner with your friend’s parents, or giving a formal presentation in class, the way you present yourself is incredibly important. My best advice in these kinds of situations is to simply be self-aware. Be conscientious of how you look, how you talk, and how you make eye contact with people. If you’ve been told before that you mumble, speak up. If you have a tendency to slouch, keep your back straight.

They key here is to exude confidence, and a majority of that comes from strong body language.

How to Write Professional Emails

Many professional writings tips can be found online: cover letters, interview requests, thank-you notes—you name it, and there’s probably a template out there to guide you. However, no matter what resource you end up using, you should always try to be as authentic and straightforward as possible. People don’t have time to read through long paragraphs, but they can also detect the difference between an email that’s copied and pasted and one that’s thoughtfully written.

For instance, you can thank an interviewer in only a few sentences, but each sentence should be meaningful. Reference the conversation you had and bring up a tidbit that really caught your attention. 

How to Interact with Other People

If you’re starting a new internship or job, chances are you’ll probably be working closely with other people.  Luckily, as a college student, you actually have many opportunities to practice your interpersonal skills because you’re practically doing it every day. Take advantage of group projects in class to expose yourself to different kinds of personalities and better understand how YOU function in a team setting. Soon, you will see patterns that will help you become a better team player.

For instance, if you notice that you have a Type A personality that can rub people the wrong way, you should make an effort to ask people for their input more often. If you know that you like to procrastinate,  invite a teammate to keep you accountable or write down due dates a week before the actual deadline. These small steps will certainly make a huge difference in the workplace.

How to Deal with Good News and Bad News

Sometimes you get lucky and land the only job you applied for, and sometimes, you don’t even get a first-round interview for 10 different positions. That’s just how life is. At some point, everyone must deal with rejection, but the important takeaway is to realize that you are improving with each time you put yourself out there.

If you receive an email that says the company has moved forward with other candidates, don’t take it too personally. These decisions can come down to the smallest details, but they are out of your control, so don’t dwell on it.

On the other hand, if things go your way, great! You can celebrate the good news, but don’t gloat about it too much either. Stay hungry, but also stay humble!

How to Go the Extra Mile

The best advice I can give when it comes to business tips is to always give 110%. What this means is you should do things that will set you apart from the crowd and leave very strong impressions. For my resume, I like to spend a little extra money and print copies on thicker, sturdier paper. For papers and projects, I usually add a simple but elegant cover sheet. For office hours, I always make sure to arrive a few minutes early, with questions ready for the professor and a notebook in hand. These habits can also be applied in the job world.

One thing that is becoming increasingly important is being able to market yourself. With social networks like Facebook and Instagram taking over, having a strong online presence can be particularly helpful. Right now I am working on making a personal website that will consolidate all my blogs, case studies, and past internship work. Although it is a lot of extra work, I think it’s a great way to show companies a window into my personality beyond what’s written on my resume.

Hopefully these tips give you a better idea of how to thrive in different environments and situations. The bottom line is to be very honest with yourself and understand your unique habits, quirks, and personality. If you can capitalize on your strengths and work on your weaknesses, you will be happier and more successful not only in the workplace, but also in life.

Alina Tang will graduate from USC in 2016. She is majoring in business administration and plans to work in the Management Development Program at Mondelez International and gain more experience in global marketing.


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Make the Most of Your Time at Community College

By Valeria Tirado

February 1, 2016

I don’t know about you, but I know a ton of people who decided to spend their first two years of college at a community college and then transferred to a four-year school to finish their degree. It seems to be a popular trend these days and with good reason.

One of the biggest reasons is that community college tends to be a lot cheaper than a four-year school. Two years spent at a community college can save you a lot of money! Now, just because community college is temporary and you won’t be getting your Bachelor’s degree there doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time to take advantage of what they can offer.

Knock out your basic courses

Most four-year colleges have about two years’ worth of general requirement classes that they make all students, regardless of their major, take. Most four-year colleges will also transfer credits from other colleges for these basic courses. Yes, that includes community college.

