Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Last week I attended a “Booth Live” breakfast as a member of the Dean’s Student Admissions Committee (DSAC) and was able meet several prospective students. It was nice to be on this side of the application process, but I remember so clearly what I was going through at this time last year.
I wanted to take this opportunity to share a few key things I think you, as a prospective student, should think about if you are able to visit the schools you are applying to.
Take a tour. See what the lecture halls look like, the study rooms, dining options and any other facilities the school may offer. Also check out where the students live – be it on campus, in a neighborhood nearby, etc.
Sit in on a class lecture. This will give you a better understanding of the learning environment and how the students interact with each other and the Professor. Is it case-based? Lecture only? A mixture? Find out if this class structure is the norm for the school or what you can expect once you are on campus.
And finally, the most important thing, in my mind, is to talk to students about their backgrounds and career goals. Every school is diverse, so it is nice to see what similarities and differences there are amongst your possible future classmates. Be sure to get contact information from students you would like to stay in touch with. I always found that students were more than willing to answer my questions or give me more details on things I was interested in which was very helpful in my application and interview process.
I still remember the people I met when I visited campuses and have stayed in touch with many of them – including students at schools I did not end up attending. Business school is all about networking, and you never know who you will meet that may be a connection to a job you are looking for at some point.
Good luck in the application process and I look forward to meeting those of you who visit Chicago Booth!
Jaime Streem, Class of 2013
Forté Fellow & MBA Candidate
The University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Monday, December 5, 2011
What do you do well?
This is not the familiar ‘strengths and weaknesses’ question from interviews, but a deeper consideration of what you contribute. Look back through your performance evaluations and see what themes stand out. Ask colleagues to participate in a 360-degree review. See what words or phrases your family and friends use to describe you. This question is meant to reveal what your resume often can’t: an ability to manage up, an unflappable manner in a tense meeting, presentation skills, or emotional intelligence. You add a layer to your application when it reveals your skills as well as your accomplishments.
What do you enjoy?
Hobbies and volunteer activities speak to how you would spend your time without being paid to do it. What role do you play on the team? What position do you hold in the organization? And what does that say about how you would fit into an MBA class or project team? Triathletes and marathoners might like the personal challenge. Linguists and knitters probably enjoy learning new skills. Amateur chefs, musicians, or dancers could be balancing an analytical mind with creative expression.
What do you want?
If this isn’t explicitly an essay prompt (usually phrased as “Why an MBA?”), it will undoubtedly be an interview question. This is your opportunity to be nebulous before you refine your thoughts for formal answers. Where do you see yourself in five years? What does it look and feel like? Now how does that fit with the values or core principles of the programs to which you are applying?
The answers to these questions and others will dictate which bullet points to include on your resume, what to highlight in your essays, and even how to approach potential recommenders. As you move through the process, the answers will be distilled into the core of your candidacy—your personal brand—and it will show through in every piece of the package you present to the committee.
Sara Kabot, Forte Fellow
Class of 2014
UC Berkeley Haas School of Business
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
There truly is no need to panic, sigh, cringe, whine, or have any other negative reaction to this “networking” word.
No matter where you are in your MBA process – discussing with prospective schools, meeting current students, attending MBA conferences, looking for internships or jobs, etc. here are a few tips that could make your next networking session seamless:
1) Think Dialogue! It is not about the details of the MBA Program or the Company; it is a conversation with you and the university representative/ company employee/ potential mentor. Details about MBA programs and companies can be found on the website. Genuinely be interested in what they have to say, their experiences, their passions and inspirations; and be ready to share the same about you.
2) Listen! Yes, this is how you keep the momentum in the conversation and it opens the door for a good come-back questions. Besides, when you follow-up with this contact, remembering and noting highlights of the conversation, will be a good way to remind this new contact about the discussion.
3) First Impressions! Don’t forget the strong handshake. Portray confidence and make eye contact. Make sure you are dressed for the part; it will be easier for the contact to envision you in the role you are pursuing.
4) Hit or Not! Not every contact/ person you meet will be a hit. Sometimes differences in personalities can make a conversation go great or stay flat. In such situations, be true to yourself and your personality; make sure you learn as much about the contact and have a few key questions in your arsenal that you can use to reinvigorate the awkward pauses that could arise.
5) Remember to Relax! This person wears their pants the same way you do. They could be your parent, sibling, friend or colleague. Remember to have a conversation, be yourself and maintain the momentum with good come-back questions.
Oyinade Ogunbekun, Forte Fellow
Class of 2012, Olin Business School, Washington University in St. Louis
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Johnson School of Management at Cornell, Forte Fellow 2013 MBA Graduate
As Round 2 application deadlines are rapidly approaching, so are the prospects for school visits. It can be a stressful time, but visits are a fantastic way to get a feel for a school, meet current students, and gain valuable culture and fit information that a school website just can’t offer. While a visit is a great learning opportunity for you, it also is a great learning opportunity for the school. Keeping this is mind, being prepared and professional during a school visit can send a great message to the school, and can help you get the most out of the visit.
A few tips to get you started:
1. Wear professional attire. A suit is always appropriate, although business casual at some schools may be acceptable. I personally think, however, that you can never be overdressed!
2. Make appointments to meet current students through admissions related activities, such as class visits, but also try to connect with students that have similar backgrounds or career paths as you. The school website will most likely be able to connect you with these people, as will admissions. If you have a personal contact at the school, they can also help out as well. Additionally, try to meet as many students through both means as possible. The more people you can interact with, the better. Don’t let one person positively or negatively cloud your perception of the school.
3. Connect with admissions during a visit. You may be able to get some one-on-one time with a member of the admissions team, which is always valuable.
4. Come prepared with as many questions as you possibly can think of. No question is ever silly if the answer means something to you. Questions will not only help facilitate your interactions with people at the school, but also will help you get the most out of your visit. Additionally, there’s nothing worse than arriving back home from a visit with a pressing question unanswered.
5. Take a look at what the university has to offer outside of the business school, and take a tour of the campus. While you may ultimately align with the business school, the campus, classes, seminars, and resources the university has to offer may play significantly into which school you decide to attend.
