Monday, December 31, 2012

Everything’s Possible - How to Finance Your MBA

Before you get the salary boost of an MBA, you’ll have to find the funds to pay for it. Learn about your options for grants, loans, fellowships and more.
With the right mix of financial aid, it’s possible to attend almost any business school. Make sure to talk with the financial aid advisors at the schools that interest you. Some ways you can pay for your MBA include:

·         Fellowships through the MBA program (i.e., teaching or research assistance)

·         Need- or merit-based scholarships through the business school

·         Federal and/or personal loans

·         Private grants from foundations or nonprofit organizations

·         Employer sponsorship or loan-forgiveness programs
Forté Foundation has also developed a strong Forte Fellowship program for scholars just like you.

Thanks to the help of our corporate and business school sponsors, we’ve been able to give financial assistance to MBA students across the nation.
This winter, Forté will be hosting a webinar on Financing Your MBA with experts from Cornell and NYU sharing their insight. Check our webinar events page for more details.

Additional Resources:

Arrion Rathsack, Manager of Sponsor Relations and Programs, Forté Foundation

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Reflections on my First Semester of Business School

The last week of classes?  ALREADY?!?!  I can’t believe how fast my first semester of business school has flown by!  It’s nice to take a break from studying for finals to reflect on the past few months at Southern Methodist University.  Since moving to Dallas and attending my very first class at SMU, I’ve discovered a new city, new environment and new lifestyle.

I can sum up my first semester in one word: opportunity!

Business school offers incredible opportunities through classes, clubs and networking events.

I’ve taken most of my core classes including Accounting, Economics and Marketing and am looking forward to taking a few electives in the spring.  There are ample amounts of classes to choose from based on your concentration and interests.

I’m an officer in the Women in Business Club and have also become a member of the Finance, Investments, Consulting and Strategy and Entrepreneurship Clubs.  These are only a few of the clubs available to SMU business students.

School is not all work and no play!  As an athlete, I quickly found the rec center on campus and joined several intramural teams.  Every week I looked forward to playing co-ed soccer on Wednesday nights and sand volleyball on Sunday afternoon. 

Networking is a word used a lot in business school and I saw it come to life this semester.  It’s so important to make connections with your classmates, alumni, professors and business professionals.  In addition to on-campus information sessions hosted by companies, I attended Happy Hour every Thursday.  A perk to having no Friday classes!

To fit it all in and take advantage of every waking moment I now drink coffee and live by my Outlook calendar!

December offers a break from classes but affords time to focus on applying for summer internships.  I’m also looking forward to a ski trip with a few of my classmates!

Liz Schaab, Forté Fellow
MBA 2014, SMU Cox School of Business

Monday, December 24, 2012

MBA Admissions Advice From the Experts - November

This past November, a seasoned MBA Admission Representatives from Columbia, UCLA, Indiana, and Emory discussed topics such as preparing for the GMAT, work experience and leadership, letters of recommendation, writing your essays & preparing your resume, and finally the interview process. Here are a few quotes from the panel:
On work experience – “Students in the classroom, will benefit from the insights you bring to the classroom, based on the variety of your rich individual experiences,” Amanda Carlson, Assistant Dean of Admissions, Columbia Business School.

Who should I be asking for my recommendations? – “Another good option is a client… they can give an interesting perspective into your performance and leadership capabilities,” Lindsay Haselton, Associate Director of MBA Admissions, UCLA Anderson School of Management.
On essays – “We learn about you by looking at your resume and the information you provide in your application…but the question I ask myself after reading an applicant’s essays is, have I learned anything more about this applicant, now that I have read their essays? … I want to be left with the feeling that this is someone I really want to have in our program,” Jim Holmen, Director of Admissions and Financial Aid, Kelley School of Business at Indiana.

On GPA & GMAT – “We are looking to see that you are prepared for the rigor of our program,” Libby Livingston, Director of MBA Admissions, Goizueta Business School at Emory.
Take some time to listen to the complete webinar online:

Arrion Rathsack, Manager of Sponsor Relations and Programs, Forté Foundation
P.S. Join us for an upcoming webinar to gain all the information you need to know about getting your MBA. From financing your MBA to getting advice on the application process to hearing from women of color who’ve sought their MBA, the webinars will put you in touch with successful businesswomen who can provide you with the answers you’re looking for to make this important decision.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The 24-Hour Case Competition

Overnight case competition? Yes, it is exactly what it sounds like. A case competition that starts the first day at 4.30 pm and ends the following day around 3 pm. While 24 hours seems like ample time, the hours pass by quickly when you’re rushing to finish at a decent hour so you can get some sleep (if any).