If you know what you want to major in, check out the classes your desired school will make you take for that major. If you find that almost half of them are basic courses, you may want to think about doing those at a community college first and then transferring over.

Make sure to take all factors into consideration. If you’re on a budget, and perhaps unsure of what you want to major in, then definitely consider doing community college first because not only will it save you money, but it will also give you some time to think about what you want to get a degree in.

Get involved

Community colleges aren’t so different from four-year colleges when it comes to extracurriculars. They have clubs, honor societies, special events, career services, and so much more; just like four-year colleges! If you do go to community college, make sure to take advantage of these organizations.

Any clubs/honor societies that you join will make your time there more enjoyable, and they may even offer those same ones at the four-year college you’ll be transferring to later on. Career services can not only help you get a job, but also help you decide what school to transfer to and even with what you may want to do later on after you get your Bachelor’s.

Time spent at any type of college is not a waste of your time because it all contributes to your education and life experience.

Network/Make friends

Making friends is a pretty obvious one because friends always make school more enjoyable. Don’t think that just because you’re out of there in two years you shouldn’t make friends. They say that you meet your best friends for life in college, and that doesn’t exclude community college.

Most people you meet will probably have the same goal of transferring to a four-year college later on. That’s something you can bond over and support each other through. Trust me, you don’t want to go through college alone!

Networking is also a great idea, especially with professors. I’ve known many professors that not only teach at a four-year college, but teach at a community college as well. Some may only teach part-time at a community college and have very interesting careers outside of there. These professors are usually more than willing to help you when it comes to talking about college or career advice. You never know until you ask!

I have met a surprisingly large amount of people who don’t think going to community college is a good idea because it’s not “as good” as a four-year college. To be honest, especially when it comes to the basic courses, community college offers about the same kind of education you’ll get at your average, much more expensive, four-year college. Plus, community college offers a lot of the things that a four-year college does.

It’s not for everybody but it’s definitely something to think about. Just don’t think that you shouldn’t get involved in anything just because you’ll only be there temporarily. In fact, you should make the most of the little time you have there because I guarantee you’ll miss it when it’s over!

Valeria Tirado is a senior at Rutgers University – New Brunswick with a major in Environmental and Business Economics. After graduation, she is interested in working with a non-profit organization like the World Wildlife Fund and eventually wants to go to grad school for Economics. Among the schools she is considering are NYU and Vanderbilt. Valeria can be found on Twitter at @valeriat94.

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Wise Words: Cher

“Until you’re ready to look foolish, you’ll never have the possibility of being great.” - Cher

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Service During School

By Grace Chow

January 11, 2016

It can be very easy to get caught up in your own bubble once college starts and school work and extracurriculars become seemingly too much to handle. Often, we focus so much on ourselves that we fail to realize that there is still a community around us. So, how about making a resolution to give back this New Year?

For the coming semester, take a look around your campus and see what kinds of opportunities are available for students. For me, I enjoy teaching and tutoring other students in my area. That is why I am a member of MoneyThink Tutoring where I go to a neighboring high school to teach financial literacy to students in grades ninth through twelfth.

Outside teaching to the curriculum given by the national organization, simply your presence is a help to kids around your age who are in the same position that you were a couple of years ago. Being there for other students about to enter the college search and application journey as you did is an enriching experience where you are able to be more than a tutor, but a mentor and friend.

Through peer support, you are making a difference that is perceivable when you are able to guide a student through their worries and questions, alleviating doubts and problems throughout the process. For me, I have gained valuable insight about the material that I teach and the people whom I interact with.

What’s more, volunteering is also a way to boost your resume and gain more on-the-job experience. When it comes time to interview with a potential employer, referencing your tutoring experience and the time commitment and dedication needed is a sure way to support your claims during an interview.

Volunteering my time during my school year has augmented my college experience. It has enabled me to see a different side of my community and the challenges that some students face. Not only is the time that I put in a good stress relief, but it is a way for me to uphold the ideals of social teaching by representing my University proudly in my community.

Grace Chow is majoring in finance and sociology at the University of Notre Dame. After she graduates in 2018, Grace plans to go into investment banking. She dreams of starting a non profit someday.

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