6. Venture into the local area. Each city has its own flair or charm, and it’s important to understand that your location may, for you, play into your happiness at school.
Finally, be confident and smile! Both qualities will serve you well, wherever you may go.
Monday, November 28, 2011
2013 Forte Fellow at Goizueta Business School at Emory
Trying to decide what schools to apply to for your MBA is more difficult then it seems at first glance. After getting my GMAT score I looked at the ranking lists and picked out the schools that I could get into given my work experience, undergraduate GPA and GMAT score. I narrowed down the list to areas that I would be interested based on personal preference. This left me with six different options. I charged ahead, got my "recommenders" to commit and laid out all of the deadlines I needed to meet. About half way through the application process, I began questioning my decision about where to apply. Initially I had decided to go purely based on rankings, fit within the class profile and location, but as I delved deeper into the process it seemed that many of the schools offered similar products (Marketing Club, Global Learning, Experiential Initiatives, etc.) and they were all blending together.
This frustration combined with the sugar coated descriptions and testimonies that appeared in the official literature pushed me to look at each school option through a different lens. I asked myself a new set of questions. How would a class size of 400 versus a class size 180 effect me? Do rankings really matter if post-graduate average salaries and job offer rates were comparable? Are the people that this school attracts people that will be a great network when I am there and when I graduate? These new questions could not be answered by the glossy brochures that lay strewn across my dining room table, so I reached out to people who had already received their MBAs and those that worked in my industry of interest. This is what I learned, rankings matter to some companies, but the value brought by the graduates they have employed is what sells the school. A class size of 400 means you are one of 400 people vying for the attention of professors, administrators, and recruiters, so unless you are at the top of your class or are vocal and persistent it can be easy to get lost in the crowd. If you are at a school with alumni that are not involved with the institution the network is just people you have one thing in common with, not people that take interest in helping you succeed. Also, I learned that location really does matter. You're going to be there for at least two year and want to make sure you'll be happy. If that location also lends itself to more opportunities in your industry or function of choice, then you are setting yourself up for personal and professional success. Overall, I learned that each school is far more unique then they appear and understanding what will make you flourish should propel the questions you ask about possible MBA programs.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
When I was in your position over a year ago, I asked my friends and colleagues who had undergone MBA programs at various schools for guidance. The words of wisdom I received from each of them all resonated similar messages that I took to heart and recalled throughout my journey to date. I now share with you the points I believe to be the most valuable based upon advice given to me and my personal experiences.
1. Practice, Practice, Practice
In order to be successful on the GMAT, a certain level of preparation is essential. The GMAT exists for a reason, so use it as your competitive advantage. Familiarize yourself with the format and content of the GMAT. Enroll in a course and pay attention to receive the maximum benefit. Practice problems are a must, so use your free time (even if it is only 20-30 minutes) to go through as many questions as possible. Practice makes (closer towards) perfect!
2. Block Out the Noise
No one knows you better than yourself. Take some time to think about your motivations (i.e. what makes you tick) and your goals. Identify your strengths and weaknesses, and then talk to your family, friends and co-workers to gain perspective on these areas. Sometimes the strengths and weaknesses may be in line with one another, while other times you’ll surprisingly learn about yourself. However, at the end of the day, remember that this is about YOU and no one else. Do not let others influence you and your decisions; stay true to yourself.
3. Go With Your Gut
Researching a school through websites and brochures can give you a good understanding of what your experience at that school may be like. Many people immediately target the top business schools without giving second thought to what will suit them best. Be honest with yourself when determining what kind of experience you want during those two years through, because it will go by too quickly. Visiting a school allows your gut to make judgments of the school that you will not find in print anywhere. Your interactions with the schools (including current students, alumni, admissions, etc.) will provide a glimpse into your future. Keep in mind this will differ for each individual, but when you know, you know.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to me (email@example.com) with any questions or anything else you’d like to discuss in further detail. Remember, every step is one step closer to that “pot of gold”!
Justina Lee, Forté Fellow
Class of 2013, CMU Tepper School of Business
Monday, November 14, 2011
MIT MBA Class of 2013
If your business school application season is anything like mine was, then you are exhausted right now. Between reading advice columns, stressing over admissions blogs, drafting the perfect resume, creating essay outlines, cramming for the GMAT, juggling volunteer work and other extracurricular activities, and managing to keep your job intact, life is busy! I remember getting several emails from friends asking when they would ever see me again. At the time, it seemed like they never would! I will save you some time and sum up this post in a sentence: go to the information sessions and attach a face to your application.
When I applied to business school, I was living in San Antonio. The schools I applied to only held information sessions in Austin or Houston. I had to decide if it was worth making a one and half hour drive to Austin or a three hour drive to Houston to attend the information sessions. Despite how busy I was, I attended the information sessions in an effort to create the strongest applications I possibly could. Based on my experiences, I recommend leveraging the information sessions to:
1. Learn About the Schools: Get to know the schools you are applying to. This information will provide talking points for your essays and interviews. Some school applications even contain a section about which events you have attended.
2. Meet Alums: Learn firsthand why the alums picked each school, what the network is like in your particular area of the country, and what the alums are doing now.
3. Introduce Yourself to Admissions: Being mindful of the line of people and the admissions officer’s time, briefly introduce yourself after the information session and ask a question that will enhance your application. Follow up the next day with a thank you email.
Business school is a challenge in time management, and the application process is the first taste of that juggling act. Given the opportunity to learn about schools, meet alums, and introduce yourself to admissions, my verdict on information sessions: priceless.
Saturday, November 12, 2011
You have a few options: a) cry and wonder how you ever thought you had what it takes to get into B-School; b) apply to other schools for which the deadline has not passed; or c) spend one more year polishing your application and re-apply.
If you know your top choice business school stands head and shoulders above the rest – if the school’s location, faculty, rank, whatever, makes it the ideal place for you – then, sister, you’ve got to re-apply! And get in this time.
That’s what I did. Here’s how:
1. Talk to the admissions staff. Some MBA programs offer candid feedback sessions for denied applicants. In other schools, you may be able to get a special meeting – perhaps during the slower summer months. Take notes during that meeting and make sure you get specific. When I pressed for details, I learned that specifically my GMAT quant scores, and my lack of quantitative analysis experience, had disqualified me. So I focused on that.