I won’t reveal the firm behind the overnight case but it was sponsored by a top consulting company, which alone was a compelling reason to participate. The afternoon started off with an introduction to the team, the hypothesis-driven approach, and the case itself. The company provided guidance on how to approach the situation and structure our thoughts. Then each team was on their own for the rest of the night to come up with a proposal and compile a visually appealing powerpoint deck to present the following morning. At 6 pm, it seems like you have a lot of time, but before you know it’s 9 pm and you’re still sifting through piles and piles of data and charts. You have access to more information than you could possibly need or use, which mimics a real-life consulting case very well. You need to avoid the temptation to boil the “ocean” and instead focus on the key pieces of information that will support your proposal.

At 10 pm, the consultants were generous enough to provide us with pizza and soda for a study break then we were back to it into the early hours of the morning. At times, we would each work quietly on our own, while at other times we would discuss each piece of data as a group. It was a balance trying to figure out where to direct our focus. We eventually started putting together our powerpoint, though perhaps in hindsight, maybe we should have waited until our thoughts were more fleshed out. But we wanted to get something down on paper. We tried to include a good mix of supporting data, including graphs, numbers, charts, and visuals.

When we hit a roadblock, we would take a quick break and regroup. This late (or rather, early), our energy was waning and we were about 95% done. At this point, it is important not to let the perfect become the enemy of the good (also known as the 80/20 rule) – you don’t have a lot of time so you may need to choose wisely where you focus. Each incremental minute you are awake is taking away from sleep. If you spend 10, 20 or 30 more minutes, will your presentation really be that much better?

We ended up finishing around 5.30 am and had to be back for our presentation at 9.40 am. We met at 8.40 am so we could run through our presentation out loud. The next 30 minutes were a blur of presenting and Q&A. The consultants were tough but fair. The whole presentation was akin to a real client case jammed into less than 24 hours. At lunch, we found out that we did not make it to the next round but we did receive personalized feedback from the three consultants who watched our presentation. The feedback was the most valuable part of the entire experience and made the competition worth it.

I leave you with my takeaways:

  • Participate in as many case competitions as you can but know that they are competitions and you may not win them all. Even if you do not win, they are still very valuable learning experiences. As they say, you often learn more from failure than from success.
  • If you participate in one that is “overnight” try to at least get a few hours of sleep (or at least go home, shower, and refresh yourself). You do not want to be tired for the presentation.
  • Before diving into the case, take a few minutes to individually brainstorm and really think outside the box. Throw out lots of random ideas, the crazier the better. It’s easier to narrow down ideas than to try to go broad later on.
  • Keep it light and have a sense of humor. Do not get too caught up with winning.
  • Choose your team wisely (if you have the option). You will be spending a lot of time with them. You also want to have a good mix of strengths and skills.
  • Take breaks, especially if there seems to be tension among the teammates.
Have fun! If you do not enjoy case competitions, then consulting may not be for you.

Beth Lovisa, Forté Fellow

MBA 2014, Stern School of Business at NYU

Monday, December 17, 2012

Handling discrepancies in your resume or transcript

As you go through the application process for business school it probably seems like each program wants to know every detail about your life…and they do!  Each admissions team wants to understand YOUR personal story and they want to know how you can add value to their program.

If you have any discrepancies on your resume or transcript don’t try to hide them.  You can’t change your transcript, so be honest and give a reason why your undergraduate GPA might have slipped one semester or why you didn’t do as well in a particular course.  Maybe you were more involved in volunteering that semester or dedicated more of your time to leading a team or group – just be honest.

If you have a low GMAT score you might want to consider re-taking the exam.  If you are unable to re-take the GMAT, show the admissions team that you have the analytical and qualitative skills necessary to succeed in the program.  You could do this by taking a summer accounting, finance, or English course at a local community college prior to starting business school to show you are proactive and ready for the quantitative and qualitative classes.

While you will undoubtedly showcase all of your strengths on your resume and transcript, don’t shy away from discussing your weaknesses.   For each discrepancy or weakness, let the admissions team know that you have a plan for improvement!

Liz Schaab, Forté Fellow
MBA 2014, SMU Cox School of Business

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Where Did My First Semester Go?

I cannot believe nearly an entire semester has already gone by since I started business school! I’m almost 25% done, which is a scary thought. The MBA 2’s lament that time flies but you don’t actually realize it until finals are here and you have almost a full semester behind you. It’s already December 5th and I will be done in exactly 2 weeks. Of course, four finals and a final project stand in my way.

