Copyright 2024 SPARK

Written by Britany Affolter-Caine

Talent is a critical key to economic prosperity. In an effort to provide Ann Arbor companies with greater access to talent, Ann Arbor SPARK is in Silicon Valley with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation as part of the MichAGAIN series – recruiting trips to regions that have top talent from software developers and marketing professionals to C-level executives and life scientists with Michigan roots and interest in coming home. This week, we are hosting two receptions – one in San Francisco and one in Palo Alto – and will be joining alumni from the University of Michigan and Michigan State University for a tailgate at the Tigers-A’s game in Oakland on Saturday.

Ann Arbor SPARK has a busy week. While here, CEO Paul Krutko and SPARK Business Development VP Luke Bonner is meeting with Silicon Valley companies interested in expansion efforts in Ann Arbor, much like Google and Barracuda Networks have done in the past few years.

As the director for Talent Enhancement, I am meeting with regional colleges and universities with strong business and computer engineering programs. Developing relationships with these schools will enable us to open new pipelines to graduates for Ann Arbor employers.

Upon arriving in San Francisco, I had dinner with fellow UM Center for Higher and Postsecondary Education (CSHPE) alum and friend, Dr. Aaron Anderson, who is Director of Management at San Francisco State University’s College of Business. After a tour of the Castro, we sat down for dinner to discuss strategies for how Ann Arbor employers to recruit top SFSU MBA graduates. Selling the Ann Arbor Region’s career opportunities and quality of life are key messages for ambitious California natives, which will be part of the presentation I am giving to students on campus tonight.

Following an initial visit in November 2011, I returned to San Jose State University on Tuesday to meet with Lisa Tikofski and Jill Klees of the career services office, who were eager to learn more about SPARK and my role as talent director, suggesting I should add “relationship builder” to my title and commenting that the SPARK brand of open source, collaborative economic development was unique and great. They shared a few ideas of how we can develop a relationship that will provide Ann Arbor Regional employers with access to their computer science and engineering students and graduates. Next steps include recruiting students for internships in Ann Arbor for the summer, and piloting a virtual informational session with Ann Arbor Regional employers and their students.

Up next in opening this pipeline to young Silicon Valley talent is a visit to Santa Clara University to meet with Jocylen Ashton of the Graduate Business Career Management office. Graduates of this premier business school represent a rich talent pool for our companies – it all starts with “hello” and builds with the development of relationships.

On behalf of Ann Arbor companies, I am off to continue saying “hello” and building relationships to create greater access to top talent!