Monday, June 17, 2013

How to Launch your MBA Experience at the Forté MBA Women’s Leadership Conference

by Jenn Ash, UNC Kenan-Flagler Forté Fellow, 2012

What would you do if you had hundreds of the brightest minds in the country together in one place for 48 hours? Think beyond building a longer contact list - to building ideas into action. You are a leader, a goal setter, a movement launcher.  Bring your whole self to the Forté MBA Women’s Leadership Conference and leave with more of what others have to offer. Here are seven ways to launch your MBA experience to a higher level at the Forté Conference.

Tell your story. In this distinguished group of women, we share common qualities of intellect and leadership, so what makes you different? Your experiences thus far have unusual moments, game changing decisions and interesting details. Share your best highlights, not just your hometown and career function.  The more you share, the more others can connect with you.

Seek out diversity. We learn most from others who are not like us. It’s comfortable to group with who you know.  Step out of your comfort zone for a few minutes and reach out to a friendly face who can bring you new perspective.

Know your goals. If you aspire to work in finance, think about the milestones that will help you get to that final result. These might include: insider knowledge of company culture, deadlines for required applications or possible team assignment options. Recruiters can help you with more than just qualifying for the interview.

Introduce others. In a mixed crowd, this puts everyone at ease and makes others grateful to you. It is also great practice for active listening and helps build connections for others. For example “Hi Katie, I’m Jenn and this is Tiffany. She worked in Energy because she has a passion for sustainability”.

Capture action items. As you absorb the great content from speakers and attendees, write down not what you hear but what you want to do about it. You’ll leave with a greater purpose and more than a notebook of great quotes.

Follow Up. This is the differentiator between those you aspire and those who succeed. Organize yourself to keep track of details and make time to build a connection after the event. Connect on LinkedIn, send them a relevant article or provide some value to the others you meet. Nice to meet you emails are easy to write and forget.

Engage. Like many things, you get out of it what you put into it. Listen carefully, pose a question during Q & A and ask others’ opinions afterward. The more you participate, the more value you will get on the time you’ve invested. During your MBA, the most valuable thing you have is your time, so push yourself to engage, lean in and reap the benefits.

These strategies will heighten your experience at the Forté MBA Women’s Conference.

As you embark on your first or second year of your MBA program, keep in mind the MBA bigger picture: the chance to learn more about yourself and others while growing your skills and expertise to serve the world. This perspective sounds like a lofty notion, but can keep you centered on the goal as the days fly by.  It’s a chance - an opportunity - that you can seize each and every day. Go get ‘em.

Jenn Ash is the Editor of, a blog about blending work and life. As a Content Marketing Strategist, she advises entrepreneurs on growing their business with dynamic marketing. To access her free creative marketing resources, visit She was a Forté Fellow at UNC Kenan-Flagler and currently lives in Charleston, SC.

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