Happy 2012: Thanks

Happy New Year!

I hope you enjoyed a great holiday season with loved ones, and that your 2012 has gotten off to a fantastic start.

Looking back, I have to say: 2011 was great. I started writing for MBAchic and had the chance to meet many people who either find themselves, plan to be, or once were in my shoes as an MBA student. It’s been great to connect and share with each other over the past few months, and I’ve learned so much. Through social media channels (Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook), I also found a completely new world, full of bloggers, thought leaders and contributors who discuss technology, women in business, management and more. I’ve had the chance to interview and work with some awesome people, and cannot wait to share more of these interviews and features in 2012.

Some of you offered your thoughts and experiences through a guest blog. Some came by to comment on an article. Some shared MBAchic through tweets, reblogs and Facebook likes. Some are reading MBAchic for the first time, right now. I hope you are enjoying, and I want to say: thank you. Thanks for making 2011 great.

If you are an MBA student: best of luck in your job and internship searches, and I hope you are enjoying some time off before the spring term. If you are applying to business school: good luck! I hope you wind up where you truly belong, and that you have a great experience. If you’ve done all of this before, I hope you will consider sharing some of your experiences with us here.

Thanks again, everyone. Here’s to a great year!

[Guest Blog] Keep It MBAchic: What to Wear to your Holiday Office Party

It’s that time of year. Holiday e-cards, secret santa gifts, and holiday office parties! These parties are a time to wind down with your colleagues, take a small break from work and celebrate end of the year holidays. For some it can also be a time to break away from the boring business casual and to show your co-workers that you CAN clean up nice!  So MBA ladies, what should you be wearing to the holiday work party?

In choosing the perfect outfit for this occasion, there are a few things to consider:
1) The type of office environment – Do you work in a more corporate and conservative office? Is it more business casual? Or can you pull off more laid-back and casual looks?
2) Venue and type of party – Is the party at a swanky space with the entire office invited? Or are you just celebrating with co-workers at a local bar?

Depending on your work environment and the type of party, you have some flexibility in choosing an outfit that will have your colleagues remembering what you wore well into the new year.

Since holiday work parties vary for many of us, I’ve come up with some stylish options for a few different party scenarios – formal vs. casual and at a few different price ranges.

A Very Formal Corporate Affair

My office every year has a really big, fancy holiday-bash which calls for more formal wear. I chose to cover up a bit by opting for a longer hemline but I like to spice things up with a bright, bold color or with some sparkly fabric.

DVF Clarice Dress
Diane von Furstenberg Clarice Dress

($980 at DvF.com)
Warehouse Halter Maxi Dress
Warehouse Halter Maxi Dress
($155 at asos.com)
Alice + Olivia Lurex Dotted Cocktail Dress
Alice + Olivia Lurex Dotted Cocktail Dress
($385 at MyTheresa.com)
Robert Rodriguez Black Label Avril DressRobert Rodriguez Black Label Avril Dress
($125 at RenttheRunway.com)


A Fun B-School Party

You current MBA ladies can opt for a dress that is a bit more fun and flirty, but still professional. Since you can be a bit more daring, I’d even try something chic and unconventional like a well-structured jumpsuit.

 

Reiss Eyelet V-Neck Dress
Reiss Eyelet V-Neck Dress

($137)
Fringed Metallic Dress
Fringed Metallic Dress
($30 at forever21.com)
Asymmetric Jumpsuit
Asymmetric Jumpsuit
($90 at zara.com)
Pleat Bust Jumpsuit
Pleat Bust Jumpsuit
($91 at asos.com)

Getting to know your colleagues (or classmates) in various social settings is part of the job so I’d recommend dress styles that suit your tastes and show off your style and individuality. Don’t forget to complete the package by adding accessories and a polished makeup look. Happy holiday partying!

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Ivie Ero of My So-Called Corporate Life is a recent MBA working in management consulting. She blogs about her personal corporate style and workwear inspiration.

[Guest Blog] How to Juggle Work and School

Two years ago, I made the decision to get my MBA while continuing to work a full time job. Although the past two years have been a whirlwind, I am very happy I made the choice to continue my education. I have found that although I currently have a job I love, I am now performing even better and also finding new opportunities that better match my interests and skills. I have also been fortunate enough to be able to keep my income and not have to worry about finding a job when I graduate.

Before starting grad school I tried to mentally prepare myself for this juggling act. But, the truth is I really had no idea what to expect. Here is what I wish someone would have told me before I made the leap:

1. Learn to Say No. You do not have to attend every networking event. Just go to as many as possible.

2. You will have to work extra hard to maintain your social life and previous friendships. But, the important friendships are worth it to maintain even if you only have an hour of free time every week.

3. Your management will take notice of how hard you are working and the knowledge that you are bringing to your job. I was promoted in my current company after only a year in school.

4. Technology makes the juggling act easier. Having access to my school email on my phone while I work allows me to stay connected with my group and make changes to projects at the last minute. With all of my classmates juggling so many responsibilities, it is almost impossible to get us all together in one location. Fortunately, Skype allows us to hold group meetings virtually. Also, don’t worry if you have to travel frequently for your job. Professors are very understanding of work travel and my school even videotapes classes for us so we can watch them online when we return.

