Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What's the Best Fit For You?

It’s a busy time here at Carlson. We’re just winding down our on-campus recruiting for summer internships and already a good percentage of my classmates have positions secured. It’s a great feeling, and such a relief! Now there’s more time to focus on school work and of course spending time with our soon-to-be-departing second year friends.

Of course, it’s also a busy time for all of you! First and second round admissions decisions are making their way out to prospective students, and now the tables have turned. It’s your turn to judge each school to which you have been admitted, and determine which might be the best fit for the next two years of your life. Below I’ve compiled a checklist I found handy when weighing my options around this time last year. By no means is the list exhaustive, but a lot of these items can be easily assessed at upcoming admitted student weekends – which, if you’re able, you should absolutely attend.

·       Student body: Do you like the students you meet while visiting the school, or the people who call you to follow up on your offer of admission? Can you see yourself spending upwards of 50-60 hours each week with them?

·       Curriculum: Did you sit in on a class? Did the students seem engaged, or were they messing around on their cell phones the entire time? Did you like the professor? Does the school focus on one particular type of career development, and if so, is that the career you’re 100 percent certain you want to pursue after graduation?

·       Career opportunities: What does recruiting look like at the school? Are there companies that consider the school a “core” school for intern and full-time candidates? Which companies are located near the school, with whom you can network and interact with throughout the school year? What’s the job placement rate for graduates?

·        Alumni: How strong is the school’s alumni network? How does the school support your interactions with their alums?

·        Extra-curricular: Is the student body generally engaged? Are there active clubs? What types of activities do they participate in outside of school? Can you see yourself living in the city in which the school is located? Is that city easy to navigate – and if not, will you have access to transportation? Are there fun things to do in the city outside of school?

Enjoy the process of exploring your potential new schools! There are so many great schools to choose from – now it’s just about finding the one that fits you best!

Sarah Riley, Forte Fellow
MBA 2014, Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota

Monday, February 25, 2013

Tips for Telling Your Boss about Your BSchool Decision

Hopefully acceptance letters are rolling in and your mind has shifted to transitioning from your full time job into Business School.  If you are going into a full time program, this likely means leaving your job.  I experienced this last year when I left a job I loved in Los Angeles to move to Chicago for Booth.  Telling my boss about my decision was difficult, but it helped to remain focused on the personal progress I knew I would experience through my MBA.  Here are some tips on how to handle the conversation.

TIMING: Your boss may already know you are thinking about leaving for business school, especially if they wrote you a rec letter.  It is still important, however, to keep them in the loop about your final decision and timeframes.  Provide more than enough time for the company to make a transition with your role.  I personally don’t think the standard 2 weeks is enough.  The earlier the better, really. 

PREPARE: Plan how you will complete or successfully hand off any open projects.  Your intention should be to leave the company happy with you and your work.  Present your plans to your boss when you discuss your departure.  Even if your boss would like to alter the plans, it shows a level of respect that you have thought this through beforehand.  Also consider how you pass off clients to your successor or co-workers.  This can be vital in keeping not only the company’s client relationships intact, but also a network for you in the future.

KEEP IT PROFESSIONAL: Craft a professional letter of resignation to make your end date official.  This will likely be an email and may even cover the points you discussed in your meeting, but making it official is still helpful.  This letter is also a wonderful time to recap your appreciation for the company and leave the door open for a future relationship with the company. 

PART TIME: If you will be working while you are in school, you need to show your employer why your educational goals will benefit the company as well.  Get specific here.  Maybe there are certain areas your company has wanted to expand into that you will get a better grasp of in business school.  Or show your boss some of the course offerings you are planning to take that could be directly relevant to your work experience.  Frame this as a win-win, because it definitely can be!

Good luck with the conversations, and comment below if you have any other “best practices” to share!

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

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Reflections of the Internship Recruiting Process

I have survived recruiting season during my first year of business school and have emerged with a summer internship offer in my industry of choice! However, many of my classmates are still recruiting or just beginning the process as it varies greatly by industry. While it is a relief to have a position secured for the summer, it is by no means the norm and is only due to the fact that I was mainly recruiting for consulting. But consulting is not for everyone. Recruiting is a very personal journey and it’s best not to compare yourself to any of your peers. Instead, focus on your own personal and professional goals and measure your success that way. Here are some pieces of advice from the past semester regarding recruiting in general, and I am happy to provide more in-depth consulting advice for anyone who is interested.

