“Sense of direction is one of the biggest gaps.” – Candice Carpenter Olson, USA
Heading out into the “real world” after graduation can be a downright humbling experience. And with the ever-growing skills gap that employers see in recent graduates (a Gallup poll showed that only 14 percent of Americans and only 11 percent of business leaders strongly agree that graduates have the “necessary skills and competencies to succeed in the workplace”) finding a job, let alone a rewarding one, can be a real challenge.
For Candice Carpenter Olson, entrepreneur and former CEO of iVillage, this reality hit close to home when her children (seven of them!) graduated from excellent liberal arts colleges, yet found they were lacking the right skills for the careers they sought. So Olson and her husband Peter – former Chairman and CEO of publishing giant Random House – decided to do something. In July 2010, The Fullbridge Program was born.
“The data is just completely overwhelming at this point. Employers do not think that college graduates – Ivy League, community college – are ready for the workplace,” says Olson. “[The Fullbridge Program does] short-term interventions that are really powerful. They could be a month long, or a semester long, and they obviate the need for a graduate degree for any kid going into a professional career.”
Fullbridge works with schools, corporations, governments and international ministries, and has prepared thousands of students for the workplace. Using a blended approach of online courses and live coaching, Fullbridge helps accelerate graduates’ professional development, ultimately landing them the right job.
Olson and I sat down recently during the BETT Show in London to talk a bit about the Fullbridge Program, what employers are looking for, and why Fullbridge students are seeing such success. “We have been working with [everything from] professional firms with very elite graduates to 18-year-old women in Saudi Arabia who have never had a job and have never been away from their families,” she says. “The world is so complex now, and kids know a very tiny part of the job opportunities. So a big part of what we do is actually help them with [career] assessments.”
They are clearly doing something right: Fullbridge has a 100 percent completion rate and over 90 percent of Fullbridge graduates say they are employed in rewarding careers. Great news as we work to narrow the skills gap, creating meaningful change in the world of education, and – perhaps most important – motivate students to find a career path that is worthwhile and relevant.
Adds Olson, “We believe so much in the power of teams and the power of coaching…and that came completely out of what I learned at iVillage. If you let peers really bond and help each other, you’re just going to be amazed at what they do together.”
I hope you enjoy today’s Daily Edventure with Candice Carpenter Olson as much as I did.
About Candice Carpenter Olson
Co-CEO & Founder
The Fullbridge Program
Candice Carpenter Olson is Co-CEO and founder of the Fullbridge Program. As Founder and CEO of iVillage.com, she became one of the first women to lead an IPO in the U.S. She’s held executive positions at American Express and Time Warner, and been an advisor at AOL. She is an Emmy Award winner and a recipient of the MIT Award for Entrepreneurship. She holds a BA from Stanford University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.