Leadership, Tech, & Forte: IV with a Cornell MBA Student

Check out the rest of our MBA student interviews!This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. And now, introducing Sarah Markels Maynard, a second year student at Cornell Johnson

Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad?

Sarah: I grew up in sunny San Diego, California. For college, I ventured back east to Wellesley College, where I majored in Physics. Something that I did not appreciate until after graduating from Wellesley was how empowering it had been to have strong, smart, and capable women in all of the leadership roles around me. It was incredibly inspiring for me and I feel that it helped motivate me to excel in hard science fields that I wouldn’t have normally felt comfortable pursuing. This is why it has been especially important to me to be involved in the Forte Foundation and other activities that support women in pursuing their desired careers.

Accepted: Where are you in b-school? What year?

Sarah: It is hard to believe, but I will be graduating in a few short weeks from the two-year MBA program at Johnson at Cornell University. The two years go by far more quickly than you think that they will! After graduation, I am excited to say that I will be joining GE Capital ECLP, a rotational commercial leadership program.

Accepted: What’s your favorite thing about Johnson? 

Sarah: I was originally attracted to Johnson’s tight-knit community and found that I truly connected to all of the students that I met while exploring my options for business school. Over the course of my two years I have found that Johnson really does hold up to my initial impressions. The faculty is superb and I love that the school truly responds to student concerns. In direct response to student and faculty input, Johnson is going to be revising its core curriculum for the upcoming year to better address student needs.

Accepted: Are you involved in any clubs on campus? How central to student life is club involvement?

Sarah: While at Johnson, I have gotten extremely involved in the community – it adds a lot to the business school experience because it enables you to reach different groups across campus and give back to the community. As a Forte Fellow, I have been involved in several of the recruiting events for women interested in business school and I served as a student representative on the Diversity Council and the female subcommittee. Additionally, I served as President of the Women’s Management Council, VP of Marketing of the High Tech Club, and, most recently, I co-founded the Johnson Women in Technology Conference with one of my fellow second year classmates at Johnson.

Accepted: Can you tell us about the Women in Technology Conference?

Sarah: In my first year in business school, I went on a trek to Seattle to visit some of the high tech companies in the city. I shared a room with my classmate, Melissa Adeyanju, who was interested in pursuing a career at a tech company but was uncertain about her chances given her non-engineering background. Having worked in tech, I knew that a degree in engineering was certainly not a requirement! We spoke about ways that we could foster a community for women who were interesting in finding a future in tech and ultimately founded the Johnson Women in Technology (JWiT) Conference. The first year’s theme was “Power Up Your Future” and our aim was to start a conversation for women interested in investing in their futures in technology. We had an excellent line up of speakers and panels. We have already picked the new co-chairs for next year’s conference, so mark your calendars for March 20, 2015!

Accepted: Can you talk about your experience with the Forte Foundation? 

Sarah: I’m very proud to be a Forte Fellow and greatly value the doors that it opens up for female MBA Candidates. They hold an annual conference for women joining Forte Sponsor MBA programs and I highly recommend attending the conference, regardless of whether or not you are a Forte Fellow. I met some of my closest friends at Johnson at the Forte Conference in 2012 in Los Angeles. The conference is a great place to not only meet other incoming students, but also get some tips for hitting the ground running once you start your program.

Accepted: What would you say are your top 3 MBA admissions tips?


1. Know yourself – Understand your top three defining characteristics and weave these descriptions throughout your application and interviews. Knowing who you are and your defining strengths is key not only to getting into business school, but also finding your perfect career after business school.

2. Paint a clear picture of your future – When thinking about business school and writing your application, I realized that I had to do a lot of soul searching of how an MBA truly fit into my future and how it would help me get where I wanted to go. You should have a clear idea of the skills and experiences that only an MBA program can provide. Even more, you need to understand what you will bring to that MBA program.

