Last September, I took a huge first step in my MBA application process that continues to empower me: I attended a Forté Forum.
As I entered the lobby at One Bryant Park on a brisk evening last fall, I found my place in line behind hundreds of other young women waiting to check into the event. Right away, I felt at home. The other women were clearly as eager as I was. Looking around, I could feel any trepidation about the path to an MBA fall way. I was excited to get more involved with an organization whose mission is to support women, like me, who dream of pursuing an MBA – and coach them to make that dream a reality.
If you’re preparing to attend your first Forté Forum this fall, read on. A little advance planning will go a long way toward your making the most of this opportunity.
- If you haven’t yet… sign up now! The New York event sold out last year, so don’t wait to register. Plus, once you submit your e-mail address, you’ll begin receiving e-mails from business schools with more information on who will be representing them at the event. Some programs may also invite you to participate in on-site interviews prior to the event, which you’ll need to schedule in advance.
- Prepare to meet representatives from top MBA programs. The Forum offers you an unparalleled opportunity to learn more about the MBA programs of interest to you and to explore programs you’re not as familiar with. No matter where you are in the MBA research and application process, you will walk away from the event knowing more. Come prepared: identify a short list of programs you want to connect with, and brainstorm two to three questions to ask each program after conducting research on each. (Not sure what to ask? Here are some great suggestions.) Then, identify a longer list of schools you want to at least interface with, and make sure to visit those tables and leave your e-mail on the sign in sheet, at a minimum.
- Allow time for the panels. I found the panel discussions offered at the Forum to be among the most valuable aspects of the event. Hearing directly from female MBA alumnae in a variety of fields, programs and career levels was enlightening and encouraging. The insights the women communicated about their experiences both during the MBA program and in their post-MBA careers were both inspiring and useful.
- Plan (and balance) your time wisely. The fair opens at 6PM, and panel discussions take place from 7-9PM (the first hour is the alumnae panel and the second hour is an Admissions panel with reps from various schools.) Take some time before the Forum to think about which panels will be most useful to you, and how you’ll connect with individual schools during the fair. Keep in mind that the fair is open for all three hours. For more crowded/popular programs, you may be able to get more facetime while the panels are taking place.
- Follow up. Be sure to send thank you e-mails to everyone you speak with at the Forum. Following up with a courteous thank you note reiterating your interest in the program (and asking any follow-up questions) is a great way to start a positive relationship with MBA admissions committee members and other program reps.
Beth Connolly is a digital marketing and communications specialist who currently works at a non-profit in New York City. She graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont and is applying to MBA programs in fall 2016. She’s currently a member of Forte’s MBALaunch program.