Career Lab Virtual Campus Forté Foundation

3 Leadership Styles (and When to Use Them)

November 25, 2014

by Valeria Tirado

When people think of a leader, they tend to think of someone who gives orders and expects his subordinates to follow them; at least, that’s what I thought until I took a college class recently. Little did I know that leadership is not universal, but rather contextual. Below are three particular leadership styles and the kinds of situations that they are best suited for.

1. The first type of leader is the transactional leader.

This style focuses on supervision and organization. They also make decisions themselves and promote compliance of their followers with rewards/punishment. This type of leader was very common a few decades ago, and although it’s been becoming less common nowadays, there are still some situations that would best benefit from a transactional leader.

In the case of a manager, a transactional leadership style is very effective during a crisis since they’ll know how to keep order and give good directions. In general, tasks that require specific tasks to be done are best directed by a transactional leader.

2. The second type of leader is a participative leader, or democratic leadership style.

This leader makes the final decision herself, but asks for the input of those involved along the way. This is a great way to build trust between a leader and their followers since asking for their opinion makes them feel like their opinions matter (which they should) and helps them accept changes better. The biggest example is our own country.

This style is particularly useful when the decision being made affects everyone or when new ideas are needed since you can ask for everyone’s opinion. It is not useful, however, when you need to make a decision fast since all team members may not come to an agreement quickly.

3. The last type of leader is the transformational leader.

This is a fairly new type of leadership style and one that I think a lot of people are trying to adopt today.

A transformational leader differs from a participative leader in that they not only want to hear their followers’ opinions, but they also want to encourage and motivate them. This style depends on high communication and cooperation from both the leader and followers.

This style is good to use in most situations, especially when you want to build strong relationships, but the leader must have proficiency and the followers must be willing to learn.

It’s important to be aware of the different leadership styles there are and to not limit yourself to using just one, since it all depends on the situation. This information will definitely be useful to me and I hope it is to you too when you’re trying to be a leader yourself!

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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Reaching Out to Alumni: Do’s and Don’ts

November 20, 2014

by Alina Tang

When it comes to business, the saying that “it’s not what you know, but who you know” can be especially applicable. So much of recruiting today is based on our connections and the impressions we leave on others. For this reason, it is important to reach out to those who will have your best interest at heart, and oftentimes these are people who share the same alma mater.

At USC, we refer to our alumni network as the “Trojan family” because it’s as if there is a blood oath for students to help, hire, mentor, and generally take care of each other after they graduate. I have heard countless stories in which people are referred to top executives or even hired on the spot because they are a fellow Trojan.

However, it is important to realize that you can’t expect to just land the job based on a one-minute conversation about your mutual love for the school football team. Networking is a two-way street, and students who are willing to go the extra mile will be rewarded.

So what is the extra mile? Let me give you the breakdown of how to connect with alumni the most effectively.

Do’s:

  • Do your research on the alumni so you can prepare good questions.
  • Do your own preparation – have your elevator speech, resume, cover letters, business cards, and note-taking ready at ALL times.
  • Do come in willing to take suggestions and constructive feedback – alumni are going out of their way to help you, so be receptive and respectful!
  • Do jot down notes on the back of the alum’s business cards if there are multiple alumni at one networking event.
  • Do write a thank you note/follow up message after an interview, no matter how informal it is.

Don’ts:

  • Don’t spam alumni networks.
  • Don’t network with alumni randomly – find alumni who align with your field in interest or are connected with you in some manner other than the connection of your university where you and hundreds of thousands of others studied.
  • Don’t add the alumni on LinkedIn/Facebook before meeting them.
  • Don’t blatantly bring up information about the alumni that you found on the internet. (While it’s important to do your research, it crosses the line if you mention someone’s hometown, favorite hobbies, past work experiences, etc. before they even talk about it).
  • Don’t ask for help before building trust – provide something of value first, and then people will be more willing to open up and invest in 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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Success with Strings Attached

November 19, 2014

by Imani Nichols

We all explore different resources that can help you as you define your success. You’ve heard about how good it feels when you set a goal and you achieve it, or maybe exceed it. You’ve heard about the important role mentors play in defining your success.

As part of my college experience, I’m constantly asking myself what I need to do in order to consider myself successful. The two most important parts of defining my success are visualizing my goals and being cognizant of my personal vocabulary.