3. Get to know current students – For most programs you are going to be dedicating two years of your life to your education. This means taking yourself out of the workforce and using that time to invest in yourself. You need to make sure that you actually like the people that you will be spending time with, especially during the demanding curriculum that many of the top programs will give you.

For one-on-one guidance on your b-school application, please see our MBA Application Packages

Thank you Sarah for sharing your story with us! You can connect with Sarah via LinkedIn.

This report will help you navigate the MBA Maze 


Forte Helps Women in Business Thrive: Interview with Elissa Sangster

Listen to the full conversation!Things have come full circle for Admissions Straight Talk. We couldn’t be more excited about our second interview with the very first guest to have appeared on our podcast: Elissa Sangster, Executive Director for the Forté Foundation.

Listen to the recording of our conversation to learn about the newest programs Forté is running to support women MBAs (past, present, and future).  

00:03:32 – What’s new and exciting at Forté.

00:06:52 – Does going into business equal selling your soul?

00:12:51 – The very exciting MBALaunch program.

00:15:05 – Why Forté has reached out to 5,000 women in college.

00:20:20 – A word on the challenges facing women who want to go to b-school.

00:22:19 – Forté’s support for women post-MBA.

00:26:30 – What is the FortéFellows Program and how can someone get involved?

00:28:30 – The difference between the Forté Forum and other MBA fairs.

00:31:29 – Elissa’s take on the “Is an MBA worth it” debate.

00:36:47 – Advice for MBA applicants (very good advice, btw).

Listen to the full conversation to learn more!

*Theme music is courtesy of podcastthemes.com.

Related Links:

• Forté Foundation
• MBA Launch
• Get Accepted in 2015: 7 Steps to a Successful MBA Application
, a webinar
• The Secret to MBA Acceptance, a webinar

Related Shows:

• Interview with Forté’s Elissa Ellis Sangster
• From Luxury Marketing to Entrepreneurship: A Talk with Daria Burke
• CommonBond’s Story: A Revolution in Student Loans
• Interview with Anna Runyan of Classy Career Girl

Subscribe to Admissions Straight Talk:

Subscribe to Admissions Straight Talk in iTunes!     Subscribe to Admissions Straight Talk in Stitcher!

Check out MBA Admissions A-Z: 26 Great Tips

IV with a UC Berkeley Haas Admitted Student and 2013 MBA Launcher

Check out the rest of our MBA Applicant Interview series!This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with MBA applicants, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at the MBA application process. And now…introducing Marisa who will be starting at UC Berkeley Haas in the fall.

Accepted: Let’s start with some basics: Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What is your favorite non-school book?

Marisa: I’m from Santa Barbara, CA, but went to college at Northwestern University, where I majored in Middle East History and International Relations.  My favorite non-school book is “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini — he’s such a powerful storyteller.

Accepted: Congrats on your acceptance to Haas! How would you say that you’re a good fit with the program?

Marisa: Thank you!  I was really attracted to Haas’ four Defining Principles, but particularly “confidence without attitude.”  When I visited the school and spoke with both current and former students, I found this cultural attribute to be absolutely true — these people are rockstars, but they are humble about their accomplishments and eager to collaborate with others.  I think this phrase describes me pretty well.  I’m confident and ambitious but don’t like to be a jerk about it, and I certainly don’t believe that my success should come at the expense of someone else’s. Plus, I truly believe that humility is essential to good leadership, and I like how Haas emphasizes that as a key aspect of their culture.

Accepted: Which other b-schools had you considered?

Marisa: I applied to Stanford’s GSB in Round 1, and Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business in Round 2 (but withdrew my application after being accepted to Haas).  I also strongly considered Northwestern’s Kellogg SOM but ultimately decided I did not want to return to Evanston.  I don’t like to repeat experiences, even though I’m sure Kellogg itself would have differed from undergrad.  Also, it’s freezing.  But we’ll pretend that wasn’t a serious factor…

Accepted: What are you most looking forward to in starting b-school in the fall?

