X Years of Talent | IndyHub: Al Carroll
Merillat Flowers (00:01):
10 years ago, roughly half of Indiana's college graduates remained in the state upon graduation, this number was even lower for STEM degrees, as many of these students found opportunities and offers in major tech hubs. It was in the face of this problem that TechPoint launched the Extern program, a 10 week internship program that employs hundreds of college students in roles at local tech companies in this circuit mini-series, 10 years of talent, TechPoint interviews, the major players in Indiana's tech landscape from talent organizations to the people who were there at the beginning of extern. We look back at the past decade of Indiana's talent initiative and look towards the future of Indiana's tech workforce.
Merillat Flowers (01:09):
Well, Al, it's great to sit down with you this morning. Yeah. Thanks for having me. Absolutely. So, I, I'm eager to get us started talking about Indie Hub and all of the work that you're doing there. So for those who aren't familiar with Indy Hub, why don't you start by giving us some background on the organization and what your mission is?
Al Carroll (01:22):
So our mission is to grow, engage, and retain a community of 20 and 30 sos who are connected to Indianapolis and invested in its future. Mm. Um, we do that by providing programming that allows for experiences to make deeper connections to our community.
Merillat Flowers (01:34):
Mm. Awesome. Well, I'm just so excited that you're there and you're doing this really important work for the city. I appreciate
Al Carroll (01:38):
That. Yeah. This is, it's been a, it's been a lot of fun here last several months.
Merillat Flowers (01:42):
Well, speaking of fun events, I believe in Evolv just happened recently, over 1,320 to 30 somethings, um, in the city at the event. So talk to us a little bit about what the event was like and how meant this year.
Al Carroll (01:53):
Yeah. So, um, the event this year was at in, uh, victory Field, which is another great, you know, sporting venue mm-hmm.
Al Carroll (02:31):
Merillat Flowers (02:59):
That's awesome. How do you feel like the service for a nonprofit impacts people's experience with the city?
Al Carroll (03:06):
So I think that from a civic engagement standpoint, right? Like, I think that when you are connected or when you're serving in a nonprofit organization and you really are having an opportunity to have an impact on your community, I think it's harder to leave. Yeah. Right? I think that when you, um, take the time to make a, make an impact where you are, um, I think that that kind of an impression, I think that you wanna see what that impact looks like down the road, right? I think that, uh, for, for what we see, um, it makes it a lot harder for folks to, it's, it's just another factor to consider, um, before we're, before making a transition, right? We want to provide experiences that make this, that make the city sticky for people, right? Make it hard to leave. Um, and I think that volunteerism is, is important in that, but it also allows for people to give back. I mean, I think that there's a, this what we'll see with, with young people, and I think we're only gonna see it more with gen Gen Z, right? They want to be able to work in an environments that allow them to, to give time, um, to the things that they care about most. Um, and I think that, uh, for Indianapolis, there's tons of opportunity, um, for folks to, to find things that align to their skills and interests, um, for them to volunteer with.
Merillat Flowers (04:08):
Yeah. I think your point about it being sticky is just so right on it certainly resonates, I think, with Boulevard experiences, right? Of time serving nonprofit. So incredible that you're leaning into that mission Sure. And making those connections. You're in a new seat now, and I have a different vantage point of how different industries are impacting the city and the young professionals that are in it. So, curious now, your perspective on what the tech industry is doing for Indianapolis and for the state and what you, what you see its role in, in helping attract and retain talent. Yeah,
Al Carroll (04:36):
I, that's a, that's a big question. And I, I think that, I mean, as a, if you look at the Ink 5,000 list of Indiana companies that are there, I think of the top, you know, 15 to 20 of them, they're, they're tech companies, right? So the fastest growing companies in Indiana are tech companies. And then if you think about the, the traditional employers, the larger scale employers that are here, a lot of the roles that they're hiring for, the new roles that they're creating, um, are around tech skilled employ, uh, uh, are around tech skilled roles, right? Whether that's data or whether that is computer science, you know, so I think that for, for me, the tech industry is the, the vehicle that's, that's recruiting in, um, that is attracting in, uh, a large amount of these young people, um, that are, at least they're providing the jobs that young people are interested in doing.
Al Carroll (05:21):
I think that the tech community as a whole, I think we need to be more vocal about some of the levers that exist within our state that are making it harder for us to recruit talent here. Um, I think that Indiana has a, I think that any state, anybody, any, any, any place in the, in, in the, any state, any community, whether it's a city, state or anything, we need to be a place that young people want to be in order to survive. Yep. Um, and I think that for Indiana, that that, uh, that's more, that means, especially for the tech community, that means a lot. But I really believe that as a, uh, as a community, you really need to be a place that young people want to be. Yep. Um, and I think that for the jobs that are here, the tech industry in Indiana right now is, is providing that in a lot of ways.
