Wednesday, January 30, 2013

MBA Internship Recruiting: Valuable Lessons That Will Make Your MBA Internship Recruiting Process Better Than Mine – Part I

I am six months into the MBA program and two weeks into the thick of internship recruiting, and I get it now. I finally understand why the MBA application process is so vigorous. Among many other reasons, MBA schools are preparing you for one of the most important activities in the MBA program, finding a job. Following are four key lessons I learned along the way, that is, the hard way.

Lesson number one: Stay true to your goals through a skills gap assessment

From those time-consuming, tedious introspective essays that ask you about your goals and passions, you should now have an idea about your long- and short-term goals and how the MBA program can help you accomplish them, at least in theory. Here’s the practical way to apply that introspection.

With a long-term goal in mind, see if you can come up with a post-MBA target position or company. Next, make a list of all the skills you have that would help you get to your target. Rank those skills in terms of proficiency and complete that list by adding in skills you lack. That list should help you identify your skill gaps. Use that skill gap assessment as your blueprint to navigate the internship recruitment process, specifically to target individuals for informational interviews and to determine which company corporate presentations to attend and for which positions to apply. Much like the MBA application process, the internship recruiting process is time-consuming, so the more true you are to your goals, the more guided you will be in internship-related decisions.  
By the way, don’t worry about having a clear idea. Mine was not that clear, and I found myself, many times, getting side-tracked by the ocean of opportunities in the MBA program. Informational interviews and networking will help clarify your focus.

Lesson number two: Network and conduct informational interviews as early as possible

Most schools will give you access to their alumni networks as soon as they receive your intent to attend confirmation.  Search that alumni network for people working at companies or in positions of interest, and begin your outreach as early as possible. Do not exclude current students, because they will actually be one of your most important resources. Once school starts, your time will be limited.  Your primary goals in the informational interviews should be to learn more about the interviewee’s position, company and why he or she chose that position or company. These conversations will not only help you narrow your internship search criteria early but also get you leads to off-campus career opportunities, as well as mentors to help you throughout the internship recruitment process. If you prepare early enough, you’ll be able to take advantage of the next lesson.

To be continued, watch for our next blog post.

Shaw-chin Ioana Chiu, Forté Fellow
MBA 2014, The Fuqua School of Business at Duke, Forte Fellow

Monday, January 28, 2013

Tips for Forums & Fairs – Spring Opportunities

Whether you are still exploring the benefits and options of an MBA or ready to tackle those applications and essays, Forums and Fairs are a great resource!
I attended a Forté Forum before taking the GMAT and long before I knew which programs I was applying to.  The Forum brings together MBA women and admissions representatives and allows you to make connections and learn which program is right for you!  Below are a few tips for attending forums and fairs:

·         Do your research.  Take some time to study the schools and panelists attending the forum.  What are the application deadlines?  Are the classes lecture or case based?  What kinds of clubs are available for MBA students to participate in?  Did one of the panelists attend your Alma matter?  What motivated them to pursue an MBA?  Come prepared with questions to make the most of your forum experience.

·         Arrive early.  Many admissions representatives will be setting up their booths and preparing their materials.  Arrive early and you’ll have a chance to network before the event begins.

·         Dress the part.  Make an impactful first impression by wearing business professional attire.  Adding a pop of color to your ensemble or wearing a statement necklace will make you stand out among the crowd!
Which fairs will you attend this spring?  Post your comments below!

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

The MBA Tour Spring Fairs
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Forté Forums return August 2013!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Reflecting upon INSEAD’s first ever Abu Dhabi module for MBA students

In May 2012 (after I had been accepted into INSEAD but yet to start), we heard from the Deputy Dean Peter Zemsky that ours could be the first class that will be given an opportunity to be part of INSEAD’s first ever Abu Dhabi module. As I had grown up in the Middle East for part of my childhood, I got quite excited to visit this region again as an adult. Also, having the additional opportunity to actually learn about business environment in the middle east made this an excellent opportunity.. 