Marisa: I’m most looking forward to meeting my classmates and hearing about their experiences and goals for the future.  I’m also looking forward to some of the experiential education opportunities at Haas, like the International Business Development course and Social Sector Solutions consultancy.  As a history major, I rarely had the opportunity to directly tie my classroom learning to practical applications, so I look forward to learning new material in class and then applying it on projects right away.

Accepted: You have a really interesting work history — currently at Deloitte and previously at the FBI. First, can you tell us about what you did at the FBI (if you’re allowed…), and then, how did that lead you to Deloitte, and where do see yourself working post-MBA?

Marisa: My work history sounds more interesting than it is!  I was a strategic intelligence analyst in the FBI’s counterterrorism division, where I basically conducted research and wrote papers (sounds like a history major, right?).  The intelligence products I wrote, and briefings that I gave to decisionmakers, theoretically helped guide investigations of terrorist activity.  I did have some cool experiences (briefed the Director a couple times and traveled internationally to brief some partner agencies), but ultimately I found the pace a little slow and the bureaucracy more than a little maddening.  I was also far from the action on the ground, so I didn’t feel like I was able to have a true impact in my role.  Ultimately, it just wasn’t the right fit.

I saw consulting as an opportunity to help organizations like my previous employer address the issues that get in the way of executing their missions effectively. So last January I joined Deloitte as a consultant in their Federal Practice here in DC, where I have been working with IC clients on things like strategic planning and business process improvement. I have also been heavily involved with the Federal Women’s Initiative (WIN), founding and leading the WIN Gen Y team focused on engaging and empowering junior women professionals in the Federal Practice. Deloitte is a great company and I’ve learned a ton, but I feel ready to take the next step in my career with an MBA.  Post-Haas, I see myself working in international development consulting, helping organizations create positive social and economic impacts in emerging markets (specifically, in the Middle East).

Accepted: Can you tell us about your experience as a 2013 MBA Launcher? And what about your experience with Forte? Are these programs that you’d recommend to other b-school applicants?

Marisa: I really enjoyed participating in the pilot Forte MBALaunch program.  For those who are unfamiliar, Forte Foundation established this program to help MBA-interested women navigate the application process, from identifying target schools to acing the GMAT to executing on essays and interviews.  In 2013, the program was launched in New York, DC, and Chicago and included an in-person kick-off event, monthly webinars, a personal advisor, placement in a peer group of other MBALaunch women, and attendance at a local Forte-sponsored MBA fair.

I found the monthly webinars, particularly the ones that forced me to really think about my “story” and how to present myself to the admissions committee, to be extremely helpful.  I don’t think I would have had quite the edge I needed without that guidance.  Plus, since the program started in January, it forced me to start thinking about the process very early, and then kept me on track for Round 1 submissions.

When I applied to the program, I was most excited about being paired with an advisor — a woman who had received her MBA and would help me through the application process.  However, I ended up finding the peer mentorship of my fellow MBALaunch women to be even more impactful.  My advisor provided some necessary tough love and advice — like insisting I consider retaking the GMAT when that was the last thing I wanted to do, which led me to improve my score by 30 points.  But my peer group provided me nearly constant support.  We shared resources, read each others’ essays, and advised one another when we ran into challenges.  In fact, even though the program has officially ended, we’re still getting together soon to help one of our members make her enrollment decision.

Overall, I had a really positive experience with MBALaunch and the awesome Forte women who run the program.  I hope to continue my involvement with Forte in the future.

Accepted: As someone who applied successfully to b-school, you must have some good tips to share. Can you offer 2-3 tips for our readers?

Marisa: Every applicant is different, but I can offer some general tips that worked for me:

1. Get beyond the rankings lists.  Really think about what you want, and what characteristics are important to you — class size, location, specific focus areas or experiences, recruitment relationships, etc.  It’s not as obvious as you’d think, so talk to those people in your life who know you best and can help you figure out what aspects of a program to prioritize.  And keep an open mind — your dream school might just surprise you.

