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Sarasota Monday, May 31, 2021 6 months ago

Resident starts program to connect students with industry giants

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Global Innovators Academy encourages students to connect with innovators and write about the advice they receive.
by: Brynn Mechem Staff Writer

One of the biggest challenges facing high school and college aged students is deciding what career path to take and how to make their desired career a reality, but a Sarasota resident is hoping to help make that decision a little easier. 

Kevin Anselmo, the founder of consulting company Experiential Communications, started Global Innovators Academy in 2020 to help provide students with exposure to innovative and entrepreneurial thinkers through an online course. 

The “Interview an Innovator” course allows students to interview an innovator whose work aligns with their interests. Students then take information from their interviews to write articles that undergo rigorous editing before being published online. 

“Students need to learn really important communication skills,” Anselmo said. “So it’s very student-driven. They find their innovator they want to interview, they conduct the interview and they learn these life skills.” 

In the past year, students have interviewed top leaders from companies such as J.McLaughlin, Educate! and Red Hat Software. 

Launching in the middle of the pandemic was difficult for most business, but the Global Innovators model was suited for it, because students from all over the world interview entrepreneurs from different corners. Students have interviewed entrepreneurs in Seoul, South Korea, Arica and Lebanon. 

“It’s been really encouraging that we can make this program work for a young lady in Arizona, for college students in the U.S. and for refugee students,” Anselmo said. 

Up until now, the program had only been offered to college students through partnerships with schools. However, Anselmo is now opening the program to any student throughout the U.S. who is a rising junior or senior in high school, though he hopes local students and schools will participate. 

The summer school program will run from June 16 to August 4. Students at their own pace will watch eight videos and complete a student workbook before beginning their interview and writing process. 

Anselmo will then provide optional weekly Zoom calls to answer student questions, provide group coaching and support and introduce students to other entrepreneurs. 

Anselmo said the program is important because it teaches students the benefits of networking and connecting with like-minded thinkers. 

“The reality is, anyone can do this,” he said. “But it’s really important that students learn to do this themselves and learn how to network themselves. Our education focuses a lot on the knowledge you can use, but not necessarily on the people you should be connecting with.” 

Yejin Sohn, a student in Arizona who completed the program, said that when she started the program, she was not comfortable with reaching out to a person she did not know. 

“I found out as I progressed through the course that connecting with professionals is not a big deal,” Sohn said. “Through the experience, I’ve narrowed down by my career interests and am more aware about the different opportunities.” 

Aside from the networking benefits, Anselmo said the program teaches students what it’s like editing a paper for a professional website. 

After students interview their professional, they begin to write a feature article on them that highlights their career journey, their key lessons for innovators and what the student is going to do with the advice they were given. 

Anselmo then works with students through the editing process and upon its publication, offers them advice on how best to promote it. 

“For me the process is so exciting because having these conversations is how we get our ideas,” Anselmo said. “The more that we have conversations with people, the more we get sparks and those sparks can light in a lot of different ways.” 

Although students in the program are just required to write one article, they can choose to write more. Like most things in the program, it depends on the student. 

Haley Panessa, a student at Rollins College, said her interview with a clothing retailer helped broaden her networking within an industry she hopes to pursue.

“It gave me the confidence and knowledge as to how I can work with my professional growth during these early stages of my life,” Panessa said. “I would highly recommend this course as it brings you an exciting experience that teaches you lessons and provides you connections that you will carry for the rest of your life. 

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