Needless to say, I applied in October 2012 to attend the module and was one of 36 students selected to attend. There is already an Executive MBA program at Abu Dhabi campus but this was the first time, MBA students from Singapore and Fontainebleau were invited to be part of the campus. The program runs over two residential weeks (early January, end of February and a final presentation day at the end of March) and involves a consulting based project.

I recently completed the first part of the Abu Dhabi module and was amazed at just how much I learnt about the region in the week that we were there. My highlight for the entire week was the lecture at the very beginning of the week on factors driving ‘Global wealth creation’ delivered by the well-renowned INSEAD strategy professor: Prof. Neil Jones. In delivering a framework to analyze cities and countries around the world and their potential to support development, he armed students with an intelligent way to converse about the topic. Thank you Prof. Jones!

Throughout the week, we had numerous opportunities to network with EMBA students and also to meet some of the 480 INSEAD alums in the Emirates. The mornings and afternoons were packed with multiple panels (finance, human capital, economic development) and company visits (media, banking, development and funding organizations, oil & gas and consulting firms). One of the free afternoons, (which was a rarity!) we went on a desert safari consisting of team-building activities/games and dune bashing, ending off with an authentic Middle Eastern dinner, as the sun set in the desert.

As I look back, I realize that the week in Abu Dhabi was exactly how I had pictured my MBA to be—an intense, yet practical learning experience filled with moments of cultural immersion and meeting people from all around the world. Thank you INSEAD for delivering such an amazing week for all of us. I am definitely looking forward to my second week in Abu Dhabi at the end of February.

Sweeny Chhabra, Forté Fellow

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

MBA Internship Recruiting: Valuable Lessons That Will Make Your MBA Internship Recruiting Process Better Than Mine – Part II

Continued from last week…

I am six months into the MBA program and two weeks into the thick of internship recruiting, and I get it now. I finally understand why the MBA application process is so vigorous. Among many other reasons, MBA schools are preparing you for one of the most important activities in the MBA program, finding a job. Following are four key lessons I learned along the way, that is, the hard way.
Lesson number three: If applicable, get your internship recruitment done early at affinity conferences

As a female Pacific Islander, I kick myself all the time for not starting early with affinity conferences. Attending diversity conferences allow you to meet with your target companies, as well as to interview with them for target positions. These conferences typically occur in the months of August and October, and yes, it will be a stressful time for you while your colleagues enjoy the MBA social scene. However, the tables will be turned later in the year when you have received and accepted an ideal offer, taking advantage of the amazing MBA resources at your fingertips and having a real winter break, while your colleagues are busily preparing for interviews, which begin as early as the first week of January. To learn more about affinity conferences, contact your school’s career services.

Lesson number four: Keep your options open
Lastly, I know this may seem contradictory to my previous lessons, but here’s what I mean when I say to keep your options open: First of all, pursue both on- and off-campus opportunities. These will give you more options, minimize competitive pressures and ensure you get to your target companies, which sometimes do not recruit on campus. Secondly, think of your internship search as a two-year search, so do not completely exclude companies, because their offices are in unattractive locations, or positions, because you might be working on an unattractive project. A small percentage of MBA students get and accept full-time offers from their summer internships, so try not to get bogged down from the pressure of getting the perfect summer internship. Instead, think of your summer internship as experience you can leverage to get your ideal full-time position. Lastly, do not exclude yourself from applying for a job because you feel you may not have the “preferred” qualifications and experience listed on the job posting. Seriously, most MBA students are career switchers, therefore, are most likely in the same situation, and employers expect this. The worst that could happen is you do not get invited to interview for your ideal position. In that case, there is always full-time recruiting next year.
In summary, have an idea of what you want to out of your summer internship, start early by reaching out for assistance, attend a diversity conference, and keep an open-mind, because anything can happen. If you use any one of these four lessons in your internship search, your experience will most likely be a little better than mine.