Al Carroll (06:02):
But we, we do more than work, right? Mm-hmm.
Merillat Flowers (06:38):
Yeah. I, I think that's a really valid point and something that I think Tech Point continues to lean in on, for sure, division 4k and the opportunity to try to bring in more people who have not yet been engaged in tech and the opportunities that are here. And it's gonna require all of us, employers included, to rethink the way that we engage talent. Which I guess leads me up to my next question, cuz I think, um, when Extern was first created, that was a lot of the idea. Let's engage talent in a way that hasn't been done yet, and let's see if we can do that in a way that will help grow the industry, grow, grow the presence, make this a more attractive and welcoming place for young talent. You and I were obviously a part of that for over five years, trying to help create the program in its early days. And, and, um, eager to have you kind of reflect and look back and what you saw Exterm when it was first getting going to now, um, what the impact you think that it's had, has been. I
Al Carroll (07:27):
Think that just, it's, I I what's most, and, and you probably can relate to this a, a a bit as well. I think what's most meaningful to me is when I see, um, the folks that we had in the programs, whether it was external, external bootcamp, or some of the other programs that we've had mm-hmm. That are now in leadership positions that are making hires, that are, that are making decisions that, that, um, affect people's lives that are, yeah. It's really cool to see how, um, the folks that have come through this program have not only grown, um, in their time there, but also grown professionally, um, and, and making it an impact in the city. Um, that's, it's just real, that's really cool. Um, that, that so many of them are still here. Yeah. Um, and for the ones that have left, I think that we're seeing that they're successful as well.
Al Carroll (08:07):
I mean, I think that what is the most impressive thing about exter is that it's a high caliber program. Yeah. Um, you can't sneak in, right? So the talent that you have in, in Exter, I think that that's, that's real talent that our community should be focused on retaining. Um, and I think that what we'll see in the future is that these, these types of, uh, investments, right? Like Exter providing free housing for students, um, being able to say like, Hey, we're gonna, we're gonna provide you these wraparound services that make it, they make that experience, um, more meaningful to you. Right? Right. I think we're gonna see the, we're only gonna have to be able to see those types of experiences scale in the future, right. Um, as we start to think about, um, some of what our, our state's serious recruitment efforts are, I think in some ways it's gonna resemble exter, right?
Al Carroll (08:49):
I think you're gonna see people making, um, major investments on, on, um, bringing folks into, uh, um, for down payments. I think you're gonna see folks making major investments on down payments. We're gonna see folks focus on how housing ties into attraction, right? Mm-hmm.
Merillat Flowers (09:20):
Al Carroll (09:31):
That's such a good question. I think that Covid, um, certainly impacted that as well, right? I think that there are, the students on campus and the experiences that they've had are so different from the experiences of the students that were, that, that were on campus when I was recruiting. It's, um, it's very interesting, um, in that, in that vein, um, think for me, over the course of the last 10 years, thinking about where talent has, has, has gone and where, where, where we were when external was founded, right? We're talking about, um, a direct answer to the brain drain problem, right? Which is also a, a reason why Indie Hub was founded. Yeah. Um, as a direct, as a direct response to brain Drain. I, and I think that one of the things that we have to grapple with is the fact that some, we haven't made inroads in the way that we should.
Al Carroll (10:15):
Yeah. Um, over the course of a decade on that issue specifically. Yeah. Um, I, I, I knew I mentioned it earlier, but we continue to be a place where that seems like our young people don't want to be, especially when they, once they've been educated. Yeah. Um, and now we're seeing that there are fewer people that even want to pursue higher education. Right? Yeah. Um, so Mission 41 [inaudible] is so important because it's, uh, it's talking in identifying different pathways for folks that don't, don't always go through higher education for them to be able to, to, to find these jobs that might match with their interests. Um, well, so they can develop skills to actually, to actually do them. But I think that we should all be concerned, um, that there are so many examples of intentional programs, um, intentional, uh, intentional uses of resources, um, and that we're still, um, combating the same issues that we, that we were 10 years ago.
Al Carroll (10:57):
And I think that that means that we, that we as an industry need to engage, um, more meaningfully, um, in the conversation about why that is. Yeah. Um, I think that, you know, and I think that we know in a lot of ways why that is. Right. I think we know what our national profile is. I think we know what our, our our, uh, our, our brand is in some ways mm-hmm.