2. Talk to current students at the schools you’re considering before you start your applications, especially if you’re unable to visit campus before applying.  Not only will this help you get a feel for a school’s culture and determine whether it’s a good prospect for you, but it will also help you target your essays and guide your recommenders in a way that demonstrates your fit with the school.  Speaking of guiding your recommenders…

3. Have candid conversations with your recommenders about why you’re applying to MBA programs, why you’re a fit with the schools you’ve chosen, and what questions they need to address in your recommendations.  I put together packets of logistical and background information for my recommenders, including deadlines, instructions, the specific questions (if available), and context on what I was hoping to get out of an MBA at each school.  Some recommenders will want you to write your own recommendations — resist the urge, and push back!  You can offer to provide as much or as little support they need in terms of brainstorming content and keeping them on track with deadlines, but ultimately the best recommendations are genuine.  If someone doesn’t want to write your rec themselves, they’re probably not the best person for the job.

4. Visit campuses in the spring before you apply!  I totally didn’t do this and wished I had, because many schools don’t open for tours prior to the R1 deadlines.

5. Be sure to take breaks to be with friends and talk about something — anything! — besides b-school.  When you’re head-down in applications with deadlines approaching, it’s tempting to shut everyone and everything out.  The whole process can become an obsession very quickly, so this is way easier said than done, but totally worth keeping in mind.

Learn how to use sample essays to create an exemplary essay of your own! Click here to download our free report!


2013 Forté Forum: Inspiration, Opportunity and the MBA

Forte“As a Forte Fellow, I have access to many great benefits, including networking events, webinars, and the annual Forte Conference. Even before school started, I was welcomed by my second-year Forte mentor from Georgetown who helped me navigate the first weeks of school.” – Teri Delgado, Forté Fellow and recent Accepted.com blog interviewee.

Do you want to learn more about the Forté Foundation? Attend the 2013 Forté Forum!

Female business leaders and admission officers from top b-schools will be available for networking, advising, and mingling during the upcoming Forté Forum event for women. These professionals will help you explore the possibility of pursuing an MBA, develop the best career strategy, and choose the right business school for you.

DATE: August 19 – October 2, 2013
TIME: 6:00 – 9:00 pm
PLACE: 10 cities across North America and Europe

August 19 Chicago
August 20 Boston
August 21 Washington D.C.
August 22 Atlanta
August 26 Houston
August 28 San Francisco
August 29 Los Angeles
September 3 New York I
September 4 New York II
September 5 Toronto
October 2 London

PRICE: Free for pre-registrants and $5/£5 at the door.

Register for free and reserve your spot here.

For more information on what the Forté Forum does and how they can help you, please see our podcast with Elissa Ellis Sangster, the head of Forté.


Georgetown MBA Interview with Teri Delgado

Click here for more MBA student interviews.

This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. We hope to offer you a candid picture of student life, and what you should consider as you prepare your MBA application.

Accepted: First, can you tell us a bit about your background? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What is your favorite flavor ice cream?

Teri: My background is Puerto Rican and Mexican-Irish and I grew up in Kensington, MD, just outside of Washington, D.C. I studied psychology at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH. Go Big Green! My favorite flavor of ice cream is Dulce de Leche.

Accepted: What events or experiences in your life led you to pursue an MBA?

Teri: I chose to pursue an MBA to build a strong general management foundation. After undergrad, I joined an education start-up to teach high school students and design AP curriculum, but discovered my passion for marketing when the start-up’s founder asked me to support the growth of the company by managing the company’s marketing campaigns and sponsorships. Focused on advancing my marketing career, I spent the next 5 years with the Advisory Board Company, a healthcare research, technology, and consulting firm based in Washington, D.C., where I pioneered the firm’s first product marketing role and grew the strategic marketing team over the physician performance technology and consulting divisions. Partnering with product development and sales teams, I launched 5 new technology products and designed a strategic plan for the firm’s physician-focused solutions. This experience working across cross-functional teams to advance corporate strategy and drive both top-line sales and bottom-line growth helped me build a strong marketing foundation, but also motivated me to deepen my knowledge of other business functions. Through conversations with mentors at work and other professional women that I met through the Forte Foundation, I knew that getting my MBA was the best next step for me.

