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University of Nebraska–Lincoln

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Clifton Builders Discover Entrepreneurship

November 9, 2018
Clifton Builders Discover Entrepreneurship
Sophomores making towers out of spaghetti, marshmallows and tape.
Going beyond startup strategy such as product development and creating value, students in the Clifton Builders program learn to approach engagement as a business strategy to yield better results. The builders partner with a business or organization to improve workplaces by focusing on strengths and development for more engaged employees. The hands-on training enables students to better understand how to develop talent, motivate and engage their employees in their future careers.

Dr. Samantha Fairclough oversees the sophomore Builders during a class project.
Dr. Samantha Fairclough oversees the sophomore Builders during a class project.
Program selection happens through applications, interviews and Gallup’s Builder Profile 10 (BP10) assessment, which identifies strong entrepreneurial mindsets. Students begin the program with the Clifton Strengths Institute during their sophomore year in a cohort setting that fosters comradery and teamwork. The program offers three tracks – business, team and community builders, and connects students with a Gallup-certified strengths coach to help them understand and maximize their unique set of talents.

“The most important thing I’ve learned as a Clifton Builder is that although I may struggle in some areas of well-being, such as the social aspect, I can leverage my other strengths to help me interact with people and build strong, meaningful relationships,” said Tanner Stalsberg, sophomore accounting major from Milford, Nebraska.

The program stemmed from needs identified by Jim Clifton, Gallup chairman and CEO, who saw the necessity to boost young entrepreneurial-minded people. The Clifton Builders program at Nebraska became the first program of its kind in the U.S. offered at the college level in 2016. Nebraska is the only institution with a three-year curriculum with three tracks, a major and a minor, as well as co-curricular involvement like student mentors and one-on-one coaching.

“These students have a gift that is often overlooked or undervalued. Their talents lie in their drive to be innovative, challenge the status quo and change how the world views leadership and managing people,” said Samantha Kennelly, assistant director of the Clifton Strengths Institute. “Investing in their talents allows them to maximize their potential and puts them in a place where they can succeed beyond academics.”