5. Schedule time out for a break because the to-do list will never end. Don’t be afraid to take a day off from work or skip a class if you have to. It is impossible to get an A+ at both work and school, just do the best you can. Schedule a vacation, a day with no work or even a night to just enjoy a movie with your family.

6. Grad school consists of way too many group projects. I have learned that other people juggle their responsibilities differently than I do. I try to get work done as early as possible but others in my group wait until an hour before a paper is due to finish. I have learned to respect others juggling habits which has allowed me to be a better manager.

Continue reading

[Guest Blog] 10 Questions to Ask Yourself: How To Choose The Right Grad School Program for You and Your Career

When I began my pursuit of grad school, I did all of the right stuff you’re supposed to do to get into an MBA program. I filled out admissions cards at MBA fairs, talked to admissions reps and alumni grads about their B-school experiences, and toured business schools across the country. I stocked my bookshelf with purple Kaplan guides to study for GMATs, and read books like Richard Montauk’s How to Get Into Top MBA Programs and Robert Miller’s Business School Confidential.

Then I started to question myself. Was an MBA what I really wanted, or was it what others expected of me? Why did I REALLY want the degree?

The truth is, something in my gut kept holding me back. I had networked with and met so many accomplished and amazing MBA graduates and visited beautiful campuses. But I couldn’t relate to their ambitions such as making a lot of money, and didn’t see myself working for top investment banks or climbing the ranks at management consulting firms.

Getting an MBA was the next logical step in my career. It was supposed to teach me about more areas of business, open new doors in the corporate world, and give me better career opportunities.

But for some inexplicable reason, it just didn’t feel right.

Be Honest with Yourself

When I put my MBA pursuit on hold and really thought about what I wanted to do and what I was passionate about, I realized that it actually had nothing to do with getting an MBA. Continue reading

Chatting Up the Dean: James Dean, UNC Kenan-Flagler

Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with James Dean, Dean of The University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. In this interview, we discussed UNC Kenan-Flagler, the MBA degree, women in business and more. Dean Dean gave some great life advice that I really think applies to everyone — not just MBA students or applicants, and definitely not just women. Check out our conversation below!

MBAchic: What is the best part of your job?

Dean James Dean: Certainly helping to develop young people. Whether we’re talking about undergraduates or MBA’s: at whatever level or age people come to us, it’s great to see them develop as people and develop as business people. It’s really exciting, and it’s probably why I got into education. It is really interesting helping people to get them where they want to go, and achieve their potential. A single event that typifies what’s best about the job would probably be graduation. Not the ceremony itself—what I really like is seeing the students with their parents and with their families. You see how much it means to their families, that their son or daughter has graduated a program at UNC and has an MBA or undergraduate degree; you realize that you’re really changing people’s lives—it’s extraordinarily gratifying.

Also, when I’m with alumni who’ve graduated five or ten or literally 30 or 50 years ago, they can all tell you about some faculty member who changed their lives. It’s different ones for different people, but they say that the trajectory of their lives were changed and shaped by this individual who’s on our faculty—so just to be part of that, and feel that gratitude that people have, and the affection for the institution and the business school is [the other best part of the job].

MBAchic: UNC Kenan-Flagler is a top-ranked school. What kind of initiatives do you have planned to take the school forward?

Continue reading

Advice from a Pro: Interview with Carmen Wong Ulrich

Photo credit: AnjaliBhargava.com

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with personal finance expert Carmen Wong Ulrich, former host of CNBC’s “On the Money” and author of Generation Debt: Take Control of Your Money—A How-to Guide and The Real Cost of Living: Making the Best Choices for You, Your Life, and Your Money (find them here). As a woman in business (a public woman, actually, regularly appearing on NBC, CBS, CNN, to name a few), she understands the challenges we face in the professional world. Check out our conversation below:


MBAchic: As a personal finance expert, what is the biggest challenge you face when trying to help people achieve financial literacy and freedom? What about when working with young professional women? 

Carmen Wong Ulrich: Two things: one is getting the message across about the real importance of financial literacy. It is absolutely vital and it determines the quality of your life. As much as we pay attention to our jobs (and getting better jobs, and making better pay) – if we paid nearly as much attention to our finances, that actually can determine what kind of life we end up having. Getting that across; I consider that my mission.

The second is for women to be confident about the decisions they make. Men have no trouble doing a lot of crazy things with their money! Our lack of confidence sometimes serves us really well because we don’t do crazy things, but I think we could learn a little bit from the confidence that guys have. [We can] apply that to our finances so we do things like save and invest better (and more often); we can make some pretty informed choices that may seem a little risky. If we are paralyzed by fear, it can be a real detriment to us.

MBAchic: What is the most rewarding part of your job?

CWU: I can’t explain to you how amazing it feels just to help someone in even the smallest moments and have them say, “You inspired me to save,” “you inspired me to cut back,” or “you inspired me to have a budget.” They are so grateful and their lives change because of it; all of a sudden, they have a retirement fund, or they’re out of debt. That’s the reason why I do this. I do this really for education, and to help people. When that happens, I am my happiest. Absolutely.

