Drew Rogers and Blaine Thomas had an idea: House the best and brightest students from the University of Missouri inside a talent incubator. The goal? Help feed Missouri’s talent-hungry companies searching for the state’s most skilled graduates.
Rogers and Thomas spent the early summer months of this year searching for a student team, pouring through hundreds of applications and whittling down the list to their top 50 MU students skilled in marketing, media, finance, merchandising and consulting. The team ranges from freshmen to seniors, from creatives to entrepreneurs, from content creators to financial wizards. But they all have one thing in common.
“We don’t fit the mold,” said Rogers.
The newly-formed team piled into an old meeting room in the student union, and in that moment, Relevant Youth became a reality.
“For us, we had to convince University of Missouri officials, local media, our student body, and most importantly, ourselves, that this crazy mission was worth it,” Rogers said in a blog post. “All we had to show for was our passionate vision. And it worked.”
After that, the real fun began. The Relevant Youth got a space in the MU Student Center, and the university agreed to kick in $50,000 for renovations.
Rogers and Thomas also launched Relevant Youth’s student team to the public and began the search for sponsors.
Hoot Design Co., a web design, branding and marketing agency located in Columbia, signed on as one of the first sponsors.
Since then, Relevant Youth has sparked interest from students, recruiters and sponsors across mid-Missouri.
The team has focused on keeping the onboarding process for sponsors simple and easy to eliminate complications and allow sponsors to immediately begin reaping the benefits of Relevant Youth’s talented students.
A multi-pronged mission
Relevant Youth operates under a mission aimed at several parts of the talent acquisition chain.
First, it aims to empower creative students, giving them relevant work to do while connecting them with sponsoring companies along the way. The incubator provides a platform for students’ skill sets to be cultivated and noticed by hiring companies.
Second, it wants to revolutionize the way companies acquire talented undergraduates.
“Companies spend way too much time, effort and money recruiting average students,” Rogers said. “For sponsors, our mission is to make your company as attractive as possible to our students.”
“I have been very happy with the exposure Relevant Youth has given us, to a curated group of talent at Mizzou,” said Kristen Brown, owner of Hoot Design Co. “I see (it) as a great recruiting tool for my company. They validate us to the students they are working with, and they validate the students for me, because I know they have already been vetted.”
Construction on the space in the MU Student Center is scheduled to begin in early November. The team will also continue recruiting sponsors, focusing on pairing its students with companies across the state.