New Professional Development Program, Onboard|ROA, Already a Hit

Onboard|ROA, Get2KnowNoke’s (G2KN) professional development/social onboarding program, kicked off in early June with a total of 32 registered participants from diverse backgrounds. This new program is the reimagining of G2KN’s Summer Internship Program which was limited to just regional interns. Onboard|ROA participants include a mix of remote workers, student interns, and young professionals hailing from several localities and employers throughout the Roanoke Region. The program’s inclusive nature has attracted individuals aged 18 to 25 who are seeking career growth opportunities and a chance to connect with like-minded individuals and the region itself.

“Being a Roanoke native with a diverse background, I had always believed in my capabilities. However, I recognized that there were still skills and knowledge I needed to develop further.”

Will Hobbs, current Onboard participant

Over the first four weeks of the program, participants have engaged in a range of activities designed to foster professional development and community integration. They have delved into NACE Career Readiness Competencies Courses focusing on communication and networking as well as equity, inclusion, and belonging in the workplace. Participants can still look forward to critical thinking and problem-solving, technology talks, and career development sessions.

Of course, Onboard’s social outings are also integral to the program’s success. Intentional socials have provided a platform for participants to meet and forge connections, ensuring a supportive network is built from the onset. Exciting excursions have also been arranged, enabling participants to explore the region’s outdoor wonders and experience local entertainment, instilling a sense of pride and attachment to the vibrant community. Thus far, participants have enjoyed a professional networking happy hour (atop Mill Mountain with a live DJ!), lunch at Billy’s Downtown, and a zipline excursion at Explore Park’s TreeTop Quest. Studies show time and again that social connections are what make a region “sticky” and encourage people to put down roots in a community. In turn, we’re hoping to create more residents and regional ambassadors to spread the word about what makes this community special.

“Onboard|ROA has allowed me to meet other amazing young professionals and soon-to-be college graduates while doing new and fun things around the area that I can take my family to when they come to town! Also, in just the few sessions we’ve had so far, I feel my professional skills have already improved in terms of networking with new people and communicating more effectively with my coworkers.”

Victor Rosada, Digital Marketer with LeadPoint Digital

“Our tactic with this program is to create relationships with college graduates and young professionals interested in working in the Roanoke Region. Early connections are an essential part of establishing the talent pipeline, and we hope Onboard will encourage employers to take a more proactive role in our region’s talent attraction strategy,” says Julia Boas, director of talent strategies for the Roanoke Regional Partnership. “Our long-term goal is to have all major employers offering opportunities for interns and entry-level graduates, which is currently an area of weakness for our region. If we can provide potential residents with opportunities upon graduation, it will have a meaningful impact in relation to in-migration numbers and more young people choosing to stay.”

The value of Onboard|ROA to the community has been evident as it strengthens the region’s workforce, cultivates a sense of belonging, and promotes engagement with local businesses. The 32 participants are not only developing core career soft skills but are also building relationships that may extend beyond the program’s duration. By bridging the gap among young professionals, interns, remote workers, and employers, Onboard|ROA is laying the foundation for a thriving, interconnected professional community in the Roanoke Region. To learn more about the program, please contact Julia Boas and follow Get2KnowNoke on Facebook and Instagram!

Roanoke Region Well-Positioned for Talent Attraction, Get2KnowNoke Ready to Help

Residents of the Roanoke Region know that it’s an ideal place to set up shop and put down roots, and now, word is spreading. Several recent studies confirm that the Roanoke Region is well suited to attract business and a talented workforce, and the Partnership’s Talent Attraction arm, Get2KnowNoke, is ensuring the region is poised to welcome and develop its workforce.

A leading labor market analysis company, EMSI/Burning Glass recently updated a study on talent attraction which scores each city and county in the nation based on five factors:

  • migration
  • job growth
  • education
  • competitiveness
  • job openings

Four localities in the Roanoke metro area are ranked in the top 25 percent nationally based on talent attraction. Simply put, we are doing much better developing our talent pool when compared to other localities and regions. A 2021 study by the Pew Research Center found that the preference for suburbs is increasing, which is also reflected by positive in-migration data for the Roanoke Region. Real estate data from Zillow shows that quality-of-life and cost-of-living factors are becoming more important as people look towards mid-size regions and re-evaluating their lives in a post-COVID-19 era.  In fact, we can attribute recent population growth in the region to people moving to the suburban areas in the region. With birth rates slowing nationally, compounded by an aging and retiring population, it is more important than ever to continue making the region attractive to talent.

How Are We Supporting This Influx of Talent?

Get2KnowNoke Talent Ambassadors (John Park, Bonnie Chavez, Courtney Proffitt)

That’s where Get2KnowNoke comes in. We are increasing our workforce development and talent-attraction efforts with a new talent-ambassador program, professional development and networking opportunities, and a brand revamp for better outreach to current employers and professionals. We have recently established a group of talent ambassadors to tell their stories of coming to and working in the region. These residents can relate to new and existing professionals and can connect them with the necessary people and resources to be successful.

In addition, Get2KnowNoke has created the Roanoke Regional Professionals Network, the first professionals’ network in the region for all career levels. The network aims to provide quarterly social engagements for professionals as well as professional development and learning opportunities. One of those is the annual Experience Conference. It is slated to take place in June and will focus on aspects of leadership and tenacity within our small-business community.

Get2KnowNoke is also concentrating its efforts on a re-branding campaign to attract talent to the region’s growing workforce. This includes enhancements on the website like a regional job board to help college-enrolled students as well as talent external to our market (boomerangs, remote workers, etc.) find careers within the region’s job market. The site will also house a widely anticipated Employer Toolkit to help regional employers attract the best talent for business. The Partnership is focused on ensuring our employers and talent feel they have all the resources possible to be successful and supported in the Roanoke Region.

Our region is clearly attractive for prospective businesses and professionals, and we’re poised to welcome and support them as they call the Roanoke Region home. To stay up to date about Get2KnowNoke’s efforts, click here to sign up for the monthly newsletter. To learn more about the Roanoke Region itself, click here.