Gillian Burkett ’14, Contributing Writer
In today’s extremely competitive job search, students are continuously looking for ways to separate themselves from their peers and to showcase their skills and strengths to potential employers. For some students, especially for those who attend excellent liberal arts schools, the skills needed to go into certain industries are lost in the traditional education structure. Many professionals have recognized this gap, and a number of programs have arrived on the market that aim to bridge the gap between a traditional college education and the real-world business skills needed to succeed in any corporation or professional environment. One such program is the Fullbridge Program.
The Fullbridge Program was started in July 2010 by Peter and Candice Olsen, a couple who has seen this gap widen from both sides. Peter and Candice have both run extremely successful companies: Peter was CEO at publishish company Random House, while Candice was founder and CEO at iVillage.com, an online forum for women. When the Olsens sent their seven children into the work world, they found that a lack in basic business acumen was holding their kids back.
In January 2012, the first Fullbridge program was launched. This program was aimed at college students and graduates. Since 2012, the company has grown to offer a number of programs each winter and each summer in many cities across the country including Boston, New York, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles.
Fullbridge teaches entrepreneurial thinking and real-world business skills through hands-on, interactive learning, and close peer-to-peer collaboration. Skills learned at Fullbridge include developing financial statements and analysis, valuation and financial forecasting. Other units focus on skills that include Excel, PowerPoint and presentations, project and time management, strategy, innovation and brand, market research, and sales and marketing.
For students looking to go into finance, basic knowledge of these skills is pertinent. However, for students looking to go into any other industry in the corporate setting, knowledge of these skills is also extremely sought after by all employers. These skills also encourage students to become more entrepreneurial both during the job search and throughout their careers.
Unlike the traditional academic setting, Fullbridge combines collaborative group work with modules on business exercises. Participants are then required to immediately apply these new skills by creating a model of some sort, whether it be an Excel spreadsheet, PowerPoint presentation, memo, or case brief. These deliverables are then reviewed by the Fullbridge Coaches who provide immediate feedback. This creates an extremely fluid and dynamic learning environment.
Fullbridge has an extraordinary portfolio of coaches, many of whom have been in the professional world for a number of years and are interested in the success of Fullbridge participants as future successful employees. Throughout the program, coaches act as bosses, but are also committed to helping participants not only understand the material, but also to foster professional awareness through development of “soft skills.”
The development of these “soft skills” is why many students have found the Fullbridge Program to be very beneficial. Some of these skills include thinking critically and always looking for solutions, learning to be flexible, learning to work with teams and to disagree effectively.
Eight Trinity students have successfully completed the program and a number have found the program to be a transformative experience. Kody Sun, University of Pennsylvania student and a Fullbridge participant this past summer, said that the opportunity to collaborate with others was one of the most important skills he learned at Fullbridge.
Sun recognized that, “social and emotional intelligence are instrumental in finishing team-based projects.” Going further beyond understanding that effective teamwork is necessary in accomplishing goals. Kody learned how to address the necessity for a team to reach its “optimal functioning capacity” through developing skills in social awareness.
Fullbridge is currently accepting applications for students interested in applying for any of the 2014 programs. Applications are due by Monday, December 2. The programs being offered are: XBA in Business Fundamentals, XBA in Entrepreneurship, and the Internship Edge program. The Business Fundamentals program and the Entrepreneurship program are both four weeks long and the Internship Edge program, being piloted this winter, is two weeks long, and is aimed at giving students the competitive edge in the internship search process.
All programs are available for students of all years and all majors. Fullbridge is seeking highly motivated students who are looking to gain an edge in the career search process, which is why many Trinity students have found success with the program in the past.
Visit www.fullbridge.com/ programs for more information on where specific programs are being offered during 2014.