Leadership program connects students with career mentors

Guest correspondence


Photo by Patricia Courtois

From day one, we prepare our New College of Florida students to enter the competitive job market, with everything from one-on-one career coaching to networking opportunities and leadership training.

One of our most exciting initiatives is our certificate program in Leadership: Liberal Arts Work in the Real World, which was launched early last year by our Center for Career Engagement and Opportunity (CEO).

Since its inception, the certificate program has invited several professionals to New College for “campus conversations,” giving our students first-hand insight into what leadership looks like. For example, Target CEO Brian Cornell visited New College in mid-March to share leadership lessons with our students in an in-depth, in-person discussion.

“Our Leadership Certificate offers students the opportunity to connect with different levels of leadership on an intimate basis,” says Patricia Courtois, one of New College’s Professionals-in-Residence and the Certificate Program’s Head Instructor and Coordinator. . “The lessons learned through these dialogues can be applied not only during their time at New College, but also as they begin to explore potential career paths and engage in the community after graduation.”

Courtois knew Cornell would be an ideal speaker for the program, having worked with him in the mid-1990s at Tropicana. Cornell has spoken extensively at New College about overcoming the business challenges posed by the pandemic, giving our students great insights into strategy and resilience.

Some of the other workshops and lectures in the certificate program have included “Collaboration Through Teamwork” with Art Lambert, co-founder of S-One Holdings Corporation; “Creativity Works Everywhere” with David Bonner, Creative Director at On Ideas; “Leadership Exists at Every Level” with Jeff Lundy, Ph.D., New College alumnus and senior director of public policy development, data and analytics for PepsiCo; and “Effecting Change in the Workplace” with Felice Schulaner, New College alumnus, coach and retired human resources manager.

Courtois’ ability to teach our students about leadership – and bring in outside experts across many industries – gives our New College students a major competitive advantage.

Students aiming for the Certificate in Leadership participate in four 90-minute workshops in any given semester (led by Courtois and selected guest facilitators) and participate in hands-on experience such as an internship or research project . During this process, students in all areas of concentration gain the skills and knowledge necessary to make a meaningful impact in the world.

“We discuss everything from creativity to collaboration to implementing change, all through the lens of our participating students and their own passions and career goals,” says Courtois. “I like to share my perspective on how I learned to fail. Also, the unique culture of New College and its students inspires me.

Courtois has spent more than 40 years leading communications and corporate philanthropy efforts for companies and brands such as Beatrice Foods Company, Sara Lee Corporation, Tropicana, Sweet’n Low, Butter Buds, Sugar in the Raw and ClosetMaid. She has also mentored students for decades.

“It’s been a long and rewarding journey helping students navigate the world outside of the amphitheater,” Courtois says. “The best reward for me is when I see the students I have mentored go on to new experiences/more challenging jobs. I still get thank you messages from people who remind me that I played a part in their success. »

Dwayne Peterson, Executive Director of Professional Education at New College, says all College students have the ability to become leaders; they just need the optimal tools. The leadership certificate is a great example.

“We could say that all New College students are leaders. But part of this certificate program is trying to bring out and practice the leadership ability that resides in every New College student,” says Peterson. “Our students collect approaches to leadership through these experiences and really discover how to develop their own approaches that will serve them well in their careers.”

We look forward to inviting many more top leaders to our campus as they encourage our students to develop and pursue their ambitious career goals.

Patricia OkkerPh.D. is the president of the New College of Florida.

Photo by Patricia Courtois

Kevin E. Boling