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Make Time To Say Thank You, Take Time To Recharge

By Nicole Chacin

May 19, 2015

As the school year comes to a close, I am taking the time to say thank you. What an immense privilege to write for my peers on subjects that affect our lives as female aspiring business leaders this year and last! It has been an exciting journey that has allowed me to challenge stereotypes, search for concrete answers, and understand history’s perspective on female professionals in the world.

This investigative, inspiring journey was made possible through the support of the Forté network, which today is more than 65,000 women strong. Special thank you to my innovative internship advisors Bianca, Mariska, and Suzannah, as well as to my colleague Julianne for their guiding words and continued support.

The personalities I have studied and have been delighted to share with you are examples of exemplary female leaders who span from the 1900s to the 21st century, they were hard working, determined, and had a vision they wanted to live out much like the women of Forté.

These women whose accomplishments seem larger than life all had a starting point (small or large) in their education or career that set them on a trajectory for success. Consistent efforts and focused vision established their name and leadership style.

One of the prominent similarities I have noticed between all of these diverse women is the emphasis they placed on one or a combination of mental, physical, spiritual, and social rejuvenation. If you look closely, note how these women took time to find their voice amidst the clutter of life. With a million and one things to do, they set aside time, even if sparsely, to look inward, to be alone, to embrace the loud silence and refill themselves after emptying so much of themselves for others, in their work, and in their social spheres.

Much like a battery, it is not possible to recharge if there is no outlet, no outside energy source. I hope you are taking time to find your voice amidst the noise of outside forces, so that not only can good things come your way, but good things can also flow through you as a result.

As you approach the exciting summer months, consider where and when you will recharge and what resources you may need to do that effectively.

Taking a break is very different from recharging. Sometimes you really need a change of scenery, or to make a point to unplug electronics and engage in an person conversation; these are some of the healthiest ways to recharge.

These actions collectively will lead to a healthier you, a more effective channel through which all of your intentions and goals can be met. So as you look inwards, please do not forget close friends, family, mentors, and even your spiritual community who can partner with you in your efforts to rejuvenate.

For those unsure of where to start, my belief is that no step is too small. On a personal note, I take 10 minutes each week to reflect and make a mental Ven diagram of my progress. I designate the left column all the things I am grateful for and the right column all the things that need work. In the middle, I place the overlapping items that I am grateful for that still need work, whether that be skills, studies, work, or relationships. This is a great exercise for self-examination and can inspire other small steps that can be both informative and healing.

So as we close the academic school year, I urge you to take time to say thank you to those you met along the journey, pat yourself on the back, and proactively plan ahead for a summer in which you can actively choose how you will recharge before the next journey, whether it be another school year, internship, job, or volunteer experience.

Take charge of the next steps and let your unique voice be strengthened.

Nicole Chacin is a Chicago native and student at the George Washington University where she studies business administration. Nicole aims to obtain a dual masters degree in Law and Business Administration by 2017 and ultimately dreams of working in health policy and administration.  This is Nicole’s 2nd year writing for Forté as she had the opportunity to learn about the organization through the first Forté C2B Leadership Conference.

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Make the Most of Your Summer

By Valeria Tirado

May 15, 2015

Summer is finally here. Well, almost. Many of us are in our last weeks of school and I’m sure we’re all excited to finally have a break from college. I know I am!

I’m sure a lot of you already have plans for the summer, but if you’re like me and just like to go with the flow then you might not be sure what you’re doing yet. Not to worry—I have compiled a list of just some of the dozens of things you can do this summer!

Travel

This one probably goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway. It doesn’t matter if you think you live in the most interesting city in the world, there’s still the whole rest of the world to explore.

This summer, try going somewhere new. Whether it’s to a different continent, country, state, or even just a new city, you’re bound to find something interesting. Try checking travel websites for exclusive student discounts on flights, or get some friends and take a road trip somewhere.

Traveling can be a little pricey, but if you can afford it then definitely do it because it’s awesome.

