Impact Stories

Through Forté, Lily Schoenherr Found a Career That Excites Her

Lily Schoenherr, a senior at Penn State University (Smeal College of Business), is looking forward to working at PwC as a Management Consulting Associate after she graduates — but her path wasn’t always so clear.

As a junior, Lily knew she wanted to pursue a business career, but wasn’t sure of her focus. For guidance, she started working with Ashley Rippey, Executive Director of the Business Career Center on Penn State’s campus. Lily says, I expressed to her how passionate I am about women’s empowerment and women in the business world, and she suggested that I check out Forté.”

Lily chose finance as her major, and found a summer internship in wealth management. During her internship, she realized a finance career wasn’t the right fit for her. To explore other career options, she began working toward her Forté Career Ready Certificate over the summer.

I expressed to her how passionate I am about women’s empowerment and women in the business world, and she suggested that I check out Forté.

The Career Ready Certificate program is a self-guided career development opportunity for undergraduate women at Forté partner schools. Penn State not only encourages students to take advantage of this resource on their own, as Lily did, they include several Forté activities in a one-credit elective course for freshmen and sophomores. Each year, 500 to 600 students take the course, designed to prepare them for junior year.

Sherry Rice, Director, Professional Development & Programming, Business Career Center, Penn State (Smeal College of Business), says, “The career strategies course walks you through the tactical components of the recruiting process, including ‘How do I get my resume ready? How do I talk to an employer at a career fair? How do I identify what types of companies I might be interested in? What values do those companies have, and how does that tie in to values that I currently have?’” The course offers guidance on evaluating jobs, the interview process, salary negotiations, and more.

Discovering a Potential Career Path

As Lily made her way through the Career Ready Certificate program, she came across Forté’s Consulting Guide. “I read through the PDF, and I thought, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I haven’t discovered consulting earlier. This is the perfect career path for me,'” she says, “I really learned a lot about consulting through Forté. I had no idea what it was before.” She was so excited, she sent the PDF to her dad and her brother. The guide’s consulting vocabulary cheat sheet came in handy as she started networking with consultants on LinkedIn. She says, “It helped me a lot. In the conversations I had with consultants, I was able to understand them better.”

That experience inspired Lily to get even more involved with Forté. She says, “After I did the certificate, I thought, ‘I want to go to everything that Forté offers.” In the fall of her senior year, she heard about the Undergraduate Campus Leadership Summit through Forté’s newsletter. Lily registered right away, and when she heard Nilvea Malave Torres, PwC Consulting Solutions Manager, speak at the conference, it strengthened her desire to pursue a consulting career.

In the past, Lily hadn’t always applied for opportunities that interested her, because she doubted her own abilities. She credits Forté with helping her overcome imposter syndrome, and says, “Forté really enabled me to realize I can do anything if I’ve set my mind to it.”

Launching Her Career and Looking Ahead

When Lily applied for the Management Consulting Associate role at PwC, she bonded with her interviewer about the need for more women leaders. Lily was thrilled to be offered a position at the firm, and says, “I don’t think I would be where I am if it wasn’t for me pursuing the certificate this summer and really getting involved with Forté.”

Her career is just beginning, but Lily is already thinking long-term. She says, “My plan is to work first, maybe for two or three years, and then I definitely want to get my MBA.”

Forté really enabled me to realize I can do anything if I’ve set my mind to it.

Now that her own career is on the right track, Lily has some advice for other undergrads who are unsure where they want to do after graduation: “If you become a part of Forté, it’ll educate you on so many different career paths that you didn’t even know about prior to joining — and then on top of that, it’ll make you self-reflect and realize what your genuine strengths and interests are, and then help you align that to the career paths that exist.” She adds, “For me, it did all of these things. It educated me on all of these career paths, gave me confidence, made me realize what my strengths are, and then tied it all together.”

Forté’s career resources for undergraduate women include the Career Ready Certificate program, college leadership conferences, and industry guides.

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