The interns are—or they should be, if we want a strong KC economy.
Summer is a fond, fading memory for Kansas City’s college interns, who’ve already returned to campus for the fall semester. But Jessica Nelson hopes they’ll remember KC when they eventually graduate and start looking for jobs.
Nelson is the managing director of TeamKC, an initiative of the Kansas City Area Development Council. Nelson and her team help companies across the metro attract talented employees to Kansas City.
This summer, that meant hosting a series of events and meetups for nearly 5,000 interns, including a night out at Children’s Mercy Park, a social at Leinenkuegl’s in the Power & Light District and a panel featuring young professionals on the benefits of building a career in Kansas City. About 60 employers participated in the summer-long campaign, nicknamed InternKC.
Were the get-togethers fun? Yes. But a very serious purpose was driving InternKC.
Kansas City, Nelson said, is “in a global race for talent.”
The Competition for Millennial Employees
Kansas City is highly livable, but local job recruiters say their No. 1 obstacle is candidates’ lack of familiarity with the city.
“It’s a lack of perception,” Nelson said. “People don’t know about Kansas City.”
Even with a World Series win, too many out-of-town workers don’t know anything about the area. Recruiters have found that, if they can actually get someone to travel here and experience the city and its restaurants, clubs and other attractions, to have an “epiphany of the visit,” it’s more likely that candidate will say yes to a job offer.
InternKC represented something of a short-cut: The talent was already here. TeamKC just needed to get the interns out into the community and showcase Kansas City’s best features.
The interns were mostly Millennials. While this age group was hurt badly by the Great Recession, with above-average rates of unemployment and mountains of college debt, they’re going to assume even greater importance to the economy.
You may have heard the factoid that, on average, about 10,000 Baby Boomers hit retirement age every day. Generation X alone isn’t big enough to fill the open positions—that demographic is 20 percent smaller than the Boomers.
The number varies a little depending on the source, but experts expect Millennials to constitute about half of the U.S. workforce by 2020.
Growing companies need people to staff their expansion efforts. Corporations won’t locate their headquarters in a metro unless it’s home to a deep talent pool.
The metros that fall behind on talent ultimately fall behind in other ways.
Making People Feel at Home
TeamKC has developed resources that local employers can use to help close the deal with potential hires.
TeamKC’s KC Career Network is a good example. Let’s say Company A has hired John Smith, but John’s spouse is going to need a job, too. KC Career Network will share the spouse’s resume and information with other employers.
TeamKC has developed a free Talent Toolkit for the KC Rising initiative that any employer can use to court potential employees. Check it out at www.kcrising.com/talent-toolkit.