Twenty-four College of Business students comprising the second cohort of Clifton Builders started their journey in the program this fall at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. The unique program of the Clifton Strengths Institute provides the opportunity for students to study and network with other entrepreneurial-minded individuals focused on changing the world in careers.
Gallup Chairman and CEO Jim Clifton designed the Builders Program to identify and develop students with high leadership and entrepreneurial potential. The selected students go through advanced, hands-on experiences in strengths-based leadership, employee engagement and well-being within specialized, cohort-based courses. The completion of these courses, in addition to an experiential component that aligns with their future aspirations, results in earning a certificate and/or Clifton Builders management minor. This program prepares them to be in a position to affect the next generation of employees when they earn leadership positions in the future.
“The program was created to find and develop entrepreneurs, startup types, rainmakers and extraordinarily talented salespeople and leaders – people who have a natural gift to create economic energy where none existed before,” said Clifton. “The United States has an oversupply of innovators and an under supply of entrepreneurs.”
New cohort members Quincey Bernard and Guilber Sorto, Jr., talk to a local entrepreneur in the Clifton Strengths Institute.
Students apply upon invitation from the program based on their results of taking the Gallup’s Builder Profile 10 (BP10) assessment, in correspondence with their application and interview performance. Mark Pogue, executive director of the Clifton Strengths Institute, explained though the world is good at identifying and developing student potential when it comes to academic or athletic performance, it can be hit or miss when trying to identify the next Steve Jobs vs. Lebron James.
Selected students choose between three tracks in the builders program. These include business builders, team builders and community builders. Students analyze their strengths and passions to determine which path best suits their skill set and future career goals.
“The selection process for the Clifton Builders Program is designed to identify talent that could launch a great business, non-profit or bring the next wave of innovation within existing organizations,” said Pogue. “The Gallup BP10 assessment not only gives us a glimpse of a student’s potential from a unique perspective, it also gives us a language to explore how we can best develop that potential.”
After selecting their track, each student is paired with a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach to help them better understand their unique strengths and how to apply them to maximize their success in college and beyond. Students learn where they can make the greatest impact in accordance with program goals. Some Builders Program members specialize in job creation and creating a business, while others focus on transforming the landscape of organizations or building stronger communities through leadership involvement in non-profits and service agencies.