BNSF Next Generation Leadership Program: ‘The leaders of tomorrow’

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    First-year students are able to vie for a place in the Neeley School of Business’ leadership program as it expands its reach.

    The BNSF Next Generation Leadership Program, which is a part of the Neeley School of Business, helps students develop the leadership skills that will propel them to succeed in and out of the work environment, said Kirsten Fishel, director of the program.

    Activities include practice on addressing conflict with peer-on-peer exercises and mock scenarios where they must tackle stressful situations.

    Fishel said the organization’s goal is to give students a well-rounded perspective on what companies expect of leaders.

    Next Gen was launched in 2006 as a four-semester program. In 2013 the organization began allowing sophomores to join, making it a six-semester program. First-year students now have the opportunity to apply to the program during the spring semester. 

    Senior accounting major Lindsey Backlund said the structured application process has a lot of steps, but the program’s benefits are vast.

    “Next Gen hasn’t just taught me how to be a leader, it has nurtured me to be the best version of myself that I can be, not only in the workforce but in all areas of my life,” said Backlund.

    First-year students wanting to apply to the program must earn at least a 3.0 GPA in their fall semester and also provide letters of recommendation. If selected for the next round, each student must then go through a one-on-one interview with the application committee. Finally, the committee selects between 30-32 students to be members of the BNSF Next Generation Leadership Program for the upcoming school year.