Young Professionals of Wichita announces new hires

The Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW) added two members to their team last month. Alejo Cabral has been named the full-time Program Coordinator, and Meghan Madsen has been named the Marketing & Communications Intern for the spring 2017 semester.

A summer 2017 graduate of WSU’s Barton School of Business with double majors in Marketing & Management, Alejo has been working in the banking industry since 2012. His primary responsibility will be to manage the organization’s network of volunteers and the events they plan for YPs in our community.

Meghan is a senior at Wichita State University’s Elliott School of Communication, and her primary responsibility will be to assist YPW Executive Director Suzy Finn with the execution of the organization’s marketing strategies. Her previous internship experiences include the Wichita Eagle and Cowley College.

“Both Alejo and Meghan bring a new and energized presence to YPW and the Chamber,” Finn said. “Their background and experiences, along with their hardworking mentality, will serve them well in these new roles.”

Who is Wichita?

A Call to Action for Intentional Inclusion
By Courtney Hough


Young Professionals of Wichita members Courtney Hough, Ellen Decker and Ebony Clemons on the 2016 City-to-City trip.

I moved to Wichita from Detroit fifteen months ago and in that short period of time, I have learned about Wichita’s culture and the passion that people have for the Emerald City/Air Capital. I’ve made it a point to get to know my community by being a part of it. But when I boarded the plane for my first City-to-City Leadership visit, I did not know what to expect. I knew only a handful of people and questioned if I could relate to our group and if I added any value to the experience. Let’s just say that by the end of trip, I was sharing work and family stories and I had a voice! This experience allowed me to be the change that is being demanded from our community.

Wichita’s population is extremely diverse since there are many Hispanic, Asian, African American, Native American, African, and LGBTQ communities within the city. The diversity of our population is not always reflected in our businesses and the identity of Wichita. I think this City- to-City Leadership Visit opened our eyes to ways we can rebrand and develop a “Wichita for Everyone.”

Our biggest “ah-ha” moment was learning ways to engage and mentor young professionals. There is usually a negative perception of who millennials are and the tone is sometimes dismissive. The idea presented was to target 21 to 40-year-old professionals to mentor and mold them and to enhance their leadership and professional development skills. This will stabilize Wichita’s development, retain talent and increase opportunities. The reality is that in twenty years, many of our current community leaders and CEOs will be retired or will no longer be in a leadership capacity, so we are the future of Wichita! Opportunities for professional development and community outreach must be abundant to retain young talent.

My challenge to every Wichitan is to invest: invest in our businesses, invest in our children and young people, invest in our disenfranchised communities, and invest in our infrastructure. We must invest in order to recreate and grow!

Courtney is the Strategic Engagement Specialist at United Way of the Plains, as well as a YPW Access Team member and volunteer. She participated in the Chamber’s 2016 City-to-City Leadership Visit to Nashville in September. 

Stef Flores promoted to Community Advancement Manager

Stef Flores has been promoted to Community Advancement Manager for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce. She joined the Chamber staff in November 2015, as the Community Advancement & Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW ) Program Coordinator.

Stefanie Flores“Stef has shown outstanding initiative in her work for both YPW and Community Advancement during her time with our organization,” said Director of Community Advancement Suzy Finn. “In particular, her leadership of the Chamber’s recent City-to-City Leadership Visit resulted in a successful trip for 51 community leaders. To even better accomplish the work of our leadership programs, Stef will now focus all of her time on the Chamber’s Community Advancement programs and initiatives.”

Stef has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature with a minor in French from the University of Colorado-Boulder and a Master’s in Education from University of California-Santa Barbara.

Please join us in congratulating Stef on her well-served promotion!

We are now accepting applications for a full-time YPW Program Coordinator. The job description can be found on LinkedIn.

Stefanie Flores: Community Advancement & YPW Program Coordinator

Stefanie FloresStefanie Flores has joined our staff as the Community Advancement & Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW ) Program Coordinator, working with Director of Community Advancement Suzy Finn. Stefanie moved to Wichita earlier this year from Denver after previously living in Santa Barbara and Chicago.

