Arkansas Fellowship Helping Retain In-State Talent

by Todd Jones ([email protected]) 172 views 

The Arkansas Fellowship program kicked off its second year of the program with a reception earlier this week at the Governor’s Mansion. The organization is focused on ways to keep Arkansas talent in state by employing recent college graduates by a company wanting to invest in the future.

College graduates become a Fellow with a local company where they can sharpen and discover their skills while helping the company and nurturing the future of entrepreneurship as well as other skills.

“The Arkansas Fellowship is “a talent retention program designed to not only keep Arkansas’ best and brightest graduates in Arkansas, but then fast-track them to get deeply connected with the resources here in Arkansas which will grow them into entrepreneurs and business leaders,” Jeremy Enders, who is also a Fellow, says.

In some cases, it has helped young professionals discover what they like even more.

“The thing that makes the job experience in the Fellowship different from other first post-grad jobs is that your employer knows you’re there to learn just as much as you are there to work. As such, many of our host companies rotate fellows around different departments in the company to give them a holistic understanding of how the business is run, and their professional possibilities for the future,” said Enders, a Fellow at Stone Ward in Little Rock.

The reception at the Governor’s Mansion was a chance for the Fellows and some of the sponsor companies to mingle and be honored by the Governor.

“Whether you are speaking of industry, or retail or government, it is all about talent. Talent in each of those fields will make all the difference, and they will make the difference for the future of our state,” Hutchinson told the group. “Everyone knows we struggled, in decades past, to keep our youngest and brightest in Arkansas, and that’s changing. It’s illustrated by this initiative.”

Hutchinson added, “These are young people who are the brightest in their classes, they have excelled in their field of education, and they have partnered with our home-grown businesses to provide them with a fellowship opportunity, two years of business experience, mentorship, and that can work for the benefit of the businesses that utilize that talent, but also, hopefully, it will result in this talent staying in Arkansas and building the future of our economy.”

Jamie Fugitt, chairman of the Fellowship board, and Ted Dickey, a board member and advisor to Innovate Arkansas, addressed the guests too.

After Hutchinson talked about his push to market Arkansas to the world, Silicon Valley, and most recently, Europe, he talked about the importance of investing in our own talent to help nurture the businesses of Arkansas and propel entrepreneurship in Arkansas.

Following his remarks, the Governor took the group on an impromptu tour of the mansion giving everyone a history lesson along the way.

The sponsor companies of the Arkansas Fellowship say they are also getting benefits from the program.

Tim McKenna, Director of Human Resources at Acxiom said, “Acxiom is excited to serve as a mentor company for the Arkansas Fellowship Program this year. Their mission to help attract and retain Arkansas’s brightest entrepreneurial talent is directly aligned with our corporate strategy. We are very pleased that Sarah Casey (ATU) and Brice Smith (UALR) will be representing us as a 2015 Fellow. We know that they will directly benefit from the program and we look forward to their contributions at Acxiom.”

The second class began about a month ago. It currently has 22 active Fellows working in 17 Arkansas companies.