Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Deadlines Approaching

The life of an MBA applicant can prove hectic during the approaching holiday season. A number of school's first round deadlines have already passed, others loom on the horizon. So, for those of you taking the GMAT, interviewing, and writing essays--this time of year can seem like you are already back in school taking exams and finishing up class projects.

I hope that when you were making your decisions about where to apply you didn't select your top 10 and then set about to complete as many applications. If so, I may need to come and visit you for a personal intervention or serious pep talk. Our advice at Forte is to pick 3-5 schools. Pick 1-2 stretch schools, 1-2 schools where you are very competitive based on the applicant profile, and a back-up school where you are fairly sure you will be admitted.

Now that we're all on the same page, a couple of tips for making it through the next couple of months.

  • If you haven't already, take the GMAT as soon as possible so that you can move forward with the remaining steps of applying to b-school. Having this test behind you will make the rest of the process go more smoothly.

  • Spend some time in preparation before you start writing or interviewing. Ask yourself the hard questions about why you want an MBA, how will it advance your career, why have you chosen the particular schools on your short list, etc. Make sure you have strong and valid reasons that you can share through your essays and campus interviews.

  • For tips on application essays and interviewing, refer back to earlier entries in this blog. Also, check out the Getting Your MBA section on Forte's web site. The Articles link will take you to lots of great articles about the admissions process.

  • Once you've completed a draft of your essays, ask a colleague, friend, or family member to review the essays. Be sure to pick someone who will be straightforward and constructively critical of what you've written. Asking someone who attended business school or who has a business background is also helpful.

  • Spend some time incorporating clarifying points and strong examples into your essays.

And finally, don't forget to relax--enjoy the time you can spend with friends and family over the next couple of months. Keeping that balance will give you perspective and help you focus as you write your essays and interview.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanks, Forte.

I cannot imagine my MBA experience without Forte. That sounds extreme, I know , but I’m indebted to the organization for even having the courage to apply for my MBA in the first place. Life is a series of moments and many of my big MBA “moments” are somehow linked to Forte. I remember surfing the internet to learn more about business schools when I stumbled upon a Forte Fellow of the Month blog on the website. Her story mirrored mine and it inspired me to take a risk and apply. Like me, she attended a great undergrad program and studied liberal arts. She had never imagined business school was for her but found her way into the doors of Columbia and hadn’t looked back since. Knowing she could do it and be successful meant I could, too.

My next official touch point with Forte, after being awarded the honor of a fellowship, was attending the Annual Conference in NYC the summer before starting my MBA. I can still remember the excitement and buzz at the Conference. For one, I was exposed to top recruiters from Fortune 500 companies. Back on campus I ran into these same recruiters and immediately I was “in” with them and we had something to talk about. Secondly, at the Forte Conference I felt like I was a part of something bigger than myself – hundreds of brilliant, optimistic young women and professionals gathered to learn from each other and celebrate together. I met MBAs from many schools including Michigan, UNC, and Northwestern. Where we were headed for school didn’t matter because we were all the same one thing: Forte Fellows.

Next I auditioned to be a Forte MBA Diary Blogger because I felt like it was a quick way to ‘pay-it-forward’ and give back. It’s been great fun and sometimes I meet prospective students who have been watching the posts and really appreciate hearing what the MBA is like day-to-day. On campus I met the other fellows and one of the 2nd year Fellows fortunately ended up tutoring me in Quant, my hardest class. Given my connection to the organization and its purpose, I decided to run for President of Kelley Women. Being associated with Forte definitely helped me to be elected and also provided resources to help the club. This past summer it was amazing to return to the Forte Conference and serve on a panel for incoming Fellows and connect with the new Kelley fellows and other Forte alum that I’d met through recruiting and networking. There were endless friendly faces that highlighted to me the value of an MBA and a network like Forte. The energy and commitment from top executives that come to speak and provide training and the devotion of Forte and MBA program Forte alliance staff is unmatched.

As I launch my post-MBA career, I will never forget Forte and what Forte has provided me. Being a Forte Fellow is an honor and to me means a lifelong network and support group that does exactly what the organization promises: Inspiring Women Business Leaders.