2. Let the admissions staff know you will be re-applying. Tell them your targeted plan for improving your candidacy. This sends an important signal and helps you establish a personal connection to the school. I sent the admissions office a letter outlining my “Quant Bootcamp”: Calculus in the fall, Statistics in the Spring, and a GMAT score at least 100 points higher by next year’s application deadline. And then I worked my butt off to make all that happen!
3. Consider alternative programs at your school of choice. Determine whether your experience and skills are better suited to the Executive or Part-time MBA programs.
4. Go the extra mile. Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the oil. Though at times the admissions process seems like a mechanical algorithm of scores / grades / extra-curriculars, at the end of the day, it is actual warm-blooded humans making these decisions. And humans tend to value qualities like persistence, dedication and follow-through. You have a file in which all your correspondence and application materials are logged. What qualities do you want that file to reflect?
When it came time for the following year’s application, I made sure to highlight the progress I had made with quantitative analysis. I actually wrote the optional third essay. I submitted an extra letter of support.
And here I sit – a Forte Fellow, an MBA student at my dream school – on the path to a bright and prosperous future. Now, isn’t that better than crying and feeling rejected?
By: Jessica Galeria, Forte Fellow
U.C. Berkeley Haas School of Business Evening and Weekend MBA Program, Class of 2013
Thursday, September 8, 2011
By Linda Abraham, founder and president of Accepted.com and co-author of the soon-to-be released book. MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business School.
After fifteen years of working in MBA admissions, I have been hard at work on a book about… you guessed it: MBA admissions. The first part of the book lays out the four key steps necessary to choose the programs that will maximize your chances of acceptance.
Here’s the very abridged version of those four steps, the “Accepted Positioning System" – to help you navigate the MBA admissions maze:
1. Determine your post-MBA goal. You won't be able to find an MBA program that supports your goals until you determine what your goals are. Think deeply about what you want to do, which industries interest you, and where you'd like to live. Once you have the answer to those three questions, let that answer guide you as you proceed through the application process. Yes, your goal can evolve later, but for now it will be a trusty guide. And having a clear goal will actually enhance your a attractiveness to most top MBA programs.
2. Research schools. Which schools will help you achieve your goals? Look at your target schools' recruiting trends, curriculum, and extracurricular activities. Those schools with recruiting strengths and a strong curriculum in the area you want to go into are the ones you should focus on. Then layer in personal preferences and you will know which schools you want to attend. However the decision is not entirely yours. You should also…
3. Evaluate your qualifications. Weigh your academic competitiveness, work experience, and community service against those of the students accepted at the schools you are interested in. Look at your academic stats, the quantity and quality of your work experience, your community service, and any diversity elements, which admittedly can be difficult to identify. Then assess your competitiveness as objectively as you can.
4. Target programs. After completing steps 1-3 above, you should have enough material to begin compiling a list of target MBA programs. You should apply to 4-8 programs that support your goals and that are likely to admit you. It’s that golden overlap between what you want and what you believe the schools want that you’re aiming for. The intersection of interests represents the solid foundation for a success MBA admissions process.
Follow these steps and you should arrive at your destination – the perfect MBA choices for YOU. Please Check out our cool infographic for the map to your perfect MBA choices. And good luck!
View the original Accepted.com blog post or others like it.
Regardless of where you may fall on that scale, one of the most difficult tasks is deciding when to pursue an MBA.
So, how do you know if this is the right time to get an MBA?
First, identify your career goals. It will be easier to visualize them if you actually write them down. You can do this on paper or in a type-written document. Even writing an email to yourself will suffice. Next, calculate which percentage of those goals would be facilitated by having an MBA. If the result is the majority, then you should have a pretty good idea that it is time to start exploring MBA programs more seriously.
Be sure to consider the costs and the benefits of beginning this journey. Yes, taking yourself off of the job market for two years to obtain an MBA will require a significant investment of time and resources. On the positive side, you will be two years closer to achieving your goal. If that enticement is enough to ignite your determination, then now is the time to begin your due diligence. Research the structure, size, and locations of the various MBA programs. Visit classes. Tour the campuses. Get a feel for the culture. Identify the programs which have strong recruitment track records and professional clubs in your field of preference. Reach out to managers and/or professors for potential recommendations. Connect with current students, administrators, alums, and local business professionals. The Forte Forums also provide an excellent opportunity network with women in business who can provide valuable insight from their own experiences.
If after you have done your due diligence and identified the best program fits, you feel as though you are already on the fast-track to accelerating your career, keep up the momentum and get those applications started!
Mary Fuller, Forte Fellow
Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management
MBA Class of 2013
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
· Decision & Risk Analysis: How do you make an optimal decision about an uncertain future? In LBS’s Decision & Risk Analysis course (soon to be called Data, Models & Decisions), we learned frameworks and Excel-based models (like PrecisionTree) that I’ve been using to help Shell decide its long-term strategy in the face of changing climate regulations.
· Organizational Behavior & Management Accounting: How do you structure incentives to achieve business objectives? One helpful tool came from our core course on Managing Organizational Behavior. Vroom’s Expectancy Theory argues that employees expect: (1) that their effort will enable them to achieve performance objectives (e.g. increase sales); (2) that achieving this objective will result in a reward (e.g. promotion); and (3) that the reward will be something they care about (e.g. status). Sounds obvious, but just think how easy it is for a link to be missing: you are held accountable for results you can’t control, you enable your client to achieve a huge win but don’t get rewarded, or you are compensated with cash when you are really dying for more vacation days.
· Marketing: Great, so you have your idea – now how do you sell it to a diverse group of stakeholders? Market it! In our Marketing core and the simulation MarkStrat, we learned about the 5 stages of marketing penetration: (1) Make people aware of your idea; (2) help them consider how they might use it; (3) follow up to convince them that they should prefer it over the alternatives; (4) make it easy for them to “buy” into; and (5) make the experience of using your idea so good they become an loyal advocate.
I actually didn’t come to London Business School for the academics – I came for London, a career move, and the network – but the classes have been amazingly useful. See -- I’ve even become a loyal advocate!
