Forte Connect
Impact Stories

Forté Impact: Olivia West

Olivia West, Purdue University, Class of ‘21

  • Incoming Marketing Associate, Eli Lilly and Company
  • Forté Campus Ambassador
  • Forté Career Ready Certificate Earner
  • Forté Women of Color College Leadership Conference, 2019

In her first year at Purdue University, Olivia wasn’t sure where she was headed. Then, as a sophomore, she attended a leadership seminar hosted by the Women in Business group on campus, where she met a few Forté Ambassadors. Through Forté, she would go on to make valuable connections and explore new opportunities for her future career.

After that initial introduction to Forté, Olivia registered for the 2019 Women of Color College Leadership Conference in Washington, DC. The night before the conference, she attended a networking session with the conference host company, PNC. She recalls, “I had amazing, engaging conversations, and I got to ask all my questions about banking. It was a great time to network with the different ladies in attendance, make some friends, and get excited for the Friday conference.”

At Forté conferences, I learn, I level up, I ask questions, and I come out better. I come out sharper. I come out more well-rounded and educated to face whatever’s next — and that is the value proposition behind Forté.

The Right Place at the Right Time

As a mixed-race woman, Olivia remembers how great it felt to be surrounded by women of color at the conference. On her majority white campus, she didn’t always feel like she belonged, but she says, “Forté gave that to me. I remember sitting in that room, alongside of these amazing women from literally all around the country, and just feeling so empowered and so happy. Do you ever get that feeling that you’re exactly where you should be at the right moment? That’s how I felt the whole day.”

Olivia left the event feeling empowered and motivated. She says, “At Forté conferences, I learn, I level up, I ask questions, and I come out better. I come out sharper. I come out more well-rounded and educated to face whatever’s next — and that is the value proposition behind Forté.”

Today, she’s still in contact with many of the women she met at the conference. One of them, a student at an HBCU, introduced Olivia to the black sorority that she later joined. The conference also got the ball rolling on Olivia’s involvement with Forté. She says, “After I went to that conference, I was super pumped and motivated to then complete my Career Ready Certificate.”

Finding Her Future Path

Olivia encourages other undergrads to take advantage of the free, self-guided Career Ready Certificate Program. She says, “There’s a wide array of resources that are available to you through Forté that might not be available to you through campus recruiting programs.” Forté opened her eyes to the opportunities available to her in business and showed her that she could be successful.

Once she completed her Career Ready Certificate, Forté connected Olivia with an MBA mentor. They talk regularly to hold each other accountable. Olivia says, “We have an amazing relationship. It has fueled my journey and allowed me to transform and elevate as a student in every category.”

Olivia graduates from Purdue in May, and in the meantime, she’s spreading the word about Forté on campus. She says, “If I ran across a girl at this school who was looking to improve her career readiness and attractiveness to employers, I would tell her to get involved in Forté. Go make a page on Forté Connect, engage, introduce yourself, and upload your resume.”

After graduation, Olivia has a full-time role lined up as at Marketing Associate at Eli Lilly and Company, and she’s already making plans to pursue an MBA in the future. She’s still not sure exactly where she wants to end up, but one part of her vision is clear: “I know that wherever I go, I’m going to get better every day and provide value to not just the company, but to the world.”

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