BLP: Not just about leadership

What is the Business Leadership Program? How is it different from the School of Business and Leadership? Hopefully this article can clarify and answer what makes it such a unique program on campus.

BLP is an honors program within the SBL that celebrated its first graduating class in 1988 of 16 students according to the Tamanawas, 1988 and has since then grown into a program of about 100.

As the title suggests the BLP is about leadership.

It focuses on the development of students into leaders, not only on campus, but also in their lives and careers beyond Puget Sound. Values that are key to the BLP are integrity, honesty, open-mindedness and learning to be both a leader and a follower in team situations.

BLP is about challenging one another to be the best one can be.

The program addresses these core values in four ways: cohort classes, seminars, mentorships and internships.

It consists of about 25 students in the same year taking 7 classes during their undergraduate experience.

The cohort provides a safe space for “more interesting conversations and dialogue that challenges everyone,” senior BLP student Stewart Miller said.

“I notice the difference between a cohort BLP class and a non-cohort class. There is a sense of competition in BLP, which makes classes more enjoyable.”

Seminars and field trips expose BLP students to a variety of industries, companies and career paths in order to connect them to the real world.

One example is the field trip to Creature, an advertising company in Seattle created by Puget Sound alums, catered to sophomores taking their cohort International Marketing class.

Program Director and business professor Nila Wiese seeks to create a balance between a diverse set of seminars while responding to student interest.

Seminar speakers are often BLP alums looking for a way to give back to the program, such as the yearly Boeing internship seminar.

Sophomore BLP students are matched up with two mentors based off their area of interest during their sophomore year.

They are also a great source of satisfaction and benefit for students who see their mentor not only as someone to add to their professional network, but also as someone who genuinely cares about their life.

“My mentor is always asking how he can help and was able to get me meetings with some of his colleagues. His advice and input have been beneficial to me throughout my college career,” Miller said.

The last aspect of BLP is the required internship, which allows students to acquire real world experience, put into practice what they learned in the classroom and learn about a new career.

Students have interned at a variety of companies throughout the country and the world, such as Target and Wilcox Real Estate Investment Management in Spain.

These four aspects aim to increase student’s professional networks, connect what students learn in the classroom to the real world and lastly develop leadership and followership.

So, how does one become part of BLP? Students interested in the program must apply through a separate application when they are high school seniors but can also apply in their first year of college.

“There’s no formula for picking a BLP student. It is a very wholistic process. We do look at GPA and test scores, but we try to focus more on the individual and their contribution to the group,” Wiese said.

So what does this mean for the rest of campus who is not a business major?

The BLP offers opportunities to the entire campus. Each semester a diverse group of speakers come to campus sharing information about their company, industry or life experiences.

Throughout its 29 years BLP has managed to foment strong relationships with companies and alumni.

These aspects of the program create a solid foundation and network that is ready to help all Puget Sound students who are looking for guidance regarding their life after Puget Sound.

“I’d hope to see BLP as a group that is really known by everyone for producing good leaders,” Miller said.

While many on campus may not know the finer details of the BLP, BLP students are everywhere.

Whether it’s on the field, in the dance room, interning in various companies, in Greek life or working at the S.U.B., BLP students are leaders.