Wednesday, February 25, 2009

2008 Forte Forum: MBA Value Proposition New Video

Prospective MBA students attended Forté Forums across the country and learned about the MBA admissions process as well as exciting career opportunities in business for MBA graduates.

Watch videos from our popular New York City event, and get advice on MBA Admissions and post-MBA careers.

MBA Alumnae Panel

Admissions Panel

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Deadlines Approaching

The life of an MBA applicant can prove hectic during the approaching holiday season. A number of school's first round deadlines have already passed, others loom on the horizon. So, for those of you taking the GMAT, interviewing, and writing essays--this time of year can seem like you are already back in school taking exams and finishing up class projects.

I hope that when you were making your decisions about where to apply you didn't select your top 10 and then set about to complete as many applications. If so, I may need to come and visit you for a personal intervention or serious pep talk. Our advice at Forte is to pick 3-5 schools. Pick 1-2 stretch schools, 1-2 schools where you are very competitive based on the applicant profile, and a back-up school where you are fairly sure you will be admitted.

Now that we're all on the same page, a couple of tips for making it through the next couple of months.

  • If you haven't already, take the GMAT as soon as possible so that you can move forward with the remaining steps of applying to b-school. Having this test behind you will make the rest of the process go more smoothly.

  • Spend some time in preparation before you start writing or interviewing. Ask yourself the hard questions about why you want an MBA, how will it advance your career, why have you chosen the particular schools on your short list, etc. Make sure you have strong and valid reasons that you can share through your essays and campus interviews.

  • For tips on application essays and interviewing, refer back to earlier entries in this blog. Also, check out the Getting Your MBA section on Forte's web site. The Articles link will take you to lots of great articles about the admissions process.

  • Once you've completed a draft of your essays, ask a colleague, friend, or family member to review the essays. Be sure to pick someone who will be straightforward and constructively critical of what you've written. Asking someone who attended business school or who has a business background is also helpful.

  • Spend some time incorporating clarifying points and strong examples into your essays.

And finally, don't forget to relax--enjoy the time you can spend with friends and family over the next couple of months. Keeping that balance will give you perspective and help you focus as you write your essays and interview.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanks, Forte.

I cannot imagine my MBA experience without Forte. That sounds extreme, I know , but I’m indebted to the organization for even having the courage to apply for my MBA in the first place. Life is a series of moments and many of my big MBA “moments” are somehow linked to Forte. I remember surfing the internet to learn more about business schools when I stumbled upon a Forte Fellow of the Month blog on the website. Her story mirrored mine and it inspired me to take a risk and apply. Like me, she attended a great undergrad program and studied liberal arts. She had never imagined business school was for her but found her way into the doors of Columbia and hadn’t looked back since. Knowing she could do it and be successful meant I could, too.

My next official touch point with Forte, after being awarded the honor of a fellowship, was attending the Annual Conference in NYC the summer before starting my MBA. I can still remember the excitement and buzz at the Conference. For one, I was exposed to top recruiters from Fortune 500 companies. Back on campus I ran into these same recruiters and immediately I was “in” with them and we had something to talk about. Secondly, at the Forte Conference I felt like I was a part of something bigger than myself – hundreds of brilliant, optimistic young women and professionals gathered to learn from each other and celebrate together. I met MBAs from many schools including Michigan, UNC, and Northwestern. Where we were headed for school didn’t matter because we were all the same one thing: Forte Fellows.

Next I auditioned to be a Forte MBA Diary Blogger because I felt like it was a quick way to ‘pay-it-forward’ and give back. It’s been great fun and sometimes I meet prospective students who have been watching the posts and really appreciate hearing what the MBA is like day-to-day. On campus I met the other fellows and one of the 2nd year Fellows fortunately ended up tutoring me in Quant, my hardest class. Given my connection to the organization and its purpose, I decided to run for President of Kelley Women. Being associated with Forte definitely helped me to be elected and also provided resources to help the club. This past summer it was amazing to return to the Forte Conference and serve on a panel for incoming Fellows and connect with the new Kelley fellows and other Forte alum that I’d met through recruiting and networking. There were endless friendly faces that highlighted to me the value of an MBA and a network like Forte. The energy and commitment from top executives that come to speak and provide training and the devotion of Forte and MBA program Forte alliance staff is unmatched.

