The Fullbridge Program will wrap up its third session in business essentials at Bowdoin this weekend, marking the second year of partnership between Fullbridge and the College. The program, which ran from January 3 to 18, provided 35 Bowdoin students with the opportunity to increase their financial literacy.
The program’s final component—a career workshop—will take place on January 25 and 26.
The Fullbridge Program—usually hosted at its Cambridge, Mass. campus—is open to college students from around the world. Last year, however, Fullbridge partnered with Bowdoin to offer its first-ever program hosted on another institution’s campus and open exclusively to that College’s students. The tuition price for this year’s program was $4,200, though financial aid was available.
During each of the program’s 13 days (students had Sundays off), students arrived at Sills Hall to learn practical business skills for up to nine hours at a time.
The program familiarized students with a broad range of topics.
“We started by going over basic financial literacy and comfort with Excel by going through income statements, balance sheets, and cash-flow statements,” said Sam Shapiro ’14, one of this year’s participants. “And from there we got into the more important functions and ratios in finance which they integrated through different projects, which culminated in a consulting-style presentation.”
Students completed their exercises either individually or in small groups, with occasional guidance from one of the three Fullbridge coaches.
According to Josh Friedman ’15, another one of this year’s participants, “It was an online e-learning module where you would watch videos, read some PDFs, then apply that to some sort of exercise.”
The computer-based teaching style has been the most critiqued component of the course over the past two years. Though the Fullbridge Program website lists “active learning” and “personalized coaching” as two of the most prominent features of the course, several participants thought this advertising was somewhat misleading.
An Orient article from last year stated that some students felt that Fullbridge lacked a hands-on approach in its instruction and both Shapiro and Friedman said that they would have liked more one-on-one interaction with the coaches.
“Some of the things were really complicated and talking through them with the coaches more frequently would have been more helpful,” said Friedman.
Nevertheless, when asked if they would recommend the program to a peer, both Shapiro and Friedman replied, “absolutely.”
“It could get very stressful and frustrating at times, but looking back on it, I learned an immense amount—more than I imagined I would in the beginning,” said Friedman. “It’s also set me up for interviews in the future.”
Shapiro stressed that it is not necessary to have experience in economics or finance to participate in the Fullbridge Program. As a Gender and Women’s Studies major, he found a great deal of value in taking the course because he hopes to go into non-profit management.
“You really set yourself apart if you have financial skills, because a lot of people have good will and the attitude where they want to get in, use their hands, and really make a change,” Shapiro said. “But not enough people come in with financial literacy or financial management skills, and if you don’t have that you can’t run a not-for-profit.”
Though Becky Brodigan, who oversaw the implementation of the program at Bowdoin was unable to be reached for comment, the Fullbridge website mentions that the program will be offered again next year.