Impact Stories

Forté Helped Claire Pan Feel Career-Ready as a Cornell Undergrad

Claire Pan knew she wanted to study business at Cornell, but she always expected to navigate career decisions on her own. Her parents did not have a business background and were not in a position to influence her career path. Discovering Forté through its pilot undergraduate business club for women at Cornell, she gained a network of friends and tools that gave her the confidence to chase her dreams.

Learning about business careers as an undergraduate

When Claire arrived on campus, she applied for and was accepted into Forté’s undergraduate club for women in business at Cornell. All 60 members automatically enroll in Rising Stars and participate in business and social activities that further their understanding of business. These events have been invaluable to Claire’s understanding of challenges facing women in the workplace. “The corporate world is not 50-50. Women face a lot of issues like ‘impostor syndrome’ and the ‘double bind’, and Forté helped me be aware of them,” she says.

Before Forté I didn’t have confidence to know what I could do, and Forté gave me the power and confidence to have and chase dreams.

Forté has benefitted Claire in numerous other ways. She is currently a Forté intern working on projects like making Rising Stars more interactive and millennial-friendly. Her involvement with Rising Stars has prepared her for summer internships: she spent her summer after freshman year in Sydney working for the US Consulate, and last summer she interned at Deutsche Bank. “When I first started out, I had no idea how to become ‘career-ready,’ and Rising Stars gave me a foundation to work from,” she explains.

As the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants who did not have a corporate background, Claire was not on firm footing when she first got to Cornell. She has found Forté to be nurturing, an experience that has helped her cast aside any doubts and go for what she wants. “In another club on campus, I was the only female project manager. It can be daunting when everyone doesn’t look like you. Forté really gave me confidence to find my space and believe the work I did was good enough,” she says.

Setting her sights on an MBA

Claire is planning to get an MBA after she graduates from Cornell in 2020. “Because of Forté, the MBA is on my radar,” she says, but first she wants to work for a few years. “I want to know what I want from an MBA before I consider all the options,” she explains.

Forté has clarified the benefits of an MBA. “Meeting people who were getting MBAs and understanding their journeys has helped me understand why women need MBAs,” Claire says.

When I first started out, I had no idea how to become ‘Career Ready’, and Forté Rising Stars gave me a foundation to work from.

It has also given her a network to explore ideas with. “The greatest value of Forté has been meeting other girls who share obstacles and gaining mentors who have shaped my experience,” she says. In addition to having a Forté Fellow at Cornell’s Johnson School mentor her, Claire passes on the knowledge she has gained to undergraduate women at Cornell.

Wherever her path specifically takes her, Forté has helped instill a confidence in Claire that will benefit her in any endeavor. “Forté has given me the power and confidence to have and chase dreams. Forté supports whatever your interests are and helps you get there.”

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