Al Carroll (11:47):
Merillat Flowers (12:25):
Yep. I, you're going there, which is, I I mean, a lot of this has been looking back and there's definitely some wins, but I, I also agree you're identifying the challenges that we still see. So let's imagine we're sitting here 10 years Yeah. From now, you know, what do you think it takes to change the game? What are some of your big ideas and maybe some of the things that you hope to achieve at Indie
Al Carroll (12:42):
Hub? Yeah. I think that, uh, part of it is this, right? Part of it is grappling with the, the real, what, what we feel like are the real issues that Yeah. Young people feel most strongly about. Right. Um, and I, and I think it also takes, and you asked me earlier about what the civic engagement and why that's so important. Right. I think that young Indiana, Indiana, Indianapolis specifically is a place where you can, it, it's not, it doesn't take a a you can make an impact in this community if you want to. Yeah. Like, that's something that you want to do. You can see how how your effort can change the course of, of this community specifically. I think that I've seen that numerous times and, you know, for us as folks that aren't from here originally Yeah. That have been able to, to be here for the last five to, you know, I'm working professionally here for the last five years or so, right?
Al Carroll (13:24):
Al Carroll (13:59):
Like, I think, um, with, uh, with my board, one of the, one of the first things I say, and I think I've said this to you as well, like, I want, um, when I think about reading a, a Forbes article about Indianapolis in 10 years, I want the title to be Why Indianapolis is the best place for a black woman to start a business. Mm-hmm.
Al Carroll (14:33):
I, I think that one of the questions that we have to ask ourselves as employers, as leaders is whether or not we would, whether or not we recognize talent when we see it. Mm-hmm.
Al Carroll (15:25):
Saw that they had a ability to make an impact. Mm-hmm. Um, that they didn't have to wait for someone else to come along and save them. I think that we all need to understand that no one's coming to save us, um, that the solutions to the problems that exist in our C communities are gonna come from us. Yeah. Um, and that now is the time for us to step up and make that impact. And I, I'm excited to see, um, where the, the future externs, right. As folks at the external alumni, as they make it to their thirties, I think we're gonna start to see some more companies be founded mm-hmm.
Merillat Flowers (16:17):
Al Carroll (16:24):
Oh, for sure. I, I thank you for that as well. I think that, um, for us, it's, it's, uh, we wanna be a place, uh, where your young people can come to feel. Your young employees can come to feel more welcome. Mm-hmm.
Al Carroll (17:02):
Um, to provide, um, additional social activities for your employee, uh, for your employees outside of work mm-hmm.
Merillat Flowers (17:51):
That's awesome. It seems like the perfect tie, like if we can get the talent here and then retain them, I mean, that's the key piece and then the ingredient that you're really offering
Al Carroll (17:58):
For Sure. And I think that in the future from, from Indie Hub, I think that you'll see us start to lean into more research. Awesome. Um, and I, we hope to engage with C I C P and TechPoint and the, like as we, as we do that research, right. To really understand, uh, deeply, um, the data around what young people want. And that's young people here in Indiana as well as young people across the country. Right. We're gonna see that India hub will be more of a thought leader, um, in this space, um, to really, you know, have the authority to say like, Hey, this is the stuff that our, that our, that we're, that we're learning. Um, I think that we're really gonna see us lean into that here in the new year.
Merillat Flowers (18:27):
That's awesome. That'll be really valuable everybody. And this is why I'm excited that year in leadership in Indie Hub, I can't wait to see if the future holds, but I'm so glad you're doing the work that you're doing. You, I know that in will be better for it. So thanks for taking the time to sit down with us.
Al Carroll (18:39):
Absolutely. Thank you for having me.
10 years ago, roughly half of Indiana's college graduates remained in the state upon graduation. This number was even lower for STEM degrees, as many of these students found opportunities and offers in major tech hubs.
It was in the face of this problem that TechPoint launched the Xtern program, a 10 week internship program that employs hundreds of college students in roles at local tech companies.
In this Circuit mini-series, X Years of Talent, TechPoint interviews the major players in Indiana's tech landscape from talent organizations to the people who were there at the beginning of Xtern. We look back at the past decade of Indiana's talent initiative and look towards the future of Indiana's tech workforce.
In this episode, we sit down with Al Carroll, CEO of IndyHub. IndyHub is on a mission to grow and engage a community of young adults in Indianapolis. He talks about the mission alignment between IndyHub and TechPoint, how Indiana can be a destination for talent, reflects back on the early days of Xtern.