Career Switching

Forté Role Model, Lauryn Lewis, Used Her Masters Degree to Build Her Own Career Path

Forté is here to help undergraduate women explore deferred MBA, specialty masters, and early career graduate programs. By attending a Forté Forum, Lauryn Lewis learned about her options and applied for the Masters in Management program at Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business to gain work experience after college and prepare for her masters degree.  Below is Lauryn’s experience with Forté and how she changed her career path from Sociology, to now a Project Specialist in US Broking as a part of the Broking Specialty Practice Team at Aon.

What motivated you to pursue an advanced degree?

I decided to pursue an advanced degree to grow my career; however, the decision was ultimately made on a desire to broaden my mindset. At Spelman College, I studied Sociology, and while this educational path has proven invaluable, I was acutely aware that I lacked the business acumen required to facilitate the relaunch of my career.

A specialized business master’s degree, specifically a Masters in Management (MiM), was the right vehicle for my career ascendancy because the curriculum is rooted in the fundamentals with a technology and innovation focus weaved in. Georgetown is distinctively equipped to train students from non-business backgrounds, like me, and enable them to walk into the business world knowledgeable, confident, and principled.

In the months since my graduation from the MiM program, I’m reminded of why I made the right decision. Georgetown McDonough’s commitment to “Cura Personalis” (care for the whole person), building globally informed, ethics-driven business leaders, and its centrality to the international powerhouse that is the DC community has reinforced Georgetown was the best place for me.

How did you determine the right time for you to apply to business school?

I applied to Masters in Management programs during the Fall 2020 semester, my last semester at Spelman College. Typically, MiM programs, including Georgetown’s, are catered to recent college graduates with less than three years of full-time work experience. However, during my final semester, I also worked a full-time job in Talent Acquisition at a tech company. Firstly, I knew this wasn’t a career I wanted in the long term. I knew that if I stayed and got comfortable, I’d be ineligible for the program. Secondly, I’d be delaying any career advancement and earning potential associated with an advanced degree by staying in an unfulfilling role. With this in mind, it was relatively simple to determine that I would apply directly before graduating.

Having a full-time job during my senior year also presented a group of challenges during the admissions process. I was balancing finishing my degree, managing a high-visibility project at work, writing essays for my application, networking with program representatives, and practicing for admissions interviews. Ultimately, I had to refine my time-management skills, prioritize, and manage expectations to make it all fit together. Looking back, that period was a whirlwind but well worth it.

How does business school differ from the undergraduate student experience?

Unlike the typical 4-year undergraduate student experience, business school is a streamlined and accelerated academic experience. In the MiM program at Georgetown McDonough, classes are divided into four six-week modules, with four courses per module over ten months. I had to completely reevaluate how I approached academics, especially coming from an institution like Spelman, where the semester system was the norm. Another unexpected difference between undergrad and business school was how foundational collaboration is in the classroom. Business school is not an independent endeavor; everything from homework, presentations, and our capstone global consulting project was completed in teams. As a sociology major, who spent most of my undergraduate experience conducting research and writing papers, I quickly had to accustom myself to leveraging each team member’s talents and unique experiences and being open-minded when it came to working with others.

Reflecting on my MiM experience, Firm Analysis & Strategy, a microeconomics, and competitive strategy course, simultaneously challenged me in ways I hadn’t before and was most impactful. I’ve pulled on concepts taught in this class to help me solve cases during case interviews and even my role as a Project Specialist on our US Broking team at Aon.

What are 5 words you would use to describe yourself?

Inquisitive, Dependable, Sincere, Resourceful, Determined

What advice would you have for those who are just starting to engage with Forté events, activities, and resources?

My first experience engaging with Forté was during a panel session on deferred MBAs back in March 2020. While I ultimately elected to pursue a specialized business master’s degree, this event was the perfect gateway into exploring post-secondary opportunities in the discipline. In the months leading up to my senior year of college, I remember feeling intimidated scouring Forté’s site and seeing a list of events, programs, and conferences. Even going as far as to think that the programming wasn’t aimed at a Social Science undergraduate like me. Looking back, I’m so glad I worked up the courage to take a chance on myself and Forté. Since then, I’ve discussed Forté with my peers in the business world, mentors, and network with Forté Fellows while at Georgetown McDonough. My advice to those just starting to explore everything Forté has to offer is be intentional about what you want, fearless to set out into the unknown, and open-minded to whatever may come your way.

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