“Stefanie wasted no time in diving into the Wichita community,” said Finn. “One of the first things she did upon arriving in Wichita was join YPW, and she has been actively involved during her six months here. We believe her variety of experiences have more than prepared her for working with our teams of volunteers and coordinating the many programs involved with YPW and Community Advancement.”

Stefanie has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature with a minor in French from the University of Colorado-Boulder and a Master’s in Education from University of California-Santa Barbara. This is a new position at the Chamber, created to support the Chamber’s mission to drive community advancement in the Wichita region.

FAQs About Jobs, Getting Involved

Our Frequently Asked Questions series continues this week with information about job and internship opportunities, as well as how members can become more involved with the Chamber.

Jobs and Internships Questions

  1. How do I post job openings on NationJob?
    Posting job openings on NationJob is a FREE benefit to Chamber members with 30 or less employees, and discounts are available to Members with more than 30 FTE. Contact Barb Avery directly at NationJob at 888-256-0920.
  2. How do I get more information about the Spouse Career Network?
    Contact Jan Baggett at 316-268-1113.
  3. I am interested in hiring an intern. Where do I get more information on how to find a qualified intern or post an internship listing?

Involvement Questions

  1. How can I get more information on Committees or Volunteer Opportunities?
    Contact Nicole Robinson at 316-268-1116.
  2. How can I join a leads group?
    Visit our Contacts Club page.
  3. Where do I get more information on advertising opportunities with the Chamber?
    Visit our Sponsorships and Advertising page, then contact Courtney Sendall 316-268-1153.
  4. Do I have to be a Chamber member to join Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW)?
    Visit our Young Professionals of Wichita page.

More Frequently Asked Questions can be found on our website. If you have a question that should be added to our FAQ page, please let us know!

YPW hires Program & Marketing Manager

Meg Foreman

Meg Foreman

Meg Foreman has joined Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW) as the Program & Marketing Manager within the Wichita Metro Chamber. Her responsibilities will include overseeing YPW’s social media channels, working with volunteers, and supporting the executive director.

She was most recently at Eastminster Presbyterian Church as their associate director of communications and spent two years as the communications coordinator at Creative Oklahoma in Oklahoma City before that. Her experience includes working with volunteers, graphic design, social media marketing, and grant writing.

We are excited to have her on our team – welcome, Meg!

Young Professionals of Wichita to hold sixth annual Enhance Community Project

EnhanceThis Saturday, 150 young professionals will participate in a one-day project known as Enhance. Focusing on enriching Wichita while providing Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW) members the opportunity to give back to the community, the work will consist of landscape improvements, exterior facade improvements, and general cleanup of the Delano area.

This will be the sixth year for the event, and the group has added some new projects this year, including installing a Little Free Library on the grounds of the Downtown Senior Center and completing a major landscaping project at the Downtown Senior Center.

Volunteers will begin working at 7:30 a.m., break at 11:30 for a community celebration at Seneca Park, and end the day at 3:30 p.m.

See a video of last year’s Enhance projects here, and view photos here.

For more information or to volunteer, contact Suzy Finn at 268-1170.

A group from Koch Industries at the 2013 Enhance Community Project

A group from Koch Industries at the 2013 Enhance Community Project

YPW Leadership Update

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Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW) recently announced some changes to their leadership roles. Ian Worrell of INTRUST Bank is now serving as the 2014 Chair. Originally slated to serve as chair-elect in 2014, he accepted this position change when the original 2014 Chair, Lora Jennings of Martin Pringle, transferred to the firm’s Overland Park office. Worrell joined YPW in 2011 and chaired the Community Relations team in 2012 and 2013.

Laura Bernstorf of Airbus Americas Engineering is serving as the Chair-Elect.  Bernstorf has volunteered for YPW since 2011 and served on the board for a year as Secretary.  Upon Bernstorf’s role change, Katie Gribble of Cornejo & Sons was selected to serve as Secretary for 2014.  Gribble has served on the Leadership Link team since 2011.

