Best Reading for MBA Students

Which are the best books and blogs to read if you’re a woman MBA student? Reader M wonders…

I love your blog and find all of the fashion and career advice incredibly helpful. You address a lot of corporate issues and a lot of legal and I was just wondering if you knew of any blogs that deal with business school specifically. I’ll be starting a full-time MBA program in the fall and I’m looking for some advice on what to expect and how to get the most out of it.

Great question, M! I know of a few, but thought I’d open this up to the readers…

  • Forbes Woman. I find it easiest to just like their Facebook feed to see Forbes stories that are more targeted for women — they’re really helpful, good articles (and usually at least one makes it into our Weekly News roundup). They also have a list of the Top 100 Websites for Women (which we’ve been honored to appear in for a few years now!).
  • Forte Foundation. This women-focused, non-profit consortium of major corporations and top business schools has a ton of information about the MBA, from the consideration stage, to the application process, to the student years, and beyond.  They offer free newsletters, and for paid members, podcasts and videos.

And… beyond that I’m stumped — there’s a lot out there, but I’m curious to hear from the readers which are their favorites! There are obviously blogs like Poets and Quants and Clear Admit for the admissions process, and hopefully blogs like Corporette (as well The Daily Muse and Levo League) and organizations like 85 Broads are helpful after you’re out, as well as alumni groups.  Once you know your focus blogs like The Glass Hammer (for women in financial services) might be helpful as well.

Readers — which are your favorite blogs and websites for MBA students, as well as women who hold MBAs?  

Building a Wardrobe for Law School

How to Build a Wardrobe for Law School | CorporetteWhat clothes should you add to your wardrobe before you attend law school?  Reader N has a great question:

I am in my mid-twenties and will be starting law school this fall. I’ve spent my time since undergrad traveling (living out of a backpack) and working with kids (only wearing clothes that could get messy).

I’ve set aside some money to buy a new wardrobe for law school, but am looking for advice on what I should invest in that will be part of my wardrobe over the next three years. The school I’m going to is in a city that has a long, cold winter, and the sense I get is that the school generally has a preppy vibe. Any advice?

Good luck to Reader N!  I’m one of those people who enjoyed law school more than the practice of law so I think fondly of my years there — they were intense but fun.* We’ve talked about which bags are great for law school (way back in 2008!) but we haven’t actually talked about what to wear to law school.  I think this is a great question, and mid-July is a perfect time to think about it. Where I went (Georgetown ’03) people wore everything from business suits to sweatpants — one professor actually gave us a list of tips during our 1L finals week that included tips like “don’t forget to bathe.” So “laid back” can be an understatement, and I suspect a lot of your wardrobe will already work just fine for the classes themselves.

So instead, let’s look at what clothes you will definitely need for job hunting and networking, and focus on that instead. [Read more...]

The Hunt: Interview Tote Bags

The Best Tote Bags for InterviewingSure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

It’s been a while since we did a roundup on interview tote bags, so I thought we’d do one now (see our 2012, 2011, and 2010 roundups here). I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: in my mind the perfect interview tote has structure (that it keeps if you set it down), is a muted color like black, and doesn’t have a ton of logos or other bling on it. In terms of size, I think it should be big enough to fit a file folder as well as whatever else you would normally carry in your purse, but not so big that you could fit a beach blanket or groceries in there.  In the past I’ve always preferred nylon to leather (much lighter weight) but I think readers have finally convinced me that the weight doesn’t matter that much.  (What do you think, guys?)  We’ve included some of the classics in previous roundups (such as the Kate Spade Maryanne line, most MZ Wallace bags, nylon Tory Burch totes, and Lo & Sons totes) so I’ll only include the newer ones in today’s roundup. Readers, what are the top qualities you look for in an interview tote? Have you made any great purchases recently? [Read more...]

Tales from the Wallet: Tackling Big Debt

how to pay big debtHow do you pay off big student loans?  Can you manage your debt when you’re facing huge numbers, such as six figures? We’ve talked about when to save versus when to pay down debt before, but a number of readers have asked for a post on Really Big Debt, so let’s discuss (particularly since the interest rate just doubled on new Stafford loans!).  I polled some friends to ask who had a plan or success story that didn’t involve inheritance/lottery, and thought I’d round up their stories, anonymously, below — but readers, please share your own! Have you paid off major debt (student loans or otherwise)?  What is your plan to pay it off? (Pictured: one of Nordstrom’s top rated wallets: Hobo  ‘Lauren’ Double Frame Clutch, with 95 positive reviews. Available in six colors for $110.)

M’s Story: Some repayment assistance / A whole lot of payment discipline

So, on my loans: the total between grad and law school was about $130k. I was fortunate to go to a law school with a repayment assistance program for graduates working in non-profit organizations… which requires the 10-year repayment plan. I bit the bullet and went for it, feeling like I’d rather suck it up for ten years and be FREE than have student loans following me into my 50s. Consolidated all the loans (with super-low interest rates, hooray), signed up for repayment assistance, and made sure to sign up for auto-pay on the loans to make non-payment/paying less not an option. [Read more...]

First Day on the Job: How to Make Your First Day a Great Day

first day tipsWith interns everywhere starting soon (to say nothing of college graduates), I thought we should have an open thread about what your best advice is for the first day on the job (and, hey, your first week!). We’ve talked about how to build a wardrobe for your summer internship (as well as no-duh tips in general for your summer internship); we’ve also talked about how to avoid acting young, and how to look professional without looking like you think you’re in charge — but I don’t think we’ve talked, specifically, about first day tips.  For my $.02, these are some of my top tips:

Before the First Day

  • Read the company’s website, particularly if they have a “Press” section.  Consider Googling further to learn more than just what’s in the press release on their website.
  • Google your company to see if it’s been in the news or mentioned otherwise.  If you haven’t already set up a Google Alert, do it now.
  • Research your liaison.  If you have the name of your contact or liaison, search for their name on the company website.  You may find mentions in press releases or a bio, but for smaller companies you may just find a listing of responsibilities.  You may also consider checking out their LinkedIn or even their Facebook page.  There is, of course, a fine line between being creepy and being well prepared, so be smart about what you ask him or her about at your first meeting.  Fair game:  responsibilities at the job, career path, school background.  Getting creepy: your making any comments about kids, significant others, or recent vacations the person may have posted about on Facebook.

First Day Tips

  • Look as professional as you did on the job interview. [Read more...]

What “Business Casual” Means for Students Who Are Networking

Shirred Side Cowlneck SweaterA lot of companies and networking groups have parties for students over the holidays — I can remember attending more than a few in my younger years.  The perennial question, as Reader N wonders:  what do you wear when it says “business casual attire”? Perhaps more importantly, what things shouldn’t you wear for winter networking events?

I’m a college student who is interested in finance, and go to a lot of information sessions for banks. The dress code is usually business casual or business attire. Other than just wearing a suit, what can be appropriate in these situations? A dress like this Metallic T-Shaped Tunic Sweater from Express (picture) or this Merona Sleeveless Empire Dress (picture) with tights and a jacket? Black slacks and a nice sweater?

This is a great question, and I want to start by saying, again, that when you’re networking — at least for a conservative job — the goal is is for your clothes to be muted enough that people remember your brains (or your words or your resume), NOT your outfit.  A few basic rules, just responding to your question: [Read more...]