Questions

For candidates

Eligibility & Expectations

  1. How firm is the schedule set for the 2020-2022 program?
  2. What is the time commitment? – How should I address this with my work/family etc.
  3. What are attendance requirements?
  4. What if I can’t make all the sessions?
  5. Why should I do the program/how does it benefit me and/or my employer?
  6. What exactly will I learn?
  7. What happens after graduation of MARL?
  8. A close family member or my significant other is also interested in participating. Can both apply for the same class?
  9. Do I receive a certificate?
  10. Can I use state or federal GI Bill benefits to cover MARL tuition?

Application & Selection

  1. Am I the right candidate?
  2. Do I have enough leadership experience to be selected?
  3. Is there a suggested time in your professional career to complete the program?
  4. Can I apply without a nomination?
  5. How do I convince my employer to allow and support my participation in MARL?
  6. I read about spouses/significant others, while the program is just for individuals. Why does my spouse have to come to the interview? What will they be asked?
  7. What happens if I do not get selected?
  8. How do I apply?
  9. What should be included in the application? What makes a strong application?
  10. Who should I contact with questions prior to submitting my application?

Financial topics

  1. What are the financial requirements?
  2. Is there financial assistance available?
  3. Are there additional costs expected?

For employers and organizations

  1. Why should our organization encourage employees, patrons or members to apply?
  2. How much time will staff be away, and when?
  3. MARL expects participants’ full commitment. What happens when a high priority at work conflicts with this?

Answers

For candidates

Eligibility & Expectations

Q:

How firm is the schedule set for the 2020-2022 program?

A:

All participants have busy schedules, and it can be very difficult to make changes and add more to it. This is why MARL typically holds a firm schedule without significant changes. However, a few hours difference in start or finish of a seminar can be expected. The Washington, D.C. seminar could possibly be a bit shorter, as well as the international seminar. Participants will be notified months in advance. Adjustments to the schedule due to weather are rarely being made.

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Q:

What is the time commitment? – How should I address this with my work/family etc.?

A:

The time commitment for the first year is 24 days, second year is 24 days. Regular in-state seminars usually start around noon on the first day, and conclude around noon on the last day. Other assignments around the seminars will variate, from two hours to approx. 10 hours per seminar. It is highly recommended to discuss this with loved ones and colleagues, and notify all on the exact dates. Staying in touch with work/family during the international seminar is expected to be limited, yet possible.

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Q:

What are attendance requirements?

A:

To fully benefit from the MARL program, it is extremely important for all participants to attend every seminar. This is not only for the participant itself, but also the teams one works in, as well as the entire cohort. In addition, MARL is funded by many generous organizations and individuals, who expect participants to fully engage in this rigorous experience. Participants need to contact the Executive Director as soon as possible when a serious work or family related conflict arises. Please read the Class XI application form for more details.

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Q:

What if I can’t make all the sessions?

A:

Candidates are encouraged to reach out to the Executive Director before applying, to discuss any expected difficulties with attendance.

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Q:

Why should I do the program/how does it benefit me and/or my employer?

A:

MARL allows leaders to further develop their personal and leadership skills, as well as learning about the state of Minnesota, the nation and the world. You should do this if you desire to better utilize your abilities, get a boost in your personal growth and have a need to expand your knowledge as well as your horizon. This will benefit you, your work, and family relationships. You can expect to be more successful in working with teams, be more innovative and broadminded, and increase your emotional intelligence.

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Q:

What exactly will I learn?

A:

Besides learning about the locations we visit, you will learn a lot about leadership and personal topics, as well as yourself. You will be asked to complete several assessment tests, set personal goals, and follow up.

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Q:

What happens after graduation of MARL?

A:

The MARL experience itself ends at graduation. MARL graduates have a history of staying very involved in several ways, additionally, there are unique events and initiatives organized by and for MARL graduates. After MARL you are also welcome to join any events organized by the International Leadership Alumni Conference (ILAC). It is not uncommon for graduates to help the staff team at current class seminars, attend seminar banquets, volunteer at trade shows, and more.

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Q:

A close family member or my significant other is also interested in participating. Can both apply for the same class?

A:

The MARL board of directors decides which candidates are being selected. Having two family members or spouses in one cohort will not benefit the diversity of the class, nor the neutral environment for the individual. Both could apply, but it is not likely that both will be selected for the same class. It is possible to be selected for different classes.

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Q:

Do I receive a certificate?

A:

You will receive a certificate upon completion, at graduation. This is not an academic degree or certificate.

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Q:

Can I use state or federal GI Bill benefits to cover MARL tuition?

A:

This has not been possible yet, but we continue to explore possibilities. Don’t hesitate to inquire with the MARL Executive Director.

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Application & Selection

Q:

Am I the right candidate? Below are the MARL selection criteria.

A:

  1. An individual who is committed to agriculture and/or rural Minnesota
  2. An individual who is committed to the program with time and energy
  3. An individual who is a resident of Minnesota, 21 years or older
  4. An individual who has some leadership experience in the community or other organizations
  5. An individual who demonstrates open-mindedness and willingness to engage with difference
  6. An individual who brings unique experiences and viewpoints to the cohort
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Q:

Do I have enough leadership experience to be selected?

