Tech Pioneer Refreshes Recruitment Strategies and Wins

After over 25 years, AOL Inc. (AOL) is still very much a pioneer and is in the business of making the Internet better—period.

Driven to provide innovative products and valuable services to multiple customer lines, AOL looks for skilled talent to join their workforce of over 5,000 – particularly tech-savvy young people. Through its partnership with Year Up, AOL has been able to draw talent from a previously untapped pool of vetted, trained, diverse, and enthusiastic young people who come to them first as interns and end up making substantial and innovative contributions to their teams. Talent like Canvas Richardson.

Is your company looking for a “Canvas Richardson?”

At 16 years old, Canvas Richardson was working at a grocery store in Washington, DC. She was trying to figure out a way to better support her family and further her education, as she knew there was more opportunity beyond just working at a grocery store. When she heard about Year Up while attending a college prep class, she felt a renewed sense of confidence in her future.

Year Up is a one-year intensive training program that provides urban young adults 18-24 with a unique combination of technical and professional skills, college credits, an educational stipend, and a corporate internship. When Canvas learned that she could earn college credits and gain a corporate internship while receiving training and income, she knew she wanted to learn more.

Although she was only 17 years old, Canvas was accepted into the Year Up program at its northern Virginia location and after six months of classroom instruction in the IT track at Year Up, Canvas earned an internship with AOL. Canvas proved to be an asset to AOL, and at the end of her internship she was offered a full-time position with the Corporate Systems Technology team.

Canvas is currently a Senior Systems Analyst on the Corporate Systems Human Resources team at AOL. She has performed highly at AOL for nearly 7 years now and says she’s thankful to AOL for providing continuous mentoring, training, support and welcoming environment. She credits Year Up with instilling in her the professional and technical skills required to thrive in a corporate environment. In her own words, “Year Up and AOL have honestly changed my life! I don’t know where or who I would be if I didn’t have such an opportunity.”

Canvas’ current manager, Deanna Crowe, Sr. Technical Manager, commented that “Canvas has been a great asset to our team and works great with our Business users. She is always willing to take on new work and learn new skills.”

Partnerships Pay Off

Tech employers all over the country agree: finding skilled entry-level talent is tough.

AOL’s solution: Year Up.

Since 2007, Year Up has been helping AOL access a pipeline of future talent and develop a career pathway for these employees. To date, AOL has worked with over 100 Year Up interns across its various tech teams including IT, network operations, desktop support, and operations analysis.

AOL supervisors find Year Up interns to be “smart people who want to learn,” and they vie for incoming candidates. Once interns are on board, AOL makes strategic investments in these young people, committing to helping these young adults become productive, contributing members of their technology teams. Many interns have also been converted to full-time employees.

Through its partnership with Year Up, AOL successfully recruits entry-level employees and explores new sources of talent in a risk-free way, all while supporting its diversity strategy and impacting local communities where it operates.

AOL has extended the Year Up partnership to their Dulles, Baltimore, and New York City offices and is currently fielding inquiries from their San Francisco, CA office with hopes of building additional pipelines of skilled, vetted, future talent.

“The Year Up interns come to AOL with a strong desire to succeed and a foundation of technical skills to build on. This is an investment in our local communities and the digital future.” ~Maureen Jules-Perez, Senior Technical Director & AOL/Year Up Internship Program Lead, AOL.

The GradsofLifeVoice Forbes team provides thought leadership, research and expert commentary on innovative talent pipelines and related issues such as the skills gap, income inequality, workforce diversity, and the business case for employment pathways. We seek to change employers’ perceptions of young adults with atypical resumes from social liabilities to economic assets. This post was originally featured here.

Hiring & Retention Practices, Management & Leadership, Workforce Development,
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