Kate Lehman
MBA Class of 2009
Kelley School of Business at Indiana

Friday, November 21, 2008

Stay Connected Through Online Events

Forté Foundation is offering a series of career development webinars that take an in-depth look at the various industries in business, including financial services, corporate finance, consulting, and marketing. Representatives from leading Forté sponsor companies will provide information on the career paths available by pursuing your MBA. This is a great opportunity to learn more about careers in business and start networking with representatives from these top companies.

The schedule is listed here - just click on a link to register:

Marketing Industry Introduction with Eli Lilly & Co. and MetLife
December 8, 5-6 p.m. EST

Financial Services Industry Introduction with Goldman, Sachs & Co., Deutsche Bank and Merrill Lynch
December 9, 5-6 p.m. EST

Corporate Finance Industry Introduction with Chevron, Johnson & Johnson, General Mills and John Deere
December 10, 5-6 p.m. EST

Consulting Industry Introduction with McKinsey, Ernst & Young, Deloitte and IBM
December 11, 5-6 p.m. EST

If you're interested in a career in financial services, join us for Forté Financial Services FAST Track Office Hours, where you can gain valuable insight into this high-performance profession. Participate in an Office Hours webinar and learn about careers in finance with leading companies in this industry. Interact with firms, explore this profession, and learn what opportunities exist for you.

The schedule is (click on a link to register):

Office Hours with Fidelity
January (Date and time TBD)

Office Hours with Wachovia
January 12, 1-2 PM EST

Office Hours with MetLife
February 24, 12 - 1 PM EST

We encourage you to take advantage of these great opportunities to learn more about industries, careers, and companies that you're interested in. Visit Forté's online events page to see all the online content we're offering.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Finding Great Recommendation Letters

Good recommendation letters are often the toughest to find. But they are well worth the effort since the importance of good letters should never be underestimated. Admissions officers use recommendation letters to gauge a number of things, including your ability to work with others, your leadership skills and your values. For these reasons, it’s important to 1) identify potential writers who can compose strong letters on your behalf, 2) create a line-up of writers who can add dimension to your application and 3) successfully approach prospective writers with the ask.


First, identify individuals who can provide compelling examples of your stellar performance and how you would be a good fit for a particular business school. Make sure that you have selected individuals who can successfully communicate their thoughts on paper. Their titles or job functions are not important. What is important is that you’ve worked closely with them in a professional or extra-curricular setting.


Second, these individuals should be able to provide different perspectives. In other words, make sure that the writers are each communicating something unique about your candidacy. For my applications, my writers consisted of 1) a manager whom I worked with closely and could talk about my initiative and practical skills, 2) a co-worker and peer who could attest to my ability to work well in teams, and 3) the president (of a non-profit organization I volunteered with) who could provide examples of my leadership capabilities.


Third, set a meeting with each individual. Be straightforward by asking if they would be willing to write “good” or “great” recommendation letters on your behalf. Be prepared to provide details about the application process and the time necessary for the writing of these recommendations. To help your writer along and help you manage the process, provide your writer with reminders of your recent, relevant accomplishments, your motivations for business school and a timeline of key dates. I wanted my writers to feel engaged to the process, so I also provided them with brief summaries of the content within my application essays.

Great recommendation letters may make the difference! Please take the time to find writers who can provide meaningful stories for your application.

Good luck!

Jennifer Jeng
MBA Class of 2009
MIT Sloan School of Management

Friday, October 24, 2008

The B-School Interview

Getting Started
As you approach the interview process, start by looking at what role each school expects the interview to play. A school may request that all candidates interview on campus because they really want to gauge the applicant’s fit with their community. Other schools may ask alumni to conduct interviews, either with a set of questions provided by the school or with their own questions. In this case, the school may be less concerned with fit and more concerned with getting a second opinion. Some schools may require you to give a presentation as part of the interview, which serves as another means of gauging your thought processes. By identifying the school’s expectations from the interview process, you can better direct your preparations. is a good resource for identifying some of these intricacies.

