Talent Draft day draws high school, college students from 11 Midwest states

by Sioux Falls Development Foundation
Published 12/08/2020

They logged in by the hundreds, from Missouri to Michigan, Ohio to Illinois – and left learning more about the career opportunities available in Sioux Falls.

This was the 2020 version of the annual Talent Draft Day, an event organized by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation to connect middle school, high school and college students with education and training paths that lead to rewarding careers.

“It’s very powerful, because students get exposure to different careers and different companies and businesses in Sioux Falls, and the options are great,” said Vickie Donohoe, a school counselor who brought a group of students from New Tech High School.

About 2,000 students tuned in for the morning session, which featured 10 training camps and gave an up-close look at opportunities at Southeast Tech – everything from residential construction to HVAC and welding.

“Southeast really does a good job of keeping up with the times and offering programs that are applicable to what the workforce needs right now,” Donohoe said.

Then came a series of employer panels, where students in high school and college could learn about key industries in Sioux Falls, from healthcare to biosciences, business, engineering, energy and technology.

The Development Foundation did a strong marketing effort using Handshake, an online network used by college students, and it showed.

“Last year we had 12 colleges participating; this year we have 81,” said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“They’re from places like Wisconsin, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota, in addition to throughout South Dakota. So we’re really rounding out and just giving the taste of Sioux Falls.”

All together, thousands of students participated during the day. Employers enthusiastically lined up for it, too.

“It’s definitely a great event,” said Michelle Bermudez, a recruiter for Muth Electric. “You get to expose your company to students that doesn’t know what they want to do when they graduate and talk to them about apprenticeship programs, tuition reimbursement, scholarships. If there’s a company out there doubting they want to come, just do it. It’s a great opportunity for your company.”