Greg Conrad—Associate Director, MiddCORE
Hi everyone, and thanks again for joining us on tonight’s call. I hope you enjoyed that intro video, highlighting some of the moments from this past summer’s programming. My name is Greg Conrad. I’m the associate director of Middlebury’s leadership and innovation program, MiddCORE. And joining me on tonight’s call we are fortunate to have three of the students who participated in our program this summer. So, I’m going to tell you a bit about the program, give you a quick overview, and then pass things over to the students so you can hear a bit more about their personal experience.
So, to kick things off, we are an intensive, one-month, credit-bearing program led by Middlebury faculty and 40+ professionals, who work with our students on over 160 hours of real-world problem solving and professional skill building.
Our program operates twice a year. First, right here on Middlebury College campus in J-term and then again in the summer months, at Middlebury Institute of International Studies over in Monterey, California.
So, our month at a glance: first, you will walk through a design-thinking and leadership curriculum, where you will discover a framework for creative problem solving and learn from the best at how to both collaborate and lead in a team setting. Then, you will take on our strategic challenge where you work in a consulting role for either a for-profit or nonprofit company.
And finally, you will take part in our life-prototyping module, where you will have the opportunity to envision your life and career post-college, while building the skills and mindset necessary to make those dreams a reality.
So, in the past we’ve been fortunate to work with some amazing strategic challenge partners and we’re really excited to see who we partner with next. For the first time this past summer, we’ve learned that the magic of MiddCORE can be experienced in a remote model. This June, we worked with 24 students, 45 mentors, across 16 time zones in what was a truly transformative experience.
Now, I’m going to pass things over to Daniel Manekia, who joins us from Johannesburg, South Africa, and you can learn a bit more about his experience with MiddCORE.
Daniel Manekia ’22—Student, MiddCORE, Summer 2020
Hi, my name is Daniel Manekia, I’m a Middlebury College student in the Class of 2022 with a major in economics. I’m going to be speaking to you today about the expectations of my MiddCORE program versus the reality. When I heard that MiddCORE was going remote, I was a little bit disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to spend time underneath the California sun, and I was a little bit hesitant to join the program at first. After some time of research and weighing my options, I decided that it would be best for me to continue. The MiddCORE remote experience offered the best of both synchronous and asynchronous class modules. We had the ability to speak every day as a unit for a couple of hours in a synchronous way. We also had the ability of asynchronous learning, in the form of podcasts as well as information packets on Canvas.
MiddCORE remote was a great way for me to not only meet kids of my own age but also link with professionals in various different fields. Through this, I was able to learn skills for outreach and networking that would have never been previously available to me and that are still crucial to this day. I was able to connect with professionals and learn about all sorts of career paths, understanding my financial future and planning for that, as well as learning about the skills that I need to be successful in the career that I choose to pursue. All in all, it was a fantastic program for me, and it was truly life changing. I hope this can be an experience that you take advantage of as well.
I’d now like to introduce Katie Marshall, who will be talking a bit about our strategic challenge and the life prototyping module.
Katie Marshall ’21—Student, MiddCORE, Summer 2020
Hi, my name is Katie Marshall and I’m a rising senior at the College. I’m a double major in theater and sociology.
First, I’ll tell you a little bit about the strategic challenge. So, at the beginning of the week, we were given a prompt and it was our job with our team to come up with a solution. I was definitely nervous, but it was really reassuring when I realized just how engaged all of my teammates were in this particular process and even just how engaged they were to participate remotely. We conducted field interviews and then we synthesized all this research into a branding strategy that we were able to pitch to the C-suite of Orvis.
The presentations were energizing and exciting—each team created such dynamic and unique solutions to the same problem. Not only did I learn from my own teammates, I also learned from all the teams around me. This is a great exercise and I’m so happy that I had this experience.
Next, the second part of the month we focused on a life-prototyping model and this had a lot to do with self-reflection. In the model we had the privilege of looking both outward and inward in order to gather insights about all that we wanted to become. At first, I was a little intimidated because it seemed as though all of my peers were wise beyond their years and they had these huge dreams of changing the world.
But I quickly realized that the value of intimacy and vulnerability was really what was important in the situation. All these dreams that once sounded too ambitious began to seem real. MiddCORE provided us with the perfect skills and foundation to be able to pivot and to find support when necessary if we fall short in certain areas.
I really appreciated all that my team had to share and I’m very happy that I had this experience. Next, Emily Jones will tell you a little bit more about MiddCORE.
Emily Jones ’23—Student, MiddCORE, Summer 2020
Hi, I’m Emily and I’m a prospective International and Global Studies major of the Class of 2023. I signed up for MiddCORE remote on a whim at the start of this very challenging summer, as a way to occupy my time and my mind. I had no idea what this program would soon come to mean to me.
As you’ve heard from everyone else, MiddCORE was a truly transformative experience for all of us this summer. The skills I built through this program, such as design thinking, innovation consulting, networking, and financial literacy, will undoubtedly carry over to the rest of my time at Middlebury and my future career endeavors.
But the MiddCORE experience was about so much more than just skill-building. It was about community. Although the digital space typically does not allow us to connect with each other in conventional ways, the MiddCORE mentors were dedicated to making the remote experience engaging and fulfilling. The people I’ve met through this program, both my peers and mentors, now function as my personal advisory board for my future.
My MiddCORE network even helped me land an amazing remote internship this summer. If you’re a highly motivated student looking to build your professional skills and create an incredible network of peers, educators, and professionals, then you should definitely consider applying to MiddCORE.