Jill, congratulations on your award! What does it mean to be the “Forte Fellow of the Month”? I think it s a very nice recognition for myself and the university, especially since the University of Illinois is a fairly new Forte school [in the last 3 years or so]. Each month they honor a first and second year MBA student out of the forty Forte schools, so it’s a really cool distinction.
What was your reaction when you found out you received this award? Pure bliss! I was excited. I believe the reason I did win was because I took on a female leadership role [as President of the MBAA]. Forte is not only for current MBA’s, but it’s for alums and prospective MBA’s so it’s perfect for women in business. The Foundation really tries to promote women in leadership roles both within school and corporations. This is just really exciting for me.
How did you get involved in the Forte Foundation? I started to get involved when I was admitted into the MBA program at Illinois – they actually asked me to be a fellow. The great thing was that I was able to attend the Forte conference in Chicago which was really convenient. It was a great event for first years to meet other first years that were starting school in the fall. I actually met my classmate Starza Kolman, another Forte Fellow, at this time. At the conference we were able to see a lot of presentations from women in business. The talks were mainly focused on how to choose a career that matches your skills, how to prepare for your internship search and the fundamentals of networking. They also did career specific presentations, for example, we could hear women speak about investment banking or consulting. They also combined it with a career fair that included really impressive companies. CitiGroup is a sponsor of Forte, as well as Exxon Mobile, Johnson & Johnson and E&Y; to name a few.
What are some of the benefits of belonging to such a distinguished group of women? Once you’re a forte fellow, you always have access to the network. Another huge benefit is that the u of I is a forte school. This is impressive because Forte is very selective in that they only choose 1 school per state. Booth is already a Forte school, so it says a lot about this university that we were able to make the list. It’s a really distinct group of students, universities and sponsoring companies.
Do you plan on continuing to be involved in the Forte Foundation past graduation from MBA? Yes, I would love to be involved in Forte, especially if I go into finance because it’s still a male dominated field. It’s important to have women role models and Forte provides that. It would also be great to continue to represent the University of Illinois because the group of Forte schools is so distinguished – Harvard Business School, Dartmouth, Wharton. So, it will be great to continue to keep the Illinois brand strong.
How is Forte involved in the university/MBA program now? In the fall, the Forte Fellows combined with the Women in Business to put on an Undergraduate Career Lab. It was focused on women who were contemplating a career business. In the spring, we are planning to talk to organizations on campus – fraternities, clubs, and athletics – about pursuing careers in business and again, this is focused on women. We really want to provide the right resources to women so that they feel confident about this career choice and know they will find success. Another key thing that many women within the program don’t know is that since we are Forte School, we have access to the career center on the Forte website. The sponsorship companies post all of their openings on this site as well as a number of other national companies.
How would you like to see Forte involved in the university/MBA program in the future? I guess I’d like to see more participation in the Forte Conference that is held in the summer. I realize that Chicago was pretty easy in terms of attendance, and New York would be tough, but it’s really, really beneficial. Also, I’d like to see some more communication through the website and the newsletter. A lot of other schools seem to be really involved in utilizing the newsletter than Illinois.
On a separate note, how is second semester? Are you balancing your new role as MBAA president and class well? Internship locked down? Second semester is wonderful! I don’t spend as much time with my study group which gives me the opportunity to do more individual work. I also really like that we can choose our classes which means I can start to focus more on finance classes and that is something I really enjoy. My new role as MBAA president is great as of now. The first few weeks have been really busy planning out the semester and the recent Alumni Banquet – but in general the 2011 board has done a great job staying organized and identifying the goals we’d like to accomplish in the next year. And, yes! My internship is secure. I will be interning at Northern Trust as a Credit Underwriter in the Personal Financial Services Group. It should be exciting and it also makes second semester that much easier!
Congrats to Jill! And we wish her the best of luck in her efforts, both within the MBA and through the Forte Foundation.