A:

Do you have some experience at a local level? School, college, other organizations? When not sure, please consult the MARL Executive Director or any director, current participant or graduates.

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Q:

Is there a suggested time in your professional career to complete the program?

A:

No, MARL will work best when you are ready for a big boost in your personal and leadership growth. For optimal benefits, sooner is usually better. Several graduates indicated regretting waiting for years to apply.

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Q:

Can I apply without a nomination or invitation?

A:

Absolutely!

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Q:

How do I convince my employer to allow and support my participation in MARL?

A:

MARL is a premier program for your professional development, which greatly benefits employers. Several organizations have a process in place where they pre-select their leaders to apply for the program. It is proven very successful for employee retention and company culture to offer opportunities of personal and professional growth. MARL does that, and far beyond.

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Q:

I read about spouses/significant others, while the program is just for individuals. Why does my spouse have to come to the interview? What will they be asked?

A:

Participation in MARL will take a lot of time. Understanding this, and the concept of MARL, is important. By being more involved, questions and mysteries are being solved. Some significant others have become friends and help each other during the longer seminars. While the involvement of our loved ones has been proven beneficial for all, it is not a requirement for them. Highly encouraged, but not a determinant for your selection.

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Q:

What happens if I do not get selected?

A:

If the MARL board of directors decided not to select you for the program at this time, you will be contacted by the Executive Director. It is not unusual for candidates to apply again for a next class of MARL.

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Q:

How do I apply?

A:

To apply, complete and email the application form. It is available online: http://www.marlprogram.org/application-forms/. Three references are required (see Recommendation Form), and if applicable, have your employer complete the Employer Support Form. Links to all forms are available on the website, and should be submitted by April 24th, 2020 to apply for Class XI (kick-off November ’20). For future MARL classes, keep an eye on the instructions on the website. A new cohort starts once in two years. Technical difficulties? Contact the MARL Executive Director.

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Q:

What should be included in the application? What makes a strong application?

A:

The application not only asks for your contact information, professional, and educational background, but also your leadership experiences and unique perspectives. There are essay sections in which you can express this. A strong application looks professional. And as strong leaders are authentic. If possible, allow yourself some time to think through your essay pieces.

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Q:

Who should I contact with questions prior to submitting my application?

A:

The MARL Executive Director would love to help you. Call or email: 507-537-6430, olga.reuvekamp@smsu.edu.

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Financial topics

Q:

What are the financial requirements?

A:

Tuition for MARL Class XI is $6,000, payable in four installments in June and October 2020, June and October 2021.

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Q:

Is there financial assistance available?

A:

Yes. Financial support is highly customized. Several organizations and cooperative systems offer help for their constituents. One example is the support by Land O’Lakes Inc., via local member cooperatives. Contact the Executive Director to explore your individual options.

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Q:

Are there additional costs expected?

A:

Besides the delivery of our rigorous training, MARL offers some supplies, lodging, and transportation during the seminar including flights, and most meals. Additional costs you may expect:

  • transportation to and from the seminar location or Minneapolis/St. Paul airport, possible parking fees
  • An occasional meal on your own during a seminar or during free time – especially in Washington D.C. and abroad.
  • Depending on the international destination there might be additional costs for vaccinations and supplies, possibly visitor-visa processing fees, a small gift for local hosts.
  • The expense of a metro card in Washington, D.C.
  • Fines: Every MARL cohort has had their own policy regarding: forgetting your name tag, a cell phone ringing ($20). This policy, as well as how the proceeds are spent, is determined and managed by the cohort.
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For employers and organizations

Q:

Why should our organization encourage employees, patrons or members to apply?

A:

A growing number of organizations and businesses have a process in place to pre-select leaders to apply for every cohort of MARL. The return on investment is well worth it for the organization as well as the individual. Continuous evaluations as well as ripple effect mapping have shown a significant impact in participants’ leadership skills, emotional intelligence, and more. As part of the training, MARL includes several assessment tests, including Bar-On EQi, Myers-Briggs, StrengthsFinder, Thomas-Killman Conflict Mode Instrument, and more. Having stronger equipped, confident leaders benefits organizations directly, but also beyond that in the sector and the community. It is a phenomenal way to boost your leaders in their growth, very rigorous and very affordable due to the strong support in Minnesota.

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Q:

How much time will staff be away, and when?

A:

MARL members will be expected to attend eleven seminars during the 18-month program. MARL Seminars are normally held from Noon Wednesday to Noon Friday, with some exceptions. The time commitment for seminars of MARL Class XI will be 21 days the first year and 24 days the second year. Nine seminars rotate around the state, one is held in Washington, D.C. in Year 1 (2021), and an international study seminar will be held abroad – destination TBD, in Year 2 (2022).

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Q:

MARL expects participants’ full commitment. What happens when a high priority at work conflicts with this?

A:

It can be surprising how well we can adapt to the participant being unavailable at times. We do not want to create highly irresponsible choices. There will be breaks during a seminar allowing employees to check in during urgencies. Communicating any priorities and schedules early will help the participant, staff team as well as the entire cohort to anticipate to this. Participants need to contact the Executive Director as soon as possible on any expected deviations from the regular schedule. The board of directors will be advising on possible removal if multiple seminars are affected or missed by work priorities.

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