Preparing for the Interview
As you prepare for the interview, take advantage of advice from the many others who have already gone through the interview process. Again, and other MBA-prep websites have collected feedback from applicants, including specific questions that they were asked in interviews for different schools. Use this list as a template and think through how you would answer each one. As you develop your answers, be sure to think about elements of your experience that you want to communicate in the interview and how you could work them into different types of questions. You can’t guarantee the questions the interviewer will ask, but you want to make sure you’re able to highlight the key elements of your story. Also, it’s a good idea to re-read your application as you prepare. You should know from your communication with the school whether or not the interviewer will have seen your application prior to the interview. If so, be prepared for several specific questions about what you wrote. Finally, be sure you have good answers to four sure-fire questions: why do you want to get an MBA?, why at this school?, why is now the right time?, and walk me through your resume. These are pretty sure to show up in one form or another.

A second step in your preparation should be reviewing your research about specific elements you like about the school. Are there any clubs you want to join? Why? Perhaps you are excited about international study opportunities or specific classes. Be prepared with several school-specific items that you can work into your conversation with the interviewer. This shows that you are truly interested in that school and know why it’s a good fit for you. Finally, use this preparation to build a list of intelligent questions that you can ask the interviewer when they open the floor to you. Invariably, you will be asked if you have any questions, and you want to avoid asking questions that could easily be answered by reading the school’s website. Use these questions to show the interest you have in the school, its faculty, or its program.

The Interview
Before interview day, prepare for the logistics: you may need to invest in a new suit (pants and skirt suits are both common) or accessories. Looking and feeling confident and professional will be to your advantage overall. When interview day arrives, be sure to arrive at the interview location early. If you’re interviewing in a new city, give yourself plenty of time to navigate. If the interview is held in a less traditional location, such as a restaurant or bar, plan your menu options ahead so you don’t have to think about it during the interview and can focus on conversation. Regardless of location, be sure to have several professional copies of your resume with you—one for each person who will be in the room. Greet the interviewer with a firm handshake and eye contact. Throughout the conversation, listen to what they’re saying and asking. This will help you identify opportunities to work in the facts you want to communicate to the interviewer. Finally, try to be relaxed. I know it’s not easy, but the more you can help yourself relax, the more confident you will come across.

In the end, regardless of the outcome, if you’ve invested the time to prepare well, you will be proud of yourself for putting your best foot forward. Good Luck!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Don't Worry...Be Prepared

The GMAT is oftentimes the greatest hurdle to overcome in order to apply for business school. There is nothing to fear as long as you’re prepared. If you are a recent graduate or still in undergrad, now is a great time to take the GMAT if you plan on going back to get your MBA within the next five years. Test scores are valid for five years, and it’s typically a lot easier to study for the test while you are still in college.

Preparation is the key to the GMAT. Take time to familiarize yourself with the test and to speak with people who have already taken the GMAT. I’m sure they’ll be more than willing to share their insight. After you have familiarized yourself, it’s best to stick to a study schedule that fits your schedule. Some students start studying six months or even a year before the test; while others just spend two to three months in order to prevent burnout. Both Kaplan and Princeton Review offer review courses, which many students find helpful. Whether you should enroll in a GMAT prep course depends on what type of learner you are. If you benefit from the classroom environment, this is a great option. GMAT preparatory books and online resources are a great way to prepare for the exam. There are also practice exams available at, and it’s a good idea to practice the exams online before going into the test. This will give you a more realistic feel for the test as compared with the paper-based practice exams.

While you are practicing, really dive into why the answer is correct. If you take time studying the theory behind the answers it will pay off when you take the exam. Most importantly, remember to go into your GMAT preparation with a positive attitude. Make studying fun. Figuring out the answers to complex problems and reading comprehension can actually be interesting.

Remember you will have to make accommodations in your lifestyle in order to prepare adequately for the exam. This may mean giving up watching television or going out with friends, at times. If you are confident about your GMAT preparation, it will make taking the exam a much more enjoyable and rewarding experience. Good luck!

Kristi Martin, Assistant Director of Admissions, Illinois MBA

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Getting Your MBA: Come Rain or Shine?

At Forte's London MBA Forum on Tuesday, a question came up about weathering the current financial crisis and whether it was wiser to delay returning to business school because of cloudy forecasts for job opportunities or take shelter there knowing that the economy and job outlook will be sunnier in a couple of years.

A number of questions naturally follow…Will applications to top MBA programs increase this year because of corporate mergers and bankruptcies? Will the competition for seats in the classroom be fiercer this year? If I do get in, will I have trouble getting loans? What happens in 2 years when I graduate--will I have a job?

