Recruiting Millennials: Bringing skill sets to the workforce

NORTH ADAMS — The week before Grace Clark was scheduled to fly to China last summer to take a job teaching English for a year she received a phone call from the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.

Jodi Joseph, Mass MoCa's director of communications, was on the line offering the 24-year old Minnesota native an internship in communications. Looking to put her degree in photography from Minnesota State to use following a year traveling around the U.S., Clark had applied for the position at Mass MoCA two months earlier. But after hearing nothing she made the offer in China her backup plan. Now, it was a plan she suddenly didn't need.

Clark accepted Joseph's offer. Four months later, she became a full-time employee at Mass MoCA, hired to serve as an art installer for the expansion of Building 6, which is scheduled to open on Memorial Day weekend.

"It was awesome timing for me as more hands are needed here," she said. "I am learning how to build relationships with artists."

Clark is a typical example of a millennial, those between the ages of 20 and 36, that Berkshire firms are interested in bringing into the workforce. Millennials usually have the latest skill sets for the career paths they want to pursue, with those skills often involving the knowledge of up-to-date technology, several local employers said. They are also interested in making a difference in their chosen fields by being a team player.

"Good work comes from collaboration. It's the ability to work with a team we desire," said Nate Winstanley, the president and founder of Winstanley Partners, an advertising agency in Lenox.

Over the past year, Winstanley has hired Victoria Fiorini, 33, to serve as the agency's art director and 2016 college graduate Eden Loeffel as a graphic designer.

Loeffel, who attended the College of Saint Rose in Albany, N.Y., considered following some of her classmates to work in big New York City firms. But after interning at Winstanley during her senior year in college, Loeffel found that she liked working with Winstanley's top-notch clients in a much smaller team-oriented setting.

"We don't have as many people (so) we have to wear more hats here," said Loeffel, who comes from New York's Capitol Region. "We also have a strong say in what we put out here. When we have meetings, people get to voice their opinions."

A graduate of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Fiorini had worked for an advertising agency in Boston, and wasn't looking to return home. But she had served as interim art director at Winstanley before the permanent position became available, and the Pittsfield native saw the position as an opportunity to work for one of the top advertising agencies in the Berkshires.

"Working here and in the Berkshires is a symbiotic relationship," she said. "I can't think of a better place to live and work."

Winstanley agrees that the town of Lenox is a great draw for employees, but doesn't base his hiring and recruiting of new workers on their local roots.

"Talent got her the job," Winstanley said, referring to Fiorini. "The fact she wanted to come back to the Berkshires was a bonus."

That doesn't mean Berkshire employers don't use the region's natural beauty and plethora of cultural venues as selling points. Paul LeBlanc, the founder and CEO of Zogics in Lee, said those qualities sell themselves to employees who are interested in having a balanced lifestyle.

LeBlanc, who is originally from Boston, is currently looking to add five more employees to his 15 person workforce. The 10-year-old firm, which sells environmentally friendly gym wipes and fitness equipment, keeps growing.

"I am getting more and more applicants from New York City and Boston," he said. "They want what we have here."

Although LeBlanc encourages millennials to apply to work at his firm, he also considers prospects from other generations.

"It's far more about experience or the desire to gain experience," he said. "We're hiring skill and ability."

Contact staff writer Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233


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