Mentoring young professionals is a fantastic way to help ensure the success and sustainability of the produce industry. It’s also a passion for Wendy McManus, leadership coach with Connect 2 Potential. So, when the stars aligned, McManus signed on to support the Southeast Produce Council’s (SEPC’s) Southeast Top Agricultural Recruits Scholarship (STARS) program for the second year in a row.
The STARS program activities revolve around the SEPC’s Southern Exposure conference taking place April 6-8, 2021 in Orlando, FL. The students are invited to attend the event as special guests. There, they have the opportunity to network with industry members and potentially secure internships or permanent positions in the produce industry.
Working closely with SEPC STARS committee co-chair Raina Nelson, McManus developed a two-part initiative to help students maximize opportunities in this industry.
“Our STARS mission is to recruit top-level students and provide internship and job opportunities to infuse talent into the produce industry,” said Nelson. “The Connect 2 Potential initiative enriches the STARS program and adds another layer of value for our scholarship recipients. Wendy supports the students so they can excel at Southern Exposure and beyond. We are excited about bringing the program back in 2021.”
Wendy McManus with Connect 2 Potential
Prior to Southern Exposure, the students have been given access to the online Authentic Networking for STARS mini course from Connect 2 Potential (a public version of the course is available here). Through a few short video segments, the course teaches the fundamentals of networking and conversation, including listening skills, asking great questions and preparing an elevator pitch.
Following Southern Exposure, McManus will invite each student to complete a DiSC Profile and sign up for a one-to-one debrief with her. This assessment tool helps the students better understand their communication style. The debrief with McManus brings clarity to their strengths and provides visibility into how other people likely see them. At the close of the debrief, McManus supports each student in committing to a development goal and making a plan for how to keep that commitment alive.
“It’s an honor to help these highly engaged students prepare for Southern Exposure, and then share the self-awareness tool with them afterwards,” said McManus. “I truly appreciate the opportunity provided by SEPC to do this fulfilling work.”