These are all smart questions to be considering, but in these unpredictable times, it is sometimes tough to find the answers. It's much like the weather forecast you hear on the evening news. Take the week of Hurricane Ike. I live in Austin, Texas, and on Monday before the storm, I was to expect a 90 percent chance of rain and gale force winds. On Wednesday, that percentage dropped to 50. By Saturday, the storm had made landfall, moved north past Austin and we were left with a sunny and beautiful day. In no way am I faulting the weather professionals or diminishing the impact this storm had on many peoples’ lives. But, the basic fact is that the art of weather prediction is much like making predictions on the financial turmoil we’re experiencing now. It’s near impossible to do long-term. And even short-term predictions can be dicey.

If business school is in your future, consider this: applications will most likely increase for the class entering in 2009. A recent article in the New York Times mentioned that GMAT registrations are up 11.6 percent over last year. But when it polled several admissions professionals at top business schools, the forecasts were mixed--some said the economy drives applications while others reported no correlation. No matter if they’re up or not, this indicator should not drive your decision to return to business school. If this is the time for you to get your MBA—either personally or professionally—then you will find the right school and you will be admitted. My advice to you is to be smart about selecting where you apply. Pick a school that matches up with your career objectives, your personal interests; find the one that has the students and faculty that will inspire and challenge you. Make a short list—a stretch school, a couple of safe bets, and a back-up. Apply to them all, visit the campuses, attend classes, talk to the alumni, and see what happens. There’s a very good chance that going through this process will make your decision very clear.

What about funding your education? Across the U.S. stories indicate that access to money is tight all around—from small business credit to mortgages to student loans. This might be a short-term problem that won't exist when you enter business school next fall. However, it's always smart to have a plan. Perhaps saving more over the next year would be a good idea in order to have a cushion in case loans are still hard to come by. Just so you know, MBA students are traditionally one of the lowest risks in the student loan market because they pay back their loans in-full and on-time. But if everyone is still feeling the crunch a year from now, there's no way to predict how this will affect MBA student loans. For non-U.S. students who want to study in the U.S. the access to loans might be even tighter. In the last few years, banks have been backing MBA student loan products for international students with a U.S. co-signer. I hear from several sources that these products are being pulled by the banks, so securing a loan might be difficult or non-existent.

And in 2011, when you’re ready to graduate, my prediction is that the financial crisis will be over, companies will still be recruiting MBAs, and a job opportunity will be there for you. But I can guarantee that this educational experience will drive you to be a more strategic and analytical thinker and a more confident and thoughtful leader. You’ll have an extended network of peers that you can rely on throughout your career. And you’ll have a set of skills and abilities that no one can take away from you. The MBA is an investment in you and the dividends will always pay out.

Friday, October 3, 2008

All Modesty Aside – The Application Essay

I have been in the Admissions field for almost 10 years now, so it is safe to say that I have read my fair share of application essays. I have read countless essays that, by design, are all answering the same question. Thus, my apologies to the author of the tenth set of essays on any given day, because my focus may have withered some at that point. Alas, I am only human. I am not asking to be entertained, but real, authentic essays do the trick.

That said it does not take heroic effort or hours of coaching to produce that authentic piece that will grab your reader’s attention. Here are a few hints…

  1. Allot appropriate time to completing your essays. You are making an investment in your education and that investment begins in the application process. Invest enough time to have your essays read and re-read by yourself and perhaps someone who will give you an honest assessment.
  2. Answer the question. Ah yes, seems so obvious that it need not be mentioned, but I can tell you the numerous times that I have read an essay and thought “huh?” Again, as an admissions officer, I have become accustomed to coming to the conclusion that perhaps an essay submitted to my office, may have been previously submitted to University X’s office, and as a result, may answer X’s questions perfectly but leaves me asking, “huh?”. If you have made the decision to apply to a few schools, give each application the time it warrants, and I assure you, your application will be given the time it warrants from the reader as well.
  3. Be authentic. This is your essay about you. At the Simmons School of Management, having a “voice” is essential. The classroom is dynamic and interactive; students need to be willing and able to use that “voice” to ask questions, share experiences and ideas. The essays are a tool to determine how impactful that applicant’s voice can be. It allows for further details and narratives that cannot be gleaned from a resume or transcript. Do not trust that your recommenders are going to create a Technicolor picture of how great you are, (we hope they will but…) do that for yourself. Now is not the time to be modest, you know how great you are and can be, tell us.

