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Alumni chase ‘opportunity’ to grow eastern Indiana workforce

August 29, 2017

Two Earlhamites are contributing to efforts to grow and diversify the workforce of eastern Indiana.

Joe Henry ’05 and Anastasia Mihailov ’15 are members of the three-county economic development team that have launched HoosierOpportunity.com. The new website connects job-seekers with hundreds of listings for part- and full-time work and internships in Wayne, Randolph and Jay counties.

“But this is not just another website where employers can post jobs,” Henry cautions. “Job-seekers can register a profile on the site and soon access a career pathways section to discover the education and training they’ll need to have successful careers.

“We’re committed to raising awareness about the opportunities that exist here,” he says. “There are a lot of professional careers and high-tech manufacturing opportunities that not everyone is aware of. Once that awareness is raised, we hope more people realize you can stay here and be successful.”

Henry, a Psychology major at Earlham, is now the manager of existing business and education for the Economic Development Corp. of Wayne County. Mihailov, a Politics major with a concentration in Comparative Languages and Linguistics at Earlham, is a grant administrator and community development professional for the Randolph Economic Development Corp.

“We’re working with all of the area high schools and colleges to get this promoted as much as possible,” Mihailov says. “Our second marketing goal is to promote this website nationally and try to recruit and attract qualified workers to the area. We can’t do that without showcasing the high-quality careers that exist here.”

The website directly supports the efforts of Earlham’s Center for Career and Community Engagement to promote career trajectories in Indiana while connecting students with employers who recognize the value of a liberal arts education. The launch of the site is especially timely with the recent launch of the EPIC Advantage, which offers funding for every interested student to complete an internship or research experience before graduation.

"Hoosier Opportunity helps our students connect to the local region by learning more about the meaningful and powerful career opportunities that exist here,” says Jen Banning, Earlham’s director of career education. “The work that Anastasia and Joe have done for East Central Indiana is a true embodiment of EPIC. Here are two alumni who have used their Earlham education and connections to create real-world collaborations between campus and community."

Henry says the website, which is modeled after a website already serving four counties in western Ohio, has received high praise from employers and local leaders in the region.

“Anytime you have an opportunity to work on a project that is making a positive impact on the community, it makes you feel good,” he says. “Everything we did and talked about at Earlham was about serving the greater good. I’d be crazy if I said that didn’t prepare me for what was coming after graduation.”

Mihailov says her work on the website, and her efforts to improve the quality of life for Hoosiers in eastern Indiana, is a strong reflection of the values she developed as a student. At Earlham, Mihailov was active in Model United Nations, Amnesty International and was a residence assistant. Her senior capstone project was also where she learned how to write grants, a skill that allows her to bring purposeful change for the communities in Randolph County.

“I want to contribute to positive change,” Mihailov says. “I want people to talk about me positively when I’m gone. That’s why I got involved in economic development and wanted to work directly with this project.”

— EC —

Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success. 

Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at 765-983-1256 and zimmebr@earlham.edu.

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