The Evolving College Connection Program

Jonathan Ballmer
Kraus-Anderson Construction Company

The College Connection program was started as a way to connect area college students with local professionals and businesses to retain talent in our community.  Through the years, the program has had mixed results.  With some great success stories and some not so memorable experiences.  
In the early stages of planning for the 2014-2015 school year, the College Connection Committee set out to strategically improve the percentage of success stories generated from this program.  To ensure success, a thorough review of the program was required to ensure each component supported the overall mission.
We began by focusing on creating engaging programming.  The vision was to provide exposure, experiences, and opportunities for discussion that students are unable to get in the classroom.  We have had great participation and received excellent feedback at our events throughout the year.  This feedback has helped guide the continued enhancement of the program.  Some of the main enhancements for the upcoming year include:
1.) Alternate and Additional Programming: Unfortunately, not everyone is able to make it to every event.  We want to make sure everyone has an opportunity to learn the same content.  Therefore, we will be adding alternative DIY event programs, for those that cannot attend a scheduled event.  We will also have take-away activities for our pairs to complete between our regularly scheduled events, that relate to the topics we are discussing.
2.) Transparent Content: To ensure potential participants understand the components and how they relate to the overall program.  The following Program Workflow Diagram was created:
Connecting -> Brand Awareness -> Self Marketing -> Making Connections & Establishing Relationships -> Community & Philanthropy -> Reflection & Stepping Out
3.)  Recruitment Schedule:  Student recruitment and applications are being pushedup from the fall to the spring for the upcoming school year.  This will allow for significantly more time to find ideal pairs for interested students, professionals, and businesses.
Hopefully the continued refinements of this program will result in more success stories and a higher retention of our area’s talented students, which in turn will support the growth of our local businesses.