Career Lab Virtual Campus Forté Foundation

How Some Oreos Inspired My Career Dreams

By Alina Tang

April 1, 2015

When I first entered college, I had never heard of Mondelez International. I had no idea that it recently branched off Kraft Foods, that it employs more than 105,000 people globally, and that it is one of the world’s leading snack companies (#1 in biscuits, chocolate, candy and powdered beverages; and #2 in gum and coffee).

But today, Mondelez International has easily become my dream company to work for, not only because of its unique work environment and corporate culture, but because it has inspired me to pursue global marketing as a future career. And it’s all because of a certain Chief Marketing Officer by the name of Haiyan Wang.

I first met Haiyan when my Global Leadership Program organized a company visit to Mondelez International’s Shanghai office. Nicknamed the marketing guru of her team, Haiyan explained how she successfully launched the Oreo cookie in China.

Because Chinese consumers have very different snack preferences from Western ones, many changes were made to fit local tastes, including lowering the sweetness level, altering the packaging, and varying the sizes, shapes, and colors.

After a long year of experiments and tests, Haiyan and her team finally settled on the perfect recipe, and the Oreo became a hit. From taking time to understand what the locals want, to actually implementing the marketing strategies, this entire process was fascinating to me because it demonstrated that even the boldest and strangest ideas can materialize into an amazing reality—like the Green Tea Oreo!

Ever since hearing Haiyan’s inspirational Oreo story, I have not stopped thinking about her drive to build a global brand, and how much I would love to head my own promotional campaign.

Shortly after coming back from the trip, I applied to the subsequent GLP Summer internship and was lucky enough to land a marketing position with Multipure Drinking Water Systems in Shanghai! For two months, I conducted industry research on different product categories, created a drinking water habits survey for locals, and finally, developed a go-to market plan to introduce U.S. made water filters to Asian markets.

Even though I do not necessarily have an interest in water filters, my hands-on experience with Multipure only further solidified my desire to pursue global marketing.

Someday, I hope to use what I’ve learned from Mondelez and Multipure to dive into industries that I’m passionate about, such as food, fashion, and entertainment, but on the international level.

As the world becomes more interconnected and interdependent, it is crucial to be able to understand how people conduct business across different cultures. Because I enjoy human interaction and following international trade, I would love to launch popular American products in foreign countries and vice versa.

To me, the build-up of a project on a global scale is incredibly exciting. I bet every time Haiyan walks into a Walmart or any kind of Chinese supermarket, she can see all her hard work come to life in the stacks of Oreos on grocery aisles and kiosks. There’s nothing like looking at a final product and thinking, “Wow, that was me. I did that.”

My dream is to strengthen my global business acumen and skillset, so that I can be the chief marketing officer of a multinational company, just like Haiyan. The combination of her sharpness, charisma, and understanding of international markets is extremely inspirational to me, and I believe it is the reason she has become so successful.

I can only hope that one day, I will be known as a marketing guru just like her.

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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The Path to Internships

By Valeria Tirado

March 31, 2015

As a college student, you’ve probably heard the word “internship” so many times you’re sick of it. You may be wondering: are they really worth all the hype? The answer is—absolutely!

Internships can be amazingly useful boons to a person looking to get ahead in the business of their choosing. You also gain valuable experience, plus some internships are even paid! So where do you find these internships? The answers can be found in places you may not have even thought of before.

The internet, specifically social media, provides many opportunities for internships. Social media has connected people in such an intricate way that face-to-face networking almost seems trivial. Send out a tweet, enter a post on Facebook, or troll through any of your various other accounts and you can find yourself connected to any number of possible internships.

Not only will all of your friends see the message and possibly hook you up with someone who can help, but if you post on the right hashtag you can have entire communities helping you get in touch with the people who can help you best. Also be sure to follow/friend all the right people and keep up with them, which I think is the equivalent of face-to-face networking.

Specific sites are also valuable tools for getting internships. Monster.com may be known for its job ads, but did you know that there are internships advertised there too? By just typing the word “intern” into the search bar I was able to pull up an entire page of results for businesses looking to bring an intern into the fold.

The best part is monster.com is only one of many job finding web sites to have sprung up over the last few years, each with a plethora of results and contacts for a person willing to use these channels to find internships in their chosen field. Many sites let you get very specific with what you’re looking for and let you filter out things you’re not interested in. Pretty sweet, huh?

