How Forté helped Rutgers undergrad Sri Narayanan grow as a leader

This feature by Lisa Beebe originally appeared on the Forté blog.

Sri Narayanan, Rutgers, Class of ‘21
  • Incoming Analyst, Blackstone
  • Forté Campus Ambassador
  • Forté Career Ready Certificate Earner
  • College to Business Leadership Conference, 2019
  • College Fast Track to Finance Conference, 2019

Sri Narayanan has always been a self-starter, but in her first year at Rutgers, she felt overwhelmed by all her options. Forté programs, conferences, and mentorship helped her grow as a leader and launch her post-college career.

Sri grew up in Princeton, New Jersey, and by middle school, she was making her mark as a leader. She recalls, “In seventh grade, I set up programming classes for kids in my neighborhood, and I realized that’s something that I really enjoy doing. I like creating my own material, I like setting up things on my own and taking that initiative.”

Helping Each Other Succeed

After high school, Sri enrolled at Rutgers University. As a freshman, she wasn’t sure which clubs and organizations to join, because there were so many options. She found a small, but welcoming community in Rutgers Women in Business (RUWIB). There, a senior, Zoe Weber, told her about Forté and said, “You need to apply to these conferences. They’re really great.”

I think the most important thing about going to Forté conferences is that you get to learn some of the skill sets that you’re not learning in class.

Sri took that advice to heart. In 2019, she attended two Forté conferences — the College to Business Leadership Conference in Chicago and the College Fast Track to Finance Conference in Boston. She says, “They were both really hands-on. They get you thinking. You’re learning experientially and getting exposure to different skill sets. I like how they focus on that.”

She recalls, “At the conference in Boston, Forté prioritized understanding financial concepts. They had students work in teams of eight or nine people and come up with different ideas. You were iterating on different ideas, working together as a team. It was nice, because you’re not just mingling with people from your own school; you’re meeting new people.”

Forté really focuses on growing and developing students individually.

The Forté conferences were an opportunity for Sri to make valuable connections. She says, “Going to these conferences, you meet a lot of recruiters, and there are a lot of networking opportunities. From there, you get the exposure to learn about internships or apply to externships. Since you were at the conference, you have that advantage.”

Each conference also gives attendees a professional experience they can add to their resume. Sri says Forté not only suggested adding the conferences to her resume, but also helped her come up with bullet points to help her future applications get noticed. She says. “Forté really focuses on growing and developing students individually.”

During Sri’s time at Rutgers, the Women in Business chapter has grown its membership and its reach. She says, “I think recognizing the opportunity to partner with Forté early on was a great move for us, because it helps Forté expand their reach on campus, and it helps us get access to amazing resources that we don’t have access to on our own.” For example, when RUWIB held their first conference in October, Forté connected them with guest speakers.

It was super helpful to have a mentor who applied to business school and took the GMAT, and see how she did it and learn from her journey.

Today, Sri is not only the president of Women in Business at Rutgers, but also a Forté Ambassador. She has continued the tradition of introducing younger students to Forté and encouraging them to get involved. She says, “I think the most important thing about going to Forté conferences is that you get to learn some of the skill sets that you’re not learning in class.”

Looking Ahead

After graduation, Sri has a full-time job waiting for her on the innovations team at Blackstone. Will an MBA be part of her career journey? She says, “I’m not sure about that yet. I haven’t even graduated undergrad yet, and I have my job lined up, but that’s something that might be a possibility in the future.”

Through Forté’s Career Ready Certificate Program, Sri expressed interest in learning more about MBA programs and was matched with an MBA mentor. She says, “It was super helpful to have a mentor who applied to business school and took the GMAT, and see how she did it and learn from her journey.” Sri sees an MBA as a great way to build new skills and make connections in a place that promotes the entrepreneurial spirit. She says, “There are so many great programs out there. I’m definitely considering it.”

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