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