Accepted: Can you talk about your experience with the Forte Foundation? What are some of the benefits of being involved with this organization?

Teri: As a Forte Fellow, I have access to many great benefits, including networking events, webinars, and the annual Forte Conference. Even before school started, I was welcomed by my second-year Forte mentor from Georgetown who helped me navigate the first weeks of school. Through my Forte participation, I contribute to the Forte Fellow blog and have been empowered to lead the first-year women’s mentoring program as the VP, Mentorship for the Georgetown Women in Business club. Forte sponsored events helped me evaluate pursuing an MBA early on and I am thrilled that I can share my experience and help other women strategically consider this decision as well.

Accepted: I see you’re also an NSHMBA Fellow and a Toyota Fellow. Can you tell us a little about these programs?

Teri: Through Georgetown, I received a National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA) Scholarship and a Toyota Fellowship.

NSHMBA is committed to increasing the number of Hispanics with graduate business degrees and is a premier networking and skill development organization for Hispanic professionals. As a NSHMBA Scholar, I have received a financial scholarship, access to exclusive networking events and skill-building workshops, and admission to the annual NSHMBA career conference where I secured my summer internship offer. I also have volunteered for NSHMBA and participated in the annual Brillante Awards gala where McDonough’s full-time program was honored for Education Excellence.

The Toyota Fellowship recognizes successful undergraduate academic performance and at least four years of professional achievement for MBA candidates concentrating in marketing, strategy, or finance. As a Fellow, I have been invited to exclusive networking events with Toyota.

Accepted: What is your favorite thing about the MBA program at Georgetown McDonough? Least favorite?

Teri: McDonough has empowered me to apply my leadership skills in both global and local contexts. My favorite part of the experience has been building relationships with students and the community as a Marketing Club Leader and as a Board Fellow where I helped an international non-profit with brand building and digital platform development. My least favorite thing about Georgetown is probably the limited dining options on campus, but I heard that they are planning to renovate the food court this year!

Accepted: Which other b-schools had you considered? Why did you think Georgetown was the best fit?

Teri: I was accepted at NYU Stern and Duke as well but chose Georgetown because I felt a strong connection to the people and the place. The Georgetown culture is collegial and grounded in service to others. I can honestly say that the people I have met are committed to solving the world’s challenges and serving the local community- we have partnerships with over 40+ community service organizations and non-profits in D.C. Georgetown’s general management and international focus was a great fit for my career goals. Being close to home and family was a great bonus!

Accepted: What are you doing for your summer internship? What role did Georgetown play in helping you secure that position?

Teri: This summer, I have a brand management internship with Johnson & Johnson’s OTC Global Franchise Organization in Fort Washington, PA. As a member of the Global Franchise team, I am focused on identifying and sizing pain care growth opportunities for key brands (TYLENOL® and MOTRIN®) across 16 global markets to inform the 2013 global strategic plan. Georgetown’s Career Services team and the Graduate Marketing Club peer advisors (second-year MBA students) were invaluable in helping me prepare for my interviews at the NSHMBA career conference. I felt confident going into internship recruiting because of the time that Career Services and my marketing peers invested in me to help me prepare for company conference calls, mock interviews, and case interviews.

Accepted: How would you rate Georgetown and Washington, D.C. as a setting for business school?

Teri: Georgetown is a fun and unique setting for business school. Georgetown’s D.C. location gives students unparalleled access to government, business, and cultural leaders. Some of the highlights of my first year have been campus events with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Muhammad Yunus founder of Grameen Bank, and Bono.

For one-on-one guidance on your b-school application, please see our MBA Application Packages