Catch up with friends and family

Speaking of friends, make sure you take the summer to catch up with good friends from your hometown. See what’s new with everyone’s life and let them know how yours is too. Don’t neglect your family, either, since I’m sure they’re ecstatic to see you after such a long time.

Remember you’re only home for a few months and possibly won’t see them until the next summer. Take advantage of the summer by spending time with your loved ones.

Head to a park

It’s always good to stay active during the summer, but I’m not just talking about going to your town’s park. If you’re into thrill rides and adventure, head to an amusement park!

Look online to see where there’s one near you and ask friends if they want to carpool. If you’re more into water or just want to cool off from the heat, try searching for a nearby water park too. Many parks these days even include both amusement parks and water parks.

If you’re planning on going often, many places offer discounts for buying a season pass. You’re always bound to have lots of fun at parks, no matter which one!

Get artsy

I don’t necessarily mean go paint or draw, I just mean get creative. It may not be everyone’s thing, but I think we all have our own ways of being creative.

If you like to sing, go sing your heart out and maybe seek out nearby karaoke nights. If you like to act, see if there’s a community theater you can participate in. If you like to paint or draw, go buy some supplies and get to work; maybe there’s even an art show to display your work at!

Personally, I like expressing myself through music and love playing instruments, particularly the drums. If you like music too, pick an instrument up and start learning. Try finding others who share your interests too!

I hope these ideas help you figure out what to do with your summer. If anything, just be glad you don’t have to deal with school again until September. If you’re taking summer classes, don’t forget to make time for having fun! Happy summer everyone!

Valeria Tirado is a junior at Rutgers University – New Brunswick with a major in Environmental and Business Economics and an Anthropology minor. She plans to get a Master’s from Rutgers in Food and Business Economics and attend NYU Stern for Economics after graduation. Valeria is the captain of her intramural volleyball team and can be found on Twitter at @valeriat94.

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How Can You Deal with Ignorance?

By Imani Nichols

April 9, 2015

An unfortunate reality of life is that you will face discrimination, especially in regards to (but not limited to) the color of your skin, your gender, and/or your sexual orientation.

As a black female, I experience discrimination in regards to my skin color or gender fairly frequently, but it doesn’t bother me. I’m not saying that discriminatory happenings don’t induce an eye roll or head shake from me, especially in professional settings, but that’s all these happenings get—an eye roll or a head shake.

If you’re discriminated against for factors out of your control and if the discrimination bothers you, I want to share some personal truths about navigating ignorance. These truths can be applied to both personal and professional settings.

What’s crucial to successfully navigating ignorance is understanding that you are not wrong for being you, especially for characteristics that you did not choose. It’s also important to know that everyone you come in contact with is NOT racist, sexist, homophobic, or a practitioner of another type of ignorance. If you experience discrimination regularly, it may often feel like everyone around you wants to discriminate against you, but that isn’t the case.

This next insight is one that I’m learning to master as I get older. This insight is to simply let it go.

Although comments or gestures may be made to insult you, it’s most advantageous to yourself to not hold onto it. I’m not saying develop amnesia, but don’t let discriminatory incidents get under your skin to the point that they affect your sleeping and eating habits.

Think it about it this way, while you’re upset for an extended period of time, the person that offended you isn’t thinking about what he/she said or did. See the unbalance?

Ignorance is a part of life, but it’s only as big of a part as you make it.

Imani Nichols is a student at University of Virginia graduating in 2017. She is considering Media Studies or American Studies as her major. After college, Imani plans to consult for a management consulting firm in Chicago and earn an MBA. She enjoys Forté webinars and working out.

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Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

By Nicole Chacin

March 26, 2015

Released in 2013, Lean In made the New York Time’s nonfiction best-seller list, inspired a movement of “lean in” book clubs and discussion in and outside the workplace, and is a perfectly inspiring and personal account of one woman’s tremendous accomplishments in the corporate world. 

