Around this time last year, I received an email invitation to the Forté Foundation’s New York City Forum. I contemplated pursuing an MBA even before I finished my undergraduate degree and had done plenty of online research, however I had yet to attend any live events or plan any school visits. I decided to bite the bullet of commuting into the city after work later that week to attend the Forum. I arrived a few minutes early and saw a group of women gathering for the Forté MBALaunch reception. I had never heard of the program, but one of the members explained that it was a new MBA application preparation program. I was excited to learn about another resource Forté was developing to assist aspiring female MBAs before even entering the event! Inside, so many schools were represented, it was actually a bit overwhelming. Every few steps there was a new person to meet and new information to process. Fortunately, business card exchange was encouraged and everyone was eager to make themselves available for follow up communication. School websites can only convey so much information, so meeting MBA community members at events such as the Forum is essential in determining school fit. Personally, this was the most valuable aspect of the Forum. I had not narrowed down my MBA search at all before attending the Forum, and since school visits don’t come cheap, I knew this was something I would have to address sooner rather than later. Speaking with both admissions reps and former students also provides advice for both sides of the MBA process – getting in and getting out (with a degree and a job). One of the most exciting things about the Forté Forum was the turnout of exceptional MBA candidates. I met a woman who built an orphanage in India and another who invented a medical device and aspired to start her own company, both before turning 30! It felt good to be surrounded by other driven young women and reinforced my determination to get an MBA in order to become a more effective leader. Following the exhibition, admissions reps, alumnae, and admissions consultants participated in several panels regarding MBA admissions from school fit and financing to resumes and interviews. All of this information was very helpful, although it is a lot to absorb in one evening so try to be a sponge and take notes if you can! Attending the 2013 NYC Forté Forum led to me seriously beginning the MBA application process. Even though I thought I had done my research, it was not until I attended this event that I realized I would need months or maybe even a year to prepare my absolute best application! Of course, some may not need as much prep as I did, but I definitely recommend attending a Forum before jumping into the process. Alyssa Shadinger, CPA, CGMA is a Senior Consultant at Protiviti and plans to apply to B-school in 2015. In her spare time you are most likely to find her traveling, practicing yoga or reading.