Students from Hackney Community College in the UK and Austin Community College, Austin, Texas, in the US are joining forces with major brands and digital agencies for a new initiative called Millennial Mentoring.
Originally conceived as a SXSWi initiative by Jon Burkhart from consultancy Real-Time Content Labs, the current concept came into its own thanks to Burkhart’s partnership with Nadya Powell from social media agency MRY, as well as input from several other industry partners. The initiative is a collaboration between Real-time Content Labs, MRY, digital agency Poke, creative collective Shellsuit Zombie in the UK and Capital Factory, Nineten, and 3daystartup from Austin, working with Hackney Community College and Austin Community College.
Against a backdrop of rising youth unemployment and a growing need for brands to understand the needs and motivations of young people who’ve grown up as digital natives, Millennial Mentoring aims to highlight the value that young people of all backgrounds can add to business in today’s digital economy.
Students taking part will get the chance to gain experience of working with some of the industry’s best digital and marketing experts, while client-side marketers including Estelle Levacher, Customer Innovations Manager at British Airways, will be exposed to the value that young people can offer to their business.
The five-month programme involves three teams of four students aged 18-21. Each team will include students from both Hackney Community College and Austin Community College. The teams will complete a series of training modules on topics including marketing, research and prototyping, before being given a brief on a business problem from one of the clients involved.
Supported by the programme team and with regular mentoring sessions from the Shellsuit Zombie team, the students will have six weeks to work on the client brief, before presenting their marketing solution on stage at Hackney House Austin at SXSWi on Monday 10th March 2014. The presentations will be judged by a panel of client-side marketers and other industry experts including Laura Jordan-Bambach, President of D&AD, who will award trophies for Best Team, Best Student and Most Improved Student.
Travel costs for the Millennial Mentoring students have been covered by the programme’s generous sponsors, British Airways, Adobe and RetailMeNot, Inc.
Jon Burkhart, consultant at Real-Time Content Labs, said: “I’ve spent the last four years trying to get brands to respond in real-time so they can be more relevant to digital natives, and we’ve got a long way to go. According to the latest #SocialCEO report from stamplondon.co.uk, only 26 CEOS from the FTSE 100 maintain a presence on a social network. I think our Millennial Mentoring program can help change this. In exchange for invaluable work experience, our apprentices can mentor CEOs and CMOs and help their brands stop showing up two weeks too late to the party.”
Nadya Powell, Managing Director at social media agency MRY, said: “Marketing is becoming elitist and segregated – a business for those people wealthy enough to afford university and to work for free, and it’s so important that we support and nurture talent from outside of this narrow pool. Millennial Mentoring is not just about us helping and inspiring the students taking part, it’s also a call to CMOs to understand the insights and skills that these digital natives from varied backgrounds can bring to their businesses.”
Nick Farnhill, founding partner of digital agency Poke, said: "As a Hackney-based agency, we’re aware that while the creative and start-up community here is thriving, the borough has a rising unemployment problem. Like many of our agency peers, we’re hiring from a very limited pool, and we feel we have a responsibility to help identify and develop a currently untapped source of talent from within the local community and area we operate from. For the UK to maintain its creative reputation, we must start recognising and encouraging the value that young people who haven’t been through higher education can offer the creative economy.”
Abi Combers, British Airways’ Head of Brands and Marketing, said: “With the launch of our new service to Austin on the 787 Dreamliner just weeks away, we’re delighted to be the official sponsor of Hackney House through our Ungrounded initiative, encouraging the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs.
“We’re proud to be adding Austin to our international network, as British Airways demonstrates the power that connecting face to face can have on driving innovation and creative in cutting edge technologies.”
Jill Balis, SVP Marketing at RetailMeNot, Inc, said: "We are thrilled to be supporting Millennial Mentoring's hack-a-thon during SXSW to work with students and aspiring marketers in our hometown of Austin, Texas. It is exciting to be a part of their growth as they aim to become tomorrow's next great marketing leaders."
AnneMarie Baba, Senior Campaign Marketing Manager, Student Campaigns at Adobe Systems, said: “Adobe is very excited to be a part of the Millennial Mentoring Programme. We are constantly looking for ways to support the next generation of creative thinkers in pursuing their dreams and ambitions. Like our ‘Make It With Creative Cloud’ campaign, the Millennial Mentoring programme is another perfect opportunity for us to enable creative talent to stand out and make their mark.”
Ian Ashman, Principal, Hackney Community College, said: “With such high levels of unemployment here in Hackney, it’s so important that our young people have positive role models who can show them what’s possible in their lives and careers. Millennial Mentoring will give the students taking part some invaluable experiences, from collaborating with their counterparts in Austin, to getting the chance to pitch to a group of senior marketers. It will also show businesses the talent pool we have in colleges, from which they can recruit. We’re thrilled to be taking part in what we hope will become an annual initiative.”