Forte Fellow & MBA 2012, London Business School
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
So instead of panicking about my non-traditional background, I let my true colors show. Of course, my story still made sense, but I didn't shy away from mentioning my background in acting and how I was eager to share some improv exercises with classmates looking to improve their presentation skills, or how I planned to revamp a club's website with my knowledge of CSS and HTML. And now that I'm in school, I still use these unique, albeit non-traditional, skills to my advantage. Professors try hard to incorporate a variety of perspectives into their classes, and I love having a lot to say when we're talking about Google's growth from scrappy start-up to market leader.
There are still plenty of my classmates from those "traditional" backgrounds in finance and consulting. But even they have diverse interests and aren't afraid to show them. One former banker friend has a blog about digital media. Another finance friend fosters stray and feral kittens. These passions are what make my classmates fantastic, and these classmates weren't admitted by accident. So make sure you let your true self shine through your application. You just might be rewarded with admission and some new friends who can show you how to brew your own beer, take you sailing, or pull a quarter from behind your ear.
Feel free to contact me if you have a non-traditional background and have questions about admissions, class work, etc. I’m happy to help: firstname.lastname@example.org
Michelle Harrison, Forte Fellow
NYU-Stern School of Business, Class of 2012
Friday, September 2, 2011
1) DEFINE YOUR CAREER GOALS (short- and long-term) and how an MBA fits into your plans. Make sure an MBA is a necessary step because it is a big commitment and you want to make the right choice.
2) TALK TO PEOPLE who have gone through the application process.
3) PICK THE SCHOOLS YOU APPLY TO CAREFULLY. Find the best “fit” programs for you, which may not necessarily be only the “top” schools.
4) ATTEND ADMISSIONS EVENTS – Forté Forums, MBA Fairs, admissions visits to your city. You may end up meeting important admissions officers or future classmates.
5) DO YOUR RESEARCH. Review the schools’ websites and talk to current students, alumni, officers of students groups you’re interested in, friends, and friends of friends to get specific information about each program to include in your application.
6) Make sure you know the schools’ DEADLINES and each component you need for the application – Official GMAT score, transcript(s), recommendations, essays, and application.
7) GIVE PLENTY OF LEAD TIME TO YOUR RECOMMENDERS (1-2 months). Discuss your reasons for pursuing an MBA so they can write meaningful letters on your behalf.
8) If possible, VISIT EACH SCHOOL you are applying to. Talking to students and getting a feel for the school in-person is invaluable and also shows the school you are interested.
9) PUT IN YOUR TIME when creating your “story” in the essays. Write essays that only you can write and be confident in yourself. Make them as interesting and personal as possible. The admissions committee reads a lot of essays so make yourself stand out!
10) Have a few key people REVIEW YOUR ESSAYS before you submit them to make sure you answer the questions, that your overall story makes sense and your grammar and spelling is perfect.
Jaime Streem, Class of 2013
Forté Fellow & MBA Candidate, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Thursday, September 1, 2011
To find my dream school, I needed to know what my dream was. So I took my time listing out what I'm looking for in terms of program focus, school’s strength, and career services relative to the industry of my interest; its clubs and student community; its surrounding community; potential financial aid; its geographical location, and its weather, etc. I also ranked those criteria I had in order of importance to me and thought about the workload needed to prepare applications.
After having my list, I started my research. I first started with popular rankings such as the Business Week, the Economist, or Net Impact’s Business as Unusual etc. to have an idea of which schools are highly regarded in my area of interest and shortlisted them into 5 schools that I thought I would have time to research in detail. I also browsed schools’ websites, joined discussions on MBA forums, and talked to current students.
Now I had a better idea about the schools’ programs and communities, I knew the level of competition to get into the school of my dreams. I put together a matrix of information, worked out a timeline and to-do-list, identified the resources I had to execute that plan, and managed its execution so that I could spend my two years at the school of my dreams.
Finding my dream school was not a step but a process. After a fantastic orientation program I had last week and excited interactions with classmates and faculties, I am now certain that I am at the school of my dreams.
Tuyet Vu, Forte Fellow
UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, Class of 2013
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Rightly so! Time management is going to be your best friend through the next few months. However, time management can only be fulfilling and productive when you have clear goals that define your MBA priorities. I don’t just mean your concentration, or where you plan to get your summer internship or full-time job, but what you want to get out of your MBA program.
Your MBA experience will be filled with various activities – classes, office hours, recruiting information sessions, networking opportunities, personal activities (i.e. family, friends, working out, sleep, etc.), running for a leadership or representative position, being involved with a club, getting to know classmates,… and the list continues.
When I started my MBA, I set up a few key goals that defined how I spent my time:
*Make sure I learned from every class, the goals isn’t just getting a high pass or A;
*Get to know my classmates and seek out professional mentors;
*Be in a position to drive change and make an impact on my business school, etc.
Once my goals were clear, they defined how I managed my time - Do I want to play tennis with a classmate, meet with a mentor for lunch, or study an extra hour of finance; should I run for the student representative position or settle for a leadership position in a club or both; do I attend the information session or go hear the CEO of another company speak? Neither of the options you face in business school will be unproductive, but having clear goals will help guide your choices amid the flurry of activities and ways you could spend your limited 24 hour days. Remember, priorities can change, so feel free to make adjustments in your goals throughout the next two years.
Oyinade Ogunbekun, Forte Fellow
Class of 2012, Olin Business School, Washington University in St. Louis
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Location: whether you prefer metropolitan cities or small college towns make sure the location ties into your expectations.
Student body: More than half of your MBA learning will come from the interactions with the student body around you particularly with the case based studies and leadership learnings. Therefore it is important that the student body is diverse not only in ethnicity but also in industry backgrounds, age, gender, and work experience.
Curriculum: Try to find schools that fit your style of learning. Many individuals prefer to learn in classroom or lecture settings, many prefer team based or case settings and others prefer a balance of both. Read about the professors (i.e. their past experiences, their teaching techniques, where they stand in their fields of study). Additionally, aim to have an understanding of the type of MBA you desire, whether it is customized (Marketing, Finance, Consulting, etc) or general management because many schools vary in these aspects.