The application essays are an essential piece of your application story. As an admission officer, I do not want to “reduce” an applicant to the numbers, GMAT, GPA, years of work experience… the essays give the applicant a “voice” in the process. Good luck!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Admissions Tips for Applications

With Round One application deadlines quickly approaching for most b-schools, applicants can surely use some last minute tips straight from admissions committee members. After years in the Admissions business, I’ve seen many students make mistakes in the application process, almost all of which are completely avoidable. Below are a few things to think about as you prepare your applications, and a few more you’ll want to consider before you hit the submit button.

Get to know your schools. This goes beyond perusing our websites! Attend local information sessions to get a better feel of each school’s culture, and what they’re each looking for in their applicants. This will help you in your essay writing, as you strive to convince the committee that you’re a great match for their institution. Be sure that you have articulated what value you will gain from the MBA experience, and why the school’s culture fits with what you are trying to accomplish.

Make sure your application is the most accurate representation of who you are. Consider whether each piece of the application is as strong as it could be and whether the components of your application present a clear, holistic picture of you, your self-awareness, and your reasons for pursuing the MBA.

Answer the questions. We encourage you to take the time to read each essay question closely. For instance, the Chicago GSB essay questions may seem similar to other essays you've encountered, but in order to clearly answer the questions that are posed, you must pay close attention to exactly what you're being asked. Don’t assume that you can take a “one size fits all” approach to your essays.

Be creative and consider taking risks. There is no right or wrong way to show us who you are. We’re always impressed when a student uses the application in a strategic way to best articulate her strengths, personality and unique characteristics.

Recommenders; choose wisely! By now, you should have given some serious thought about who will write your letters of recommendation. Your choice is as important as the content of the letter itself. While you may think we’ll be impressed with a letter from an important political figure or the CEO, if that person doesn’t know you well, it’s a poor choice. Your recommenders should be people who know you and your work well, and they should be able to offer specific examples of your performance and contributions to the organization.

Have someone read your essays. Did they feel your answers really captured the question you were asked? If not, you may want to take additional time to re-work your essay(s). This is also a great chance to have someone else proofread! Sloppy mistakes are unnecessary and will leave a bad impression with the committee. Be thorough in your review before submitting your application.

Do not wait until the absolute last minute to submit your application online. Given the volume of applications most schools receive, you may experience significant delays or timeouts if you submit at the last minute. While there’s a thrill for some people (not me!) in submitting at the last minute, technological glitches are a reality of our lives. Give yourself time to submit your applications and get confirmation that they have been received.

Celebrate! Relax! Once your application is submitted, remind yourself that you've worked hard and submitted your best effort. Congratulate yourself for completing this difficult and stressful task! Then, go out and celebrate this enormous accomplishment!

Good luck with your applications. Don't forget that you can always call or email Admissions staff members for questions or concerns; that’s what we’re here for!

Joanne Legler, Associate Director of Admissions, Chicago GSB

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The MBA Decision: Full-time, Part-time, Executive

As you begin this journey, your first step might be to explore the different formats offered by business schools today – full-time, part-time, and executive. While I attended a part-time program myself, the Evening Program of the Goizueta Business School at Emory, I am now the director of admissions for the full-time program at the Darden Business School at the University of Virginia. For me, the decision was easy – my employer, Procter & Gamble, was willing to pay my tuition if I attended a part-time program. A much higher percentage of part-time and executive students are sponsored by their companies than full-time students. So, what is the difference? First, you need to decide if you are looking for an MBA degree or not. In general, most executive programs are targeted at senior executives and offer a shortened timeline and a different curriculum. As a result, they are not usually able to grant the same degree as a full or part-time program. And, not all part-time programs offer the same degree as the full-time program, although the ones at Goizueta and Darden do. You will need to investigate the programs you are actually considering to know for sure.

Once you have decided which sort of degree will be best for your career and life goals, you will need to consider the format. Most full-time programs in the United States are 21-month programs that start in the fall of one year, provide a summer break for an internship experience the next year, and graduate in May of the second year. Part-time and Executive programs vary widely, both in length and in format, as some might meet two nights a week, one weekend a month, or primarily online. Again, you will need to fully research your choices to know for sure and think seriously about how you work best.

