Barry Mills: An Experiment

 

There will be more activity on campus this January, as the College hosts a new program aimed at giving students a leg up in an increasingly competitive job market.

In a number of my recent talks I have spoken about innovation and taking risk, and so at Bowdoin we are trying something new in the spirit of both.

We are constantly working to strengthen and enhance our Career Services operation at the College. From the day students walk on campus for the first time until they graduate, Career Services assists them in imagining life beyond Bowdoin. This help and guidance is an important part of the process, and as I’ve said many times, Bowdoin students are very successful in finding jobs—good jobs—directly after graduation (or even before). This success is largely due to their talent, the education they gain here, and very importantly, because of the strength and commitment of the Bowdoin alumni/parent/friend network. But in this very competitive economy, we are also always thinking about areas where we can do more; how we can assist students in acquiring the practical skills they need to get the job they want and, even more important, how we can help them absorb the practical strategies they will need to perform well and to succeed in these jobs.

…in this very competitive economy, we are also always thinking about areas where we can do more; how we can assist students in acquiring the practical skills they need to get the job they want and, even more important, how we can help them absorb the practical strategies they will need to perform well and to succeed in these jobs.

Many businesses of all kinds—both for profit and not for profit—are using the services of programs developed specifically to hone the skills of entry-level employees who are graduates of Ivy League and elite liberal arts colleges. One of these firms is Fullbridge, founded in 2010 by husband and wife team Peter Olson (former Chairman and CEO of Random House) and Candice Carpenter Olson (former founder and CEO of iVillage). The company is based in Cambridge, Mass., which allows Peter to continue teaching at the Harvard Business School. I met the program’s director of admissions, Oliver Snider, this summer, and I’ve had a number of conversations about the Fullbridge Program with him, Peter, and Candice. I am particularly impressed with the program because it focuses on skills and techniques that are essential regardless of whether one is going to work in a bank, a law firm, a nonprofit, a profession, or in the arts. As a result, we have agreed to have Fullbridge provide one of their programs right here on the Bowdoin campus during the long winter break, starting January 2013.

The Fullbridge program runs for about three weeks, eight hours a day, teaching people practical skills like creative problem solving, time and project management, accounting and finance, working in teams, presentation skills, and more. It’s open to any Bowdoin student, regardless of their major or class year. For more detail, please check out the Fullbridge Program website.

At this point, we have about 20 students who have signed up for the program, and we hope more will decide to try it out. The cost is $4,500 per student, which includes room and board at Bowdoin. Financial assistance is available for those who need it.

This is an experiment for Bowdoin. We are optimistic it will be a success, but we will evaluate the program and decide whether it makes sense to do it again. We know that many of our students are participating in these programs during the summer or after they graduate. This experiment will let us see if it makes sense to provide the opportunity a little earlier in their careers. We’ll let you know how it goes.

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I will continue to offer my thoughts on subjects interesting to me or of importance to the College, but I want to hear your ideas too. If there is a subject you’d like me to address, send me an e-mail at mills@bowdoin.edu

Previous Bowdoin Daily Sun columns by President Barry Mills are available here or on the Bowdoin website.

 

 

1 comment to Barry Mills: An Experiment

  • SH

    Editor’s Note: The Harry and Susan Newton Charitable Foundation announced today that it will provide the first full $4,500 scholarship for a Bowdoin student interested in participating in the Fullbridge Program.

    “Business needs great Bowdoin graduates also schooled in the specific skills business needs. This program is perfect,” said Harry Newton P’02.

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