Insight on Business

November 2015

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w w w . i n s i g h t o n b u s i n e s s . c o m N o v e m b e r 2 0 15 • I NSIGH T | 25 experience the amenities of life in Northeast Wisconsin. A relatively new tool in the arsenal, the program recently won a national award and has piqued the interest of national site selector magazines as an innovative talent program. "What it really does is create an awareness of the region as well as the companies and opportunities that are here," says Paul Mueller, chief information officer at rivent. "It creates a positive experience they take back with them and tell others about, which increases the interest in our region." rivent has enjoyed tremendous success through the program, with at least one full-time hire since its inception and several prospects it continues to keep in contact with. Given the nature of young professionals, who will oen choose a lifestyle and location before deciding which company they will work for, the importance of cultural assets that appeal to this demographic increases in importance. In the past few years, young professional groups from Green Bay and Appleton to Fond du Lac to the lakeshore have been actively working on events and cultural assets that appeal to young professionals. at work has manifested itself in a range of activities, including restaurant weeks, alley art projects and informal kickball leagues. All play an important role in attracting young professionals of all types, including IT, to the region. Coding, gaming challenges grow interest in IT careers A few lines of code can have a powerful impact. Indeed, they can do so much more than perfect that killer app that makes your work or social life easier. A few lines of code can awaken a young student to a lifetime of career possibilities. Unfortunately, the word "coding" can often conjure up negative stereotypes in the mind of students and — perhaps more importantly — parents. Thoughts of windowless rooms and odd working hours can spring to minds, hardly the stuff to attract someone to an IT career. But those perceptions can change when object of that coding turns out to be a lot of fun. That's the premise behind Omni Resources' Code- a-Copter program, which challenges students to see if they can successfully write code to make a remote control helicopter fly. "It's opened the minds of several to a possible career in IT," says Jeff Lang, president and CEO of Omni Resources. Omni uses the Code-a-Copter as one of its outreach programs to interest students from third to fifth grade in skills that could lead to an IT based career. They recently presented the program to more than children attending That Conference – an IT event billed as "summer camp for geeks." "It created a lot of energy and engagement," says Lang. "We plan to take this to area schools, Boys & Girls Clubs – anywhere we can." Reaching out to students is one of the core pillars in bridging the growing IT talent gap. Omni also used That Conference to roll out Fans of Fury, a foosball type game where players attempt to score goals by using fans to blow the ball across the playing field. The fans speed and direction are controlled by signals picked by wearing a brainwave headset. "Interest in IT is a lot higher when this is how it's perceived," Lang says. Game on!! Selling it B ut that only works if the target audience gets the message. A collaborative marketing campaign will be the critical coding that binds the entire strategy together. Shedding the region's modesty and best- kept-secret approach is a must, Schuler says. "We are going to need to play by different rules," she says. "We need to get the message out about the fun things that are part of our culture here, both from the companies and the community. ere is a lot going on tech-wise, and a lot of great things to experience outside of work. We need to connect those two things and brand the community." e players involved agree it must be a collaborative effort. Drawing on the lessons learned from the Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance, which set out to change the image of manufacturing in the region several years ago, the IT Alliance is also leveraging its combined assets and networks. e messaging is pretty clear: Northeast Wisconsin is a great place to have a great IT career. "We want them to say 'How do I get in?'" Schuler says. "at's the place I want to be."

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