“I love the message and the work that the institute allows us to do. I get to go and consult with businesses and find what career would best fit my strengths.”
For the better part of the last decade, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business has housed the Clifton Strengths Institute, a program that teaches students about their strengths and how to maximize their potential, and encourages an in-depth look inward at one’s natural talents.
CliftonStrengths was conceived by Don Clifton, an alumnus of UNL and former professor. Clifton believed that more could be learned about oneself by understanding and maximizing one’s talents instead of solely fixing on the shortcomings.
Today, the Clifton Strengths Institute has been utilized by more than 5,800 students at the College of Business. Each first-year business student is assigned a “Student Strengths Coach,” an older member of the institute who guides first-year students through sessions designed to activate talents and teaches them to recognize their strengths.
The program focuses on the 34 CliftonStrengths that occupy what the program calls “Talent DNA.” The 34 strengths are divided into four subgroups: Strategic Thinking, Relationship Building, Executing and Influencing. These strengths cover areas of expertise that students naturally have, such as adaptability, consistency, communication and learning.
Further, the institute provides explorative career opportunities for students who choose to continue in the program past the first year. Jordan, a Junior at the institute and a Student Strengths Coach, explains, “I love the message and the work that the institute allows us to do. I get to go and consult with businesses and find what career would best fit my strengths.”
The donor-funded program has provided College of Business students with strengths-based coaching since its establishment in 2015. Since then, more than 5,800 students have received coaching, and more than 355 students have been trained as Student Strengths Coaches.
“[The Clifton Strengths Institute] is funded by donors and alumni who believe in positive psychology and the CliftonStrengths and want to bring that to campus,” continues Jordan. “I love that we get support for that program specifically.”
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