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MBAchic: What piece of advice do you wish someone would have given you, fresh out of school, or when starting your career – what do you wish you knew before you started? 

CWU: I wish I had known that all the hard work absolutely pays off, and all the frustration will actually fuel you to go in the right direction. The frustration pushes you in other directions, and that’s a good thing; it makes you do something. Frustration is the motivator for a lot of people. I think, for a lot of women, this may be the case because we have a little bit more trouble, in terms of people having assumptions about us and what we can do. And we get underestimated.

If you’re a smart, young woman, you get underestimated all the time. I was in a constant state of frustration. But at the same time I realize, in retrospect, that I used that frustration to push myself forward – it was like fuel. If someone had said to me: channel it, and direct it, and recognize that it has power, I think I would have thought about it more, and then maybe not have been so upset! [It helps] to recognize that that frustration actually comes from a good place, which is, [your] belief in [your] abilities. When you get frustrated with one employer, one place, one situation, your mind hopefully is thinking, okay, what can I do? Instead of focusing on how upset you are, focus on, what can I do to make it better? To change things? To not be so upset? Use that energy that you have to move things along, as opposed to standing in place, stomping your feet.

I think if someone had really laid it out to me that way, maybe I wouldn’t have had to spend so much time being frustrated, and upset, and I would have spent even more time being constructive. I’ve seen a lot of people get stuck in that frustration, and with some strange righteousness, hold onto it and wave it like a flag, and—it doesn’t get you anywhere. You’ve got to use it to say, okay, now what? What am I going to do?

Continue reading

Because I am a [gosh darn] professional!

Anyone who has seen the 2001 film The Wedding Planner probably can recall that hilarious (edited) line. Frustrated, blindsided, and incredibly angry, J.Lo’s character is trying to keep her personal drama from affecting the one thing she truly loves in life — her job.

We are human. Sometimes your personal life spills into your professional life. Okay- let’s be real: it is increasingly hard to determine where your personal and professional lives separate. There will be occasional personal drama and catastrophes that interfere with your ability to get your work done. The opposite is also true: school and work often change up your personal plans, and as MBA ladies we have to just roll with it.

As an MBA and/or career woman, you (I assume) are no stranger to feeling overwhelmed and juggling more than one thing at a time. Also, you frequently may find yourself in group settings. But juggling all you have going on and working with others on a daily basis leave little time to take a moment and gather your thoughts. How do you decompress after a stressful conference call? How can you ensure that you come across as composed and poised after chasing your slacker of a classmate to submit their PowerPoint slides (hours before your huge presentation)? How do you keep it together 100% of the time? Continue reading

[Guest Blog] Creating a Professional Network

Networking.  It’s the name of the MBA game and during a typical two year MBA program, the word will be thrown around so many times you’ll start to think it may actually be more important than finals.  The truth is, making meaningful professional connections can create as much value for you as your degree, but there’s a right and wrong way to do it.  Here are some tips on developing your soft skills and networking effectively:

  • It is quality that counts.
    Don’t go to every event, every speaker, and every dinner only to hand out your calling card to every person that glances in your general direction.  Don’t follow quantity theory and hope that with all the cards you pass out, someone is bound to call you (this also applies to résumés).  It’s a time waster for both parties and your potential professional contacts, professors, and classmates will sense your insincerity.

Network It Up!

Clearly, networking is important. Attending cocktail hours or “MBA networking mixers” here and there definitely works, but really, some of the best networking happens informally, everyday.

Think of your closest friends. You may have met in high school or college, or maybe at the gym. Perhaps you were on the field hockey team, or survived college physics together. When you first met, you probably weren’t thinking about how they might be able to find you a job later in life, or how you could work together, but that’s totally networking.

Men are great at this. Consider pickup football games: what is involved? A football and a stretch of grass. So simple, yet a few hours of touchdowns and field goals equals serious face-time with your new contacts. I’m not suggesting a woman should go invade one of these games (that would be awkward, for you, and for the guys), but I believe we can get better at this.

I am not saying that every player at Saturday’s pickup game is guaranteed a job interview, but I notice guys will help each other out in professional settings if they really get along in casual settings. Women can be just as good at this, but maybe go about it a little differently. Continue reading

Hello, and Welcome to MBAchic!

Hi there, and thank you for visiting! I am studying for my MBA in New York City, and recently started the MBAchic blog. I hope to reach fellow female MBA candidates to share and learn from each other. MBAchic is an online resource for female MBAs (and applicants, and career women in general!) and will cover all sorts of topics:

  • MBA program ratings and testimonials
  • Advice for applicants
  • Coursework discussions
  • Networking opportunities
  • Business etiquette
  • Job search help and advice
  • Fashion and style
  • And much more

There are many resources for female MBAs out there (Forté Foundation is fantastic). I hope this blog can offer a relaxed take on the MBA and all that comes with this degree.

I am very excited about this. Please let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions, or just want to send a quick note. Comment below or email me at mbachicblogemail!.

- Jen