A few pearls of wisdom from the other side:
  • Have a clear idea of what you’re looking for out of a summer position (and note, this may be completely different than what you wrote in your admission essay - that’s ok).
  • Know yourself inside and out: your story, your strengths, your weaknesses, your personal brand, what you bring to the table, and why you would be a good fit for a particular industry and company.
  • Practice out loud with a real person (not just in front of a mirror). It sounds silly but trust me, it helps.
  • Don’t get caught up in the recruiting ‘buzz’ or feel the need to participate in traditional on-campus recruiting in January/February just because ‘everyone else is doing it’. I assure, there are plenty of students who do not have internships at this point but definitely will.
  • Have the confidence to explore a new area or switch careers.
  • Keep your options open: attend corporation presentations or career fairs, and network with companies that sound interesting even if they weren’t initially on your radar.
  • Have a back-up plan. Unfortunately, recruiting for summer internships can be competitive as there are limited spots. Have a few industries in mind and keep expanding your network and talking to companies. You might even discover a company that is a better fit.
  • Remember, it’s just a 10-week internship, not a lifelong relationship. You can always leverage the experience to secure a fulltime job at another company or in another industry if the internship wasn’t what you wanted or not a good fit.
  • Stay positive and have fun! Make a note of the companies that treat you well throughout the process and are just as interested in you as you are in them.

Best of luck! It always works out in the end and if it doesn’t work out, it’s not the end.

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

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Nailing the Interview: The 2 Most important questions

Ding. An email pops into your inbox and your heart flutters in anticipation when you see it’s from first choice business school. Congratulations! We want you. Yes, you! All you have to do is prove to us that you are who you say you are- a confident leader, ready to advance your business career.  The key to winning in the interview is preparation and confidence. Ultimately, no one knows you and your experience better than you do. But what questions should you expect?

Two important questions EVERY business school will ask you are: “Tell me about yourself” and “Do you have any questions for me?” Make sure you nail them.

The TMAY question is essentially a 2-4 minute chronological career synopsis that you design to surface information that is most relevant to your listener.  Think of the TMAY as a table of contents that will announce the key themes of your candidacy and will open the way for deeper discussion. Read over your personal statement and essays to pull out significant learning or measurable accomplishments from your experience to serve as these value themes.

The TMAY is a crucial question to nail.  Here is an easy way to frame your answer:

1.       Start with your introduction- where you graduated college, other relevant degrees (Master’s etc.) and then tell them where you want to take them, specifically through past work experience, community involvement etc.

2.      Summarize your career progression chronologically, highlighting 3-5 relevant themes where you have quantifiable impact (ie. leadership, analytical problem solving, passion for social impact, working across cultural borders etc).

3.      Closing Statement- reiterate your interest in the particular school and stress the logical and convincing reasons this schools is a good fit for you and you for them.

Let your preparation take you the rest of the way and always have questions for the interviewer ready to go. Remember it’s a two-way conversation and the right questions from you signal your thoughtful preparation and interest. Good luck!

Teresa Delgado, Forté Fellow
MBA 2014, Georgetown University McDonough School of Business


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Monday, February 11, 2013

Navigating the Recruiting Process

As this year’s internship recruiting season winds to a close, the collective sense of accomplishment and relief is palpable. While not everyone received an offer from their first choice company, most students are excited about their plans for the summer. When navigating the recruiting process, it’s important to keep a few things in mind.

First, decide what really matters to you. Reread your admissions essays and talk to people who know you well. Make a list of your priorities for an internship, considering items such as industry, company structure (family owned vs. publicly traded), location, program type (e.g., direct hire, rotational, internal consulting), and prospects for a full-time offer. Then review the list of companies coming to your campus to see which ones match your list. Keep in mind that a great summer experience might merit accepting lower pay.

Second, stay active in the on-campus recruiting scene but don’t get sidetracked by companies that don’t match your priorities. You’ll receive emails from companies and might be enticed by the glitzy firms wining and dining your classmates, but it’s important to stay focused and keep your attention on your top few choices.

