Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Elizabeth Woodwick, A Current Forté Fellow, on Her Experience at Last Year's Conference

As a Forté Fellow, I was fortunate to attend the Forté Women's MBA Conference in Chicago last June, and I can assure you that it is an experience no prospective student, current student, or alumna should miss. Beginning business school can feel intimidating - like standing on the ten meter platform above a deep, crowded pool. There will be lifeguards and coaches to help you once you get to school, in the guise of professors, staff, and mentors, but think of the Forté Conference as swimming lessons and an opportunity to develop a training plan before you make your big leap.

Attending the Conference last year gave me the perfect opportunity to update my resume, try out my newly-developed elevator speech, and meet some amazing women who were beginning the same journey, or were further down the road and had advice to offer. The panels aimed at first year women were especially helpful - I received recruiting and career search advice directly from recruiters who worked with MBA students, and from MBA women who had succeeded in obtaining careers in industries that interested me. Through the panels and career fair, I met multiple women that I was able to follow up with after the conference, and started networking with some companies that ended up making my internship short-list. Just as important, I was able to decide that that I was less interested in pursuing a few of the functions or roles that I learned about.

While the panels served to educate and connect, the keynote speakers were both educational and inspiring. Women from a variety of industries and backgrounds, they had all been immensely successful in their chosen paths. One of my favorite quotes came from Connie Duckworth, who had a long and successful career at Goldman Sachs and now runs a nonprofit called Arzu Studio Hope. She said “Careers are not a straight line activity. They are full of branches and decision points. If you’re opportunistic, you will have the chance to get engaged in a wide array of activities. My advice is to take each assignment and milk it for whatever you can learn and file that away in your toolbox.”

The Forté Conference is a great opportunity to learn, and to keep building your business and management toolbox. I look forward to attending this year's conference in New York, and I hope that you will join me there!

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