As I launch my post-MBA career, I will never forget Forte and what Forte has provided me. Being a Forte Fellow is an honor and to me means a lifelong network and support group that does exactly what the organization promises: Inspiring Women Business Leaders.

Kate Lehman
MBA Class of 2009
Kelley School of Business at Indiana

Friday, November 21, 2008

Stay Connected Through Online Events

Forté Foundation is offering a series of career development webinars that take an in-depth look at the various industries in business, including financial services, corporate finance, consulting, and marketing. Representatives from leading Forté sponsor companies will provide information on the career paths available by pursuing your MBA. This is a great opportunity to learn more about careers in business and start networking with representatives from these top companies.

The schedule is listed here - just click on a link to register:

Marketing Industry Introduction with Eli Lilly & Co. and MetLife
December 8, 5-6 p.m. EST

Financial Services Industry Introduction with Goldman, Sachs & Co., Deutsche Bank and Merrill Lynch
December 9, 5-6 p.m. EST

Corporate Finance Industry Introduction with Chevron, Johnson & Johnson, General Mills and John Deere
December 10, 5-6 p.m. EST

Consulting Industry Introduction with McKinsey, Ernst & Young, Deloitte and IBM
December 11, 5-6 p.m. EST

If you're interested in a career in financial services, join us for Forté Financial Services FAST Track Office Hours, where you can gain valuable insight into this high-performance profession. Participate in an Office Hours webinar and learn about careers in finance with leading companies in this industry. Interact with firms, explore this profession, and learn what opportunities exist for you.

The schedule is (click on a link to register):

Office Hours with Fidelity
January (Date and time TBD)

Office Hours with Wachovia
January 12, 1-2 PM EST

Office Hours with MetLife
February 24, 12 - 1 PM EST

We encourage you to take advantage of these great opportunities to learn more about industries, careers, and companies that you're interested in. Visit Forté's online events page to see all the online content we're offering.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Finding Great Recommendation Letters

Good recommendation letters are often the toughest to find. But they are well worth the effort since the importance of good letters should never be underestimated. Admissions officers use recommendation letters to gauge a number of things, including your ability to work with others, your leadership skills and your values. For these reasons, it’s important to 1) identify potential writers who can compose strong letters on your behalf, 2) create a line-up of writers who can add dimension to your application and 3) successfully approach prospective writers with the ask.


First, identify individuals who can provide compelling examples of your stellar performance and how you would be a good fit for a particular business school. Make sure that you have selected individuals who can successfully communicate their thoughts on paper. Their titles or job functions are not important. What is important is that you’ve worked closely with them in a professional or extra-curricular setting.


Second, these individuals should be able to provide different perspectives. In other words, make sure that the writers are each communicating something unique about your candidacy. For my applications, my writers consisted of 1) a manager whom I worked with closely and could talk about my initiative and practical skills, 2) a co-worker and peer who could attest to my ability to work well in teams, and 3) the president (of a non-profit organization I volunteered with) who could provide examples of my leadership capabilities.


Third, set a meeting with each individual. Be straightforward by asking if they would be willing to write “good” or “great” recommendation letters on your behalf. Be prepared to provide details about the application process and the time necessary for the writing of these recommendations. To help your writer along and help you manage the process, provide your writer with reminders of your recent, relevant accomplishments, your motivations for business school and a timeline of key dates. I wanted my writers to feel engaged to the process, so I also provided them with brief summaries of the content within my application essays.

Great recommendation letters may make the difference! Please take the time to find writers who can provide meaningful stories for your application.

Good luck!

Jennifer Jeng
MBA Class of 2009
MIT Sloan School of Management


Friday, October 24, 2008

The B-School Interview

Getting Started
As you approach the interview process, start by looking at what role each school expects the interview to play. A school may request that all candidates interview on campus because they really want to gauge the applicant’s fit with their community. Other schools may ask alumni to conduct interviews, either with a set of questions provided by the school or with their own questions. In this case, the school may be less concerned with fit and more concerned with getting a second opinion. Some schools may require you to give a presentation as part of the interview, which serves as another means of gauging your thought processes. By identifying the school’s expectations from the interview process, you can better direct your preparations. is a good resource for identifying some of these intricacies.

