As Forté works to advance women in business, the organization is especially interested in reaching women from historically underrepresented groups. The 2021 Forté Candid Conversations Leadership Conference, held October 28 - 29, was created specifically for African American/Black, Latinx/Hispanic, and Native American undergraduate women. At the virtual event, 90 undergrads and representatives from 15 Forté partner companies participated in live panels, workshops, networking opportunities, a career expo, and more. Lisette Tapia is a junior at the State University of New York at New Paltz, where she is majoring in computer science, with a minor in Latin American and Caribbean studies. Lisette isn’t sure what she wants to do after she graduates, but she’s interested in working with a tech company, possibly in fintech. She heard about the Candid Conversations Leadership Conference from her sister and decided to sign up. She says, “I thought it would be interesting to hear about the experiences of women, especially women of color.” The event was Lisette’s introduction to Forté, and it made a great first impression. She says, “At previous conferences and talks that I’ve attended, they haven’t really spoken about the experiences of women of color in any industry.” She especially appreciated hearing Vanessa Granados, Senior Vice President, Latin America & the Caribbean, PIMCO — and one of the conference’s keynote speakers — talk about how important it is to be okay with being the only woman or Latina in the room. I thought it would be interesting to hear about the experiences of women, especially women of color. Lisette says, “I liked the realness of the conference. It didn’t hide the fact that there are few women of color in these industries — it accepted it and mentioned the next steps that they can take to better these conditions in the workplace.” Preparing for a Future Career The second day of the conference included a critical thinking simulation, presented by Deloitte, during which participants broke into small groups. That’s where Lisette learned how to use the STAR method (situation, task, action, result) to respond to interview questions. “When you're being interviewed in these workplaces, and they ask, ‘Why should we hire you?’ or other questions, it’s very helpful to think of a situation that you've already gone through,” she says, “It really impresses them, because you're using examples of projects that you have already done to build up your credibility.” When you're being interviewed in these workplaces, and they ask, ‘Why should we hire you?’ or other questions, it’s very helpful to think of a situation that you've already gone through. Before attending the conference, Lisette was under the impression that mentors mainly worked with high school and college students. She says, “It really surprised me that you can still have mentors once you start working and you have a job. I didn’t expect there to be mentors and sponsors in the workplace, and I didn’t know that sponsors can advocate for you, possibly making you even more successful.” Supporting and Encouraging Other Women Making personal connections at online events can be challenging, but Forté’s conference platform included a one-on-one networking feature that simplified the process. Lisette was nervous about the networking session until she realized she’d be connecting with other undergrads. She says, “I felt way more comfortable, because it was students just like me.” She used the face-to-face video chat to have short conversations with other attendees, and bonded with one of the women, because they’re from the same hometown — Queens, New York. They connected on LinkedIn so they can keep in touch. Lisette is excited to stay involved with Forté, and she’s considering earning her Career Ready Certificate. She has a message for other undergrads who are thinking about attending a Forté conference in the future: “Always say yes to these events! I definitely recommend applying. Even if you're unsure of your path, or you don't know exactly what you want to do, you're going to have a learning experience that could benefit you in the future.” Want updates about future Forté college conferences? Sign up here!