Although defining my personal success is exciting, there are some things that no one told me, such as:

  1. People will frequently misunderstand you, especially if their definition of success is different than yours.
  2. You can never give 100% of yourself to anything because your interests and time are so diversified and therefore, time-consuming.
  3. As a result, you often feel like you’re forgetting or missing something.
  4. You will often have to choose between having a social life and doing those time-consuming things that will help you define your success.
  5. With big goals, other accomplishments may not be celebrated.
  6. As a result, you’re constantly thinking of what you can do next instead of acknowledging what you’ve already accomplished.
  7. Even when actively seeking them out, mentors are not easy to find.

I haven’t discovered any solutions to these seven realities, but I won’t stop looking. Success is an incredible and fulfilling thing, but, like everything, it comes with strings attached. 

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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Networking Can Start Right From Your Classroom

November 18, 2014

by Valeria Tirado

Friends are a vital part of surviving college and making connections are vital in life. So when I say that making friends with connections in college can make your life several magnitudes easier, know that I’m not overselling things.

Sure, they won’t make taking tests any easier on their own necessarily, but they can provide you with the resources you need to do that all on your own. Even better, they can help you when it really counts: after graduation day.

To me, networking is the process of forging relationships with people that are mutually beneficial in the long run. What better place to start networking than your own classroom? If you’ve been able to get to a stage in a relationship with anyone in your class, be it professor or peer, where you’ve exchanged contact information, congratulations! You’ve just networked.

You’ve forged a relationship that could, at some point, be beneficial to one or both of you. It’s that easy, and it’s an opportunity that only a fool would waste.

“But how do I network?” you ask. It might seem like a daunting task but it’s really not that hard. Like I said, you can even start right from your own classroom!

First, find someone who you wish to network with. It can be anyone, but people with something to offer you, whether it is experience or information is preferred.

Next, you approach the person and strike up a conversation.

Finally, you request that person’s contact information or give them yours and voila, you’ve officially networked as well as any person can. Now, so long as you keep in touch with that person every so often to keep the contact information up to date, you’ve used networking to gain a permanent person to request help from for life!

Those steps aren’t the only paths to proper networking. In fact, there isn’t any path to proper networking. When you’re forced to split into groups in class and give out your information, you’re networking. On the first day of class when you exchange info with your professor, you’re networking. When you’re at a party and you get the number of a cute boy with the tattoo that you know your parents will just hate (but really isn’t that why he’s so attractive in the first place?), you are networking.

So long as that contact info stays up-to-date, you’ve networked successfully and can reap the rewards.

What are those rewards, you ask? Well, flash forward ten years and you need a job. You remember your professor mentioning that he worked in a similar field and he writes recommendations all the time.

Oh, and there’s that girl you were in a group with once who’s working in the same field now. Maybe she knows the best places to apply.

There was that boy with the tattoo you met a party too; well wouldn’t you know he’s the CEO of a major company in the field you’re applying to.

Isn’t it such a small world?

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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Thanksgiving Break and Finals Preparation: A Balancing Act

November 17, 2014

by Stephanie Watkins

It’s been a long semester, and all you can think about is turkey, pumpkin pie, family time, and… final exams?! Unfortunately, Thanksgiving always tends to fall right around finals. While your mind is focused on the much-deserved break and feast that lies before you, final exams remain looming in the distance.

So the million-dollar question becomes: how do you balance relaxation and family time alongside studying?

First, remember that Thanksgiving Break is just that, a break. Don’t put so much pressure on studying that you forget to take a breather and enjoy your time off. Make time for yourself and for your loved ones, catch up on your sleep, and relax.

Regrettably, you can’t be on a “mental vacation” throughout your entire break. Since studying is a necessary evil so to speak, it’s a good idea to have a game plan going in. Decide how much time you want to spend studying over break and then map out a way to get it all done effectively and efficiently.

Maybe it’s easier for you to focus and get work done early in the day, before everyone else is up and going. Or maybe it’s better for you to spend your evenings tucked away with your notes and textbooks, after you’ve had time to visit with everyone. Figure out what time works best for you, come up with a tentative schedule, and make yourself stick to it. 

Prioritizing will be one of the most important aspects of balancing studying over Thanksgiving Break. Given the short length of the break, it will be tough to study for every subject completely. Understand which exams are either the most important or the most difficult for you, and make sure that they get some much-needed attention.

Part of your study schedule should include what you’re studying and how you’re going to study it. Do you have an accounting exam coming up that you’re less-than-prepared for? Maybe plan to spend one day reviewing the textbook and the next doing some practice problems.

Do you need to brush up on some readings that are getting a little fuzzy with time? Plan to go back and make reading notes to review. Having a good understanding of what and how you’re going to study will help you to make the most of your time.