Career placement: Many companies have strong affiliations to certain MBA programs so it is important to check recruiting stats by each school. Depending on what industry, company, or functional role you wish to pursue, this could be a deciding factor in finding the right school.
Personal touch: There is always something endearing about a school that makes you feel like you belong to the community rather than becoming just another face in the crowd. Characteristics ranging from size of the class to receiving that phone call from an admissions staff are just some small things that can truly impact your decision on picking the right school.
These are only a few characteristics to help you get started on your school search. The driving force in finding the right school is to make sure the school has the necessary tools and resources to help you reach your ultimate career goals so make sure you DO YOUR RESEARCH!
Piya Dey, Forte Fellow
Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University
MBA Class of 2013
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
When my husband and I started deciding whether I should go back to school (an eventually which school I should attend), we did several things that helped make the decision much easier:
1. Make a 10 year plan. It may sound silly, but if where you want to be in 10 years doesn’t involve a path where you went back to school, getting your MBA may not be the best choice for your family.
2. Reach out to the admissions committee in any school you are potentially interested in, specifically regarding their support of spouses/partners. Many schools have official programs to help partners through the transition of business school, including both career resources and social programs.
3. Talk to the state department of labor for each school you are interested in. I was surprised with how helpful they are in job searches, and for information regarding the job market in specific areas.
4. Decide whether or not a long distance relationship is an option for you. Every couple is different, and from my observations of my classmates thus far, there is a pretty balanced mix of partners who moved together, and partners who have chosen to live apart for the two years of business school.
5. Have completely candid communication with your spouse/partner. Make a deal in the beginning of the process that both of your opinions matter and deserve to be heard. It’s hard to come so close to making a decision, and then realize you were not on the same page.
While there is no right choice for everyone, thoroughly examining every option before making “the decision” will only help you in the long run. For my husband and I, the right choice was moving together to Ithaca, but that did not come without hours of research and open conversation.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions at email@example.com. I’m happy to help in any way I can.
Lindsay Petrovic, Forté Foundation Fellow
Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University
Monday, August 22, 2011
Without knowing a friend or two enrolled at a top MBA program, it's challenging to identify all the resources that some better-informed are aware of. While occasionally downplayed in its use for self-perception, these resources are what I would share with you if you turned to me as a friend.
Apart from your GMAT/GPA stats, your MBA application can be distilled into three distinct areas you control:
I've gifted this recently published book, The MBA Reality Check: Make the School You Want, Want You, to friends seeking to best position their profiles and experiences into their applicancy, short and long-term goals included. As of this blog post, all 13 Amazon.com reviews are rated 5 of 5.
II. Written Application:
Find a trusted friend - possibly one in business school - to help proofread your essay and offer a counter-opinion. Yet, as friends and family are often all too eager to offer an opinion, don't share your essay with too many readers for risk of losing your distinct voice and internal compass on where to head. I found my own sister the most brutally honest with me, and she became the only person to proofread my essays.
b. School visit:
Make an effort to visit business schools before you write your essays. In writing about why you want to attend program X, there's no greater substitute for genuine interest in attending a program than if you invested time into witnessing a class, speaking with a student group, etc. This would also crystallize why you may want to attend one program over the other, helping prioritize your application submissions.
III. Verbal Interview:
Talented candidates on paper may be invited to top-tier schools for interviews, yet a bottleneck for admissions can be the interview itself. You are competing against applicants who may have prepared by seeking the counsel of family and friends, bulleted out their responses, and crystallized their answers. MBA mock interview services such ZoomInterviews.com videos of benchmark interviews, and InterviewBay and Accepted.com's mock interview services may be worth exploring.
This is the first in a series of blog posts to level access to information and opportunities for prospective MBA students. What topics would you like explored further? Please comment, and I'll respond in-line or via a future post. All the best!
Tiffany Kosolcharoen, Forté Fellow
Class of 2013, MIT Sloan School of Management
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
When I decided to go to business school to earn my MBA, I zoned in on only one school, my alma mater which happened to be in the city I was living in at the time. It seemed logical at the time. I’m a non-traditional student. I am older, married with a teenage daughter. Going back to my alma mater would cause the least disruption for my family. So I only applied there with no thought that I would not be accepted. Wrong! I was shocked when I was rejected. And unfortunately I didn’t get the rejection until after many top-tier programs final deadlines. I truly feared that I would have to wait another year to go to school.
So what did I do? I had a total pity party for a day, and then I made the decision which I should have made initially. I expanded my search and looked at schools all across the country that were still accepting applications. I submitted four more applications, and I was accepted at all of them. The closest school was over 900 miles away, and the farthest school was over 1600 miles away. I finally accepted the offer from the school that I was accepted to last, The University of Illinois. It is over 1000 miles from my hometown. But it is the right place for me and my family to be.
I challenge each of you to not be bound by where you currently live when thinking about getting your MBA. That is the easy road to take. Life is about taking risks. Don’t settle. Demand better. You are worth it.
I’d be happy to talk to anyone about my experiences, especially if you are a non-traditional applicant like me. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stephanie Barry, Forte Fellow
Class of 2013, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Wondering how you can maximize the benefit of your MBA investment? Prospective and current MBA students are increasingly concerned with how they can distinguish themselves among their peers in an increasingly competitive post-MBA job market. According to a recent survey of over 250 current MBA students and graduates, the overwhelming majority of respondents noted that “networking” was the number one way that they could improve their job prospects and career search success.
The good news is that 85% of your peers felt that their career choices and job prospects improved over the previous graduating class and nearly 70% of respondents were satisfied with their school’s efforts to provide them with opportunities to help their job searches. That being said, past and present MBAs have reiterated time and time again that proactively seeking out and engaging in every opportunity to learn more about and connect with people who are already engaged in your field of interest are essential aspects of the job search process.
MBAs advise prospective students to “develop a refined networking strategy prior to enrolling” and to “start networking immediately after starting your MBA program, rather than waiting until the last few months before you start applying for jobs.” While it is certainly important for prospective MBAs to choose a program that fits their learning objectives and professional interests, current MBAs advise prospective students to be increasingly cognizant of the strength of the program’s networking opportunities. Current students and recent graduates noted that programs which offer practical experience in specific professions and industries are invaluable in that they allow students to test whether or not their career aspirations are realistic and, most importantly, a good fit.
