For the last five years, Four Athens, a local economic development nonprofit based in Athens, Ga., has been hard at work creating a variety of programs that supports the startup ecosystem in town. But there is one pain point they had not yet tackled, until now.
Like other similarly sized communities positioned just outside a much larger city, kids grow up and obtain higher education in Athens, but then leave to join the young talent pool sought by a city such as Atlanta. “Startups in Athens have an amazing available talent pool just steps away from their doors in many cases. Yet for both our local students and companies, lacking a direct connection between them makes that distance seem difficult to bridge,” explains Four Athens executive director Jim Flannery. “We’re looking for companies in town willing to help create the local workforce they want to see in Athens.”
In January, the Athens Talent Partnership, in partnership with Four Athens, is launching a Startup Internship Program (SIP), designed to connect participating startups and small business to a distinct pool of talented young Athenians looking for career opportunities.
How will it work? An initial cohort of student interns drawn from area universities will be guided through a 12-week work program that includes placement with local companies. Students and company representatives will convene weekly for a series of skill sharing workshops structured around topics especially focused on small business needs, such as customer discovery, marketing, technology, agile design and team leadership, as well as a speaker series to share a broader vision and context for SIP participants as a whole.
By the end of the 12-week program, the aim is to have increased the capacity of startups and small businesses in the area to successfully integrate student interns into their companies, and to have prepared participating students to pursue careers in the unique and thriving local startup and small business scene. Application process is now open for students who are interested in the program.
Four Athens is also accepting early stage companies seeking to recruit and retain top talent in Athens to join the first group of businesses to be part of SIP in January. The inaugural group of companies will also include founding members of the Athens Talent Partnership, Docebo NA, Partner Software, Peachtree Medical Billing, Rehabmart.com and RoundSphere.