Third, don’t assume that you’re restricted to companies recruiting on your campus. If you don’t see what you want, ask your career office about access to other schools’ databases. Most companies select only a handful of “target” schools that most closely match their company’s culture or requirements, and focus their recruiting efforts there; however, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t open to candidates from other schools. Many MBA programs share their recruiting databases with other schools so, while you usually can’t apply through another school, you might at least find a few companies you like. Once you do, reach out to them directly.

Fourth, don’t disengage just because you’re recruiting off-campus. There are still a lot of resources at your school that can add value to your internship search. Be sure to reach out to alumni in your field of interest to get advice and see if they know of any opportunities that fit your goals. Attend presentations by your career office on networking, cover letters, resumes, salary negotiations, and interviewing, as these will all be equally important to an off-campus search. And set up time with your career office to ensure that you stay on the right track.

Most importantly, don’t get discouraged. Everyone receives offers at a different pace, and each industry has its own recruiting cadence. Soon enough you’ll be right there with everyone else, excitedly chatting away about your upcoming internship.


Ellen Cory, Forté Fellow
MBA 2014, The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

Friday, February 8, 2013

Women Going Global with the MBA

Regardless of where you live, the nature of business today is global. MBA Women are forging their careers working in major cities around the world. Whether you're looking to take your career to the next level, start your own venture, or change careers all together, an MBA gives you the skills, confidence and know-how to make it happen. This past winter, MBA Alumnae from India, China, Germany, France, Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador who have pursued their MBA and successfully entered the global business arena shared their career insights.

Take a moment to listen in on these valuable discussions:

Monday, February 4, 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

Friday, February 1, 2013

Could You Function With Only Half a Brain? What Organizations and Leaders Need to Do

By Becky Shambaugh

Companies that ignore the broad spectrum of leadership thinking are destined to fail. The new leadership model for the 21st century is called Integrated Leadership, and it’s based on gender intelligence – balanced teams of men and women working together synergistically to create an overwhelming, undeniable competitive advantage. In my newest book, MAKE ROOM FOR HER: Why Companies Need an Integrated Leadership Model to Achieve Extraordinary Results (McGraw-Hill), I share how organizations can harness the collective strengths of both men and women to soar to new heights.
As the 113th Congress begins, it includes a record number of women, proving that the “old boys’ network” of the 20th century is giving way to a gender-balanced leadership model. Politicians and executives who fail to tap into gender intelligence will get left behind. Consider these statistics:
§  Gender-diverse companies are 69% more profitable. (Source: Harvard Business Review)
§  Companies with the most gender-diverse management had 48% higher earnings. (Source: McKinsey)
§  Companies with significantly more women in the senior ranks had 1.7 times greater stock growth. (Source: McKinsey)

How can gender diversity make such a distinct difference? When men and women work together as equals, they tap into broader perspectives, access a wider range of skills and think more innovatively. Ironically, the very qualities that have historically kept women out of top leadership roles – emotional and social intelligence, collaboration and inclusiveness – are the very qualities organizations and their leadership teams must have to succeed in today’s challenging and complex global marketplace.
Yet women still aren’t equally represented in leadership. They comprise 51% of the American workforce but as little as 15% of the executive suite and corporate boards. That’s why I contend that organizations are using only half of their leadership intelligence. Integrated Leadership offers organizations a way to leverage gender intelligence and create a balanced leadership perspective that yields better business results.
Building an Integrated Leadership team requires a holistic approach. Everyone – men, women and the organizations for which they work – must play a role in the solution. Make Room for Her explains how to build an integrated leadership team through real-world case studies and interviews with more than 50 top executives from companies such as Marriott, Merck and IBM.
The book reveals:

§  What an Integrated Leadership model looks like
§  Why the Integrated Leadership approach is both powerful and sustainable
§  How to harness and leverage the unique leadership qualities of men and women
§  How today’s women can best leverage their energy, talents and power in the workplace
§  Firsthand advice from male leaders on how women can advance and a female perspective on how men can best coach and support them

Gender intelligence is the new competitive advantage. Do you have a gender-balanced, integrated leadership team?
Make Room for Her is available wherever books are sold.
Learn more about SHAMBAUGH’s upcoming Leadership Programs, Becky’s Keynote Offerings, Coaching and their signature Women In Leadership and Learning Program (WILL) by visiting