What are some specific actions you can take to develop your professional network and improve your job prospects? Here’s some of the advice that your peers had to offer: attend industry specific seminars/conferences, go to career fairs/exhibitions, set up informational interviews with professionals in your field of interest, and take on more industry consulting projects to get firsthand experience and exposure to management in the area of business that you are most interested in pursuing. Additionally, don’t forget to keep in touch with the people you meet while attending networking events, participating in internships, and working on consulting projects.
One student wrote that, “An MBA program is a chance to get to know a lot of people that can be interested in your work or even recommend you to a job.” Among the most important people to develop connections with are alumni, mentors, and professors who may work in industries or professions that interest you. Finally, a group of individuals that MBAs can often overlook when thinking about expanding their professional networks is their MBA program’s student body. Don’t underestimate the value and potential of connecting with your peers!
Peter von Loesecke
CEO, The MBA Tour
The MBA Tour is an international business education recruitment platform with emphasis on personal interaction between prospective MBA students, business school admission representatives, alumni and other like-minded education enthusiasts.
The MBA Tour is hosting upcoming events in:
Asia: Toyko, Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing, Taipei, Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore, Bangkok
Europe: Istanbul, Moscow, Kiev
India: Bangalore, New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Pune
Canada: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary
As well as future events in the USA and Latin America
Register at: http://thembatour.com/
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Get to know the MBA. You may have one or more friends or mentors who have been through the MBA process. Their perspective is valuable, and if you haven’t tapped into it yet, that’s worth doing as soon as you’re getting serious about a business degree.
But there are some respects in which it’s superior to talk with admissions officers and alumni representing MBA programs. First, admissions staff are more knowledgeable about their programs. By challenging yourself and them on the reservations you have the general MBA path or a specific one, you can refine your decision-making process and maybe even your career plans. One example from London: a number of attendees at London had assumptions about what was a “normal” geography to apply from vs. studying vs. working afterward. The variety examples in the room quickly proved that any plan was “normal,” as long as it was logical for that particular applicant.
Get to know business schools. You might already have a laser target on a very small number of business schools. I’m not going to try to talk you out of that perspective, which may be well informed. Regardless, try speaking with some programs about which you’re less knowledgeable. You’ll want to avoid asking overly obvious questions, or making inquiries that are answerable through a simple web search. One safe and easy topic to discuss is a school’s culture. The more you talk to business schools, the better you will get at understanding their perspective and relating to it.
Don’t forget to talk a little bit about yourself. It’s amusing that prospective MBAs, who have a reputation at times for egocentrism, tend to speak to admissions officers at networking events such as Road without mentioning much about themselves. Sure enough, you won’t be able to conduct an interview at a networking event, and if you appear eager to try to do so, you’ll come off as unpolished. But mentioning a little bit about yourself and why you want an MBA goes a long way. It makes you more interesting and helps admissions officers help you.
For information on where the Road to Business School is headed next and who will be there, see http://www.kaplanGMAT.com/roadtobschool. Whether you’re headed abroad or next door, we’re here to help you succeed on the journey.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
This still-quiet moment between the end of one school year and the beginning of the next is a good time to take stock of all that happened in my first year of my MBA program. As returning student, with 15 years of senior management in the work force, I was nervous about making the transition back to school. I found Mills to be a great place to contribute, no matter your background. I was thrilled that my professors were so welcoming, eager to make use of my knowledge base, and that my cohorts were truly appreciative of my real world experience and know-how.
In the whirlwind of those first few months, the most valuable 3 things I did were:
a) immediately connect with our Career Services Group to plan my summer internship and future job goals
b) set aside 30 minutes at the BEGINNING of every day to assess, plan, prioritize
c) set aside ANOTHER 30 minutes a day, after lunch, to sit quietly and simply process my thoughts and feelings, without judgment.
There is so much input in the first few months of an MBA program. With all the new intellectual, professional and social demands, it’s important to develop a practice of listening to our individual inner voice, as we adjust to the intensity of business school. Most of us are high achievers, which creates intense stress. And, in this economy, there is a lot of turmoil, drama, fear in the market, as well as incredible opportunity. Given all this, it’s crucial to cultivate our private, inner voice. I came to rely on my private time, reflecting each day, to adjust my course when needed. When others around me became overloaded with stress, I knew that I had an oasis of calm that I could rely on, as I achieved my own A’s, wrote papers and responded to team project demands.
Cultivating our inner voice, and responding to it, is an important part of achieving success, no matter our situation, but in business school, it’s especially vital.
I also read a couple of great books last semester.
"Workforce 2020" by Judy Richard and Carol D’Amico opened my eyes to the future state of workers, and "Changing the Game" by David Edery, Ethan Mollick. My industry is feature film and these two books contained new ideas for me. I also hooked into the TED broadcasts and was thrilled with Kevin Slavin: How algorithms shape our world and Josette Sheeran: Ending hunger now. We have a strong Net Impact chapter at Mills and this year I’m VP of Community Partnerships.
I want to be even more engaged this semester.
Business school passes in a flash. Make the most of your time. Invest and engage deeply.
But don’t forget to spend a little time privately each day, quietly and without judgment, listening to and cultivating your uniquely personal, valuable and independent point of view. By cultivating your inner voice, you strengthen your capacity to respond with flexibility and wisdom to the changing world, and to the challenges of your new adventure in business school.
Julie McDonald, Forte Fellow
Class of 2012
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
The Forté Forums are open for registration! From professional success to personal fulfillment, don’t miss this opportunity to discover what an MBA can do for you. It’s an investment in your future that will yield dividends for a lifetime.
Are you ready to invest in yourself? Perhaps you’ve been thinking about your next career move, how you will get there, and what impact you want to have. If so, the Forté Forums are a critical next step. You’ll have the opportunity to ask candid questions of women who had similar questions, have lived and breathed the MBA experience, and are now pursuing their dream careers. You’ll meet admissions representatives from top B-schools who can enlighten you about the MBA application process and provide insight into their specific program subtleties, all within a smaller, more intimate atmosphere than other B-school events. And finally, there will be hundreds of women just like you in attendance—women searching for that next career move, trying to determine if the MBA is the right fit. What a great opportunity to start building your MBA network for the future!