Preparing for the Interview
As you prepare for the interview, take advantage of advice from the many others who have already gone through the interview process. Again, and other MBA-prep websites have collected feedback from applicants, including specific questions that they were asked in interviews for different schools. Use this list as a template and think through how you would answer each one. As you develop your answers, be sure to think about elements of your experience that you want to communicate in the interview and how you could work them into different types of questions. You can’t guarantee the questions the interviewer will ask, but you want to make sure you’re able to highlight the key elements of your story. Also, it’s a good idea to re-read your application as you prepare. You should know from your communication with the school whether or not the interviewer will have seen your application prior to the interview. If so, be prepared for several specific questions about what you wrote. Finally, be sure you have good answers to four sure-fire questions: why do you want to get an MBA?, why at this school?, why is now the right time?, and walk me through your resume. These are pretty sure to show up in one form or another.

A second step in your preparation should be reviewing your research about specific elements you like about the school. Are there any clubs you want to join? Why? Perhaps you are excited about international study opportunities or specific classes. Be prepared with several school-specific items that you can work into your conversation with the interviewer. This shows that you are truly interested in that school and know why it’s a good fit for you. Finally, use this preparation to build a list of intelligent questions that you can ask the interviewer when they open the floor to you. Invariably, you will be asked if you have any questions, and you want to avoid asking questions that could easily be answered by reading the school’s website. Use these questions to show the interest you have in the school, its faculty, or its program.

The Interview
Before interview day, prepare for the logistics: you may need to invest in a new suit (pants and skirt suits are both common) or accessories. Looking and feeling confident and professional will be to your advantage overall. When interview day arrives, be sure to arrive at the interview location early. If you’re interviewing in a new city, give yourself plenty of time to navigate. If the interview is held in a less traditional location, such as a restaurant or bar, plan your menu options ahead so you don’t have to think about it during the interview and can focus on conversation. Regardless of location, be sure to have several professional copies of your resume with you—one for each person who will be in the room. Greet the interviewer with a firm handshake and eye contact. Throughout the conversation, listen to what they’re saying and asking. This will help you identify opportunities to work in the facts you want to communicate to the interviewer. Finally, try to be relaxed. I know it’s not easy, but the more you can help yourself relax, the more confident you will come across.

In the end, regardless of the outcome, if you’ve invested the time to prepare well, you will be proud of yourself for putting your best foot forward. Good Luck!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Don't Worry...Be Prepared

The GMAT is oftentimes the greatest hurdle to overcome in order to apply for business school. There is nothing to fear as long as you’re prepared. If you are a recent graduate or still in undergrad, now is a great time to take the GMAT if you plan on going back to get your MBA within the next five years. Test scores are valid for five years, and it’s typically a lot easier to study for the test while you are still in college.

Preparation is the key to the GMAT. Take time to familiarize yourself with the test and to speak with people who have already taken the GMAT. I’m sure they’ll be more than willing to share their insight. After you have familiarized yourself, it’s best to stick to a study schedule that fits your schedule. Some students start studying six months or even a year before the test; while others just spend two to three months in order to prevent burnout. Both Kaplan and Princeton Review offer review courses, which many students find helpful. Whether you should enroll in a GMAT prep course depends on what type of learner you are. If you benefit from the classroom environment, this is a great option. GMAT preparatory books and online resources are a great way to prepare for the exam. There are also practice exams available at, and it’s a good idea to practice the exams online before going into the test. This will give you a more realistic feel for the test as compared with the paper-based practice exams.

While you are practicing, really dive into why the answer is correct. If you take time studying the theory behind the answers it will pay off when you take the exam. Most importantly, remember to go into your GMAT preparation with a positive attitude. Make studying fun. Figuring out the answers to complex problems and reading comprehension can actually be interesting.

Remember you will have to make accommodations in your lifestyle in order to prepare adequately for the exam. This may mean giving up watching television or going out with friends, at times. If you are confident about your GMAT preparation, it will make taking the exam a much more enjoyable and rewarding experience. Good luck!

Kristi Martin, Assistant Director of Admissions, Illinois MBA