Sheryl Sandberg is perhaps one of the most vocal women in the tech/business world. Before becoming Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, where Sandberg gets to meet with heads of state, executives from top companies, all while managing a key instrumental arm in the company, Sandberg was no stranger to Silicon Valley or the policies and procedures of government having served as Chief of Staff for the United States Secretary of the Treasury.

Ranked as one of Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, it is a little wonder Sandberg had time to write Lean In.

In Lean In, Sandberg examines why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has not been as widespread as it has been historically for men. One by one, Sandberg tackles the root causes for this lack of widespread female leadership in the boardroom and in executive positions while offering compelling, common sense solutions to empower women from all walks of life to achieve their full potential.

Personable and realistic, her advice hits home for a lot of young women who often question if they will be able to balance work and family in the future should they choose to pursue competitive positions in business.

“Its time to cheer on girls and women who want to sit at the table.”

In the light of the fact that within the past 30 years women have become 50% percent of the graduates in the United States, one would assume gaining more boardroom positions is only a natural progression. Yet Lean In exposes how we do not see more women climbing the ladder in corporate America as one would expect.

Lean In is a part of the growing trend of women speaking to not only change perspectives and perceptions of women and girls today, but a movement to give women the resources and confidence they need to assume the leadership responsibilities and success they were always capable of.

“We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in.”

I hope that you enjoy this read and gain more insight, inspiration, and drive to pursue your dreams.

Nicole Chacin is a Chicago native and student at the George Washington University where she studies business administration. Nicole aims to obtain a dual masters degree in Law and Business Administration by 2017 and ultimately dreams of working in health policy and administration.  This is Nicole’s 2nd year writing for Forté as she had the opportunity to learn about the organization through the first Forté C2B Leadership Conference.

 

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Midsemester Friends: The Best Kind of Pals

By Valeria Tirado

March 10, 2015

With the middle of the semester here and midterms finally over, we can finally take a moment to sit back and relax. Go ahead, you earned it!

What’s that though? You spent so much time being a diligent, hard-working student that you find yourself in the unfortunate circumstances of being a loner girl on a campus large enough that you feel like just another face in the crowd?

FIND BUDDIES THROUGH STUDIES

Your school likely provides this either as an institution-provided service or in the form of a student-led club or group and they are certainly worth the time. Meet friends and simultaneously prepare yourself for any leftover midterms or exams you have coming up.

This can’t be a bad idea—if for some reason you don’t at least become acquaintances with others in the study group then you still come away ahead, having gotten a likely much needed refresher course in your studies.

PARTY HEARTY

Cliché, I know, but there are always mixers going on at college, school sanctioned get-togethers and social clubs that are more than happy to have another person along for whatever function they’re having. You’ll find yourself amongst fast friends in no time.

If you’re lucky enough to stumble onto a party independent of school, thrown by a frat or sorority say, that’s even better. Just remember to be yourself and have fun and fast friends are sure to be found. Silly as it sounds, you’re all in the same boat as college students and so social interaction with strangers is as hard for others as it is for you. Grit your teeth and bear the awkward moments and you’ll find common interests abound.

CONNECT WITH YOUR CAMPUS

I’m cheating a little bit with this one, as it is something that you should do year-round, not just during the mid-semester crunch—volunteer to better your campus. Whether you do this through joining a group dedicated to the betterment of your college or start a group on your own, it’s a guaranteed way of expanding your social circle and looks good on your resume.

Organizations that seek to help your campus with a cause are unique in that they attract certain types of people to them—outgoing, enthusiastic, and most of all, exceptionally nice. (They’d have to be in order to sacrifice time they could otherwise spend partying or studying to helping improve their school.)

These are ideal people to meet with because they are most likely to be open and friendly, and since you’ll be working with them for whatever reason then a rapport is bound to start up eventually.

So there you have it, a veritable buffet of choices for how to go about expanding your circle of friends for those of you who have few and wish for more, and a surefire way to entertain yourself for those of you who wish to find distractions during your midterm break. As always I hoped I’ve helped a few of you. As for me, I’m off to my study group to have a few laughs and hopefully learn something to guarantee me at least a B on my next exam. Now go on and make some friends, you!