The best thing about the Forté Forums is that they are 100% focused on helping women explore the MBA. The questions are different for women and so are the answers. That’s what why Forté created the Forums.
Are you convinced yet? Please join Forté at our 2011 Forté Forums: Inspiration, Opportunity and the MBA this September and October. Past attendees have said that the Forums are unique because of the “support” and “encouragement” received and the “abundance of valuable information provided.” Take advantage of this great opportunity and invest in yourself—you won’t regret it.
Executive Director, Forté Foundation
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Dear Forte Community,
In light of the recent Fortune article about the large debt incurred by MBAs, here are my thoughts on how to pay for your MBA.
Initially, I figured I would take out loans “like everyone else.” However, when I attended my first financial aid presentation, I was appalled at the interest rates and scared of becoming a slave to debt as I heard classmates speak about feeling trapped in job choices “to pay off their loans.” So, I decided to do everything I could to pay for school. While my advice is to attend school only when you are financially ready, you can compensate if time is not on your side and feel the freedom that I do as I graduate without owing a dime for school.
Here are 10 ways I paid for school. I hope this motivates you and gives you ideas!
1) I worked as a Graduate Assistant in a dorm. Yes, this meant living
with 18-year-olds. This also meant free room, free campus meals, free events, and smart undergrads with whom to generate business ideas.
2) I was a Teaching Assistant for multiple classes. This involved
teaching recitations, holding office hours, and grading. You can earn this position through either good class performance or work experience.
3) I tutored MBAs and undergrads in accounting. A lot of students need
help with their core classes.
4) I worked in the Admissions office. Turns out they actually do read EVERY application.
5) I did on-campus psychology experiments.
6) I talked to professors about my financial goals and applied for scholarships. Help from groups like the Forte Foundation can go a long way!
7) I took a summer internship that paid well rather than my “dream internship.”
8) I have continued the same career path as before school, meaning I
could write off education expenses on my taxes.
9) I thought about every dollar. I used the free campus shuttle, read class notes on-line, and checked out textbooks at the library.
10) I did not do any of the alluring “leadership” trips. If you give into a $12K trip to Antarctica with friends, everything else starts feeling like “no big deal” as the loans stack up.
If you have questions, comments, or other money-saving ideas, please feel free to e-mail me. I am happy to help!
Christine Parker, Wharton MBA ‘11
Thursday, April 28, 2011
· Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. You will most likely be on your feet throughout the day, walking to multiple event locations and taking a tour of the school campus. Bring a medium sized bag to put the information that you receive throughout the weekend. I would recommend keeping your hands free to make shaking hands and jotting down quick notes as easy as possible.
· Remember names and ask for contact information. Even if you decide not to attend that particular school, more likely than not, your paths are bound to cross again at case competitions, conferences and even at your first company after business school.
· Attend all of the events, even the unofficial ones. Many times prospective students and/or current students will go to another location to unwind after the official events. This is a great opportunity to get to know people one on one.
· If you are not from the area, set aside some time to explore the city. Some factors to consider are city size and density, transportation and weather. Can this place offer the lifestyle that you want?
· Do you have a partner that will be in the area while you are in school? Ask about the types of groups and events that are offered to partners.
· Talk to everyone you can. The current students are a wealth of information regarding business school life and are there to answer your questions. Equally important, get to know the prospective students because most of them will be your future classmates. Ask yourself, can I see myself developing close friendships with these people?
· Keep an open mind, relax and have fun!
My Truong, Forte Fellow
USC Marshall Class of 2012
Friday, April 22, 2011
During MIT Sloan’s SIP (Sloan Innovation Period) week, I took a workshop at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. The experience was incredible because it allowed participants to discover their creative side through animation, drawing, and installation art. In addition, we had lively discussions with students at the Museum School about the intersection between art and business, particularly comparing the similarities between entrepreneurs and artists.
The workshop definitely rekindled my love for the arts and motivated me to take time out of my week for creative endeavors. During an MBA program, I think it’s important to periodically take a step back and reevaluate what you want to get out of the two year experience. For me, that also means taking advantage of the student schedule and university offerings to try new things like painting, sailing, and training for a half marathon. Of course this only adds to the challenge of “drinking from the fire hose”, which further shows the importance of prioritizing your individual MBA experience. I’m having an amazing time at MIT Sloan discovering my strengths, weaknesses, and passions – I encourage you to think of an MBA program as an opportunity to explore all your interests. You won’t be disappointed!
Maggie Dreifuerst, Class of 2012
Forte Fellow & MBA Candidate, MIT Sloan
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Our time during this hectic week was shared between cases, networking events, activities, dinners and galas… and thankfully, a few hours of well-earned rest. Every morning, sitting there with my team while waiting for the case to be handed to us had to be the most nerve-racking moment for me every day. We felt pulled in two different directions: on one hand, we loved the rush of adrenaline and could not wait to dive into the case and present to a panel of high-profile judges, and on the other hand, not knowing the case topic and what was in store for us was unbearable. Case topics would range from marketing and negotiation issues to merger and acquisition decisions.
After a whirl-wind week of cracking cases, making business contacts and forming friendships around the globe, my team went the full-distance and made it to the finals, placing first in North America and top two in the world. Being on stage and on camera, while being grilled by a panel felt like the world’s most intense job interview. In fact, it led to actual job interviews for both my fellow participants and myself.
Looking back on it all, I attribute our win to not only my amazing team members but also the intense training that we unknowingly went through as part of our MBA. Presenting and fielding difficult questions had become second nature to us, as we were used to almost weekly presentations. Being a team-based program, Canada’s Queen’s School of Business taught us how to work well together under pressure and identify the critical point of a discussion when it began to generate diminishing returns. We knew how to provide each other with constructive criticism and more importantly, how to accept and utilize this feedback.
