Thursday, April 28, 2011

Making the Most of MBA Admit Weekends

Admit Weekends are a fun way for you to get to know the business school at a more personal level. However, the flurry of people and events can sometimes be overwhelming. Here are some tips to making the most out of Admit Weekends:

· 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

Exploring Beyond the MBA Classroom

As a first year at MIT Sloan, I’m constantly learning about the “business world” and preparing for my future career through classes, clubs, labs, and my classmates. However, I am also finding that an MBA is an excellent time to try new things outside of the traditional business setting.

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

36 international teams, 7 cases, 5 friends… One Glorious Win.

One of the largest and oldest MBA Case competitions in the world, the John Molson International Case Competition is an MBA student’s equivalent of participating in the Olympic Games. This year’s 30th anniversary attracted over 180 of the world’s brightest and most driven MBA students. On opening day, teams from Singapore, Sweden, Germany, USA, Canada, Portugal and France (to name a few) mingled with organizers and judges from some of the business world’s most illustrious companies. The general feeling in the room could immediately be sensed: everyone was both eager and nervous for this 5-day adventure to unfold… and what an adventure it turned out to be!

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!

Christal Agostino
Queen’s University School of Business
Forte Fellow, Class of 2012

Friday, April 8, 2011

Welcome MBA Class of 2013!

It’s spring in Hanover and it’s….snowing. However, even with a fresh eight inches of powder on the ground, we are still gearing up to welcome the admitted Class of 2013 to campus in two short weeks during our Admitted Students Weekend. It blows my mind to think that this school year is coming to a close and to reflect on all of the things I have accomplished here in just seven short months.

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

Helping Your Family Support You in the MBA

With the rush of GMATs and applications it’s very easy to lose sight of how the move towards an MBA programme affects those around you. This is a very sensitive subject and one which is not often discussed openly.

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