Like many women considering business school, Contessa Mwedzi was a busy professional ready to advance in her career. She began exploring the MBA while working internationally in financial services, and a friend recommended that she check out Forté’s resources. Contessa wanted to take advantage of Forté MBALaunch, but since she was moving between countries, and her schedule was so hectic, she found that she couldn't commit to in-person meetings on a regular basis. She was thrilled to find the self-paced version, Forté MBALaunch On Demand, and says, “It was the perfect fit for me.” Telling Her Story with Confidence As she started MBALaunch On Demand, Contessa found the session on storytelling especially helpful for grad school and beyond. She says, “We were encouraged to tell our story with our end goal in mind. ‘In five or 10 years, this is where I want to be.’” Rather than focusing on being admitted by a particular school, participants were encouraged to think about their choice of school through the lens of their medium- and long-term career goals. It helped Contessa understand that as long as she had a clear vision of what she wanted to accomplish, she could achieve it no matter where she went to school. That mindset was helpful as she applied to different schools. Instead of a “Please let me in” attitude, she focused on her goals, asking herself, “How would this school help me get to where I need to go?” During the application process, that allowed her to present herself to schools from a position of strength. We were encouraged to tell our story with our end goal in mind. ‘In five or 10 years, this is where I want to be.’ Working in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Washington, DC, also affected Contessa’s choice of schools. She explains, “Post-undergrad, I'd always worked in teams which were composed of colleagues from all over the world and where no one country or culture was overrepresented. It was important for me to choose a school which actively brought different voices to the table, valued and supported its international student body, and whose global orientation was evident through both its student body composition and curriculum.” After business school, she plans to continue working in financial services. “I think it’s important to have a global mindset, regardless of where I physically am.” she says. That’s part of what inspired her to enroll in the MBA program at Northwestern University (Kellogg School of Management) in 2021. On Demand Doesn’t Mean “On Your Own” Before starting MBALaunch On Demand, Contessa expected it to be a relatively solitary pursuit. She says, “I thought it was going to be a lot of self-reflective PDFs to go through on your own.” Instead, she found that the program’s videos — which offer guidance on everything from the GMAT and writing your essays to choosing the right school after you’ve been accepted and financing business school — added a human element to the virtual space. She recalls, “Each of the videos start with testimonials. Women talk about their MBA application journeys. Hearing their stories inspired me and motivated me to continue with the MBA application process which can be daunting and intimidating at times.” MBALaunch On Demand takes place in an online learning system that includes a discussion board, and Contessa appreciated being able to connect with other women working on their applications. She says, “I was surprised by how responsive people were in the forums, and how collaborative and how willing to help they were, which was great.” She liked that, even in the self-paced program, the participants had a way to support each other. “There are ways to connect with women who can hold you accountable throughout the process, and who are also sensitive to what you're going through, either because they're going through the same thing or because they have successfully completed it and can give you advice.” I was surprised by how responsive people were in the forums, and how collaborative and how willing to help they were, which was great. Through the discussion board, Contessa connected to other smaller groups, including one where participants shared notes and resources as they prepared for the GMAT. Forté also has a private Slack community where MBALaunch On Demand participants and alumni can network. Contessa shared a recommendation to future participants interested in getting the most out of the program: “Connect with other women who are also in MBALaunch On Demand to understand how their journeys are going and have accountability.” Together, you can support each other, while building an MBA network that extends beyond a single school. Start Your MBA Journey with MBALaunch On Demand If you’re getting ready to apply to business school, let Forté help you build your strongest application. Learn more and enroll in Forté MBALaunch On Demand. Want to hear more from Contessa Mwedzi? Watch our Ask Me Anything with MBALaunch On Demand Alumni information session. She’s one of the three program alumni featured in the video.