The complete list of new 2014 YPW officers is as follows:

  • Ian Worrell, INTRUST Bank, Chair
  • Laura Bernstorf, Airbus Americas Engineering, Chair-Elect
  • Katie Gribble, Cornejo & Sons, Secretary

There is also a change coming to the YPW staff. Jaime Dupy has accepted a position within the Chamber supporting both the Business Services and Government Relations departments. She will move into this newly created position effective May 1.

“Losing a staff member or volunteer leader from YPW is always bittersweet,” said YPW Executive Director Suzy Finn. “Both Lora and Jaime will be missed, but we are proud of the steps they are taking to move forward in their careers. I am confident that the new volunteer leadership team will continue to build on what has happened in the past nine years to contribute toward a better future for Wichita.”

YPW is actively searching for applicants to fill the position that Dupy vacated. A full job description is listed on the YPW website.

Building Your Pipeline Through Internships

Internships. What are they? Why are they important? Why should I create an internship program? How can I make the intern’s experience a positive, educational one? How much do I have to pay them? Where can I find them?

These were the questions that Connie Dietz, Director of the Office of Cooperative Education and Work-Based Learning at Wichita State University, sought to answer in the Chamber’s first Taking Care of Business seminar of 2014. Those attending walked away with not only the answers to those questions, but also with a guide for how to create an internship program and a template to help craft a strong job description for an intern.

The basics: a definition of internships

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, an internship is “a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. Internships give students the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections in professional fields they are considering for career paths; internships also give employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent.”

You also may have heard of the term “co-op” or “cooperative education” as a form of work-based learning. For more information on the differences between an internship and a co-op, visit the Wichita State Co-op Office website here. The bottom line is that by providing work-based learning to college students, Chamber members can help build a bridge between the classroom and the real world for the next generation of workers.

The importance of hiring interns

Interns, and a strong internship program, can be a long-term source of talent for individual companies and for the Wichita community in general. According to the 2010 Destination ICT study, almost 50% of internship students accept permanent positions with their internship employers. At WSU, 72% of students who work with the Co-op Office remain in Wichita after graduation.

Those numbers indicate that the more quality internship programs Wichita employers have, the more local graduates we can retain. For companies who hire interns from outside the Wichita area, we can also attract more young people to the city. These are going to be young professionals who already have experience working in an office environment and who have developed some of the skills that they can’t or don’t learn in the classroom.

The benefit to your company

During the presentation, Dietz gave several reasons why you should consider creating an internship program. For example, you can work with an individual for anywhere from sixteen weeks to three years before they graduate from college – that’s one long interview! When you build a quality internship program, you also create ambassadors for your organization. For those smaller businesses out there, that’s a great source of word-of-mouth advertising that helps your business’s name gain recognition on campus.

And according to that 2010 study, the retention of college graduates after five years of employment is 30% greater for internship graduates. That reduces your long-term training and recruitment costs, a potentially significant return on your investment.

Creating a quality program

Of the 15 tips provided for creating a quality internship program, Dietz highlighted a few that are key for all employers regardless of size:

  1. Provide interns with real, collegiate level work assignments
  2. Hold orientations for all involved
  3. Have an intern manager
  4. Encourage team involvement
  5. Offer training and encourage outside classes
  6. Conduct exit interviews

To see more tips, view the full presentation here.

Most important, conduct an organizational audit before getting started. Make sure you have support from the executive level, and that everyone involved knows the goals of the program. Evaluate the human resources you have available to support the intern(s) to ensure they’ll have a positive experience. And ensure there are physical resources available for the student – a desk, computer, phone, and anything else they’ll need to complete the assignments for the duration of the internship.

The big question: how much do I have to pay an intern?

The answer: it depends on a lot of different factors. If you are even considering hiring unpaid interns, be sure you consult with an employment lawyer or university contact first, especially in for-profit companies. Dietz shared the six criteria for an internship to qualify as unpaid during the presentation, and you can also find out more in this Small Business Administration article.

