Want to grow your workforce? Consider changing your approach on college campuses
- September 14, 2022
For at least half the year, Kristin Hoefert-Redlinger and her team at Northwestern Mutual are regular visitors on area college campuses.
But they’re not necessarily sitting at career fairs or staffing information booths.
Instead, they’re in the classroom or meeting with athletic teams, offering workshops on everything from emotional intelligence to networking and branding.
“These are things that benefit students with career readiness and leadership skills,” said Hoefert-Redlinger, Northwestern Mutual’s chief talent officer.
“We speak on campuses to give back, mentor and teach students critical soft-skills, and in turn, many of our top internship candidates find us.”
After sharing information that will benefit the students more broadly, there’s a brief pitch to attend a Northwestern Mutual information session to learn more about what the company offers.
“And then we talk very transparently at our information sessions,” Hoefert-Redlinger said. “We offer a top 10 internship in the country, so we have a strong story to tell.”
She will detail her approach to working with college students on a panel at the fifth annual WIN in Workforce Summit, held from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Oct. 26 at the Sioux Falls Convention Center.
The Summit is organized by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation and supported by Forward Sioux Falls.
Hoefert-Redlinger’s panel, Collegiate Engagement Made Easy, will be part of an overall track around talent attraction and include fellow panelists Jessica Carlson of the University of Sioux Falls and Cal McKeown of LifeScape.
“In so many ways, talent attraction and development begins on college campuses,” said Denise Guzzetta, the Sioux Falls Development Foundation’s vice president of talent and workforce development, who will moderate the panel.
“We’ll share ways the Development Foundation is engaging with college students nationwide and look forward to bringing outstanding insight from our panelists.”
The Northwestern Mutual team regularly visits 16 campuses in South Dakota and northwest Iowa.
“We don’t love bringing someone in as a new college graduate. We prefer to begin that relationship while they’re still in college through an internship because our highest long-term retention is from individuals who have completed an internship with us,” Hoefert-Redlinger said.
“It’s real-life experience. You’re living the life with the mentorship of a financial adviser, so you get to test-drive a career, see if it’s right or wrong, and the risk on both sides is limited. And even interns who don’t stay with us long-term become our best brand advocates. They send us referrals and become our clients.”
There have been other lessons learned, too, from building relationships with younger students to the advantage athletes sometimes have in pursuing a Northwestern Mutual career.
Hoefert-Redlinger also always shares information with college students about the Sioux Falls Young Professionals Network, or YPN, and the broader experience of living in the city.
“I really believe as employers it’s our responsibility to sell the city of Sioux Falls and to sell the state of South Dakota, so we make that part of all our speaking engagements,” she said. “And we get our interns really involved in Sioux Falls, including philanthropy, so they’re plugged in and introduced to a lot of people. Even if it’s not with us, then they have a path here.”
She is a frequent attendee at WIN in Workforce and encourages others to attend too.
“If you struggle with retention and recruitment, you’ll hear from people who do it well and want to share ideas,” she said. “You’ll hear from everyone from young professionals to companies who share different approaches. It’s a great platform to show the opportunities here and how it amazing it is that we live in a city that wants to retain talent enough to invest in a whole event around it.”
The Sioux Falls Development Foundation is an approved recertification provider from the Society for Human Resource Management, and human resources professionals who attend WIN can earn nine professional development credits.
Tickets are $89 for in-person attendance, which includes lunch and snacks, and $20 for virtual attendance. Group discounts are available. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.