The last big difference to me is in the type of support you will get in terms of career search and recruiting. Most part-time and executive programs expect you to stay in your current job or at least with your current company. As a result, the amount of career development programming is less than for full-time programs. If you are looking to make a change in industry, function, or both, I believe a full-time MBA program may be the better fit. In a full-time program, you have much more time for self-reflection, to determine which career is the best fit for your strengths, two recruiting cycles to meet companies, and the opportunity to explore a new career via the internship.

Whichever type of program you choose, an MBA should be transformational for you in your life and career – it has been for me.

Sara E. Neher, Director of MBA Admissions, Darden School of Business

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe...

Deciding to pursue your MBA is just the first step. With so many options and varieties of MBA programs out there, it is imperative that you use all the resources available to you and invest the time, energy, and, sometimes, money to investigate your options. One of the first decisions you will have to make is whether to pursue your MBA in a full-time or part-time program. The route you decide will depend upon your career goals, available financial resources, and ability and desire to relocate. provides an outline of what both programs look like as well as information about distance learning and executive education. A great resource for learning more about the part-time option is the book Kaplan MBA Part-Time: An Insider’s Guide by Robyn Frank-Pedersen.

Once you have decided on a route (full-time or part-time) start thinking about what you want to gain from an MBA program. No two programs are alike and therefore it is important for you to make a list of your must-haves and negotiables. This list could include location, alumni connections, available concentrations, and international programs. Also take your learning style into account. Some schools, like Darden, teach exclusively using the case method. Other schools are a blend of case and lecture. If class size is important to you, then add this to your list. Take this list with you to MBA fairs and use it when calling schools to gather more information. Ask lots of questions! Make sure to speak with a variety of people – current students, alumni, professors. It is a good idea to create a separate checklist for each school and de-brief after each visit or contact with the school. This will help you maintain an objective opinion as well as a reference for follow-up questions.

When you begin to narrow down your schools, be honest with yourself. One of the biggest traps is judging a school based solely on its rankings. Keep in mind that each ranking has a different methodology and weighs each aspect of the program differently. Remember that list of must-haves and negotiables you created? Take it out and evaluate each school accordingly. You might be surprised to find that a school you were initially impressed with does not meet all your needs. This happened to me. When I reviewed my must-haves I realized that my original top choice did not match my learning style. Furthermore, once I started visiting my top five schools, I found myself placing more value on class size and the rapport I developed with the current students and professors. Listen to your instinct and continually ask yourself how you are feeling when you physically visit a school. You might be surprised at where you feel comfortable.
Whether you decide to pursue your MBA full-time or part-time, you have to feel comfortable in the environment or else you will not thrive. Good luck on your search!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Go, Go, Go!

The process of selecting the “perfect fit” for business school can seem quite daunting. There are so many things to consider. One thing that made my decision easier was being able to reflect on my personal experiences at each of the schools I was considering and really think about where I wanted to be. There are many things you’ll find that can’t be described during a chat with admissions officers nor seen in a school brochure. A visit is a great way to educate yourself about the school’s culture and atmosphere. It’s also a great way to make sure the admissions officers have a face and a story to put with the name and application.

While the school brochures and MBA fairs are a great way to learn the basics, they are only two-dimensional experiences. They’re a great place to begin the weeding out process, but you’ll want to add more depth before making your final decision. Many schools require in person interviews. They are great excuses to spend the day attending class, meeting students and seeing the campus while you’re there. These experiences will leave a lasting impression that will help you prioritize your top choices. Business school is a large investment with the potential for tremendous returns but to realize those returns you’ve got to put yourself in an environment that will allow you to thrive.

While you can visit the campus pretty much anytime you want, many schools have amazing events like “Women’s Weekend” and/or “Diversity Weekend”. These weekend visits are invaluable experiences. Not only will you get to meet current students, see the campus/facilities and meet some of the faculty but you will also have the opportunity to see presentations from the Career Management Centers, meet potential classmates and experience the culture on a deeper level. And not only can you make a much more informed decision (how many applicants get to hear a presentation about a school’s Career Management initiatives) but you’ll also have a great time. Both the current students and admissions directors want you to walk away with a great impression of their school and they work to achieve this by giving you lots of information and making sure you have lots of fun. Casino nights, group outings, t-shirts and great food are some examples of things used to generate excitement. I was able to attend several Diversity Weekend events and found them all to be very informative and fun (even if I knew after the visit the school was not a great fit… and yes, there were a couple of those!). When it came to my final decision, my experience at each event weighed heavily. In the end I think I picked the best fit for myself but I’m confident after my visits that any of my final three choices would have been a great experience.