Shaw-chin Ioana Chiu, Forté Fellow
MBA 2014, The Fuqua School of Business at Duke

Monday, January 21, 2013

Wait, Move Where? Considerations for Partners

When describing my MBA experience to friends and family over the Christmas holiday, the same words kept popping up: tight-knit, close, communal,.  As an MBA student at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth in Hanover, NH, I’ve left city life for the pleasures of a small town.  While it’s been a wonderful change for many of the students, it’s also been a major life adjustment for many of the Tuck partners.  With a married population of about 30%, Tuck is known as an extremely partner-friendly school.  Partners audit classes, run an active partners’ club, and are highly involved in Tuck life.  However, many partners who choose to move to Hanover also must confront building new networks and finding a job in a limited market. 

Whether you and your partner will make a move for school or will remain in your current location, your new life as a student will be an adjustment for both of you.  Consider the following questions before you make your final decision:

·         Does my partner want to be an active part of my MBA experience?  Do the schools I am considering have specific resources offered to partners?

·         Are partners welcomed into the social life of the school?  Is there a social divide between single students and students with partners?

·         Will my partner be changing jobs? What are the job opportunities around my school? What financial decisions will we have to make?

·         We have children.  Is there a network of students with children or support for stay-at-home parents? Does the school offer childcare?

·         MBA students are extremely busy.  What opportunities exist for my partner to build connections beyond my new network?

·         Are my partner and I willing to live apart for some or all of my time at school?

Your return to school will be a transition for you and your partner.  Make sure that you both do your research and lay out all of your option so that you can come to a mutually-informed and positive decision.

Stephanie O’Brien, Forté Fellow
MBA 2014, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

"Test Drive" B-Schools during Admit Weekend

It’s the New Year!  Now is when tides turn from applicants to admitted students!  And while you can see the end of the tunnel, decisions aren't over yet.  Soon start the Admit Weekends.

I see Admit Weekends kind of like a test drive of a car.  You've done your online research on the car, talked to other owners, checked out all the stats and probably even visited the dealership to look at the car.  Now is time for a test drive.  You get to sit in the car, see how it feels, see how it runs and if you can actually envision yourself with that car.

You see where I'm going? Admit weekends are a huge opportunity to help yourself make tough decisions about which b-school is right for you.

Here are a few tips on how to make the most of your Admit Weekends.  Good luck!

- Before you attend, take an inventory of which aspects are most important to you.  Admit Weekends can be a flurry of meeting new people, seminars, free food, events and information.  It can be helpful to have a framework or a structure to remind yourself which factors are most important to you in your b-school decision.  Certainly see everything there is to offer during the weekend, but make sure you remember what the big deciding factors are for you.

- Take notes and get contact information.  Notes can be as simple as "liked this professor" or "talked to Sam Smith about recruiting company he is starting".  These types of insights can be very helpful after the inundation of information at admit weekend for you to follow up with afterward.  

- If you are not from the area, take time to look into housing and exploring the city.  Are there specific areas where many students live?  Are there certain neighborhoods you like best?  What are transportation options?  After deciding on a school, having insights into these next items will be extremely helpful later on.

- Ask questions and take time to dig for deeper answers if needed.  I always appreciate people who ask questions.  This is your opportunity to find out answers to the little lingering question marks in your mind.  It is also helpful sometimes to dig a little deeper than an initial question to get real insights.  For example, I remember a lot of people asking current students what their favorite part of school was.  Their response was usually "the people" or "my peers".  This is helpful to know, but after the same response many times, isn't very helpful. Try rephrasing the question to what are their top three favorite parts of business school so far, or even following up with what about their peers is so intriguing to them.  A little digging can get a lot more information.

- Attend all the events you can, even the unofficial ones. But don't be afraid to go off the beaten track.  Maybe you want to take some of your free time to go check in a student office rather than get the coffee break that is suggested.  Just because something isn't on the official schedule, usually doesn't mean it is off limits.  

- Lastly, keep an open mind and enjoy yourself.  You don't have to make a decision that weekend.  Try to be in the moment as much as possible.  Save the analysis for when you get back home!

Tricia Felice, Forte Fellow
MBA 2014, University of Chicago Booth School of Business