Interns and Intern Ambassadors on a social outing to Whiskey Row.

This summer, for the 19th year in a row, nearly 30 Yale students have descended upon Louisville to complete summer internships.

That is thanks to a program called Bulldogs in the Bluegrass – founded by Rowan Claypool in partnership with other Louisville-based Yale alumni.

The success of the program depends upon the partnership with local employers who carve out meaningful growth experiences for the students.

“When you’re inviting students to come to these unexpected destinations like Louisville, partnerships with young, innovative, growing companies help the whole program,” says Claypool. “Companies like Genscape show that Louisville has spectacular, cutting-edge employment opportunities.”

A solution to brain drain

“In the 90s, 30% of graduates from public schools left Louisville,” said Claypool. “It was a very real phenomenon.”

So he set out to address how to attract talent to (or back to) Louisville using what he refers to as a “constructive invitation.” According to Claypool, there are five elements necessary for successfully recruiting talent:

  1. Meaningful career advancing opportunities – “It can be grad school or the next right job. People won’t go places where they can’t see a career path or growth potential.”
  2. A visible application process – “It can be competitive and selective, but from start to finish – folks need to understand the terms and see the pathway. They need to know which phase of the process they’re in and what’s coming next.”
  3. Advocacy – “People need a downfield blocker who’s removing obstacles, opening doors, facilitating and encouraging.” The Bulldog program built this into the program in the form of adult mentors. “
  4. Community – “Whether it’s softball, ultimate Frisbee, or church – you have to be sure you can find a group – outside of work – you’ll be part of. Students tell us their summer Bulldog friendships were some of the strongest they developed in college.” says Claypool.
  5. Induction – “You have to fulfill the first four steps so that it actually happens and so you can keep it all working.”

“In Kentucky, we send three or four kids a year to Yale,” says Claypool. “We’re getting 10 times that many to come to Louisville for the summer. That’s how outrageously big it is.”

Louisville’s program becomes national template

It wasn’t long before Yale recognized the success of Bulldogs in the Bluegrass and tapped Claypool to build a national network. The program, “Bulldogs Across America,” went live in cities across the country and has expanded to include other universities.

“We went to each city, met alums, built the infrastructure and found the jobs,” says Claypool. “It’s interesting how each city became a hub of different types of opportunities – in Cleveland – it was largely corporate, in Minneapolis – lots of green initiatives and non-profits, in Houston – commerce, and Denver – tech.”

Genscape’s intern experienc

According to Claypool, Genscape’s summer internship checks all the boxes.

“We’re thrilled to have Genscape as one of our signature employers,” says Claypool. “They put a lot of energy into their internships. That’s always reflected in the feedback we get from students.”

Genscape hires about 25 interns each summer. Some come from the Yale program, others are recruited from local universities as a result of interview and resume-building workshops, guest speakers who visit classes, and networking events the company regularly attends.

Genscape prides itself on providing real-world experiences that help students launch their careers.

“Our interns are very much embedded into the business, not on a side project by themselves,” says Erica Boss, Senior Talent Acquisition and Development Specialist at Genscape. “They are part of team meetings, listening in on client calls, working side-by-side with colleagues on content we’re developing, products we’re building, information we’re sending out.”

Internships are available in a variety of departments and geographical locations, as well.

“We have roles in market analysis, product development, finance, software and database development, client services, and R&D,” says Boss.

Boss says Genscape aims to create a well-rounded experience for interns – many who are experiencing corporate culture or a professional environment for the first time.

“We have intern ambassadors (separate from their manager) who are another point of contact and a professional mentor within the office,” explains Boss. “They make sure interns have what they need, feel comfortable and get acclimated.”

There are also weekly lunch-and-learns offered in-person or via video chat for those in other locations. Here, they get face time with leaders of the organization to hear about other parts of the business and learn how leaders advanced in their own careers. The series concludes with a lunch session with the CEO.

The opportunity

Genscape begins recruiting its summer intern class in January (Bulldogs in the Bluegrass begins before that – typically in late fall). Hiring is completed by late April.

Want to learn more about other opportunities at Genscape? Check them all out here.

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