I urge you to go and see firsthand what each school you’re seriously considering is all about!

Monday, August 11, 2008

How I found my dream school

Goodbyes make me nostalgic. I just finished my MBA summer internship in Seattle, packed up all my belongings, said my goodbyes to new friends and coworkers, and made the bittersweet transition back to Pittsburgh, the home of Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business.

Fall is the beginning of a new cycle in MBA programs. Second-year students make their way back to campus after their summer internships. The brand new first-year students are settling into school and eagerly absorbing as much information as they can about Orientation and core courses. The Admissions staff is refreshed and ready to recruit the next batch of business talent – and that could be you!

Choosing a business school is a very personal process. I remember being confused when trying to decipher all the information about MBAs that was available in books, magazines, brochures, and online. I say that you should have actual conversations with alumni and other representatives of various schools. Events like MBA tours and panel discussions let you find many of these people in one place, and let you meet other pre-MBAs who are in the same confusing phase of the research as you are.

I actually discovered my dream school during my first Forté Forum (the MBA fair sponsored by Forte Foundation). I spoke to representatives from about 20 top MBA schools, a few incredibly passionate women in business, and sort of stumbled onto a member of the Tepper Admissions team (when I was waiting in a line to talk to another business school). Even though there was an instant connection (and by the way, I LOVE my school), I kept doing my research for several more months by attending MBA Tours, visiting schools, talking to alumni, and reading about schools.

Just think – if I hadn’t attended that fair, I may have never attended Tepper!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Is an MBA Right for You?

Are you thinking about an MBA? Approaching a career transition and not sure whether the MBA is the right next step? This blog will focus on the MBA journey—from that first conversation that sparks your interest in a career in business to the realization that an MBA might be the next step in order to advance in your dream career. I’ll call on our experts to advise you on the MBA maze and answer those pressing questions that keep you up at night. If an MBA is right for you, I want this blog to confirm that. But if another path makes more sense, then I hope that will be revealed as well.

Start with a little introspection. What do you want to be when you grow up? Read the Wall Street Journal—which section draws your attention when you only have time for one? Pick up Fast Company and see what people are doing in business that’s new or different. Talk to friends, colleagues, and family—some who have an MBA and some who don’t. Ask them about their experience. What do they think about getting an MBA?

Be honest with yourself about the job you want and the work environment where you’ll be happy. Maybe achieving a better work-life balance is a priority. Or are you searching for a career that intersects with your passions and interests. You want to travel, but you don’t want to work 80 hours a week. The list could go on, but taking time now to answer these questions will provide a strong foundation for making decisions in the coming months.

Then, join Forté at our MBA Value Proposition Forums this September and hear the personal stories of MBA women alumnae who are successfully pursuing business careers. The top B-schools will also be on hand enlighten you about the MBA application process. One past attendee said the Forums are unique because of the “support” and “encouragement” she experienced and the “abundance of valuable information provided.” Take advantage of this great opportunity to learn more about the MBA.

Do you have questions about the MBA? Concerns? Any roadblocks to pursuing an MBA? Let us help. Share your story here.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Why Get Your MBA? Because you’re worth it!

You already know you’re good. You’re smart and ambitious.You’re an asset to your organization. Isn’t it time to invest in yourself and take your career to the next level? Attend a Forté Forum in the city nearest you and learn about exciting careers in business, network with successful women business leaders, and find out how the MBA degree can open doors and present opportunities you never knew existed. Whether you’re interested in advancing within your current industry, switching careers, or starting your own venture, the Forté Forum can put you on the path to professional fulfillment. Coming to cities in Fall 2008!

The Forté Forums:

  • Provide opportunities to network with peers and women business leaders
  • Connect you with representatives from top business schools who can help you get started on the admissions process
  • Open your eyes to the possibilities enabled by the versatile MBA degree