Valeria Tirado is a junior at Rutgers University – New Brunswick with a major in Environmental and Business Economics and an Anthropology minor. She plans to get a Master’s from Rutgers in Food and Business Economics and attend NYU Stern for Economics after graduation. Valeria is the captain of her intramural volleyball team and can be found on Twitter at @valeriat94.

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Spring Break on a Budget

By Valeria Tirado

February 12, 2015

Tuition, dorming, food, textbooks, transportation… The list of expenses that a college student has is endless. With spring break coming up, having no money can be especially frustrating since people around you may be talking about their plans to go to Cancun and having lots of fun for a week. Meanwhile, you’ve got no plans. Why not? Because you’re broke?

I used to think that I couldn’t do anything fun on spring break either, but it turns out there are a few things that are both fun and cheap!

Take A Road Trip and Be A Tourist

Most people don’t live too far from places that could be considered tourist landmarks. Pretend you’re a tourist and visit them! If there are some interesting sites, like museums, in your town then great, you don’t even have to travel.

If you’ve already visited everything in your town and know of some in other towns, try taking a short road trip to them instead. Grab some friends and pitch in for gas to make it cheaper, or just use public transportation.

Go Outside

If you don’t feel like travelling then that’s fine—why not just go to a local park instead and play some sports? A lot of people in my town like to play soccer or volleyball during spring break. You’re not the only one who can’t afford to go far for spring break so it won’t be hard to find people to join you in whatever you want to do.

If you’re not really into sports, even just enjoying the scenery at the park can be fun if you’re with the right people. The point of being on break is to relax, and that’s easy to do when you’re surrounded by nature.

Volunteer

This was a pretty obvious one to put on the list. I can’t think of a better, inexpensive way to spend my spring break than spending it by helping people. If you’ve ever done community service then you know how great it feels to help someone in need. While we’re trying to find ways to spend spring break, others are worrying about where their next meal is coming from.

Go to your local soup kitchen and help serve meals to homeless people. Go to a nearby elderly home and spend time with people who may be feeling lonely. Go read to children whose parents may not have time to read to them. The possibilities are endless—check with your local community center to see if there are any opportunities available for you!

Catch Up With Family and Old Friends

College takes up a lot of time and you may not see some people as often as you’d like, especially if you dorm. Take some time during your spring break to spend it with the people who really matter.

Your parents and siblings probably really missed you so be sure to spend some time with them. If you have any hometown friends you haven’t seen in a while, ask if they want to hang out and rekindle an old friendship. You won’t have much time to hang out once you’re back to school, so take advantage of it during your week off.

However you decide to spend your spring break, just remember that this is your break so make sure you have fun and make the most of it!

Valeria Tirado is a junior at Rutgers University – New Brunswick with a major in Environmental and Business Economics and an Anthropology minor. She plans to get a Master’s from Rutgers in Food and Business Economics and attend NYU Stern for Economics after graduation. Valeria is the captain of her intramural volleyball team and can be found on Twitter at @valeriat94.

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How I Plan to Graduate From College Debt Free

By Imani Nichols

February 4, 2015

In our challenging economy, graduating debt free isn’t on the mind of the average college student. Instead, the average college student is thinking about which loans she qualifies for.

As a student from a low-income household, debt is not unfamiliar to me. It is because of this familiarity that I became terrified of accumulating debt – especially in regards to my undergraduate experience. As a junior in high school, I confidently decided that I was going to earn my undergraduate degree without debt.

This was my first step in graduating debt free – making it a goal. This first step, and the rest of the tips I’m going to share in this post are just that – tips. I have no surefire, one-size-fits-all strategy for graduating debt free. As a matter of fact, as of this writing, I’m still enrolled in college and I don’t know what the next few years hold, but I am determined to graduate debt free.

I’m currently a sophomore in college, and I haven’t accumulated any debt. I will share some of the things I’ve learned on my path to graduating debt free.