It’s not all about studying when it comes to prioritizing—your loved ones should be a priority as well! Has it been a while since you got to see your best friend from home? Make it a priority to spend time with her/him. Do you have extended family members visiting that you don’t get to see very often? Budget some time to catch up and visit with them.

Schoolwork is important, but don’t forget that your loved ones are too.

Like a lot of things in life, managing your schoolwork and free time over Thanksgiving Break can be a bit of a balancing act. So long as you go in with a tentative game plan and remember to prioritize, you’ll be able to study effectively while still having time for a second round of pumpkin pie.

Stephanie Watkins is a senior at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill graduating in 2015. Her major is in Management and Society and her dream job is to be a marketing and social media consultant which allows her to travel all over the world. Stephanie’s spirit animal is Leslie Knope from Parks and Rec and you can find her on Twitter at @StephanieWatki5.

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Fresh Tips for Success

November 13, 2014

by Imani Nichols

I am approaching the end of the first half of my second year of college and I’ve accumulated five good tips that can contribute to a successful school year.

Before going to Amazon or Chegg, browse Facebook!
I’ve purchased textbooks and other supplies from my school’s “Buying and Selling” Facebook page. In order to join this page, one must have a virginia.edu email address, so I know that the members are affiliated with my school.

I’ve found deals on Facebook that are much better (and easier to bargain) than on any other website.

Make use of an accordion folder.
I have a 10 pocket accordion folder that I reuse each semester. Each class has two pockets in this folder. Of these two pockets, one pocket houses the syllabus and current assignments and the other pocket houses relevant readings.

The accordion folder is a better alternative as compared to carrying around a binder or notebook for each class.

Make use of Post-It Notes.
As I get older, I’ve noticed that I am an increasingly visual person. I’ve been relying on Post-It Notes to help me retain information. More specifically, for my Italian class, I’ve been filling the blank space on my wall with vocabulary and conjugations.

Although I’m using Post-It Notes for Italian, they can easily be used for dates and equations.

Don’t attend all office hours.
Every class won’t call for attending office hours and you just won’t click with some professors, and some professors won’t click with you—and that’s fine. Don’t stress yourself by trying to go to all of your professor’s office hours regularly.

Always keep some note-taking thing with you.
By “thing,” I mean a pad and pen or your smartphone. You never know when you’re going to think of material for your English paper or when you’ll think of questions you have for that upcoming interview.

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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What’s Your Major: Medical Anthropology

November 12, 2014

by Siobhan Bauer

Take a moment a think about what you think it means to study anthropology.

Chances are, like most other people, hearing the word “anthropology” leads you to conjure up images of Indiana Jones scouring ancient ruins for valuable artifacts. Or, maybe you’ve imagined someone studying remote, “tribal” communities, or digging up human bones.

These are traditional assumptions about the field and are the very common responses to the question of what anthropology is. I will admit as well, that prior to beginning undergrad, my answer to that question was quite similar.

The textbook definition is something along the lines of the comparative study of human cultures and societies, and how they develop and adapt to changes around them.

Medical anthropology, a sub-field of the discipline, seeks to understand medical beliefs, knowledge, and practices with an approach that considers the cultural, social, and economic contexts in which they exists. It also acknowledges that illness can have multivariate explanations, and that health is not solely a biomedical phenomenon.

One objectives that prompts a lot of research in the field is to determine the best ways to deliver relevant and effective health care to individuals of all cultural identities. This includes an individual’s gender identity, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.

Medical anthropologists want to understand what makes up the context of a person’s life and how these personal subjectivities can impact health and their ability to access care.

This major allows students to look at the numerous facets of medicine, and encourages students to find that problems that interest them. Whether you want to look at domestic issues, or you are more passionate about global health practices, there is a niche for you in medical anthropology.

There is a lot of criticism, however, toward studying a major in the humanities. I cannot count the number of times that people have suggested to me that I am leading myself into a dead end with bleak career outlooks by choosing this major.

However, I believe that finding career success from your major is all about personal application. Taking initiative and applying skills you learn as an undergrad will always bring you success.

For individuals who are interested in anthropological research or have hopes to teach, career success is usually coupled with an advanced degree in the field. However, for students like myself who are not looking for a future in academia, anthropology is still a great discipline because it supplements other subjects and develops a keen critical outlook and overall cultural awareness.

For example, imagine someone interested in international commerce and trade. If they exposed themselves to anthropology, they could take that knowledge and help their company find the most effective ways to appeal to people in international markets who likely have different cultural values than an American-based company.