The last thing I’m going to mention is career fairs. While the internet plays a vital part in our lives today, meeting people in person is not yet obsolete. It’s very rare to land a job/internship without at least one interview, and the reason for that is because meeting someone in person can give you much more insight on them than just meeting them online.

There are usually dozens of companies at job fairs and they’re not just looking for employees, but usually interns as well. If you can make a good impression on an employer at a job fair then you’re probably going to get a call back. Never underestimate the power of first impressions!

The internet is an amazing invention full of various resources for a person willing to seek them out, but meeting employers in person can also do wonders. Good luck in your internship hunting!

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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Using Spring Break to Your Advantage

By Kaitlyn Lannan

March 30, 2015

After a long and cold winter filled with hard classes and a busy schedule, spring break can seem like an opportunity to sit around and do nothing for a week or two. However, you can use this time to your advantage and even use it to maximize your career prospects for after graduation.

If you are planning on having a “stay-cation” during this year’s spring break, take a look at these tips.

Schedule any interviews that you may have during spring break.

Spring break is a great time to solidify either your summer plans or your post-graduation plans. Having interviews this week will allow you to focus on preparing for them without the distraction of classes or homework. 

Search for job opportunities if you don’t have any prospects.

If you didn’t have time to search for jobs or internships while at school, spring break can be a great time to do so. Create an Excel spreadsheet with the due dates of your applications to keep track of them, and you can apply for 10-15 positions within one week.

Take some time to relax.

Your schedule while at school is probably packed, so using spring break to de-stress can actually be productive. It will help you to get ready for the upcoming spring academic season.

If you feel like it, you can even take a look at some of your work that you will have when you get back to school!

Ask your parents or mentors for career advice.

Mention what career areas you are interested in, and see if they know of any available opportunities. You might be surprised with their connections!

Using spring break to advance your career, in addition to relaxing. Use your precious time wisely!

Kaitlyn Lannan is a junior at Northwestern University. She is majoring in economics and communication studies and plans on attending business school in the future. Her dream job is becoming the Chief Marketing Officer at a Fortune 500 company. You can find Kaitlyn on Twitter at @KaitlynLannan.

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Cold Networking with LinkedIn

By Imani Nichols

March 27, 2015

Cold calling is when someone calls another person who did not ask to be contacted. Cold networking is reaching out to people online, and these are people that you don’t know. I prefer to cold network using LinkedIn.

LinkedIn allows me to have access to professionals in different networks. I rely on cold networking A LOT, and I’ve been successful. It’s easy, and anyone with a LinkedIn account can do it.

MAKE YOUR INVITE STAND OUT

When sending an invite message, provide your name, position, school/company, and what experiences that person has had that you’d like to know more about. Acknowledge any common networks you share such as college, Greek affiliations, or other memberships. Thank them for considering your request.

Don’t fret if your invite isn’t accepted. This will happen. Don’t take it personally. Move on to another individual until you get accepted invitations.

THANK AND FOLLOW UP

If your invite is accepted, send a follow up email thanking the individual for accepting your invite. Now, you have some options. You can either 1) set up a phone/video call with the individual or 2) send them a (short) list of questions you have.

To decide which option is best, simply ask the individual which is easier for them.

If the individual doesn’t respond to your follow up email, wait a few weeks and send another follow up email. Now, you don’t want to be a pest, just be persistent. After sending a second follow up email, and not receiving a response, start reaching out to other individuals that are of interest. Again, don’t take this personally.

MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR DISCUSSION

After you have determined how you will gather information from the individual (phone/video call or email), know exactly what you want to ask them. Remember, this is cold networking, so you contacted this individual, they didn’t contact you.

It’s important that you are considerate of their time and you ask thoughtful questions.

I keep a list of questions saved on my computer so that I don’t have to think of questions for each situation. The questions are usually tailored to specific careers. For instance, I have a list of questions for management consultants, but this list of questions is different from those I would ask marketing analysts at consumer goods companies.

It may be intimidating to contact professionals that you don’t know, but LinkedIn provides the opportunity for you to build your network, so don’t be afraid to.

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.

Photograph by Nan Palmero.

