Keeping college graduates in WNY becoming easier

Jan 25, 2018

Prosperity Fellows are at the Colored Musicians Club Thursday and touring the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor - talking to entrepreneurs, non-profit leaders and other changemakers. It is part of an active effort to keep the people here who were educated in local colleges and universities.

Arlene Kaukus says it is a whole lot easier with the growing positive public image of Western New York and the jobs that are out there - especially high-tech jobs, as new high-tech companies start in this area and with heavy connections to the University at Buffalo.

The Prosperity Fellows get up to $25,000 each to learn at UB, intern in this area and learn about possibilities. They also agree to live here for two out of the next 10 years.

One-time UB Teaching Assistant in Economics John Yurtchuk is Chairman of Calspan's Safety and Engineering Lab. Yurtchuk values the connection with UB, both for full-time jobs and student internships.

"We actually have a pretty robust internship program now and I'm amazed at what they accomplish, actually do real work," Yurtchuk said. "But what's nice is, they get to do applied engineering, so they get to learn the theory at, say UB or RIT. We draw from a wider area, especially kids coming home from school, and then they get to apply what they've learned in a real-world setting."

Kaukus says her Career Services Office, which runs surveys of graduating students, show a lot of them want to stay in Western New York - and they have more opportunities for that, especially for that first destination, that first job with a diploma fresh in hand.

"We're pretty systematic about making sure we are working with regional employers, making sure that the students understand the opportunities with those employers," Kaukus says. "We take students on corporate site visits so they can actually see first hand what is it like to work at M&T Bank, what is it like to work at Roswell, what is it like to work at GEICO, Praxair, Moog."

A panel on diversity and inclusion begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Colored Musicians Club.