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VOL. 132 | NO. 138 | Thursday, July 13, 2017

New Memphis Plans to Expand Programming for Millennials

By Andy Meek

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Through the end of this month, the New Memphis Institute is continuing the yearly Summer Experience it hosts each year that’s comprised of free events for local and visiting college students and recent graduates, all with a view toward encouraging them to put down roots in Memphis.

More than 900 students and graduates registered to participate in this year’s series of events in June and July, representing more than 200 different hometowns, 150 colleges and universities, and more than 200 different Memphis employers. The response has been such that New Memphis is planning to expand its efforts for this demographic in a big way.


New Memphis’ manager of strategic partnerships, Frankie Dakin, said the organization has been especially paying attention to feedback from participants this year. New Memphis plans to use insights generated from surveys of this year’s participants to kick off more year-round programming for college students later this year.

“It’ll be aimed at helping them expand their personal and professional networks and encouraging them to launch their careers in Memphis,” Dakin said. “This fall, we’ll begin with some events focused on skill-building based on the students’ feedback on what skills they want to learn and improve on, and also based on employer feedback on what interns need to be successful.”

That’s not unlike some of the insights and lessons shared as part of the more tightly scheduled Summer Experience, the next event of which is a panel discussion at AutoZone Park sponsored by ServiceMaster set for July 13. That “Leading in Memphis” discussion will feature leaders including ServiceMaster chief marketing and strategy officer Marvin Davis; Commercial Appeal president Mike Jung; EPIcenter president and CEO Leslie Lynn Smith; and city of Memphis chief human resources officer Alex Smith.

Panelists will share some of their personal leadership stories, lessons they learned along the way and what it means to them to lead in Memphis.

“We kicked off the first week of June with a kickoff party at the Old Dominick Distillery,” Dakin said of the Summer Experience. “It runs through July 25, with the final event a conversation with Mayor (Jim) Strickland at Crosstown.”

This year’s series of events, he went on to note, is bigger than last year’s in terms of participants, just as last year was larger compared to the year before that.

The goal of the Summer Experience is to capture the attention of participants when their early professional years are still in a formative state.

“In order to fuel the businesses that are growing here,” said New Memphis president and CEO Nancy Coffee, “we need to first and foremost retain our local college grads and also attract college grads from other regions.”

She cites a figure from the National Association of Colleges and Employers which helps put the talent-grab in context: 83 percent of college students end up staying put in the region where they intern after graduation.

“The most efficient time to capture the attention of these future young professionals is while they’re interning and before they’ve chosen their first job,” Coffee said. “That’s why we at New Memphis invest so much into our Summer Experience, to encourage collegians to launch their careers in our community.”

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