When COVID-19 canceled Haley Faust’s summer internship, she returned to her hometown planning to spend the summer studying for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). However, she found a way to use her strengths and give back to her community by interning at the Columbus Area Future Fund in cooperation with the Columbus Area United Way.
“I was optimistic that something else would come along,” said Faust, a senior management major at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business. “The internship is focused on employability and finding ways to help adults improve their relevant job skills and developing systems to help them do that. Working in a nonprofit setting and giving back to a community that I love so much was exciting,” she said.
Faust appreciated how the internship focused on people’s skills and talents. The role gave her the chance to put into practice her strengths, developed through the Clifton Strengths Institute staff, by helping see and bring out the best in people.
“The internship has a strengths-based aspect of making people better at what they're already good at. The College of Business does a great job working on strengths and having an overall theme of strengths, which are frequently utilized and talked about. It's really sparked a passion and love for strengths in me, and I think that's something I can take in all aspects of my life and definitely in this internship with United Way,” said Faust, who also serves as a mentor for the National Human Resources Institute leadership program, where she actively uses her strengths as well.
The outcome Faust experienced is one Dr. Tim Hodges, executive director of the Clifton Strengths Institute and assistant professor of practice in management, states is a direct result of the strengths-based atmosphere students are placed in from day one at the College of Business. He believes the Clifton Strengths Institute, located within the college, is a differentiator that gives Nebraska Business students an advantage when they move into the workplace.
“Our students receive coaching from trained student strengths coaches during their first eight weeks in the College of Business. This early investment creates a powerful coaching mindset that they carry with them throughout their time on campus and into their careers,” said Hodges. “Students like Haley bring an incredible passion and creativity to their work. They not only learn about strengths in the classroom, they are constantly looking for ways to apply them in new and exciting ways.”
Faust believes applying strengths to her internship provided a different perspective than she would have received anywhere else, particularly during a pandemic.
“Interning with United Way during this time, especially with COVID-19, has been especially insightful and a great learning experience,” she said. “Also, being in my hometown and giving back is very rewarding.”
With such a turbulent year, Hodges believes leaning into strengths will prove crucial moving forward.
“Don Clifton (Nebraska professor of education psychology who is considered the father of strengths-based psychology) believed people are most open to development in times of change. While the college years have always been an impactful time of growth and change for students, the year 2020 has been unlike any other. Don also said that we are never as strong as when we have our strengths clearly in mind. I am confident that focusing on our strengths is as important now as it’s ever been,” said Hodges.
To learn more about the Clifton Strengths Institute, visit: https://business.unl.edu/strengths.