Level Up Your Career

Forté Role Model, Taylor Mathis, Aligned Her Future With a Specialty Master’s Program

When you google the phrase “business school,” the most amount of hits that pop up focus on MBA programs that will give you a well-rounded education on all aspects of business. But what if you want to dive deeper into a specific area of business? That’s the question Forté role model, Taylor Mathis, was looking to answer when she discovered the specialized business master’s degree at Vanderbilt University (Owen School of Management). Learn more about Taylor’s discovery of the program and how it matched her goals for her future.

Why was a specialized business master’s degree the right vehicle for your career advancement?
Historically, business schools have required applicants to possess 3 – 5 years of work experience prior to applying. Candidly, my timeline does not align with the norm. Therefore, I researched numerous graduate programs to explore any and all possibilities. During the summer following my Junior year at Hampton University, I attended various seminars, meet & greets, and immersive programs hosted by Graduate Schools. While attending the University of California Summer Institute for Emerging Managers and Leaders, I gained awareness about Specialized Master Programs, and never looked back. I found an opportunity
that allowed me to continue my educational momentum and stick to my personal timeline.

What motivated you to pursue an advanced degree?
Looking back, I have consistently been a detailed planner and enthusiast of quality five-year planning. Therefore, when curating my personal five-year plan during my Freshman year at Hampton University, I thought about the person I wanted to be in life. Then, I identified role models that possessed the characteristics and/or accomplishments I aspired to have. I would compare their backgrounds, media images, love life, family life, resume, etc. I realized that my role models each earned and held more than one degree, so I did the same. Personally, I urge those contemplating earning another degree, to think about their personal “what”, “why” and “how”. (1) What is the goal? You have to know what you are working towards, (2) Why is that the goal? When times get tough, your “why” will serve as a reminder to never give up, and (3) How can you accomplish that goal? An idea without a plan is just a dream, so strategizing is vital.

What advice would you give aspiring business school candidates?
Don’t be afraid to grow. When surrounded by other intelligent like-minded people in a competitive environment, imposter syndrome might knock on the door and confidence may dwindle. However, Graduate School is the place to make mistakes, learn from your mistakes, improve from your mistakes and repeat. Why waste an opportunity to expand your personal growth because of fear? Why waste an investment of time and money in your education because of fear? It is your degree, be purposeful and selfish. It is for you.

What is it about Forte’s mission that makes you want to support the organization’s efforts?
“Launching women into a significant career…” resonates with me the most for the reason that I have witnessed numerous stories of women not being able to pursue a career that is meaningful to them because of an assortment of reasons, some reasons they could not control. Therefore, I admire the fact that Forté assists women in identifying what is significant to them and ensures that she has the resources, community and ability to launch her career, emphasis on the word choice of “launching”.

What does #MoreWomenLeading mean to you?
The three things that come to mind for me are the following: Women taking up space intelligently is #MoreWomenLeading. Women lifting while climbing authentically is #MoreWomenLeading. Women in key positions to direct, guide and lead fluently is #MoreWomenLeading. A life where #MoreWomenLeading is a lifestyle, is remarkable to me.

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