Representatives of the Fullbridge Program speak on campus: The program provides students with essential business skills to prepare for their careers

Posted by Julia Leef

Carter Williams and Tom Mayell visited the College on April 3 as representatives of the Fullbridge Program, which will host two sessions in Boston, Mass. from June 4 to 29 and July 9 to Aug. 3.

According to the presentation, the Fullbridge Program is a "business boot camp," that bridges the gap between college and career, and helps students learn important professional skills to assist them in obtaining and maintaining a job.

"Employers are looking for students to hit the ground running from day one," Williams, who is co-leading the university recruitment effort, said. "We saw this space and this crying need to have a program that would prepare students to bridge this gap between school and the workplace."

The two principle founders and co-CEOs of the program are Peter and Candice Olson, who started the program in May 2010. Peter Olson is the former CEO of Random House, and Candice Olson is one of the first women to lead an initial public offering, the first sale of a stock by a company to the public, in the United States.

Also involved is Timothy Butler, a senior fellow on the faculty of Harvard Business school and director of Career Development Programs, who leads the Fullbridge Program as an adviser and a Career Leader.

The program looks to work with a diverse set of students and majors who want to impact the world and engage with their fellow classmates and teammates, Williams said, adding that as a smart, liberal arts focused college, Skidmore would be an excellent place for recruitment.

"We sort of view the program as this big mosaic that ties together in the end," Williams said. "You begin to build things as you learn. We thought a program like this would really resonate with Skidmore."

Williams broke down the fundamental ideas of the program into three basic pillars: "Find It," "Get It," and "Crush It." The program works to help students realize these three objectives in finding a vision for their career by identifying core areas of interest, developing the necessary business and professional skills, and making an impact from day one of their internship or job.

During its four week session, students spend eight hours a day learning everything from basic competencies, such as effective oral communication and financial analysis, to more complex skills, such as creative problem solving and project and time management.

"You walk away in four weeks with a pretty serious construction of powerful business, finance and professional skills and self-awareness, which of course gives you a huge amount of confidence in any job or internship," Williams said.

Both sessions will feature the same content and material, and between the two Williams said the program is looking to gather approximately 100 students for this summer.

The program is divided into on-site and optional offsite work, in which students have the choice to work on their own online during weeks two and three. Williams said that this allows students to work on their own for part of the time if they prefer, and it also helps emphasize the team experience when they return on-site.

Students will work on individual projects and on assignments with teams, which will culminate in a final presentation at the end of the semester. They will have a variety of resources to work from, including videos, guest speakers, and each other.

"We wanted the whole experience to reflect the workplace," Mayell, the senior manager of college recruiting for the program, said. "It's a global world of business, you're going to have to work off-site and in teams even though you're not all in the same room."

Each student benefits from personal interactions with Fullbridge coaches. They continually assess the individuals and provide daily feedback on their strengths and weaknesses in areas of presentations, team and individual work, leadership and attitude.

"They're not like instructors or professors in that they'll be lecturing at you," Mayell said. "They're there to guide you should you need it, to tell you what your strengths and weaknesses are, to hone your strengths and to work on your weaknesses."

Current coaches for the summer terms include Kelly Skinner and Luke Owings, both of who received an MBA from Harvard Business school. Williams, who was also once a coach, said it is not unusual for students of the program to return and become coaches in areas they excelled in.

"It's so easy to go in and pinpoint where people are having problems in specific areas so the coaches are able to immediately intervene, figure out what's gong on, and help the participant move forward," Williams said.

Anna Gaissert, a junior from Brown University and one of the program's graduates, said her experience with Fullbridge pushed her to go beyond her normal work efforts.

"The challenge of this program was that you were learning information and applying it and doing that really quickly," Gaissert said. "That was something that really pushed me out of my comfort zone but was so good for me to do."

"One thing that I know I can definitely say that I'm going to take away from this program is confidence," Reide McMann, a junior from Harvard University and another graduate of the program, said. "Fullbridge has really inspired me to go above and beyond, and reach for the stars."

"I am much more aware of who I am, I'm much more aware of my strengths and weaknesses, and I'm much more confident to go out into the world and show people what's up," Anatol Gudenus, a sophomore from Brown University, said.

Students may apply online at fullbridge.com/summer. The first phase of applications involves a short essay and several short answers, and the students who pass this part will move on to a Skype interview with one of the program's admissions members. While a student's' grade point average certainly plays a role in the selection process, Williams said the program prefers to judge people based on their merits and actions.

The next round of applications is due on April 16. Students must provide basic personal and school information, a summary of an activity or job that has been the most meaningful for them, and a short essay on their interest in Fullbridge.

"We care so much about these participants and it is such a pleasure having them be a part of the program," Williams said. "The transformations are pretty remarkable. It's a really powerful experience, and you get completely immersed in it."

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