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Boot Camp Goes Digital

John Strapp ’69 had a vision for taking a popular business-skills training program offered by the College of Arts and Sciences to the next level. His timing couldn’t have been better.

An effort to prepare Seton Hall students for their post-college lives has gone online. The digital program, initiated by John Strapp ’69, was in place before the COVID-19 pandemic pushed learning and lives to the internet, but it feels even more vital now.

The College of Arts and Sciences launched its Business Boot Camp in 2017 with a specific goal: to help A&S students understand how the skills they learn in their courses apply to the business world and how to build a portfolio showcasing those skills.

“We hope to create a return on investment for these kids,” Strapp says. “You could help them get a better job and potentially a higher salary to springboard their careers.”

Strapp, chairman and cofounder of a healthcare consulting company called The Kinetix Group, studied political science, but found that the writing and sociology courses he took were critically important to his business. It’s why he’s put time, energy and resources into the program and expanding access to the boot camp by creating free online modules.

Business Boot Camp benefited from alumni support from the start. A grant from the late Gus Anselmi ’54 helped get the program off the ground, and when Anselmi died in 2019, his family requested that donations be sent in his memory to keep funding it.

At that point, the annual program was an intensive four-day, on-campus workshop for just 12 to 20 students, with participants living in Seton Hall residence halls for a completely immersive experience.

Students “were there from 8:30 a.m. until 9:30, 10 o’clock at night,” says Chris Kaiser, associate dean of undergraduate academic affairs at the college. Attendees listened to speakers from the business community, many of whom started with liberal arts degrees but hadn’t known how to take those skills into a business setting.

Business Boot Camp teaches students how to apply what they’ve learned about negotiation, career decision-making, communicating, and money management in a business setting. “Then it goes one step further, making sure they have a clear and concise way to convey who they are, why they’d be a good fit for that company and how that company would be a good fit for them,” Kaiser says.

When Strapp heard about the boot camp, he knew he had to be part of it. And what started as just speaking to students as part of the program evolved into a significant investment of time and resources in order to expand it. Through his company, Strapp and the College of Arts and Sciences have created an online version of the program they hope can reach more than just a handful of students each year.

“If you have 15 to 20 people who raise their hand to give you a week of their time, they might not need the program as much as a student who wouldn’t,” Strapp says. The online program is more attractive to students who may not think it’s necessarily for them but still are interested, or who can’t spend four days away from their work or studies to participate.

Kisha Duval ’20 took the on-campus course this year and said it taught her that writing skills are valuable, along with networking “to successfully earn that chance for opportunities and acknowledgement,” she says. She urges other students to use the program because it “will help you create a career and academic plan.”

Kaiser and Strapp started the online option because they wanted as many students as possible to take it. “We’d like to roll it out to every student at the College of Arts and Sciences and then the University,” Kaiser says.

Kaiser applauds the altruistic effort made by Strapp. “He is looking back at his life and on his college experience and saying ‘I wish something like this existed. Let’s create it for other students.’ He’s trying to leave a legacy for all the right reasons.”

Jen A. Miller is the author of Running: A Love Story. She lives in N.J.

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