Anthropology can provide dimension to all other subjects. And in itself is always pushing to more greatly understand the dynamic human cultures that surround us daily.

Siobhan Bauer will graduate in 2016 from the University of Washington in Medical Anthropology. Siobhan plans to pursue an MBA with a career in health care or hospital management.

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College Philanthropy with Efficiency and Flair in 5 Steps

November 11, 2014

by Nicole Chacin

While meaningful memories of philanthropy may consist of bake sales, hours volunteering at a shelter, and booster-thons growing up, college philanthropy offers the opportunity to expand your impact and reach.

College philanthropy is one of the stronger avenues students can demonstrate their understanding and application of business. By employing the right amount of professionalism, networking, and business skills to their service project, they can prove their competence in a setting that provides practical experience to reference later on in their career. Successfully plan and organize your own business philanthropy with these 5 steps.

1) Choose a Timely Cause

It is important to choose a cause that is appropriate for that time of the year in which you wish to raise awareness or fundraise. More specifically, it is important to understand that most causes, whether it is Breast Cancer remembered in October or Autism Awareness in April for instance, for the most part are already appointed a certain month of the year.

Already established events lends itself well to attracting a strong base of supporters accustomed to acknowledging a certain cause during a certain part of the year.

2) Plan Based on Budget and Resources

Philanthropy is an act of service which should limit using too many funds or resources. At the beginning of the year, it is a good decision to sit down with the individual in charge of your organization’s financing in order to allocate and set a limit so you do not find yourself going over budget or not having enough initial capital to start a project.

If you have a goal in mind of how much you want to spend and there are not enough reserves to cover such expenses, many student organizations start to reach out in various ways. For instance, some petition their campus student association to increase their organization’s budget. Others ask outside organizations, friends, family, and peers for donations in time and money to reach their goal.

Some of the more proactive professional groups create a form letter asking for businesses to donate to their organization by detailing the impact they have and the work their members do which may align with a company’s mission. There is a strong chance that the companies willing to donate are already recruit at your university during career fairs.

3) Spread the Word to the Right Audience

Assigning individuals solely to spread the word about the philanthropy is a great way of dividing work and ensuring effective, targeted communication.

Using weekly newsletters and personalized invitations from the organization’s members to their friends via email is a great cost-effective great way to inform and remind. If the event will take place in a particular school building, you can ask faculty and professors to post a note on their bulletin.

A particularly effective strategy I have used is to ask your professor if five minutes before or after class you could share with classmates a little about the philanthropy. Just think about the audience you will reach if you are able to do this in large lecture halls with students.

Some groups can ask their college radio station to give a shout-out for their philanthropy. Handing out fliers, pamphlets, and reading material of that nature are important, yet in our digital age the less disposal something is, I have found the more permanent it tends to be in our minds and focus.

When I was organizing the Breast Cancer Philanthropy at GW, one of the partners I had the privilege of coordinating with was our Girl’s Varsity Volleyball Team. Their network combined with GW Women in Business reached a broad audience and we even used the scoreboard in the gymnasium at the game to call attention to our organization. Partnering with other organizations can be a way to split costs and gain more attention to a cause.

4) Incentivize Participation

Even those with the best intentions sometimes need an extra push or reason to donate their time, money, or attention to a particular cause. From the worker bees bringing the project to completion to the participants you attract, there needs to a clear understanding of how time spent with your organization for the cause you choose has a meaning and benefit. If you can provide a clear picture by quantifying the impact of your goal once reached, it provides more incentive and gratification.

When I was organizing the Breast Cancer Awareness event, we also partnered with the GW Cancer Institute who generously asked one of their directors to be our keynote speaker to engage participants.

Make sure that if you invite any speaker that you treat them as an honored guest and provide them a proper introduction. A little reading material on who they are and their accomplishments relevant to the event for your guests to peruse is also helpful.

5) Acknowledge Help Received

Appreciation is critical in philanthropic work. Your team will value being acknowledged for their efforts and will be more inclined to repeat such behavior again.

Those who donate, whether they are corporate sponsors or family, friends, or peers will feel confident when you publicize their contributions that their donation is being put to good work. Such publicity only adds credibility. Its is a good idea to prepare a short thank you before and after an event, thank you letters to sponsors, and even a small gift bag with your organization’s memorabilia to give to key note speakers or contributors.

Make sure you take pictures at these events because they can be great marketing tools for your organization and can be sent to your school’s student paper or business school newsletter to document the event – another way to reward your worker bees for their contribution.

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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