Torchbearers, a group that develops leadership among young professionals in Greater Akron, Ohio, is piloting two talent attraction and retention programs with support from Knight Foundation. Below, Torchbearers Vice President Kyle Kutuchief writes about the new programs. Above: A Torchbearers mentoring session. Photo credit: Kyle Kutuchief.
In a job market where competition for talent is so high, it is critical that internships and job interviews showcase more than just an employment opportunity. The experience must include a meaningful connection to new people and the community where candidates can live, play and build a wonderful life. In Akron, this is becoming a part of our strategy for talent attraction and retention. It’s why Torchbearers Akron is launching two programs focused on creating uniquely positive experiences for interns and employment candidates.
Torchbearers will pilot Intern Edge next summer for interns at companies and organizations in Greater Akron. We are partnering with Leadership Akron to design an experience over six to eight sessions to connect interns to civic assets, quality of life amenities, community leaders and each other.
We will work with local employers to secure commitments for participation before they select interns for their internships. Participating companies can use the program as a carrot to help entice talented summer interns. Whether they are from a city far away or grew up in town, we want the prospective interns to see Akron as a place they want to be. More importantly, we want them to build connections to people in our community that will help them long after their internships are over.
Companies in Akron are competing against the rest of the country for top employees. Companies spend a lot of time and money identifying, recruiting and interviewing top talent only to lose them at the end of a long process. We want to build a program to help local companies increase their acceptance and retention rates.
The Torchbearers Ambassador program is simple: At the end of the interview day, two Torchbearers meet the job candidate at a local restaurant for dinner and conversation. The purpose is not to discuss the employer or the job being offered but to talk about all the community and region have to offer. What do they want to know about living here? What do they love to do in their current city that they want to be able to do in Akron? What does our community offer that might be new and exciting? If we can provide thoughtful answers to these questions through personal conversations, then we can make job applicants more confident about accepting a position and new life in our community.
We believe the best way to connect our 92 active members to each other and the community is through service and our leadership development curriculum. Icebreakers and drinks after work only go so far. While we will remain dedicated to service at area not-for-profits, hospitals, K-12 schools and other entities that need our help, we are excited about the opportunity to impact our regional economy in a meaningful way.
Most young professional groups in America are asking the same question: How can we help to attract and retain more talent in our town? Those discussions usually come to the same conclusion; if people only knew all the great things about this place, they would absolutely want to be here. Torchbearers is ready to make the case for Akron.
Read more in the Akron Beacon Journal.