By Celsey Lumbra, Class of 2016
Our first week with the Fullbridge program has come to a close. Well, I guess we can’t really call it a full “week,” but we have made it to the weekend, folks! The verdict? The Fullbridge program will be an incredibly helpful experience. I have learned so much in just the first few days. I am already looking forward to what the next week and a half has in store for us.
The first day of the program was on Thursday, May 29th. We were expected to arrive by 8:30AM. Each day, with the exception of the first (which began 30 minutes early) runs from 9:00am to 6:00pm, with an hour break for lunch. The program itself is held in a place called the Downtown Conference Center, a building affiliated with Pace University located on William Street—one subway stop after Wall Street. Speaking of subways, I had never ridden one before. Public transportation in New York City is certainly an aspect of this experience I won’t forget. Getting accustomed to the subway system has taken a fair amount of attentiveness and patience. Attentiveness, well, for actually figuring out the correct route to your destination. And patience, well, let’s just say there is never a shortage of people on the subway. You can get pretty close to some people you’ve never met before. Real close.
On the first day, we were greeted by three coordinators: Caroline Kim, Liz Walker, and Ariel. I am unsure of Ariel’s last name at the moment, but he is just a Fullbridge program assistant. Caroline and Liz, we would soon find out, were going to be our main coaches. Both program coaches introduced themselves and made us feel very welcome. Caroline received her undergrad degree at Yale University in Economics and later went to business school at Harvard. She now works on a start-up with her husband in addition to being a Fullbridge coach. Liz received a degree in Environmental Engineering at MIT for her undergrad, and is now about to wrap up her Ph.D. at Harvard. Talk about credibility! Both coaches are extremely nice and helpful. They have already offered great advice on finding what you’re passionate about and taking up new opportunities.
We were immediately split into four teams. All the Saint Michael’s students were placed on different teams, with the exception of Team 2, consisting of both Greg Hamilton and Kelsey Duarte. Each team has 4-5 students. I am with Maggie from California, Anthony from Georgia, and Katherine from Maine. We have gotten to know each other pretty well, and it’s only been a few days! I am looking forward to working with them even more as the program continues.
Our very first task to complete was The Marshmallow Challenge. We were to build the tallest structure possible using just 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of masking tape, and one yard of string. The structure also had to contain a marshmallow, which was to be placed at the very top of the structure. Oh, and we were given just 18 minutes to do so. Only one team out of four built a standing structure. Team 3—Bri Healy’s team—was the champion with a structure of about 17.5 inches. Well done, Bri! The other three teams? When they placed the marshmallow at the top of their structure in the remaining minute or so, the structure came tumbling down along with any hope of winning the competition. After the activity, we discussed what worked well and what didn’t work well in terms of meshing with each of our team members and completing the task itself. The activity was a fun and insightful way to kick off the day’s content.
Now, speaking of the content, each day is split into two units. Each unit covers a different topic and may consist of individual and/or team tasks. Units we have covered so far include Self-Awareness and Communication, Presentation Fundamentals, Effective Teamwork, Excel, and Personal Finance. Each unit is completed online and consists of videos, readings, articles, tutorials, questions, and “deliverables,” which are assignments due at the end of each unit. In Self-Awareness and Communication, we learned how to communicate effectively by using something called a “Top Down” approach—a method of getting one’s point across in a clear and concise manner. The “Top Down” approach includes starting with the main overarching idea, and then moving into the smaller details. In Presentation Fundamentals, we learned about using PowerPoint to create an audience-friendly presentation. We also learned about an approach called “Beyond Bullet Points,” which showed us how to build a PowerPoint using tactics other than just the common bullet point approach. This unit also incorporated “effective oral communication/presentations” as well. We were required to produce a PowerPoint with our team and an individual video via our webcams. In the unit on Effective Teamwork, we first took the Myers-Briggs test to learn more about our own tendencies and personalities. Later, we brainstormed how we could best use these results to operate in a team atmosphere. In addition to taking the test, we also simulated an activity in which we were stranded on an island together. We were given a list of ten tasks to do, and had to prioritize which tasks were to be done first (e.g. retrieve water, retrieve food, make a long-term plan for survival, build a shelter, etc.). This was especially hard, because we all had different opinions on which task should be completed first. In the Excel unit, we learned both basic and intermediate skills for Microsoft Excel. This unit was especially helpful for me, because I was not completely confident in my abilities to work with Excel beforehand. I learned things about Excel that I never even knew existed! Finally, the unit in Personal Finance was also extremely helpful for me. Talking with other SMC students also revealed that they thought this unit was useful as well. We learned about all the normal stuff: building a personal budget, credit cards, debit cards, different types of accounts, the need to save, etc. However, what was especially helpful was learning about mortgages and the pros/cons to buying vs. renting a place to live. Although these are things I won’t need in the immediate future, I learned things that I never had been exposed to before. The hard-coded Excel documents they provided are ones that I will save forever. There are documents for building a personal budget, calculating net worth, as well as predicting equity on a house. The documents are very well put-together, and are definitely things I will put to use in the future.
Lastly, there has certainly not been a shortage of exploring NYC either. This weekend, many of us took advantage of our down time to tour the city. Many of us hit up Brooklyn Bridge, the 9/11 memorial, Times Square, Central Park, and the Empire State Building. Some of us even attended a New York Yankees game on Sunday as well. Unfortunately, the Yankees lost 7-2 in a tough match-up against the Minnesota Twins.
Over all, the program has been a great success! I have learned so much already, and we have only been in class for two and a half days! I cannot express how much I am looking forward to what this week has in store.