Learning and Growing with NEXT
In my eyes, NEXT is the greatest program on Siena’s campus. It allows students to engage in real world problem solving for a great cause. NEXT stands for Nonprofit EXcellence and Transformation, which is the fancy form of non-profit consulting. Non-profits from the Capital Region will approach NEXT with a business problem they are having. Throughout the course of the semester, a team of students works together to come up with a solution for the problem, which the team then presents to the organization’s board of directors. I have had the honor and privilege to work with NEXT for four semesters. In that time, I have acquired so many professional and lifelong skills that I would never have developed without the help of this program. I have had fantastic mentors who have never guided me in the wrong direction and made a group of lifelong friends who are always eager to help out.
Throughout my time with NEXT, I have worked with three nonprofits; each different from the rest. Each project has taught me a little about myself and the business world outside of college. When I first started NEXT, I was unsure if my abilities were high enough to really make a difference for the nonprofits. I doubted myself to a point where I thought of quitting the first week of Summer Gear Up. Everyone just seemed so much more mature and confident than me. Little did I know, this confidence was something learned over time, with them being in the program for just a semester. Some of the prior students reassured me that the work was manageable due to the great support team that the Center for ACE provides. When I was assigned my first project and the semester began, I knew I made the right choice to stay. I really vibed with the project assigned, as well as my team members. The NEXT program does a great job matching students with the right projects based on their own personality and work styles.
One of my greatest accomplishments has even been a direct cause from my work with NEXT. It was my second semester, and we had to decide whether a nonprofit should expand or stay where they were currently located. Myself and a team of two others, spent the semester researching potential properties they could expand to, including pros and cons of each decision. When we presented to their board of directors, they stated that our solution was the exact same that their financial analyst had suggested, which lead them to being very happy with their decision. I really felt like the information that we had provided for them was what was best for their specific situation, which not only helps them, but for the whole community that uses their services on a daily basis.
Scott LaBarge ’19