It Takes a Village: Making Education a Priority with Entrepreneurs in Training

At Atlanta Tech Village, technology is only part of our story. You know us as the country’s fourth-largest tech hub, but it took more than just a few savvy coders to get us here.

We’re invested in seeing all our startups succeed not just as cool concepts, but as full-fledged businesses. So, recruitment and management skills are vital focuses, and we also embrace the power of community to ensure all Villagers get the support they need. A common thread in all this? Education.

We strive to teach and learn from each other, and we think it’s important to introduce a new generation of entrepreneurs to our world. That’s why, over the past few months, we’ve worked to make our education program bigger and better. Now we’re rolling a few of our initiatives under one umbrella, creating a new program called Entrepreneurs in Training (EIT).

Entrepreneurs in Training

The most important piece of building a legacy for our city and community starts with exposing young students to the entrepreneurial life. This means elementary kids through high school can come tour the Village, learn about startups, and at times even talk to entrepreneurs currently building their company. Each summer we host camps like Break into Business who teach young kids the process of building their own company from ideation to customer discovery to pitching and selling.

Can large groups of young kids seem counterintuitive to a place of business? Maybe. But not at the Village. Here our community loves the energy and are incredibly encouraging and supportive to these young kids who are learning they can build, create, and change the world themselves.

Over just this past year, more than 600 students and educators have toured the Village to get a taste of startup life.  This is where it starts.

Recruiting

Another big part of our EIT program is our recruiting. We work to meet and connect with top students from around the Southeast on behalf of our startups. We want to match them and recent graduates with young companies that are hungry for their work. We do this three different ways. One is through our Startup + Student Connection, an in-house job fair we host twice a year that has been a magnet for talent drawing several hundred students annually. Secondly, we have a Job Board that attracts lots of quality traffic and has at least 40-50 listings as any given time.

Lastly, we actively recruit on college campuses around the region from Duke to Georgia Tech to FSU, and everything in between. (Say hi if you see us!) And, while our efforts have been hugely successful, we don’t see them just as a numbers game. Kelly Anne O’Neill, our Community Development Manager, talks constantly with students and faculty members year round to learn how we can best serve these students and work with the schools. We’re focused on relationships – the word “village” is in our name, after all.

Strategic Partners

The third and final piece is our strategic university partners like Emory and Mercer. These Village Champions, as we call them, actively place students with us as interns, have office space in the Village for entrepreneurial students and professors, host alumni events, and work extensively with us to connect their students and faculty to startup opportunities and ways of thinking. We’re interested in more than just colleges, too.

The Village regularly hosts K-12 schools and non-profit organizations like Girls Who Code and Black Men Code who want to experience startup life first hand.  One of our core values is paying it forward, which is why we work hard to attract a diverse cohort of people.

We want to show budding entrepreneurs, coders, marketers, and students from any background that this world is designed for them.

We’re excited for EIT to not only help bring new talent to Village startups, but for the next generation to start dreaming big and get bit with that entrepreneurial bug.