This path starts in high school. In high school, I prepared by doing the following:

  1. Enrolled in dual enrollment courses and/or AP courses (This made me a competitive candidate in the college application process. For some schools, these credits transferred and counted towards my Bachelor’s degree. For some schools, I was eligible to graduate early.)
  2. Applied to as many scholarships as possible – local, statewide, national, and international
  3. Applied to colleges with generous, loan-free financial aid packages
  4. Applied to colleges where I exceeded the SAT scores or GPAs of the average student, so that I could qualify for large, merit-based scholarships
  5. Considered attending one of my parent’s alma mater’s in order to receive a legacy scholarship (I ended up not applying because the school was way too far for me.)

Once in college, there were more nuggets of knowledge I picked up:

  1. Maximized institutional aid (Colleges offer scholarships to their students at different points in their academic careers, but these scholarships aren’t always advertised well. Some colleges even allow you to request more institutional aid.)
  2. Worked two jobs a semester which wasn’t bad like I thought it would be – with careful planning, it’s doable
  3. Worked every summer and saved as much as possible
  4. Using my summer savings, I paid the balance I owed my school to avoid debt

Graduating debt free takes planning, commitment, and patience. By no means is it easy. It’s often frustrating and scary, but it’s worth it.

If you choose to pursue the path of graduating debt free, be encouraged, as I am on the journey too. If you don’t graduate debt free, don’t be discouraged! Instead, use my experiences to accumulate as little debt as you possibly can, and remember that a college education is worth it. Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself.

Imani Nichols is a student at University of Virginia graduating in 2017. She is considering Media Studies or American Studies as her major. After college, Imani plans to consult for a management consulting firm in Chicago and earn an MBA. She enjoys Forté webinars and working out.

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Be Productive Over the Winter Break (Wait, What?)

December 23, 2014

by Valeria Tirado

Happy holidays! May your break be filled with good will, joy, holiday cheer and, most importantly, productivity in regards to school work! Wait, what?

That’s right! Just because you’re getting drunk off egg nog and holiday spirit, doesn’t mean you can’t use winter break to be at least a little productive.

Winter is a great time to prep a little for the upcoming semester. Not everyone is lucky enough to know what they need to study for classes they haven’t taken yet, but if you do then winter is the time to take advantage of that knowledge, when there’s zero pressure at all.

You should also check to see if your professors have a list of what you need for class (ie. textbooks, calculators, etc.) and try to go buy them if you do. Do everything that needs to be done to ensure you are ready on the first day of the next semester.

Another way I always see people take advantage of their break is by taking an extra class. I thought we were supposed to be on break? Well you are, but a lot of people decide to take classes during winter because 1) they are really short and 2) that means one less class in a future semester.

This is actually what I would be doing if I could afford it because, yes, it is quite expensive, especially when you realize financial aid usually doesn’t cover it. If you have the option, though, I strongly recommend you look into what classes your school may be offering this winter!

Getting a job is always a productive thing to do for college students because it provides us with something we all love: money! It also teaches us a sense of responsibility and gives us work experience (but we only care about the money right?).

That money can be really useful during the semester, from buying textbooks to ordering late night junk food after a tense study sesh. If you can find someone to hire you for just a month then you should definitely consider their offer. Make sure it isn’t too stressful of a job if you’re trying that extra class too.

There is one more way to be productive during winter break, and it is the most important of all: relax. Have a little fun and enjoy the time off, catch up on things you couldn’t enjoy during the school year and catch up with friends and family who you haven’t seen lately.

The purpose of the break is to decompress for the upcoming New Year so take advantage of it while it lasts. Live a little, because you’re only young once after all.

Valeria Tirado is a junior at Rutgers University – New Brunswick with a major in Environmental and Business Economics and an Anthropology minor. She plans to get a Master’s from Rutgers in Food and Business Economics and attend NYU Stern for Economics after graduation. Valeria is the captain of her intramural volleyball team and can be found on Twitter at @valeriat94.

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