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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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Keep Focus Each Semester

By Imani Nichols

March 25, 2015

Before the beginning of each school year, I make a list of activities I want to get involved in for the upcoming school year. I divide the list into two parts: fall semester and spring semester. Once the fall semester is nearing a close, I revisit this list and I identify opportunities that I’m currently involved in that I want to discontinue into the spring semester. I call this my exit/entry strategy.

The idea behind the exit/entry strategy is to have a bird’s eye view of potential opportunities. With this birds eye view, I can better manage time and energy commitments.

A lot of the opportunities on my entry strategy are similar. For example, I’m interested in management consulting post-grad, so I have different consulting opportunities in my entry strategy. There’s always a chance that I won’t get an opportunity that I want, so it’s important to have viable alternatives.

A second element of my entry strategy is color-coding opportunities according to the level of involvement required. For example, opportunities where I can lead are highlighted in yellow, while opportunities for me to only participate are highlighted in blue. It’s important to have a balance between leadership and participatory positions because you want to avoid getting burned out.

The exit strategy is a little simpler. At the end of each semester, I revisit my exit/entry strategy and determine which opportunities were not good fits for me. I highlight these opportunities, and I don’t continue them into the following semester.

The exit/entry strategy is intended to keep you focused on your prospective opportunities and weigh which responsibilities you’re comfortable with. 

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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Blunt Professors, Rowdy Students, and Eccentric Rules: How School Abroad is Different

By Alina Tang

March 13, 2015

After two months of attending Universidad Carlos III in Madrid, I’ve adapted to the way school works here better than I ever anticipated. Originally, I was concerned that the notoriously lax and laid-back manner of Spaniards (ex. siestas, tardiness, etc.) would drive me crazy, but now I have actually come to embrace it.

From my observations, the Spanish are indeed more flexible and stress-free, but they are also incredibly encouraging of differences in views when it comes to office hours, class discussions, and group work.

Firstly, professors act much more straightforward and will not hesitate to challenge you.

I remember the first time I went to one of my professor’s office hours, I told her my interpretation of a reading, and before I even finished, she interrupted me to say “You’re wrong.” At the time, I was totally caught off guard, but I soon discovered that this blunt line is a common recurrence.

Now that I’m used to it, I actually appreciate when professors let me know that I’m off base because it makes me re-evaluate my thinking. In the U.S., I hear professors say things like “I see where you’re coming from, but…” or “What you say is true, but…” all the time. While this is perhaps less harsh, it can sometimes be misleading and confusing.

Moreover, when a Spanish professor tells you that you’re wrong, they’re not completely discarding your opinion. I’ve finally realized that by disagreeing with me, they’re actually inviting me to elaborate on my opinion and challenging me to further defend my position.

The bluntness of professors also spills into the classroom, where everyone is encouraged to not only participate, but have their own personal opinion. In every single one of my lectures, students are cold called. But not in a way that intimidates them—rather, a way that makes them feel like their views are highly valued.

For instance, my TV studies professor consistently invites people to explain why a show is their favorite and persuade the rest of us to watch it. One time, she even had us do a creative activity where we each wrote down a title and description of a pretend TV show and then the class voted on the most compelling one.

From this exercise, we learned that everyone has different preferences, interests, and experiences, which translates to the wide variety of programs we see on television.

Last but not least is the encouragement of diversity in group projects. My advertising professor made a rule that each group of four has to have representatives of at least two different nations. I thought this requirement was really interesting, but I’m glad she imposed it because otherwise, I probably would have stuck with people I already knew, like my roommates and friends from USC.

I ended up working with two Spaniards, and learned quite a bit about how the Spanish respond to different techniques of advertising. After our presentation, we even celebrated by going out to eat tapas together. Crazy to think I never would have gotten this amazing opportunity to become friends with them had it not been for my professor’s rule!

Overall, I would say that there are a few things about another country’s education system that might initially come as a surprise/irritation/frustration. However, if you keep an open mind, you will soon find yourself getting comfortable with these new customs.

After I accepted the fact that my professors were going to start class late and my fellow classmates were going to be rowdy and talkative during lectures, it became a lot more enjoyable, even entertaining, to go to class. If anything, I’ve learned that the best way to come to terms with these changes is to just go with the flow. You’ll be surprised where it takes you!

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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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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