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Watch How One Campus Program Uses CliftonStrengths to Help Students Thrive

Watch How One Campus Program Uses CliftonStrengths to Help Students Thrive

Want to know how CliftonStrengths helps students succeed on campus and as they enter their careers?

Watch Samantha Kennelly, assistant director of the Clifton Strengths Institute at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, share how her program helps hundreds of students become more engaged through the power of CliftonStrengths.

From the video:

My name is Samantha Kennelly. I am the Assistant Director at the Clifton Strengths Institute at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Our main focus is undergraduate students. So we work with 800 first year students and provide one-on-one coaching for them. So we saw the benefit through not only taking the assessment but receiving that coaching. So my day-to-day is training our 80 student Strengths coaches. Working with them, so they know the skills and techniques and understand their own Strengths to coach first year students. So whether it's coaching, helping train our student coaches, or working with the Clifton Builders program, my true purpose at the Institute is helping students understand what are their greatest talents, how can they apply those in college, so they can truly be their best selves and maximize that experience to have a thriving life and have higher levels of engagement and wellbeing within college and then into their career.

With the Strengths approach, it's a common language among faculty, staff, students, where you can say this is when I'm at my best. This is my greatest point. So that they're more specific on what they're getting involved.

Strengths helps students figure out okay, that freshman year you know what? I know my Strengths. So I'm going to try these four majors that I think would really align with that and give me that energy to find a career that I can be my best self, versus, you know, going and back and forth and changing majors till your senior year.

It's a lot of, again, that energy and timing getting knocked down. So having students on the right path right away, I've seen incredible… Students are able to much more likely connect with the University, feel valued, and are more likely to stay. So I think there is that link between retention and knowing your Strengths, because students are building that resiliency. They're on the right path to begin with. So they can go "okay, I was successful in the past, I can push through these challenges." Versus feeling, you know, not knowing what the outcomes are going to be and just feeling like well, you know what? I'm not good at this, so I'm just going to give up. Strengths allows them to start in a place of when they are excellent and continue to build on that. So I think it's so powerful.

I love working with juniors and seniors in college around Strengths. I actually worked with two women right when I started, right when we started the Institute their sophomore year and they just graduated senior year. I've worked with a lot of different students and what I saw within these two women is because they knew their Strengths early on sophomore year, they were so much more intentional with the activities they got involved with and the internships that they took on. And actually both of them, in college, were coach consultants. They were able to go out and to say to businesses, you know, we understand Strengths, we understand engagement, can we help your businesses grow and succeed. And so right away in college they're already getting that exposure. And in that role, they were able to know hey, I'm going to be a great project manager. And so one woman took on the role of okay, organizing things, making sure timelines and deadlines are being met. The other woman realized, you know, I'm not great at that, but I'm great at keeping us on task, I am great at building relationships, so I'm going to be more of the coach role. So I'm going to come in and I'm going to coach the teams, but Brie, can you make sure that everyone's on the same page. That was phenomenal to see! Junior-senior year, you're 20-21, and so they were gaining these experiences. So when it was time to graduate and get a job, they went right into those interviews and go this is where I've been successful, this is what I'm great at and this is what I can bring to your company. And employers are just like what?! How do you even know, you know, to know who you are at such a young age and to be so confident in that. I think it's the confident piece that really sets them up for success. Because it's not only getting a job, it's getting a job that they will love and can be engaged in and, again, for the employer - less turnover, greater retention, and they know that they're for a purpose. They have a better understanding of how they can provide and they're more likely to stay.

What I think is so magical about CliftonStrengths is that it allows you to understand who am I at my core? When am I my best self? Truly what are those talents that I can bring to the table? And so our programs help students not only identify those Strengths, but then to maximize on them. So how do you apply that when you're selecting a major, getting involved on campus, finding an internship, finding a mentor. And it helps them figure out what are the multiple pathways of success, but ways that they're a little more confident in. So our programs allow students understand when are they at their best? So when do they show up to the table? How do they show up? How do they appreciate each other's Strengths and talents? And truly find a life that's meaningful for them and they can be their authentic selves and have that confidence to go for that internship, go for that job, because they understand this is me, this is my value add and this is how I can improve your workplace.

This content first appeared in the Strengths Insights Newsletter -- subscribe today!