For an example, the average wages for WSU students in the past year were the following: $13.17/hour for business students; $15.09/hour for engineering; and $11.08/hour for liberal arts and sciences. The actual amount will vary depending on the specific major (accounting usually pays more than marketing, for example) and the class status, among other criteria.

Finding the right interns

Now that you’re convinced it’s time to start an internship program, here’s how you can find the students to hire. The local universities usually advertise internships to their students, whether it’s through the formal program at WSU or through faculty/staff contacts at other universities. An internship or career services office is usually the first place to start.

To recruit from outside the local universities, you can also utilize the YPW program Launch Wichita at Chamber members can post internships for free through this site, which reaches students from across the country. You can also find resources on hiring. Plus, the interns you hire can also use the site to learn more about things to do in Wichita.

During the summer – prime time for most internship programs – YPW also hosts the Intern Return program as a way to connect your interns to the city, to each other, and to YPs currently working in Wichita. The goal of the program is to have them return to Wichita once they graduate, of course! YPW’s corporate investors can participate in the program for free, and other companies can sign their interns up for a fee. You can contact Suzy Finn for more information about this program.

In closing, I’d like to offer another tidbit from the Destination ICT study: By linking earning and learning more closely together – with an economic incentive – the region sends a strong message that there is a partnership among business and education and that both understand their role in developing the region’s next generation workforce.

Suzy Finn
Executive Director
Young Professionals of Wichita

The Chamber Member Impact

Part four of a four-part series on Young Professionals of Wichita

By Suzy Finn

Executive Director Suzy Finn (pictured) joined Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW) staff in 2013. As an active member of YPW for several years, Finn served as an Ambassador for the organization and a member of the YPW Board of Directors. She has a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Marquette University and master’s degree in business administration from Wichita State University.

Over the past three weeks, I told you about the YPW mission, and how we accomplish each part of it. Now I’ll tell you why we were formed and how you can contribute to the future success of our organization.

The Business Case

When Visioneering Wichita was formed 10 years ago, the Chamber talked with business and community leaders about the challenges facing the Wichita community. The Visioneering group created a 20-year plan to address those needs, and the next year, YPW was formed.

There were two key stats that led to the formation of YPW. The first was that Wichita was losing more young professionals than it was gaining. One of the things that led to that loss was that if employees didn’t establish relationships outside the workplace within the first 3-6 months of moving to the city or entering the workforce, they were much more likely to leave Wichita.

The second stat showed that every young professional who was raised and educated in Wichita but left was a lost investment (of public and private money) of $300,000. For every YP who left! The Destination ICT study five years later showed that, on top of that, each YP who leaves (regardless of whether or not they were raised here) causes a $51,000 economic impact loss. That is why it’s key to retain the young talent we already have and work to attract more young professionals to the city.

How You Can Help

We can only be as good as our volunteers and members inspire us to be. You can help by making sure your YP employees (ages 21-39) know about YPW and are encouraged to attend an event or join the organization. Chamber members’ employees receive a discounted membership rate of $50 per year!

Our volunteers do an amazing job of planning creative, quality programs. But  we are always looking for interesting speakers and events, and the more information our volunteers have to work with, the better ideas they pull together. If you have expertise to share, a venue to suggest, or know of a powerful and inspiring speaker, let me know.

Though we are affiliated with the Chamber, and many of our investors are also members of the Chamber, your membership dues are not spent on our programming or staff. We are sustained by our corporate investors, sponsors, and individual YP membership dues. If you believe that YPW can contribute to the future success of the city, you can help support our operations through corporate investment or sponsorship. If you’re looking for a better way to reach our YPs, whether it’s to offer them jobs or to sell them a product, our sponsorship opportunities can help you with that, too.

Just imagine what our city can look like when we have passionate, young professionals working with established business and community leaders to ensure that Wichita is a destination city.

Suzy Finn
Executive Director
Young Professionals of Wichita

Other posts in YPW series:
Part 1: “Wichita’s Talent Pool – Keeping It Deep”

Part 2: “The Diversity Difference”

Part 3: “For a Brighter Future”