This case competition has made it to the top of my list of amazing MBA experiences. Not only did I learn a lot about business, but I learned even more about myself and what I was capable of accomplishing under such demanding circumstances. I now find myself at the opening pages of a new adventure, my MBA exchange in Paris. As I write this blog post and think of what a priceless experience the case competition has been for me, I look out of this Paris apartment and wonder just what this new experience will have in store for my “fellow” Forte Fellow, Kate Murphy and I…. and I just can’t wait to find out!
Queen’s University School of Business
Forte Fellow, Class of 2012
Friday, April 8, 2011
From an academic standpoint, I have survived (and passed!) our rigorous core curriculum and broadened my general management knowledge. My knowledge of acronyms has expanded exponentially (STP, 3C’s, 4P’s, CAPM, DCF) and I understand my dominant leadership style (pacesetting). I possess enough general business knowledge to be dangerous in just about any situation.
Professionally, I successfully started my career transition from finance to marketing by securing an internship for the summer at a major consumer packaged goods company. Now, I just need to convince them that I actually know what I am doing by extensively using marketing acronyms in my final presentation this summer.
Personally, I have learned how to play ice hockey and I have improved as a skier. I have bonded with my study groups and furthered my knowledge of other cultures and international food (and drink). I witnessed the resourcefulness and thoughtfulness of my Japanese classmates and their countrymen, facing a national crisis, during our Spring Break trek to Japan. Lastly, I have had the opportunity to test and improve upon my (pacesetting) leadership style through being one of the co-chairs for our upcoming Admitted Students Weekend.
I cannot imagine experiencing a more impactful seven months than the ones I just underwent. Luckily, I am still not halfway through my time at the Tuck School of Business and I am confident that there is much more learning and personal growth to achieve while here. So, I want to extend a huge welcome to the Class of 2013! You have a lot to look forward to!
Forte members: Have you been admitted to an MBA Program? Share your successes below!
Julie L. Reimer
Forte Fellow and MBA Candidate, Class of 2012
Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
During my first week at the Babson MBA programme I was lucky enough to get advice on this topic from an alumnus. Her suggestion was to be clear about my priorities during my MBA. A lot of money and time was invested in the programme. In my case, I had to leave my loved ones abroad to complete the programme. For others, their loved ones accompany the students and this can be just as hard, particularly for the partner who is not studying as they may not have the same distractions as the MBA student in their new environment. In fact, this sacrifice is a motivator for me to make sure I make the most of the programme and take advantage the amazing resources available to me while I’m here.
When I first heard the alumnus’ advice it sounded quite harsh, but as she explained, it was important that my family be clear about my MBA priorities. After all, they want what is best for us as a family and being clear that I may not be able to communicate with them because of a major project or interviews helps them to understand how best to support me.
Doing an MBA is not easy but it’s an amazing opportunity to learn, network and enhance your career path. My advice to those of you who have family and loved ones to consider is to keep them involved in the decision-making process, but be honest about your MBA priorities. They want to support you, and by being realistic about the programme will help them do this and give you the strength to do your best.
Leslie Wanderley Wanick
Forte Fellow, Class of 2012
Babson Graduate School of Business
Monday, March 28, 2011
Monday, March 21, 2011
But now you have to choose… Do you go with the school in your favorite city? The one highest ranked by U.S. News & World Report? The one that gave you the biggest financial aid package? The one most impressive in the interview? Or the one that felt the best during the Admitted Students Day/Weekend?
No two of us are exactly the same and so our decision-making processes vary. What matters to you may not matter to me. But by conducting thorough research, setting up coffee or phone meetings with current students and alumni, and otherwise collecting all the data and opinion you can – you will help yourself to confidently make the ultimate choice.
For me, culture mattered a lot. I didn’t want to spend two years with my shoulders up to my ears, simply surviving a dog-eat-dog world. I wanted a small school with a friendly, down-to-earth, collaborative environment because this is how I learn best. I also wanted a school dedicated to women leaders and to social entrepreneurship.
I’m a big believer in writing things down. It is not always easy to know thyself, so brainstorming - whether out loud or in my head – and then jotting down key words and ideas really helps. This is how I have always found my way – from articulating and actualizing my first dream job, to making a film, to choosing an MBA program.
Clarity around what matters most to you to can take a lot of the stress out of this decision.
In his landmark 1996 essay in Harvard Business Review, Michael Porter wrote, “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”
Sure, hindsight is 20:20, but taking the time to deeply understand who you are, what matters to you, and what makes you tick can be tremendously supportive in confidently selecting your school.
Rachel Greenberger, Class of 2011
Forte Fellow & MBA Candidate, Babson College
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
·One-to-One meetings and workshops with the world’s best MBA programs
·Interactive Panel Discussions with school representatives
·Individual MBA consulting sessions and GMAT advising
·More information here
Register Here to Meet International Business Schools on the Access MBA Tour
Monday, March 7, 2011
We have now broken out of the core, so we are free to select our electives and take any classes of our choosing. I had originally planned to stick with the finance platform, which outlines the best classes for a concentration in finance, but I realized about eight minutes before class started on the first day of the semester that I wanted to branch out from finance. So I quickly dropped two of my finance classes and signed up for a critical thinking and data-modeling course that runs for the entire semester. This is one of the greatest benefits of attending a smaller program like Washington University has – waitlists are short, and most students have no problem shifting between classes to make sure their schedule fits their goals. My last-minute decision has proven to be great! Although this class is very demanding and time-consuming, the knowledge I’m gaining is insurmountable. In a very short time, I have learned the ins and outs of sensitivity analyses, simulations, decision trees and other useful tools. In fact, I plan to implement a sensitivity analysis within the budget that I will create while working at my former employer over the break.
At Washington University, outside of classes, we know how to have a good time. On Thursday, March 3, we had our MBA spring formal. The theme was a masquerade, and most of us arrived in gowns, suits or tuxedos donning the most colorful masks we could find. The food was excellent, the drinks were aplenty and we danced the night away, enjoying the last social outing with the MBA Class of 2011, which will graduate in a couple months. Not only did several teachers take part in this merriment, but Dean Gupta also attended to share in our celebration!
There is no doubt about it; the curriculum at Washington University is challenging, but as a result, my professional acumen is growing. And while I am developing as a professional, I am having the best time of my life!
Kelly Bien, 2012 Forte Fellow
Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis