From guest lectures by industry leaders to small group one-on-one networking opportunities, the Whitman School’s Goodman IMPRESS Program provides students co-curricular programs to build the next generation of business leaders. The IMPRESS program has made a lasting impact on students as they transition into their careers post-graduation, helping them succeed in the workplace and in life.
“In my first year, I chose to attend nearly every event in order to set myself up for success and meet new people, whether it was the Business Etiquette Dinner, Dress for SUccess workshop or the countless speakers with valuable lessons to share. I developed a large network of both students and professors to build my Whitman community and gained numerous personal and professional skills along the way,” says Emily Woodilla ’20, ’21 M.S.
The IMPRESS program offers Whitman undergraduate students activities centered around five learning objectives: personal and professional leadership development, major and industry exploration, global context, community engagement and certifications.
“The original vision for the IMPRESS program was to establish a co-curricular program to help students gain nonacademic skills that would help them succeed in business,” says Kenneth Goodman ’70, Goodman IMPRESS Program sponsor and retired president and COO of Forest Laboratories Inc. “I believe that we were doing an excellent job in our academic programs, but I thought we could do better in teaching the soft skills that are essential for success in business.”
Beginning in fall 2014, the Goodman IMPRESS Program created competition between four student houses—Adams, Harrison, Marshall and Waverly. (Students, faculty and staff are broken out into these four groups to work together to earn points for their house.) Named in honor of Goodman to recognize his generosity in molding future business leaders, the program provides a way for students to gain critical career skills through guest speakers, mock interviews, career fairs and exploration trips, as well as obtaining Microsoft Excel and Bloomberg certifications.
For prospective students, it has been a differentiator for why students chose to attend the Whitman School. IMPRESS has also played a role in first- and second-year retention, due to the strong connection students made with their faculty house mentors, peer mentors and peers.
...getting to know the students on a personal level, rather than just seeing them in the classroom setting, is my favorite part of the IMPRESS program.” — Ray Wimer, Marshall House Mentor and Professor of Retail Practice
Each semester, students are provided with a schedule of events and other ways to earn points. Some past guests include Seth Weinger ’97, who shared his career journey from Wall Street to The Walt Disney Company, and Ryan Novak ’11, who went from dishwasher to owner of the Chocolate Pizza Company. Other opportunities to earn points include LinkedIn Learning training, attending Career Center major panels, academic advising sessions and alumni panels.
Students shared that they have learned the most from programs like Dress for SUccess, where outside speakers taught the difference between business casual and business professional attire, and the Business Etiquette Dinner, which teaches students what to expect at a formal dinner. Students learn how to use all implements, the proper way to butter and eat bread, and what is expected in conversations at different times of a meal.
The original vision for the IMPRESS program was to establish a co-curricular program to help students gain nonacademic skills that would help them succeed in business.” — Kenneth Goodman ’70, IMPRESS Program Sponsor and Retired President and COO, Forest Laboratories
Marshall House Mentor and Professor of Retail Practice Ray Wimer says, “As a house mentor, I’ve enjoyed the high-touch opportunities. Sitting at the Business Etiquette Dinner and getting to know the students on a personal level, rather than just seeing them in the classroom setting, is my favorite part of the IMPRESS program.”
IMPRESS 2.0 GIFT
To provide students with the skills necessary to succeed in the business industry, Whitman has developed the next stage in the evolution of the IMPRESS program—IMPRESS 2.0. Thanks to the generosity of Goodman’s five-year commitment of $1.25 million, students will have the opportunity for additional certifications, structured leadership training and a digital resource center. This gift has been structured to ramp up with the necessary equipment and technology in the first year.
“This tremendous gift helps to better achieve Whitman’s vision to prepare students for professional success and personal development, as well as engage leadership and lifelong learning, says Alex McKelvie, associate dean for undergraduate and master’s education. “This is the type of gift that helps to move the needle for preparing our students for the future. With this gift, we’re hoping to help promote Whitman as a preeminent and inclusive school, where we’re deliberately exposing students to even more topics related to working with others.”
In the program’s first seven years, data was collected to evaluate the various offerings. With that information, Whitman has learned many lessons that will help advance the program.
Over the past two years, IMPRESS 2.0 has been in the planning. A task force of faculty and staff solicited feedback from students, alumni and corporate recruiters to make sure the opportunities being offered reflect the next wave of professional and personal development for students.
What we look for isn’t necessarily the perfect GPA, but if the person has really shown leadership in one way or another.” — Elizabeth Gamache ’13 (WHIT/MAX), Senior Manager in Global Supply Finance, Xylen Inc
The global pandemic has accelerated some of the initiatives, allowing the opportunity for virtual learning and a resource database of on-demand digital content. The use of technology for communication has made it imperative to know how to build a better rapport, read body language and effectively present yourself.
“We have reflected on what we’re seeing as being important for ensuring lifelong learning and professional success for our students,” says Lindsay Quilty, assistant dean for undergraduate programs.
The IMPRESS task force took feedback from corporate recruiters and faculty in the different programs to learn what certifications would set students apart in the workforce.
Employers want to see that students are prepared with appropriate professional certifications. For example, marketing students might want to learn Google Analytics, or business analytics majors may consider Power BI. Many students will also want training in data presentations and storytelling with Tableau. Whitman has rolled out a new initiative, WIRE (Whitman Industry Readiness and Excellence Program), this fall that allows students to earn professional, industry-recognized certifications at no cost.
Building relationships with leadership comes naturally to Whitman students and I believe that level of comfort can be attributed to the Goodman IMPRESS program” — Casey Kerr ’16, Account Executive, Startups and SmallBusiness sector, Stripe
Another new initiative is the Goodman Leaders Academy, which will provide a subgroup of students the opportunities to come together for a high-touch leadership development experience, connected to experiential learning and small group networking. Through formalized training, the academy will introduce Whitman students to the tools, including role playing and other techniques in smaller group settings, to become even more effective leaders.
Overall, the IMPRESS 2.0 program will focus on providing students with greater personalization and customization, and greater emphasis on the leadership and skills necessary for a globalized and digital world.
Employers are looking for graduates who can handle multiple responsibilities and who exhibit self-awareness, confidence, resilience, strong communication and social skills and the ability to synthesize classroom content into the broader global context.
Former head recruiter at GE and currently senior manager in global supply finance at Xylen Inc. Elizabeth Gamache ’13 (WHIT/MAX) says, “What we really look for isn’t necessarily the perfect GPA, but if the per-son has really shown leadership in one way or another. They are not just a part of a club, but they are on an executive board. We look for how they were able to balance not just schoolwork but outside activities as well.”
In learning about the interests and aspirations of the students, I was impressed by their confidence and preparedness. I attribute this level of professionalism and certainty to the supplemental education provided by the IMPRESS program, which not only clarifies potentially suitable career routes for students through continuous mentorship and industry exposure, but also shapes students into well-rounded professionals who are ready to drive their careers.” — Dylan Weinberger ’16 (WHIT/iSchool), Security and Compliance Manager, Nespresso USA
The Goodman IMPRESS Program allows students to build a network of alumni and industry professionals. These interactions have allowed students to build confidence when they are interning or working in their first job after graduation.
“The thing that separates Whitman students the most is their under-lying work ethic. The attention to detail that they show on their daily deliverables is consistently above and beyond expectations,” says Casey Kerr ’16, account executive, startups and small business sector at Stripe. “In my former role at Synchrony, I saw the way Whitman students were separating themselves, beyond their work, was the effort they put into networking. Building relationships with leadership comes naturally to Whitman students and I believe that comfortability can be attributed to the Goodman IMPRESS program.”
The Whitman Career Center also coordinates annual career fairs and informational sessions with recruiters. During this time, Whitman students show off their communication skills by having meaningful conversations with potential employers.
“During my time as a corporate recruiter at Deloitte, what I enjoyed the most was the opportunity to have meaningful conversations with students motivated to begin their careers and gain experience,” shares Dylan Weinberger ’16 (WHIT/iSchool), security and compliance manager at Nespresso USA.
“In learning about the interests and aspirations of the students, I was impressed by many of the students’ confidence and preparedness. I attribute this level of professionalism and certainty to the supplemental education provided by the IMPRESS program, which not only clarifies potentially suitable career routes for students through continuous mentorship and industry exposure, but also shapes students into well-rounded professionals that are ready to drive their careers.”
Disclaimer: These photos were captured before the COVID-19 pandemic.