First semester can be overwhelming but the MBA 2’s say they would trade shoes with us in an instant just to have three more semesters ahead of them. Sometimes, like when I am juggling group projects, numerous job applications, extracurriculars, and sleep, I think they are crazy. But other times, like when I get to hear Newark Mayor Cory Booker speak, consult with an actual New York company, and learn about business from professors who have 30 years of experience, I am glad that I still have three semesters left. I have so much learning left to do, and I’ve barely tapped the surface here at NYU Stern.

As I mentioned, first semester can be really overwhelming. You are trying to explore various career paths, join clubs, make new friends, and get back into studying mode, while still maintaining old relationships, having a social life and finding time to relax. What has really surprised me most about Stern are the amazing and varied learning opportunities both inside and outside the classroom. There really is something for everyone. Even if you do not want to pursue a career in Media or Entertainment, you can visit HBO’s office. You can taste new food creations at Unilever’s test kitchen. There is a huge start-up and entrepreneurial scene. In fact, it seems like every day one of my peers is working on a new idea for a company. You can spend two weeks in Cannes or Las Vegas or Brazil – and get credit for it! You can listen to Mario Bartiromo, Paul Volcker, Mickey Drexler, Gordon Brown, Twitter’s CEO Dick Costolo, Kind’s CEO Dan Lubetzky, and the list goes on. You can partner with a small NY-based company who doesn’t have resources to afford a consultant to help them grow their business. The only thing limiting you is time. I often myself double- and triple-booked because there are so many events I want to attend. Being in NY really gives us the advantage of access.

When asked what the typical day in my life is, I am stumped. There really is no good answer as every single day is a surprise and a new learning experience. I never know who I might encounter or what topics we may end up discussing. The one guarantee is that I will be absorbing some new piece of knowledge. So I encourage you all to take full advantage of the resources business school offers. Be an active, engaged member. You aren’t here solely to earn A’s in your classes. In fact, you will not learn that much if you just read and study; you need to become involved and apply your knowledge outside the classroom to make a difference. Pick and choose what you participate in wisely so that you don’t burnout but keep an open mind, especially in the beginning. You will never get that first semester back. If something sounds interesting, check it out. I look forward to continuing the journey on my steep learning curve because I know that next year when I am an MBA 2, I will be incredibly jealous of the MBA 1’s.

Beth Lovisa, Forté Fellow
MBA 2014, Stern School of Business at NYU

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Forté's MBALaunch for Women

Are you planning to enroll in an MBA program in Fall 2014?  The Forté MBALaunch for Women is a 10-month program that will provide you with guidance, resources, and ongoing support in the MBA application process.  The program includes a one-day launch event, monthly webinars, peer group meetings, and one-on-one feedback from an experienced advisor.
The Forté MBALaunch for Women will give you a clear road map to help you navigate the MBA application process.
Program Overview:
  • Attend a one-day, kick-off event of intensive workshops and experienced speakers
  • Match up with an experienced advisor throughout the course of the program
  • Participate in monthly webinars on specific topics geared at building a top-notch application
  • Attend monthly Peer group meetings in Chicago, New York City and Washington, D.C.
  • Get access to resources and guides to give you additional support as you navigate this process
Application Deadline December 14!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Wrapping Up My First Semester

Happy Holidays! We are nearing the end of our first semester of the Olin MBA program and what a whirlwind it has been. I wish I could give you a quick “day in the life” of an Olin MBA but that would be impossible since every day is very different from the last. But, in an effort to shed some light on what it is like to be at Olin, here’s a recap of a few days this week…

Up bright and early for an 8am marketing class in which we had a guest speaker, who spoke about social media and the role it can play in B2B and B2C companies. Follow that with a Finance class on finishing up our discussion of Options and moving on to managing risk. Then, I’m off to a meeting with the Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club to discuss upcoming events including a trip to San Francisco for a trek from Silicon Valley up to Napa to visit different companies and alumni and maybe have some fun along the way. We also reviewed our December event with Maxine Clark, CEO of Build-A-Bear and our February Alternative Career Symposium. At noon, it’s on to our Real Estate Finance Lunch and Learn session with Dr. Gordonier. Because we are still in core classes right now and have not had a chance to delve into many specifics, our Real Estate Club planned a fun and informative lunch to introduce our peers to the basics of real estate finance. Then, quick team meeting and run home to get some work done before returning to school for a 5:30 Finance review session.  Sounds tiring when you recap it! Thursday was even better though as we had our legendary Beer Game event for our Operations class! Sadly, no beer was served until the game was over, but we quickly learned how difficult it is to predict demand even in a simple supply chain. Hope this gave you an insight into what a “normal” day (or two) is for an MBA student at Olin!


Leigh Hunt, Forté Fellow
MBA 2013, Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis